Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Introducing: Rachel Heffington

On Monday you got to meet Elisabeth Brown, author of What Eyes Can See. Then on Tuesday we chatted with Emma Clifton, author of Broken Glass. If you missed those features, do feel free to go back and read them and leave comments for those talented young authors.

But today, Rachel Heffington is with us. She is the author of The Windy Side of Care, the third story in the Five Glass Slippers collection. And what a wonderful story it is, featuring possibly my favorite version of the Cinderella character yet!

First, here's a little about the author:
 RACHEL HEFFINGTON is a Christian, a novelist, and a people-lover. Outside of the realm of words, Rachel enjoys the arts, traveling, mucking about in the kitchen, listening for accents, and making people laugh. She dwells in rural Virginia with her boisterous family and her black cat, Cricket.
For more on Rachel, her current projects, and writing in general, visit her on her blog:

 I hope you will enjoy getting to know Rachel through this interview. And don't forget to check out the giveaway at the very end!

Welcome to the Tales of Goldstone Wood blog! First of all, would you mind telling us a little about yourself? Hobbies, personality . . . tea or coffee? 
I am an outgoing girl with a penchant for seeing the world through a cock-eyed optimism. I like both tea and coffee and when I’m not writing, my brain is going cockawhoop with creativity. I’m a part time nanny/teacher for two little girls which is an awesome way to keep the creativity renewed--kids have the best view of the world. Additional hobbies include: gourmet cooking, watercolor painting, lecturing myself in a British accent, and dancing. 

 What led you into the writing life? Have you always been a storyteller? 

I was never consciously a storyteller until the age of twelve at which time my penchant for gobbling books had caught up with me. I mistakenly figured I had read every book worth reading and therefore must set myself to writing the next great classic. This idea soon tamed into a purring passion for writing stories myself. I process by writing--my words seldom reflect my mood, but somehow the art of putting one phrase after another soothes my soul. I am now almost twenty-two and therefore have quite ten years under my belt of this habit.

Tell us a little about your work! You released your debut novel earlier this year, right? 

I did release my debut novel, Fly Away Home, on Valentine’s Day. Though when pressed, I labeled it historical romance, my writing tends to be rather genreless. There is a distinct Rachel style that I can spin to any genre; indeed, I’ve spent most of my writing genre-hopping. I don’t hold to sticking in one style, and large, epic series aren’t my thing. There are stories to be told and I follow them into whatever territory they may fall. Currently, I am editing a 1930’s-era British mystery and planning a comic (as in humorous) novel.

How did you come up with the initial ideas for The Windy Side of Care? Is this a story you’ve been brewing for a while, or was it a sudden inspiration?

 The Windy Side of Care was definitely a case of sudden inspiration. I had started off with an entirely different story and setting and felt it was just going to Not Win. Then I got one little scrap of dialog and had the idea to cast my best friend as a Cinderella and see what came of it ... and boy ... she was quite the pickle. 
 Can you pick a favorite character from this story? 
 I really do have a soft spot for Auguste, the prince. In fact, after I’d written the story, I came across a song that exactly fits him (“Me, Who am I?” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella) and includes the lyrics:
“Me, who am I?
A far from perfect guy.
A bum who wants to do what’s right
but often does what’s wrong,
A kid whose voice is way off-key
but loves to sing his song...”

But then there’s Lord Humphries and Stockton, and Ellen-Best, and, of course, Alis herself. It’s hard to choose.

What inspires your work? Where do you turn when you need a renewal of inspiration? 

Being around strangers inspires my work. If I’m feeling blocked, I love to go out in public and wander around someplace full of history (easy enough to find in South-eastern Virginia) or bustle (or both) and watch people. I keep a notebook in my  purse in which to write down anything that makes its way into my thoughts. I literally saw a man who could have been the Man in the Moon at dinner the other night, and captured his likeness in my notebook around my goat cheese and micro-basil crostatta. The poor fellow will never see my verbal portrait of him...or maybe he will. That is the fun of it .

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process?

My least favorite part, really, is that middle part of the book. My stories are character-driven and generally begin with people or a scrap of dialog and I’m always set for looking for a plot for them to inhabit. I am not a plotter, so I get the beginning and end and flounder through the middle. Generally I panic about 25,000 words in, and bend my head to the wind and don’t think about the panic and realize I’ve reached the end and have a plot after all. It’s a terror, though, that moment when I realize I haven’t the foggiest what’s really next.

What are you actively writing right now? 

I’m  in one of those in-between stages of writing where I’m editing the latest creation and simmering over which will be next. We shall see. Currently, I’m toying with Mob Ink, a 30’s Chicago-gangster-inspired Sheherezade-ish comical fol-de-rol. It will be a lark if I actually write it.   
Would you share a short snippet from The Windy Side of Care? Something to entice us!

