I’d like to welcome Heather Bell Adams to the blog today. Heather’s short stories appear in The Thomas Wolfe Review, Clapboard House, Broad River Review, Gravel, The Bluestone Review, Pembroke Magazine, Southern Writers Magazine, First Stop Fiction, Deep South Magazine, and elsewhere. Recently named the Emerging Writer Fellow for the inaugural Laughing Heart Literary Festival, she won the 2016 James Still Fiction Prize and the 2017 Carrie McCray Literary Award. MARANATHA ROAD, which has been endorsed by Robert Morgan, Amy Greene, Kim Church, and Gregg Cusick, is her first novel.
What was your favorite book as a child?
Growing up, I especially loved the Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon series by L.M. Montgomery, books by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, and A Little Princess and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
What is your day job?
By day, I’m a lawyer, focusing on financial services litigation, antitrust, and class action defense. Sometimes people ask if I’d like to write a legal thriller, but I don’t necessarily see that in the cards. I guess never say never though!
When do you write?
I write in whatever little snippets of time I can find—while eating my takeout lunch, waiting for a flight, or early in the morning before my husband and son wake up. I also do a lot of brainstorming and planning on my daily commute to the office. It seems to make the traffic at least somewhat bearable…
Are you a pantser or a plotter?
Well, I’m sort of discovering that, at least for me, it might vary project to project. I was a pantser for MARANATHA ROAD, discovering the story as I wrote the (very messy) first draft. My current work-in-progress is a dual timeline story and I needed to do a very rough outline to gather enough confidence to begin.
Do you ever write longhand?
Usually my writing is done on my laptop. But I do carry around a spiral notebook that a few of my friends laugh at because it’s nothing fancy—and in fact the current one is pretty tattered-looking. I use it to jot down notes and explore different possibilities for my current story.
Tell us about your current release. What inspired you to write it?
MARANATHA ROAD is the story of two women: Sadie Caswell, whose son dies shortly before his wedding and Tinley Greene, the young stranger who shows up claiming she’s pregnant with his child.
The novel grew from the image of a teenaged girl waiting in a rainstorm for her parents. That girl, Tinley, seems sympathetic and a bit naïve. But once she realizes she’s pregnant, she’s forced to grow up quickly. When we initially encounter the older character of Sadie, she comes across as distant and consumed by grief. By the story’s end, I hope readers will rejoice as these two strong, Southern women find their way.
Where is your book set? What draws you to this setting?
The fictional setting of Garnet is inspired by Hendersonville, North Carolina, where I grew up, and Zirconia and Tuxedo, the nearby rural communities where my great-grandparents lived. I was definitely drawn to this setting because of spending my childhood in the area. Someone recently said the novel inspired them to visit the mountains of North Carolina and I was really gratified to hear that.
What is your favorite book?
Can I please list my top five? The World Made Straight by Ron Rash, Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, Bloodroot by Amy Greene, A Separate Peace by John Knowles, and TransAtlantic by Colum McCann. Ooops, that’s six…