Monday, June 15, 2015

Interview and Giveaway: Heather Day Gilbert, Trial by Twelve

I've been a fan of Heather Day Gilbert since I read her debut novel, God's Daughter. Not only is she an amazing author, she's also an encourager to new writers. She was one of the first people to push me toward taking my writing more seriously. I'm honored to interview her about her latest release, Trial by Twelve. Heather is also giving away an ebook copy of her latest novel. Check for details at the end of the interview!

Trial by Twelve is the second in your Murder in the Mountains series. How is writing this one different than writing Miranda Warning?

Great question! Going into this one, I knew I wanted it to be shorter, so I could get more books out per year in this series. So Trial by Twelve was around 52,000 words, whereas Miranda Warning was around 82,000. I prefer the shorter length!

Since this is a series, the tricky thing was matching up timelines and making sure all the details remained consistent from one book to the next, such as ages of the characters. I also had the task of re-introducing repeat characters, which meant I had to make their backstories/connections clear for those who had never read book one, without boring readers who were already familiar with them. To do this, I sent out early reader copies specifically targeting those who hadn't read Miranda Warning yet. I was grateful most seemed to pick up on the relationships easily and follow right along with the characters, having just "met" them.

Do you put a lot of yourself into your characters? Is there any one you identify with more than others?

Ha...funny you should ask that. I think most people who read the A Murder in the Mountains mysteries and know me or my husband realize that yes...I draw a lot from our relationship (my husband happens to be a lawyer, like Thomas Spencer). And of all the characters I've written, Tess Spencer is probably the most like me, personality-wise. But she has a really messed up childhood (mine was great), she tends to plunge into dangerous situations (not like me so much), and there are several other key differences I use with her to keep her distinct and separate from me in my mind.
But yes, we both enjoy coffee, video games, and our in-law bonds, among other things. :)

Your novels are very character driven. How does that make them different from other mysteries?

I think my novels seem like cozy mysteries in many ways--they are set in a small town, with an amateur sleuth, and no graphic sex/violence or cursing, and we get to know townspeople, family, and friends over time. However, they're like traditional mysteries, as well (think Hercule Poirot or Rebecca) in that the psyche of the killer is key to figuring out the villain. So people's personalities/character traits are very important to each storyline and that's why I call my mysteries "psychological" mysteries.
I had one reviewer compare my mysteries to a cross between author Lorena McCourtney's cozies and Karen Kingsbury's family-driven series. I think that's probably accurate, because I couldn't divorce the characters in this book from their family situations. Having Tess Spencer be a married main character who lives next to her in-laws was an important part of the dynamic of this series because it made it deeper and more believable.

You've done very well with indie publishing and have even written a book about it. What's the most important thing you've learned about the indie world?

I guess my best advice would be to try everything you can afford to try. You will learn what works and what doesn't work for you, and each book you publish will be better for it. Also, don't be afraid to ask people to read your book (from reviewers to advertising). You believed in that book enough to write, edit, and publish it, so stand behind it and make sure it doesn't become invisible in the sea of books on Amazon. Finally, plug in to indie groups online or follow/contact indie authors. It's their business to stay up-to-date, if they're taking it seriously.

What's coming up next for you?

Hmm! I tend to fluctuate in my day-to-day writing plans and I have no less than five series swirling in my head now. But suffice it to say I will continue to add books to my A Murder in the Mountains series (hopefully one more this year), and book 2 in my Vikings of the New World Saga, Forest Child, is also on the agenda for next year. Aside from remains to be seen! I have both Viking historical readers and contemporary mystery readers I want to try and keep "feeding" both groups as much as possible.

Thanks for letting me visit!

You can find Heather online here:
Twitter: @heatherdgilbert

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment to enter. Be sure to include your email. One winner will receive an ebook copy of Trial by Twelve.


  1. Sounds interesting, looking forward to hopefully reading it :)
    jslbrown2009 at aol dot com

    1. Lisa - you're the winner! Thanks for entering, and congratulations. :-)

  2. Enjoyed visiting and the great questions, Amanda!

  3. Looking forward to reading Trial by Twelve. I loved Miranda Warning.

  4. Not sure if my first comment showed up, if I repeated, so sorry!

    Love the insight on how Tess is similar to you, Heather! She is such a great character. I want to be besties with her! :)

    Thanks for the chance to win!


  5. Great Interview, Amanda. Heather, the book sounds fascinating, and I'll check out your books. Woule love to win, but I'm a dinosaur and am not an e-book person. But your books sound right up my alley.

    Hope both of you have a blessed day.

  6. Thank you all for the comments! Appreciate those of you who've read/enjoyed Miranda Warning and hoping you'll enjoy Trial by Twelve, as well! Jeff/Becky--hope you can get your hands on a softcover sometime!

  7. Thanks, Heather. (Jeff doing the typing, as I did with the above comment.)

    As of this afternoon, I requested the library purchase Miranda Warning. If they approve the suggestion and I enjoy it (which, since cozy/traditional mysteries are my favorite genre, is a very distinct possiblity), I'll then suggest Trial By Twelve.

    Have a blessed day.

  8. Congratulations Lisa Brown - you're the winner!