Heather Snow is a historical romance writer with a degree in Chemistry who found she much preferred creating chemistry on the page, rather than in the lab. She is forever trying to wrangle her left and right brain to work together (some days with more success than others!), but if her two sides had to duke it out, left would win every time—which can be a creative challenge. Luckily, she loves challenges…she just goes about solving them analytically.
In addition to finaling in the Golden Heart, Sweet Enemy won the 2010 Chicago North Fire and Ice in the Historical Category, and is a current finalist in the Kiss of Death’s Daphne du Maurier and Hearts Through History’s Romance Through the Ages contests.
Heather’s Golden Heart finaling manuscript in the regency historical category is SWEET ENEMY:
Beakers and ball gowns don’t mix. So when lady scientist and practically on-the-shelf spinster, Miss Liliana Claremont, receives a coveted invitation to the Earl of Stratford’s house party, no one expects her to accept. After all, it’s well known the newly belted Earl, a war hero and rising political star, is in need of a bride, and it’s assumed he will choose a wife from the select group of attendees.
Yet Liliana has no desire to lure the rich and powerful earl into marriage. She’s come to Somerton Park in the guise of husband-hunter for one reason—to uncover what he knows about the murder of her father. She intends to find justice, even if she has to ruin Stratford to do it.
Liliana believes the best way to get the evidence she needs is to keep her enemy close, though romance is not part of her formula. But every good chemist would do well to remember—if you combine two unknown substances, you just might start a reaction you can’t control.
And now here’s a little about Heather…
1. How long have you been writing?
I’ve made up stories here and there throughout my life, from being a little girl who invented a mermaid kingdom on a rocky beach at the lake during the summers (which, of course, I presided over as princess), to the semi-serious twenty-something who first started a Quantum Leap novel that sadly was finished right after the line closed and then moved to suspenseful serial killer novels that I never finished because they got too dark for me, to the woman who is today actively pursuing a profession as a historical romance novelist. When I decided upon writing as a career, I realized that I wanted to write what I loved most—romance. I immediately joined RWA (in 2007) and jumped into learning the craft. With a detour for a baby (who’d have guessed that creativity required REM sleep?), I have rededicated myself to writing since fall of 2009.
2. Did you always want to be a writer or is it something that developed later in life?
Looking back, I can say my right brain always wanted to be a writer, but my left brain steered us towards other things. But when my mind needed a break, a story always seemed to be lurking. In my early 30’s, I faced a cross-roads of what to do with my life and I gave in and let the right brain win for a change.
3. What do you do in your “other life”?
I have a fabulous husband and the most incredible little boy. He’s two, which should tell you a lot about how I spend my time! I am fortunate to be able to focus what remains on my writing. Before our son was born, I spent five years facilitating a Christian-based education program inside the federal prison system.
4. Who are your favorite authors?
There are so many, I couldn’t possibly name them and so many that I just haven’t had time to discover yet. However, there are several who write in my genre that I wish I could channel for their sheer brilliance in different aspects of the craft, including Lisa Kleypas, Laura Lee Guhrke, Sabrina Jeffries, Julie Garwood…oh, I could go on forever.
5. Do you have an agent?
Not as of yet. I’ve only just begun submitting, but am ever hopeful.
6. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hmmm…summer of 2015…I should be Supreme Empress of the mermaid kingdom by then…wait, sorry. J I hope to have another child and to be eagerly awaiting the release of my seventh book, which I will be signing at the Literary Signing at RWA Nationals in New York. See you there!
And now, in Heather’s own words…
Finding the Right Chemistry
“The Chemist who can extract from his heart’s elements compassion, respect, longing, patience, regret, surprise and forgiveness and compound them into one can create that atom which is called Love…” —Kahlil Gibran
Hello. My name is Heather, and I am a left-brainaholic. I’m also a plotter, who must be dragged kicking and screaming into the pantsing that comes between plot points. I have accepted that my process is evolving and I am hoping against hope that one day, I will settle into a comfortable truce between these left and right brains of mine.
When I decided to pursue writing as a career, I tackled it much as I would any other challenge—analytically. I went to the library and checked out one of those “Idiot Guides to Writing Romance”. Oh yes. I did. The biggest take-away from that book was an introduction to Romance Writers of America. Before that, I had no idea such an organization existed. I immediately joined and sought out a local chapter…bar none, the best thing I could have done as a new writer.
Then, I picked my six favorite historical romance novels and read them with analysis in mind. First, I read them straight through, and then wrote out the stories as I saw them in four parts so I could understand how they were constructed. Then I went chapter by chapter to see how pivotal plot and character elements built upon each other. Then I did a character study for each character, including secondary and ancillary ones to analyze why they made it into the book and what purpose they served.
Sound crazy? It does to me a little now, too, but I still refer back to those notes when I’m struggling to keep my stories tight.
However, then I had to learn how to let my right brain have reign. Imagine my surprise and dismay when I realized that emotion and creativity couldn’t be synthesized at my command, and that in order to create a story that grabs the reader, I would have to let the emotional side of myself out into the world…at least on the page. Arrrgh. I still struggle with that.
But then, one day it hit me. My background in chemistry had prepared me for writing romance better than I had thought. There are rules to follow, and some you can break when you want to experiment. Historical romance, like science, requires careful research. Most chemical reactions require a catalyst to drive them, just like our characters and each thing that happens between them require motivation to drive the story forward. Both chemistry and writing, if done well, require a precise mixture of elements and careful manipulation. Many things can go wrong and most times you won’t know what it was until you back track through each step of the process to see where your reaction/story went awry. And just like when you write that scene that just makes you want to sigh, there is poetry in the laboratory when something you’re working on goes just right—a sense of profound satisfaction.
And I think Carl Jung said it best when he said “
So even though I didn’t intend for my chemistry background to prepare me to write romance, I am certain that it did. What experiences in your “other” life prepared you for writing? Or if you’re not a writer, have you been able to use past experiences in a way that surprised you?