At first, I wrote because there was a specific story to tell. Then, it became a bit of passion. I love writing. I love my characters. I love seeing what happens to them. These days my motivation is still about telling their stories, but now it’s also about the readers who love to read my books as well.
What is your routine when you're facing your next novel? Do you start your next mystery with the killer, the victim or a plot idea?
It sounds strange, but I usually start with a title, and the plot unfolds from there. I generally know who my killer and victim are when I start a novel, but that can (and has) changed from time to time during the writing of the book.
Do you outline the plot or some variation of that (a little/a lot of detail, a strict 3 act structure etc.) before sitting down and writing?
Every book I write has its own notebook. All my ideas, character names, and story arc goes in that. I usually wing the first half of the book and plot the second half. When it’s done, I do extensive revisions to make sure it’s all cohesive.
Darcy Merriweather and Lucy Valentine are each interesting characters, and the rest of the crew in the books are great as well. What do you and Darcy or Lucy have in common? How are you different?
There’s a little bit of me in all my characters. Our loyalty, our quest for what’s right is a bit of what we have in common. They’re much braver than I am—and of course, I have no magical powers (bummer!).
What is your process for developing a character? Do you use pictures, a worksheet or just let the character(s) tell you about him/herself as you write? How do you handle minor characters?
It’s a little bit of everything. Some pictures, some visualizing. I rarely do a character chart, because my characters never want to stick with it. My minor characters are treated the same way—because even though they’re minor they often play a big role.
You tend towards paranormal cozies with psychic Lucy, wishcrafter Darcy, and soon Carly with love potions. What attracts you to writing mysteries with a playful touch of paranormal?
I grew up watching Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, and I have such a fascination for psychics. All that has influenced writing paranormal for me. It’s a fun twist to a murder plot, because even though there’s some magic going on, it doesn’t necessarily always solve the crime.
You had to do some world building for your wishcrafters etc., what was the good, bad, and ugly in the process?
Oh, the ugly. It’s HARD to build a world, especially when you write yourself into a corner. I’ve learned how to backtrack a lot. However, I adore the creativity it allows me. It’s really freeing.
Do you have anything special you do before writing, particular music or a special room/location that helps you get in the zone and write?
Nothing out of the ordinary. I do like background noise, so I’ll either have music on or the TV.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing and how long does it take you to write a book? How is that schedule impacted writing multiple series simultaneously?
It usually takes me 4-6 months per book, sometimes less if I’ve really procrastinated (which happens often). I like to write five days a week for several hours a day, but there are times when my writing comes in fits and spurts. I’ve learned to go with the flow.
In literature (not your own) who is your favorite mystery/suspense character and your favorite paranormal character?
This is much too hard to answer. There are so many great characters out there that I can’t pick just one!
Which author has influenced or inspired you the most?
Another tough question! One of my biggest influences was Janet Evanovich. Back when I started writing she was just hitting it big, and it was the first time I’d seen a funny mystery with a strong female lead. I loved the premise and it opened my mind to writing characters like that.
How did you get your first break to getting published? Was it at a writer's conference or mailing a query letter?
I’ve met with many agents and editors at conferences, but it was a blind submission to a small publishing house in 2001 that opened the publishing door for me. Seems like so long ago now!
What's the one thing a reader has said that you've never forgotten and perhaps found startling?
It’s not one thing, necessarily. It’s all the readers who take the time to write me to let me know how much they enjoy my books, or that my books helped them through a dark time. It’s very humbling, and as I mentioned earlier, it’s those readers that keep me writing.
If your Wishcraft mysteries were to be made into a movie, who would you cast in your top character's roles?
I rarely cast my characters, simply for the fact that I love readers to visualize the characters themselves. But I’d love to hear who they think would be great in the roles!
Tell us your thoughts on the growing genre of paranormal mysteries and its popularity (i.e. is it here to stay or a fad, is it pushing the mystery genre envelope etc?)
I think the genre is here to stay! Paranormal offers a great escape from reality for a few hours, whether you like books with more mystery or more romance (or both as my case may be!).
Tell us about your next book in the series, THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE WITCHY and the upcoming Love Potion Shop Mystery series? What is your biggest challenge with both?
The Good, the Bad, and the Witchy happens to be my favorite book in the Wishcraft series. When Darcy discovers the body of a young man, she’s soon “imprinted” with his ghost who won’t leave her until she solves his crime. It was such a fun—yet emotional—book to write. It delves deep into prejudices and wounds that aren’t always visible.
I’m currently working on the first potion book that doesn’t have an official title yet. It features Carly Hartwell, a magic potion shop owner who goes to work one day and finds a man dead in her break room—and he’s clutching one of her potion bottles. It’s set in Alabama, and I’m having a blast writing it.
Do you have a newsletter or blog for readers to stay informed of your news?
I send out an every-once-in-awhile newsletter a couple of times a year, usually when I have a new release. Readers can sign up via any of my websites. I’m also on Facebook as both Heather Blake and Heather Webber and on Twitter too, as @booksbyheather.
Thank you so much for the great interview! Okay readers, leave comments (include your email address please) about the interview to be eligible for a copy of It Takes a Witch. Which actors do you see as the cast for her books to be immortalized on the big screen? What do you think of a third series featuring a magic potion shop owner?