Interview with author Heidi Belleau

Michaela

Thank you so much for talking to me today, I’m super excited to sit down and get to know you a little better! To get started, would you mind introducing yourself for my readers?

Heidi

With pleasure! I’m Heidi Belleau, a queer romance author from Edmonton, Alberta. I’m the author of DEAD RINGER, the REAR ENTRANCE VIDEO series, and THE BURNT TOAST B&B among others.

Michaela

DEAD RINGER is one of my favorite gay romances, I have to say it. What are you working on now that you’re really excited about?

Heidi

Thank you!!! That book is full of some of my favourite tropes and themes and I’m still in love with the leads. Right now, I’m working on an F/F called FALLEN STARLET, which is a book in the upcoming multi-author series Rose & Thorns, all about a secret society of sapphic/queer women celebrities. Which I’m writing with the same co-author as DEAD RINGER, coincidentally!

Michaela

Oh wow! That sounds amazing! Is it a short story anthology or will it be novel-length?

Heidi

It’s a series of interconnected novels.

Michaela

So characters from previous novels will appear in subsequent ones?

Heidi

That’s the idea! Basically, The Rose & Thorns is a society and a physical club, so all of the novels are set within that world. One novel might feature, say, a WNBA athlete club member (as in Wes Kennedy’s SUGAR & ICE) while another might feature an actress (as in JA Rock and Katey Hawthorne’s TOUCH UP). We want to explore multiple shapes and forms of celebrities, from politicians to models to musicians and famous for being famous reality stars.

So since many characters are club members, their paths are bound to cross in one way or another, but the novels are meant to stand alone.

Michaela

That sounds incredible. Have any of them been published yet, or is it all still in the works?

Heidi

All still in the works. The first few novels are in edits now and we’re hoping to start self-publishing them later this year.

Michaela

So I heard something about a knitting book, too?

Heidi

Yes! That’s my other WIP, LEARN TO KNIT IN NINE MONTHS OR LESS, all about a heroine who gets oops pregnant, keeps the baby, joins a stitch n’ bitch because she thinks knitting will make her more motherly… and falls for a clinic escort who happens to be the member teaching her to knit.

Michaela

There are just not enough queer books that feature knitting in a prominent role. I can’t wait to read it! Will it be self-published as well?

Heidi

I can’t wait for people to read it! I feel like I’ve been writing it forever… As for how it’ll be published, I’m not sure yet! I’ve never self-published before so we’ll see how it goes with Rose & Thorns.

Michaela

A lot of my readers are aspiring writers themselves, and one of the things I like to do is encourage them to go down this path, because it’s so incredibly rewarding. What would you tell a young writer who wants to “make it” in the publishing industry?

Heidi

Be a part of a community. Support other authors, and seek out people who support you, as well. Writing and publishing can be very confusing and overwhelming, but you don’t have to go it alone.

Michaela

For every book that you finish, how many do you start and then abandon? Do you ever just sit down and write a book straight through, or does it happen in fits and starts?

Heidi

For most of my life, I didn’t finish anything. ADHD will do that to ya. But working with co-authors and learning different strategies has helped me learn to follow through and finish what I start… even if it takes a long time. However, there are ideas that you get started on and realize just aren’t meant to be written by you, and it’s its own skill to say “this one is better for me not to finish”. I have a few trunked books, but none of them I regret trunking.

As for writing, sometimes it happens all at once, I’ve been known to finish a book in a month, but most take me months off and on as I switch between different projects or have to take breaks to focus on other aspects of my life or take care of my mental health.

That’s the case with LEARN TO KNIT, which I’ve been slowwwwwwwly tooling away at over the last couple years. But I’m not giving up on it!

Michaela

How do you develop characters? How are you inspired to create characters, and how do they make themselves known to you?

Heidi

I start with a concept, like “pregnant girl falls for clinic escort” and write a blurb, usually with roughly sketched characters named X and Y as placeholders. Then I write out little character profiles. And then I start the draft and the characters continue to develop as the story does.

So I partially create them, and I partially discover them.

Michaela

I like that, it happens organically, sounds like. Of all the characters you’ve created, do you have a clear favorite?  Which one owns you, heart and soul?

Heidi

Do I have a clear favourite? Ohhhhh no, they are all my dear ones. I find reasons and ways to love them all. Some I find easier to write than others, though. Austin from STRAIGHT SHOOTER is so swallowed up by internalized homophobia being in his head was actually stressful and exhausting for me. I had to take a lot of breaks.

Michaela

Oh yeah, I’ve written those. I have a character who’s suicidal for much of his book. I adore him but lordy, he was exhausting to write.

Heidi

I think to write a character in a close POV you have to really dig deep into your empathy for them, feel what they feel, really occupy their headspace. That can be very personally taxing for sure, especially dealing with heavier stuff.

Michaela

I agree, even when it’s eventually rewarding! Do you read your reviews, good or bad? (I know you read mine of DEAD RINGER because I tagged you in it, but do you seek them out?)

Heidi

I go through periods where I do, and periods where I don’t. I think reading reviews can be motivating when they’re positive, constructive when they’re negative… but can also turn very demoralizing if you’re not in the right emotional space to handle them. It’s tempting to want to see the response to your books, since writing feels like screaming into the void sometimes, but you really have to know your limits and when to step back.

Michaela

Heidi, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. Do you have some links so my readers can read your books?

Heidi

Things are a little up in the air right now with my backlist because of everything that went down with Riptide, so books will be going in and out of print over the coming months as things get sorted out… But http://HeidiBelleau.com  is my website, where you can browse my entire backlist and (hopefully) find info on where to purchase various titles.

Check out Heidi’s books at her website, follow her on Twitter and stay tuned for links to FALLEN STARLET and LEARN TO KNIT IN NINE MONTHS OR LESS when they become available!

 

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