Welcome, Heather! Where do you get your ideas and how did you come up with the idea for Little Mercies?
I tend to get my ideas from items in the news. The premise for Little Mercies came from news stories about social workers who found themselves on the other side of the legal system due to an unmanageable social services caseload. I asked myself what would happen if a social worker, in a moment of distraction, puts her own child in danger? How would she feel, how would her family, her colleagues react. From these questions, Little Mercies emerged.
Did Harlequin request that you write the Kindle prequel, Little Lies, or was that your idea? How long did you have to write the prequel?
The idea for the prequel actually came from my agent, Marianne Merola. We were brainstorming ideas for more ways to engage readers before the launch of Little Mercies. I found the idea of exploring the character of social worker further, Ellen Moore intriguing and it took me about three weeks to write Little Lies. Harlequin/MIRA decided to publish Little Lies as a digital novella in early May and a copy of Little Lies will be available in a special Target edition of Little Mercies on June 23rd.
How is this book different than your others: One Breath Away, These Things Hidden, and The Weight of Silence?
Little Mercies, like my other novels, is told from multiple points of view. But I decided to focus on the views of just two characters this time. By doing this, it allowed me to really delve into the thoughts and feelings of Ellen, a mother in danger of losing her child, her family, her career and of Jenny, a tough but vulnerable ten-year-old who finds herself all alone in the world.
You are so great at getting us inside the minds of your characters! What technique do you use to assist you when writing from different perspectives?
Thank you! I've found that keeping a notebook filled with all the details of each character's life, no matter how minute, helps me to really develop them fully. I make note of the characters' appearances, their likes and dislikes, their dreams, aspirations and fears. I write about their childhoods, loves lost and found, their biggest failures and greatest accomplishments. These details may never ultimately find their way into the novel, but assist in making the characters come to life for me as a write about them.
Amazing advice! Thank you! Do you have a "suspense-building formula" that may also assist other writers?
My goal is to write books that I would enjoy reading and to create stories and plot lines that I find appealing. I find that if develop characters that readers care about, can relate to and are invested in. I also always try to end a scene or a chapter at a point where the reader wants to learn more about a character, find out what's going to happen next.
Do you have a timeline for your writing goals?
Though each of my writing projects is different, it typically takes me to from six to nine months to complete the first draft of a novel. From there, the editing process, in collaboration with my agent, editor, and trusted readers, usually takes a few months.
What are you working on now?
Currently I'm working on a novel about two childhood friends who reconnect after twenty years. The story explores friendship, their marriage, motherhood and the secrets kept from those closest to you.
That sounds like something I would love! But then, I do love all of your books! Thank you so much for sharing with us today! For those of you who missed it, Heather gave us some amazing writing advice last summer. You can find it here. After reading Heather's newest book, Little Mercies, use our email button to send a review! And while you are waiting for Little Mercies to come out on June 24th, you can get a head start on Little Lies or one of Heather's other awesome books!