Meet Heather Heyford, Author of the Napa Wine Heiresses Series
Born in the Northeast, Heather Heyford learned to walk and talk in Texas, and then moved to England. (“Ya’ll want some scones?”) While in Europe, Heather was forced by her cruel parents to spend Saturdays in the leopard vinyl back seat of their Peugeot, motoring from one medieval pile to the next for the lame purpose of ‘learning something.’ What she soon learned was how to allay the boredom by stashing a Cosmo under the seat. Now a recovering teacher, Heather writes love stories, feeds hardboiled eggs to suburban foxes, and makes art in the Mid-Atlantic. See more at HeatherHeyford.com
Heather Heyford is author of the contemporary romance series, The Napa Wine Heiresses. Get “A Taste of Chardonnay” in print or ebook here. A Taste of Merlot and A Taste of Sauvignon are now available for pre-order. Follow Heather on facebook, twitter, pinterest and instagram or at HeatherHeyford.com.
Thank you so much for joining us on The Muffin today. Tell me more about your new book series, the Napa Wine Heiresses. Where did you get the idea? How did your story and writing process progress? What did you do to prepare to write a series?
Heather: I'd always wanted to visit the California wine country, so when the DH and I touched down at San Francisco International Airport a couple years back, I was living the dream. Driving past the famous wineries, their spectacular mansions glinting in the sun, my writer's imagination kicked into overdrive. Who lived in those over-the-top houses? What must their world be like? It's easy to see why the Napa Valley is nicknamed America's Eden. Even though it's world-famous, the valley is relatively small and easy to get around in. There's basically one highway going north-south, rimmed by brown hills like humpback whales. In the springtime the vineyards are lush with golden mustard and pink roses.
You know how you see some people more absorbed in snapping pictures of an event than actually experiencing it? That was me in the wine country—except instead of taking pictures, I was scribbling notes.
From your wonderful description, I can see how that would be inspiring! What were the most rewarding and most challenging aspects of writing this series?
Heather: Writing about how the 4 daughters of the most notorious vintner in the Napa Valley come of age and find love—that is, writing about 4 people instead of just 1—really allowed me to explore the similarities and differences between the sisters. It was fun creating distinct personalities for each of them. Chardonnay is an athlete who cares deeply about those less fortunate, Merlot is an artist whose biggest challenge is getting over the guilty feelings about being born privileged. Sauvigon is the "smart one." As a lawyer, she feels responsible for her younger sisters and her Papa, who is always getting himself into hot water.
Sake is the surprise half-sister from one of Papa's affairs. The other three don't have any idea she even exists until her book, A Taste of Sake, comes out next fall.
Nice! Thanks for the preview! What was your writing experience like before the publication of this series?
Heather: Unlike many writers, I never dreamed of a writing career, even though I always had stronger verbal skills than math. I started out as a high school art teacher. When I left teaching, Heather: I'd had a fully formed love story in my head for quite a while. Naively, I thought I could write it into a book, never having taken a writing course. In that first book I made every mistake that a writer could possibly make. I received some constructive criticism, though, and after taking many on-line courses and reading about 30 books on the craft of writing, I got the idea for a sister series about the wine country. The Napa Wine Heiresses received multiple offers from publishers, and I had to get an agent to negotiate them.
Has being a teacher had any effect on your career as a writer in general or on writing this series in particular?
Heather: I can meet a deadline! To be a teacher and not show up would be chaos—LOL!
Ha! Yes, I think this group of writers can appreciate the need to meet deadlines. What are you writing now?
Heather: This winter I'm hard at work writing book 4, A Taste of Sake, which is due to my editor in the spring. I must say this one is tricky because unlike her sisters who had everything money could buy, Sake was raised in a tiny apartment in one of the rougher neighborhoods of San Francisco. Sake has a bit of a snarky attitude toward her "perfect" sisters. But that's only because she feels inferior to them. She'll soon find out that even rich people have problems and they bleed when hurt, just like everyone else. But I'm loving writing about her boyfriend Bill because he's her exact opposite—strait-laced and conservative, but with a heart of gold. With him Sake finally learns to trust.
That’s great! I hope you continue to enjoy your writing journey. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Heather: It's been fun visiting The Muffin! Thanks for your thoughtful questions. A Taste of Chardonnay is available now in print or ebook here. A Taste of Merlot and A Taste of Sauvignon are ready for pre-order (you won't be charged until they launch). And A Taste of Sake will appear in Fall of 2015.
I have more ideas coming, so look for me on facebook, twitter, pinterest and instagram!
Interview by Anne Greenawalt, writer and writing instructor