SPECIAL INTERVIEW WITH NANCY HERKNESS
Nancy Herkness has been writing contemporary romance for nearly a decade and has numerous awards to show for it! She tackles difficult situations that her heroines must conquer as well as heart-felt romance in her latest series called the Horse Whisper books.
Her Horse Whisper books are set in the small country town of Sanctuary, West Virginia. Their home town feel and genuine characters have made her books favorites to be cherished!
But where does a girl from the suburbs of New Jersey get her ideas for charming stories in the country? I could not wait to ask!
New Flash: Country Roads, Book 2 of the Whisper Horse novels, is nominated for a 2014 Romance Writers of America RITA™ award!
1) I know a lot authors feel driven to write, is this how you got started?
Nancy Herkness: Writing just comes naturally to me; it’s like sleeping, eating, and breathing. I love words and I love visualizing people and scenes that don’t exist in reality. Bringing those scenes to life in a reader’s mind, using my beloved words, is my idea of a great time.
2) Many authors say their characters take over and sometimes change the intended storyline, has this happened to you?
Nancy Herkness: In fact, I love it when this happens. It means my characters have taken on a life of their own and are jumping off the page to control their fates. Sometimes it’s inconvenient because I have to reroute the plot arc, but it makes the story so much stronger and better.
For instance, in Take Me Home, I had no idea Paul, the lawyer Claire calls to take on her sister’s divorce, was secretly in love with Claire. He just took over the scene and made it clear to me. It added all kinds of wonderful dimensions to the story, and made Paul an even more complex character for his starring role in Country Roads.
3) What do you feel is most important to a successful romance?
Nancy Herkness: Intensity of emotion! We all want to experience the glorious pleasure-pain of falling in love over and over again. Of course, the hard part is creating that. I start with characters who I believe have the depths to generate that kind of genuine feeling. Then I have to think of ways to make the reader feel what the hero and heroine are going through to earn their happy ending.
4) What are the most difficult sections of a book for you to write?
Nancy Herkness: The really emotional scenes are the ones I labor over the longest and hardest. I want the reader to feel what my characters are feeling. For that I need to write dialogue with powerful subtext, add recognizable but unique body language cues, and then give the reader vivid visceral reactions from the characters. Phew, that’s a tough job!
5) Your Horse Whisper series is set in Sanctuary, West Virginia. Is Santauary based on a real town that you have visited? Or is it an imaginary place to protect the innocent?!
Nancy Herkness: Sanctuary is an idealized version of the town I grew up in: Lewisburg, West Virginia. It’s a very small pre-Civil War community cradled in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. I rode my pony Papoose around town the way other kids rode their bicycles. Some of my friends had ponies too, so we’d saddle up to visit each other’s houses or follow a trail down to the river to swim with our mounts. It was a pretty neat place to grow up.
I even use the last names of the folks I knew in my youth—although my characters don’t resemble the real people in any way. I think the names, like Sydenstricker, Arbuckle, and Loudermilk, give an authentic local flavor to the books.
6) Can you tell us more about your Horse Whisper series and why it is dear to your heart?
Nancy Herkness: The Whisper Horse series is all about returning to my roots, both in location and with horses. It’s taken me a while to feel comfortable about going back to my childhood memories and mining them for material, but I’m so glad I took the plunge.
As a result of setting my Whisper Horse novels in West Virginia, I’ve reconnected with a surprising number of childhood friends. One former classmate has even scanned pages from our elementary school yearbooks and sent them to me. Boy, do those bring back people and events I had no idea were still stored in my memory banks!
My pony Papoose gave me the idea for a Whisper Horse. You know how horses have those graceful pointed ears that they move around constantly? It makes them very good listeners, so I started telling Papoose all my troubles, and I always felt better after I did. As an added bonus, I knew he wouldn’t spill my secrets to anyone else. LOL!
Papoose was an important part of my growing-up: not just riding him, but having responsibility for his well-being. I had to make sure he had food and water and was exercised regularly. It was my job to call the blacksmith to trim his hooves, and the vet to give him his shots. It was a labor of love, since I adored him (and I like to think he was fond of me too), but it taught me a lot about the obligations of having another creature depend on me.
7) Are you secretly a cowgirl at heart? Is that why you love the country?
Nancy Herkness: Well, I grew up listening to country music and riding a horse all over town. And I love cowboy boots! Does that make me a cowgirl at heart?
8) Can you tell us about your earlier books? Especially your award winning book, A Bridge to Love, about a woman bent on revenge?
Nancy Herkness: My first two books, A Bridge to Love and Shower of Stars, were contemporary romances set in the New York metropolitan area, where I now live. They were originally published by Berkley Books. My third book, Music of the Night, was my debut in romantic suspense which was a fascinating challenge. Braiding together the mystery and the romance really gave my brain a workout!
You asked about A Bridge to Love. Since it was my first published novel (2003!), it holds a special place in my heart, as does its hero, Randall Johnson. I created him especially for me, and I still think he’s incredibly hot. There’s a love scene in the book that takes place on the hood of his Jaguar, and I have readers who reminisce about that from reading the book back when it was released.
A Bridge to Love came out of my experience as a suburban mom of two children. I wondered what would happen if one of the fundamental beliefs I’d built my adult life around turned out to be a lie. And what if the person who told me that lie was no longer within my reach? How would I react? How could I go forward? My answer was: revenge, of a sort.
9) Do you have any other books planned for the future besides your Whisper Horse series? Can you please tell us about them?
Nancy Herkness: Actually I have written a Christmas novella for the Whisper Horse series, which will be available October 1st, 2014. My wonderful readers asked me to write Holly and Robbie’s story (secondary characters in Take Me Home). Since Holly has two young daughters, I thought a holiday setting would be perfect. And instead of a Whisper Horse, Holly ends up with a Whisper Donkey. I have had the best time writing it!
As for my next series, it’s a change of gears from small town, horsey West Virginia, titled “The Horatio Club”. Three wealthy men, strangers to each other, find themselves in the bar of the exclusive Horatio Club in New York City, drowning their sorrows in drink. They start talking and discover they all have the same problem: finding a woman who loves them for themselves and not their money or power. So they make a pact to go in search of that woman. Each book begins with the same scene in the club, but told from the point-of-view of the hero of the book. My heroes are a CEO, a quarterback, and a writer, so something for everyone! I’m working on the first book now and loving it.
10) This has been so much fun! Thank you so much for this opportunity to interview you!
Nancy Herkness: Steph, I’ve had a blast chatting with you! You ask the best questions! If any of your readers wants to know more, just shoot the question over to me and I’ll be happy to answer it. I love hearing from readers!
Interviewed by Steph from the Bookaholics Romance Book Club
For Additional Information about Nancy Herkness check her out at:
http://nancyherkness.com/ or find her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/nancyherkness and Twitter @NancyHerkness.
Recent and Upcoming Romances by Nancy Herkness
The Place I Belong – June 3, 2014
Book 3 of the Whisper Horse novels
Fleeing professional scandal and a broken engagement, veterinarian Hannah Linden abandons Chicago for the mountain town of Sanctuary, West Virginia, hoping to put her troubles with men and the media behind her.
But when she encounters world-famous chef Adam Bosch, she finds herself increasingly drawn to the charming but darkly complex man and his troubled teenage son, Matt. Adam, a recovering alcoholic, fears he can never be a worthy father to the surly, distant boy he has just come to know, and enlists Hannah’s help in his struggle to connect with his son.
Hoping to coax Matt out of his shell, Hannah introduces the boy to an ailing brown pony who has the power to change his view of the world. But can the determined little whisper horse prove to Hannah, Adam, and Matt that they were meant to be a family?
Country Roads -Sept., 17th, 2013
Book 2 of the Whisper Horse novels
A 2014 Romance Writers of America RITA™ nominee!
When sheltered artist Julia Castillo flees her hometown, she has one goal: to prove to her overbearing family she can make it on her own. She knows they only want the best for her, but when they question her artistic vision, it’s time to break free. Julia’s search for independence carries her to the small town of Sanctuary, West Virginia. There, her courage is tested as never before—by her love for a handsome country lawyer, her bond with a dangerous black stallion, and a secret she is desperate to keep…
Paul Taggart abandoned his high-powered legal career to return to Sanctuary, giving up his own dreams to care for his troubled brother. Then Julia Castillo blows into town like a fresh mountain breeze, changing his staid, predictable life forever. Has Paul earned his second chance at happiness? Or does loving Julia mean having the strength to let her go?
Take Me Home -Nov. 6th, 2012
Book 1 of the Whisper Horse novels
When Claire Parker left Sanctuary, West Virginia, she thought it was for good. But now she’s back, reeling from an ugly divorce.
Readjusting to small-town life is harder than Claire expected, so she’s surprised, and grateful, to find companionship in Willow, an abused Thoroughbred mare. Willow is Claire’s “whisper horse,” and they share a special, rare bond. Except Willow isn’t the only one helping Claire heal; Willow’s ruggedly handsome veterinarian, Dr. Tim Arbuckle, is sympathetic…and secretive.
Devastated by his wife’s death, Tim thought he’d never find love again. The stoic, sexy doctor was sure he’d left his heart behind when he came to Sanctuary. But Claire stirs up emotions he thought he’d buried long ago. For the first time, the doctor tries to see past his grief.
When Willow falls gravely ill, Tim and Claire must work together to save the horse’s life and to find a love so encompassing, so intense, their lives will never be the same again.
Music of the Night -Oct. 18, 2011
Legend has it that Beethoven wrote a tenth symphony…and made it music to die for.
When world-famous conductor Nicholas Vranos finds his best friend murdered backstage at Carnegie Hall, he’s plunged into a maelstrom of intrigue swirling around the mythical masterpiece. Although Vranos is her main suspect, New York City police detective Anna Salazar finds herself turning to the dark, charismatic maestro for help as she navigates the Byzantine world of classical music. Yet she must fight the powerful seduction of the musician and his Music of the Night.
Shower of Stars -Oct. 18, 2011
Charlotte “Charlie” Berglund wants a child…desperately. When her adoption caseworker concludes that being a traveling journalist is not compatible with single parenthood, Charlie realizes she must change her profession. She decides to write a book about New York’s hottest new celebrity: Jack Lanett, meteorite hunter extraordinaire.
Unfortunately, her subject is uncooperative. Jack hates being front-page news but he’s found what may be the most valuable space rock in the world: a potentially life-bearing meteorite from Mars. Publicity will drive up the price so he agrees to one disastrous interview.
Charlie offers Jack a business proposition; he counters with a most unusual proposal.
A Bridge to Love -Oct. 18, 2011
Kate Chilton, widowed a year ago, struggles to raise two young sons alone, drawing on memories of her happy marriage to help her through the toughest times. When she discovers that her marriage was not what it seemed, the foundation of her world is shattered.
Randall Johnson has clawed his way up the ladder of success from a dirt-poor childhood in rural Texas. He has no time for the complications of love and prefers women who understand his rules. Kate Chilton is definitely not his type, despite the electricity crackling between them.
When Kate is driven by anger and betrayal to seek her own unique brand of revenge, she decides that Randall will make the perfect shockproof partner. However, as soon as she tells him he’s a one-night stand, he refuses to take “no” for an answer.