Certainly! Nothing like whetting the reader’s appetite, right?

Excerpt from
The Windy Side of Care
 It was three o'clock on Tuesday when the doorbell rang. I knew destiny and treason were on the other end of the bell rope, but those aren't things you rush toward as if you were glad to see them; you're likely to end with your neck in a noose.
These thoughts playing herald to the summons, I removed my apron in dead calmness and hung it on the coat peg, then wrenched open the door. Bright, city sunlight glared into my eyes, and I had a hard time seeing the person on the steps.

“Message from Lord Humphries, miss,” a voice said. Through the blaze I could make out a red feather curled over a purple velvet hat and a fat face adorned with a bit of mustache.

“I'll take it,” I said.

“It's for Lady Alisandra Carlisle, miss.”

“I'll take it.”

“For her hands only, miss.”

By now my eyes had adjusted to the white light, and I glared at the fat man on the doorstep; he was so short as to require me to tilt my chin downward. “If you must know, I am Alisandra Carlisle. What have you for me?”

The jowls quivered like an unstable blancmange, and two beady eyes took the measure of me. At last the man put a plump hand into his pocket and brought it back out grasping a velvet sack and a letter.

I grabbed the sack, and my pulse quickened at its weight and the dull clink. These were not silver coins; Lord Humphries had lent me gold.

“Any reply?” the messenger asked.

“A moment, Sir Imperative.” I broke the heavy amber-colored wax and unfolded a single sheet upon which were scrawled the following words:

Lady Carlisle: For the love of king and country, don't delay. Or, in your case, for the hatred of king and astonishment of country, make haste. Women are expensive; hence, I have never kept one. There should be enough money here to supply you with a dress or two and a bit of lace. Jewelry too. Don't look shabby; I hate shabby women, as do all anarchists. I expect to see you Wednesday when I attend your stepmother at dinner. You will be present and you will have made your purchases. That is all.

Until I See Fit to Excuse Myself,

                Lord Humphries

I folded the note with a quick glance at the messenger. “You may tell his lordship I thank him and am his humble servant always.”

Click Here to Pre-Order!
What an intriguing little tidbit! Thank you for sharing, Rachel.

I hope that leaves all of you, dear readers, eagerly looking forward to learning more about Alis and her intriguing plots and plans. In the meanwhile, don't forget to enter your name in the giveaway below to win a charming Five Glass Slippers mug.

Be sure to stop back in tomorrow to meet Stephanie Ricker, author of A Cinder's Tale . . . our "Cinderella in Space" story of the collection!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sarah Pennington said...

I'm fascinated, and I like the touch of humor in the story excerpt. Another story I can't wait to read!

Question: do you like to listen to music while you write? If so, what genre/artists?

Hannah said...

Fun! This story sounds especially entertaining!I look forward to meeting your characters.

So you have a humorous novel planned, huh? Any more you could share about that? Like what time era it's in?

Meredith said...

I enjoyed the excerpt from your story and look forward to reading it!

Question: Do you know a particular person who inspired Prince August? He sounds very intriguing.

Congratulations on the release of your debut novel as well. God bless you.

Anonymous said...

I am absolutly intriguged

Emily Chapman said...

Like I said, I can't wait to read THE WINDY SIDE OF CARE. ^.^

Galadriel said...

What are your dream writing conditions?

Unknown said...

Cool! It sounds great! Out of curiosity, what is your favorite book? (I know, hard question!)

Riley Pleasants said...

oh my goodness, I can't wait to read this!
Rachel, you've peaked my interest even more by mentioning "Me, Who Am I"- I love R&H's Cinderella.

my question is how did your friend feel about having a character based off of her?


Rachel Heffington said...

Sarah: I can listen to really very little music while writing--it peeves me. But I find I enjoy listening to music by Kate Rusby and Andrew Peterson as well as any instrumental soundtrack music. :)
Hannah: The setting for 'Mob Ink' is 1930's Chicago among the gangster-set. Interesting enough? :)
Meredith: I can't really say that anyone in particular inspired Auguste ... unless it was the anti-Prince ...
Galadriel: Heavens. Dream writing conditions? A rainy afternoon in the study of my (dream) house in the Lake District of England. I would be watching the rain out a stone-encompassed window onto a blooming English garden. <3
Allison: I shall have to go with ONE of my favorites. One each of fiction and non-fiction: (Fiction: Winnie The Pooh by A.A. Milne) (Non-Fiction: A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken)
Riley: What a fun question! Actually, my friend was quite amused by the idea. She has recently been reading the book and told me she found herself thinking, "that sounds like something I'd say" and then remembering after it WAS she who had inspired that remark! :D

Thanks a million for all these questions and the congratulations! You are a wonderful set. <3