This week I’m excited to interview author Heather R. Blair. I’m in love with Heather’s books; she writes about my favorite things (shifters, vampires, demons, witches, and… dun dun dun!!!! Mother Goose!). She’s also, hands-down, one of the most amazing world builders I’ve ever read. She makes me want to live in Minnesota. In the winter.
Read on and you’ll see what I mean…
Your first trilogy in this world focused on one sister, Persephone Gosse, and her romance with Jack Frost. What inspired this story?
I don’t know if other authors do this, but I tend to hoard names—names I hear that strike a spark inside me and make me think, Ohhh, I want to do something with that one, someday. ‘Persephone’ was one of those names.
I had also been toying with a series about witches for awhile, but was unclear on the details. Then during NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month, when a lot of writers, aspiring or otherwise try to write a novel in a month) in 2015, I got the idea to set a series in my town. Not too long after that, I saw a pic on Pinterest of this intriguing blond girl with a pink streak wearing glasses. All of these things kind of coalesced in my head and I got my first line in Seph’s voice: I’m a witch.
Poof, Toil & Trouble was born!
As for Jack, he just came waltzing out of the dark, like in his first scene with Seph. This sexy, mysterious, unknown entity who revealed himself a layer at a time.
Your current world is based off of nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and mythology. Tell me about your world and how all of your characters get along.
In the Toil & Trouble series, magic has been here all along, just out of sight. Most of the fairytales and nursery rhymes you read in this world have basis in truth. Case in point, Seph’s mother is the actual Mother Goose. Her name is Oriane Gosse. In essence, Oriane created witches by harnessing energy through rhyme.
This offended some of the old school FTCs (fairytale creatures) who use elemental magic. Gnomes, elementals (creatures that look human, but are actually the offspring of the gods and magic. Jack Frost is an elemental), sprites, fairies, nymphs, dryads, etc.
Elemental magic comes from within—witch magic mostly from without. While most creatures in the FTC world are content to live and let live, there is some strain there, a type of racism if you will.
Along with witches, vamps and werewolves are also resented, as they were not created of natural elemental magic either. Werewolves are particularly loathed, though a lot of that is their own fault.
For creating this world, I borrowed heavily from various mythologies, mostly Norse, Scandinavian and Gallic. Even the ballet, The Firebird, inspired parts of this series. I also use a lot of pop culture references, most particularly in Seph’s story, as I am a proud card-carrying geek! If you love Doctor Who, The Arrow, Breaking Bad, GOT, Supernatural, etc, you may get a little buzz throughout the stories. There are a lot of musical and literary references as well.
Welcome to the hodgepodge that is my brain. Drinking is optional, but encouraged, lol.
The Toil & Trouble world is growing and expanding with every book. I am what authors call a ‘pantser’—meaning I don’t do elaborate plotting—the story kind of creates itself. But I am good at keeping things straight in my head as my writing worlds are very real to me and I have a rather vivid imagination. I also have an excellent editor who keeps me on point. Thank goodness!
What is in the works for the character in Threescore and Tequila? Tell me about her and will she have more than one book?
Oriane Gosse had 4 daughters. In the first three books, Persephone or Seph, is the focus. She’s the youngest, the baby sister. The other sisters are Ana (Anastasia), Jett and Carly(Carlisle).
Threescore & Tequila focuses on the 2nd oldest sister, Jett. Readers will think they know Jett from the first three books, but prepare to be surprised. Jett has a tangled history and all of it is coming out in this one, including the reason this bad-ass sword-swinger loathes bear shifters. That last is a problem particularly when it comes to Stephen Krueger, a bruin who is convinced Jett belongs to him.
Jett’s story is resolved in this book, and that will be the pattern for Ana and Carly’s books as well.
Do you have a favorite book you’ve written, and which book is it?
Ugh. You do know this is like making me pick a favorite child, right?!
I love all my books for different reasons. Smoke in Moonlight because it was my first, though parts of it make me cringe now, lol. Sixpence & Whiskey because it still makes me laugh no matter how many times I read it and Blood In Fire, because it still makes me cry, no matter how many times I read it. ☺
Aidan O’Neill from BiF is still holding his spot as my favorite of all my characters. A Celtic vampire warrior with a tortured past who looks like Tom Hiddleson and has a wicked sense of humor? Yeah, he gets that crown, lol. I’m currently writing some scenes with Aidan in the upcoming Lightning In Sea, the final book in that trilogy, and he’s got me all aflutter again.
But in the end, the entire Toil & Trouble series is my hands-down favorite of all my books. I’m just so excited about how the pieces are all coming together and I think the last few books are going to blow my readers’ minds! ☺
My personal favorite of your characters is Styx- without giving too much away for people who may want to read your earlier trilogy, will he get his own story or see more screen time in this story? Why are your characters so nervous around him?
Ahhh, Styx. The silver-haired, golden-eyed mystery. He is rather intriguing and trust me, everyone has good reason for those nerves.
Styx is based loosely on Mishipishu, an Ojibwe legend unique to the Great Lakes area. The stories say he is a lake monster who can shift into a lethal lynx-like form. The reality of our Styx is somewhat different.
He’s more than a shifter, more than a god and has a story all his own. That’s all I can say at the moment, sorry!
And yes, he will briefly make an appearance in Threescore & Tequila, but the bulk of his story comes in Carly’s book, Magpies & Moonshine, out later this year, after the fifth book, Déjà Vu & Gin.
Because Heather is super awesome- she’s given us a snippet from her book Threescore & Tequila!
I reach for the soap, then hesitate as something odd catches my eye. A crooked arrow is inked into his forearm. It’s ugly. Not at all like his other ones. Dark and smudged, almost like a burn. He frowns when he sees where my gaze has fallen, dropping his arm into his lap. Okay . . . not going there. Instead, my eyes trail up to his shoulder and this time I can’t help myself.
“What’s this?” I trace a symbol I’ve never seen before, about the size of my palm on his left shoulder. An upside-down triangle with dead-black lines meeting at the apex.
“It’s called a dragon’s eye.” His voice deepens as he watches my fingers on his skin.
I pull my hand back. “Looks like something a Harry Potter fan would ask for.”
He blinks, then grins. “Actually, this would be a decent choice if Harry got tatted up. The inverted triangle symbolizes a threat, and these lines”—he taps the Y-shaped intersection at the shape’s heart—“indicate a choice between good and evil.”
Another shiver runs over the back of my neck. I hide it by soaping him down a bit more roughly than I should. He doesn’t flinch. “Aww, what kind of a threat does a big ol’ shifter like yourself have to worry about?”
Those blue eyes lift to mine. “I’m looking at it.”
I freeze, unable to break his stare for the space of a long, slow heartbeat. Then I pick up my razor. “You’re not wrong, furface.”
He only smiles as the blade comes down.
Thank you to Heather for answering all of my questions, especially the one about Styx because he’s a sexy beast and I want him to be mine.
Heather’s Author Bio:
Heather R. Blair wrote her first book in the first grade and hasn’t stopped since. Back then it all about horses, now it’s pretty much the dark, sexy and shivery.
She lives in the frozen north of Minnesota, near that big gorgeous lake called Superior and enjoys hiking when the snow melts. She also does murals, rides herd on four monsters (otherwise known as children, ages 9-19), is slightly obsessed with Martin Freeman, British television and other geeky things that go bump in the night.
She loves reading (duh!) and interacting with other bibliophiles and authors
Here’s are links to Heather’s Amazon page, where all her books are available.
And here’s Heather on Goodreads & Facebook: