Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Heather MacAllister has published over 40 books with Harlequin. Her award-winning romantic comedies have been translated into 25 languages and published in dozens of countries. Before she was published, Heather won the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Her published novels have since been nominated for the RWA RITA® award three times, and eHarlequin.com readers voted Lone Star Santa Favorite Laugh-Out-Loud book of 2006. In addition to awards for best Harlequin Romance and best Harlequin Temptation, Romantic Times Book Reviews has twice nominated Heather for a Career Achievement Award in Series Love and Laughter.
Heather became addicted to romance novels in college, yet still managed to graduate and become a music teacher. She married her high-school sweetheart, whom she won over by following the instructions in How to Get a Teen-Age Boy, and What to Do with Him When You Get Him, one of her all-time favorite books, by Ellen Peck. She expressed an interest in his hobby — ham radio. He challenged her — learn Morse code and get her license, and he’d take her to the senior prom. She did, and currently sports her call sign, WB5RMA, on her car license plate. She began writing when her sons were born and within seven months, nine baby-sitters quit. So she took pity on the childcare industry, quit teaching, and began avoiding housework by writing during her sons’ nap time. She now lives in Texas, and when she's not writing, Heather spends her time collecting vintage jewelry, watching fireworks displays, and killing plants.
Heather will put her latest release, Undressed, a collection of four short stories from Harlequin Blaze, in the “Back to School” tote bag of love. At the popular wedding destination, Rocky Falls, Texas, listen in while four couples' lives are changed forever when they overhear conversations in the fitting rooms of a bridal salon and the tuxedo boutique next door.
Heather's next novel, His Little Black Book, will be out in March 2010. It's a Blaze Encounters featuring a bachelor who accidentally texts a weekend invitation to his entire little black book and the three women who accept. (Whoa!)
IMHO: Welcome, Heather! So what’s something interesting you’ve learned from writing romance?
HM: Thanks for inviting me, TJ! I've learned that love stories have world-wide appeal. People can speak different languages, but everyone knows about falling in love. Writing for Harlequin has really brought this home. My books have been published in twenty-five languages other than English. I never know when a book has been picked up for a foreign market until a padded envelope with three copies arrives in the mail. I love to see what the covers look like and try to figure out what language it is. Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Finnish are really hard to tell apart! But after examining the book and maybe running the bio and a few lines through an online translator, I'd shelve it (okay, box it) and never really think that there were people out there actually reading it in these other languages. Or I didn't until the mid-1990s, when I was writing Harlequin Romances for Mills & Boon.
M&B held their first Authors' Day in conjunction with a meeting of the Harlequin foreign editors in London. I went and got to be a fan girl when I met some of the Presents authors I'd been reading for years. There was an afternoon reception for the authors and the foreign editors. The authors were all in one room, waiting, when the hotel staff suddenly pushed aside the divider and the two groups came face to face. We stared at each other, and then the London editors began to introduce us. I remember talking to the Polish editor who recognized my name (my pseudonym, Heather Allison) and rattled off the titles of my books he'd bought for the Polish market. He even knew what they were about. I was stunned. I think I said something profound like, "You know my books?" He looked surprised. "Yes. You are popular in Poland." "Really?" Polish people were reading my books?
And they were reading them in France and Italy, and elsewhere, too. I was photographed for the Czech version of Cosmopolitan, talked about American slang with a jet-lagged editor from China, and (I cringe) had some bowing issues with the Japanese editors, after which I said, "So you're from Japan. I own a Toyota!" I know. But I was pretty much talked out by then and I think most of my books have been translated into Japanese, so they haven't held it against me.
Now, each time I receive foreign copies, I still marvel that people in other countries are reading my stories. I wonder how certain customs, settings, and actions are interpreted. As I write, I try to provide context clues for slang or Texanisms. But in the end, it's only the words that have to be translated because everyone understands falling in love.
IMHO: Indeed they do. Thanks for sharing with us, Heather. Now, for all you IMHO readers, last week we talked about the most romantic gestures; this week, tell Heather about romantic gestures gone awry, or that simply weren't. Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win the “Back to School” tote bag of love filled with two signed books by Gerry Bartlett, Annette McCleave, Ann Macela, Heather MacAllister, and Vicki Hinze.
In addition, if you are the lucky winner, you’ll also receive a $20 gift card from Barnes and Noble and a Magnetic Poetry Kit featuring “Mixed-up Romance Novel” phrases that you can use to express your inner romance novelist. And remember, the more authors whose posts you comment on during the month of September, the more chance of winning. Contest rules are on my website. USA addresses only, please.
P.S. Don't forget I'm still giving away a copy of Vicki Hinze's signed ARC of War Games: Kill Zone in advance of her appearance here next week!