Heidi Hanley is another of my sisters in Broad Universe, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting, encouraging, honoring, and celebrating women writers and editors in science fiction, fantasy, horror and other speculative genres.
For Heidi, reading and writing are like breathing. On her 50th birthday, she got serious about turning her passion for writing into a goal to publish. The result is The Prophecy: Book One of the Kingdom of Uisneach series. The story taps into the core of her Irish heritage, evoking the spirit of ancient myth and legend. The Runes of Evalon, the second book in the trilogy, came out on July 26th.
Heidi lives in New Hampshire beside the Connecticut River with her husband and a Scottish terrier. By day, she serves as a Hospice chaplain. In the wee hours of the morning, she’s writing. When not working, you will find her reading, sneaking away to Maine, or in the garden with the birds and faeries.
She describes The Prophecy:
For centuries, fairy tales have entertained, comforted, and inspired us. They have offered opportunities for adventure and provided hope for a “happily ever after” life. But real life isn’t always as simple as fairy tales would have us believe. Sometimes the Prince doesn’t wake the sleeping princess, or if he does, they discover that they are a poor match. Sometimes the “Great Adventure” requires a great deal of sacrifice and nearly kills the hero along the way. Sometimes a happy ending is a fairy tale.
Briana Brennan, aka Mouse, has a recurring dream that starts her biological clock ticking. Also ticking is the clock of destiny, started by a visit from a forest crone at the hour of her birth. While Briana is worrying that she won’t find the man of her dreams, a kingdom is worried that they’ll never see their Savior and the kingdom will be lost. Destiny has a surprise for them both.
Following a sound in the woods, Briana finds herself traveling through a tree into the Kingdom of Uisneach. She is met by gnomes who have been waiting for her to come as the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy. She is destined to save King Brath from a cursed exile and take the kingdom back from the evil Lord Shamwa and Druid Artanin. With only a magic map to guide her, she begins a journey that requires her to make decisions at every crossroads.
Magical maps, powerful swords, dryads, fairies, evil druids, good friends, and an Abbess, all contribute something to the journey and to her growth as a woman, a warrior and a queen. She learns the challenging lessons of love, patience, sacrifice, loyalty, and commitment. The journey across Uisneach is a great adventure, but one in which she must endure heartache and physical pain, but hopefully in the end, find love and her happily ever after.
Did something in the real world inspire The Prophecy?
Sort of. I wrote The Prophecy because of the advice that I should write what I wanted to read. I wanted to turn a traditional fairy tale into an adult version, with the female doing the saving, not being saved. However, the book started out with one end goal in mind and, during a rather otherworldly experience in which I met my muse, a secondary character became a primary character and the entire book outline changed.
I fell asleep one night and the next morning, I woke to have not one book, but a trilogy entirely mapped out in my head. I wrote as fast as I could in the next few days to get the details fleshed out, but this spiritual experience with the muse really drove the idea for the Kingdom of Uisneach series.
What is your favorite scene in the book?
There are scenes that I love for their beauty and magic and there are scenes that I love for their drama or humor. If I must choose a favorite in this moment, it would be the scene where Briana wakes from a dream in which she has made the emotional commitment to her fiancé, the king. She realizes that she is going to marry him, not because the prophecy is forcing her to, but because she loves him and loves Uisneach. She wants to accept the mantle of queen to help King Brath defeat Lord Shamwa and restore magic to the kingdom. To do that, she must come clean about a few things that she has been hiding from Brath and then sever the emotional connection to Silas, who shares her soul. It took a very long time for me to get myself into that place where I could write the scene. It came with lots of angst and tears. Briana comes into her own power and embraces her future with more clarity and self-assurance.
What was your writing process like as you wrote the book?
If you mean am I a plotter or pantser, I’d say a bit of both. Initially I wrote an outline based on the hero’s journey. I am fundamentally a plotter or architect, a term I have just learned and love. However, I also have a strong connection to my characters and often let them direct my pen. I enjoy writing from this mysterious place of creativity. I believe it makes the books special.
However, I was also taught by my wonderful editor, Jill Shultz, to write chapter summaries. I won’t admit to loving that part of the process, but it does help me maintain focus, even when my characters want to run amock.
If you mean when and how I write, so much of the story came to me during sleep that I would wake up at God-awful hours of the morning with conversations or ideas in my mind that I had to get up and write. Sleep became something I only daydreamed about. I work a full-time job, so my writing was on the one day I had to myself and in the wee hours of the morning. Things calmed down a bit with book two. Although I still get up long before the birds, I’m able to get a complete night’s sleep. I also keep a notebook with me at all times, in case inspiration sashays into my consciousness.
What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?
Receiving good reviews is awesome. Building a fan base and finding out that your characters mean something to someone else is a super thrill. I have been especially gratified by the positive response from male readers. I wasn’t sure how they would take to this book, but so far, I have had nothing but appreciation from that group of readers.
What do you have planned next?
Book 2, The Runes of Evalon, was released July 26th. Book 3 is being written even as we speak. Poetry also figures largely in my future. My biggest challenge in The Prophecy was to write songs from the bard. I’m not really a songwriter. However, I discovered someone who is an amazing lyricist and he inspired me to find my own style. Once I found my own voice, the practice became something I really enjoy. I am spending what I have named A Year with the Poet playing with poetry, which I post on my Facebook Author page.
You can pick up a copy of The Prophecy from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2t1tPoO.