Clinking Glasses with Year of the Book founder Demi Stevens
Recently Demi Stevens (genius founder of Year of the Book and all round sweetheart) and I sat down over a cup of tea. Okay, Demi had tea. I had—you guessed it. Here’s an excerpt of our chat.
Demi: As the author of five (soon to be six with the launch of INTOXICATING March 29) romances set in west coast wine country, my readers are dying to hear what inspires you!
Heather: Writing wine romances all started I when I visited northern California a few years ago. I was struck by the beauty of the landscape and the amazing wine mansions, and I began to wonder what it would be like to live there. That fired my imagination and I started taking notes. By the time I was on the plane for the trip home, I was already writing A Taste of Chardonnay, my first published book in The Napa Wine Heiresses series.
Ironically, on the heels of my first series a close relative moved to Oregon’s The Willamette Valley. While visiting her I learned that The Willamette is fast gaining fame as the best place in the entire world to grow the finicky pinot noir grape. Of course, while I was there I had to sample the Kool-Aid ***back of palm to forehead*** Alas, the perils of being a romance writer . . . and now you might happen to find a few empty bottles of Erath in my weekly recycling bin.
A few things to know should you find yourself in Oregon. First, pronounce it wrong and the locals will be quick to tell you “it’s Will-AM-ette, dammit.” Second, Oregon wine country is said to be much like Napa was twenty-five years ago: rustic and unspoiled. One way it is different, however, is that Willamette vintners are dedicated to doing all things as organically as possible. In fact, many if not most winegrape growers there subscribe to biodynamic farming principles. In other words, they bury cow horns full of quartz crystals in the middle of their vineyards on the summer solstice. Those kind of details are like a gift from the gods when it comes time to sit down at the keyboard. They are richly sprinkled throughout my current release, The Crush!
Demi: Kensington, parent company of your publisher Lyrical Press, made a splash last summer with the news that they were going to launch a line of mass market paperbacks. (And a little birdie tells me you may have been selected as one of their debut authors!) What does this mean for your career?
Heather: Here’s how I explain it to my non-writer friends. In 2013 (the dawn of the Kindle and Nook age), Kensington saw a chance to cater to digital readers with Lyrical Press. Those books, such as A Taste of Chardonnay, were specifically designed to be read digitally. While it’s possible to buy them in print, the production method makes them expensive compared with mass market paperbacks.
Flash forward to 2017. Kensington stirred the spaghetti in the pot and threw a handful at the wall. Lo and behold, the name Heather Heyford stuck. As printed in Publishers Weekly, I had begun to “garner a following.” As a result I am now thrilled to be contracted for THE SWEET SPOT, book 1 in my third series, A Willamette Wine Country Romance, which will be part of Lyrical’s new mass market paperback line starting in 2018.
What does that really mean, you ask? It means that in addition to e-readers my books will be available wherever paperbacks are sold, such as Walmart, Target, grocery stores and airports.
Demi: How can my readers find your books and connect with you online?
Heather: If you want to be first to get book news, I invite you to join my newsletter subscribers at tinyletter.com/HeatherHeyford. Another great source is my website, HeatherHeyford.com. I post often on Facebook and Pinterest. A little less often on Instagram. As for Twitter, it’s more like my grumpy aunt’s house. I visit occasionally, but only out of obligation, LOL. All my social media is under Heather Heyford.
Demi: I’ll be the one texting you pictures of your books beside Nicholas Sparks’ latest, Heather!
Heather: Thank you so much for having me! And before I go, a hint for readers. Show your love for your favorite author, no matter who he or she is, by posting a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads or other online bookseller. The best reviews are short, have a catchy title, and sandwich any negatives between two positives. Thanks, and happy reading!