Jen: Today we welcome Heather Gray to Romancing the Book. Heather, will you share a short bio with us?
Heather: Heather loves coffee, God, her family, and laughter – not necessarily in that order! She writes approachable characters who, through the highs and lows of life, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her. After all, they are flawed…but loved anyway. And, yeah, Heather’s books almost always have someone who’s a coffee addict. Some things just can’t be helped.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Heather: An Informal Christmas is part of the Love’s Gift boxed set. It’s a novella that’s near and dear to my heart. I spent a fair amount of time in the hospital with one of my children a couple of years ago. I saw the hard work and dedication of those pediatric nurses, chaplains, and Child Life Specialists. When I decided to write a Christmas story this year, I couldn’t think of a better setting than in a hospital or a better heroine than someone who loves the children being treated there. A sappy hero would have been a little over the top, though, so I had to give him some conflicted emotions when it came to hospitals and children. All in all, I think Rylie and Zach balance nicely and bring out the best in each other.
With a shove to the door, she exited the stairwell and stood on a narrow landing with skylights above and a view of the hospital’s lobby below. Ten steps to the left, and she broke through to the hallway-of-no-return. Nobody came up to this floor unless they worked in one of the three departments exiled here. The first door belonged to the chaplaincy. The second led to the main office for the hospital social workers. The third door, decorated with construction paper butterflies and cotton ball caterpillars, was home sweet home — Child Life.
“I can’t believe how rude people have become!” Rylie vented about the man in the elevator as she stepped past the colorful decorations and into her domain. Suzie, the part-time department head who kept their ship running tighter than junior size spandex on a burly linebacker, wasn’t at her desk. Their offices were anything but spacious, though, so she was likely still within hearing distance. After all, what was a good venting without someone to listen?
“I was running for the elevator, but the guy inside didn’t even wait for me. He let the doors slide closed. Because obviously it wasn’t big enough for two of us.” She left out the part about his back being to her. Absolving him of guilt wasn’t high on her priority list at the moment.
Suzie emerged from The Vault, a nether region of their office used for storage. She dusted her hands off and frowned at Rylie. “We have company.” She waved at the man following behind her. “This is Mr. York. He brought several boxes of stuffed animals for our kids.”
No way. Not… Lots of guys wore denim jackets, right? It couldn’t be the same…
“Sorry about the elevator.”
Jen: Favorite breakfast food.
Jen: Favorite day of the week?
Heather: Wednesday – It’s the quiet lull in the middle of my otherwise crazy busy week.
Jen: Favorite holiday tradition?
Heather: Decorating the Christmas tree.
Jen: Favorite shoes?
Heather: Dansko – I love my clogs!
Jen: Favorite room in your house?
Heather: Living room – The living room is where family is. That’s where life happens.
Jen: Who is your hero?
Heather: Nehemiah from the Bible is my hero. He could have lived a life of relative comfort without making waves, and nobody would have noticed. Instead, he risked everything for the God he loved. He wasn’t content to let life pass him by when he could do more, when he could be more. I admire that.
Jen: How far from where you grew up do you live?
Heather: 2500 miles give or take – I grew up in Arizona, Nevada, and Montana (w/ a brief stint in Texas), and now I love right outside the District of Columbia.
Jen: What is the perfect temperature?
Heather: 66 on a dry day. 69 if it’s rainy or snowy. (I know. I should move north.)
Jen: Your dream vacation spot?
Heather: Can I have a beach in the mountains? I love them both too much to choose.
Jen: What TV family would you want to be a part of?
Heather: Okay, so this is a pseudo-family, but I’d like to be adopted by the Criminal Minds team. 🙂
Jen: If you could have dinner with any author living or dead, who would it be?
Heather: Dean Koontz. He can weave together humor and suspense like nobody’s business, and he likes dogs. If we run out of things to talk about, we can just look at cute dog pictures.
Jen: Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Heather: Neither! I perk up about two hours after I’ve gotten up for the day, and I run out of steam by 10pm. I’m pretty sure that makes me neither a morning person nor a night owl. (It also does not make me the life of the party, just in case you were wondering.)
Jen: What’s next for you?
Heather: An Informal Christmas is Book One in the Informal Romance series. Book Two, An Informal Arrangement, will be out in February 2016. With a hero who is in chronic pain from an unexpected illness and a nurse who has recently lost more patients than normal, the story is rife with emotional drama. There’s also an albino horned toad, bad traffic, good coffee, a police detective who loves his football team, and an underlying theme of faith and new beginnings.