Heart of the Ocean by Heather B. Moore
A dark secret . . . a grieving ghost . . . a handsome stranger . . .
What more could Eliza Robinson want?
Except for maybe her life.
In Heather B. Moore’s enthralling 1840’s historical romance, Heart of the Ocean, Eliza Robinson has turned down the very pretentious Mr. Thomas Beesley’s marriage proposal. As a business partner of Eliza’s father, Thomas quickly discredits the family and brings disgrace to the Robinson name.
While her father scrambles to restore his good name in New York City, Eliza flees to the remote Puritan town of Maybrook to stay with her Aunt Maeve. Although relieved to be away from all- things-male and unforgiving gossip columns, odd things start to happen to Eliza, and she is plagued by a ghostly voice. Her aunt’s explanation? That Eliza is being haunted by a woman who died of a broken heart twenty years ago.
After Aunt Maeve is tragically killed, Eliza's life is put in danger as she tries to uncover the mystery of her aunt's death. She encounters Jonathan Porter in Maybrook, whose presence in the town seems suspicious, yet she finds herself drawn to him. When she discovers that Jonathan’s dark secrets may be the link between the dead woman who haunts her and her aunt’s murderer, Eliza realizes that Jonathan is the one man she should never trust.
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An interview with the author
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m the author of ten historical novels, two non-fiction inspirational books, and a handful of contemporary women’s fiction and romance. I live in Utah at the base of Mt. Timpanogos with my husband, four children, and a black cat. I’ve spent several years living in the Middle East, but prefer to forget the smells.
When did you decide to take that step that made you a published author?
My first novel published (3rd book written) had been on submission with a publisher for 10 months. When they came back and rejected the manuscript, I was devastated. My husband encouraged me to go in and meet with the managing editor and pitch my book in person. I did, and they ended up changing their minds. Now, ten years later, I’ve published twelve books with them and have been grateful for every step along the way.
Is writing a full-time career for you? If not, how else do you spend your work day?
Writing is a part-time career for me. I also own and manage the freelance editing company, Precision Editing Group. Although writing is my first love, I also do quite a bit of editing. It’s exciting to help and mentor other writers.
If you had to sum it up Heart of the Ocean in 30 or less words, what would you say?
A dark secret . . . a grieving ghost . . . a handsome stranger . . . What more could Eliza Robinson want? Except for maybe her life.
What inspired the idea behind your book?
Heart of the Ocean was a very organic book, meaning I had an idea for a girl coming into a Puritan town and finding out a dark secret. That was all I had to go on. I didn’t plot in advance, but plotted as the story unfolded. Then as I started writing, the voice of the past came up, and I realized that it would be the ghost who is trying to tell her story.
Will you share with us a short preview of Heart of the Ocean?
(Below are the opening lines of the book)
Eliza swung around, searching for the source of the voice—a woman’s voice. Wind tugged at her wool coat, and streaks of rain pelted her face. Maybe it’s the wind. Again. It was the same voice she heard on her walk out to the cliffs. But that’s impossible. There’s no one here. She turned to face the sea and realized she was only two steps from the edge of the cliff where the jagged rocks sloped into the surf dozens of feet below.
Eliza backed away from the cliff’s edge, heart pounding as she peered into the gray drizzle for any sign of the woman. I’m imagining it . . . or it’s in my head. She shuddered and pulled the coat tighter around her body.
What message do you hope readers take away from the book?
I did quite a bit of research on the Puritans to develop the setting, but the primary purpose of the book is driven by Helena Talbot, a woman who was shunned by her community and then died tragically. Many of us experience challenges that are brought on by intolerance by those around us. So I suppose if I were to dig deeply, I’d say that I hope that readers will come away with a greater understanding of the historical time period, the varied beliefs that drove people’s actions, and how the human condition affects us all.
What has been your greatest pleasure in writing this book?
I drafted Heart of the Ocean several years ago, and it was a bit nerve-wracking to open it again and see if I could revise it in to a publishable book. I was excited to discover that I still really enjoyed the plot and characters. The greatest pleasure in writing the book has been bringing Helena Talbot to “peace.” The story was hers to begin with and remained hers throughout all of the revision work.
As a multi-genre author, how do you juggle going back and forth between the different genres? Do you have a preferred genre?
I’ve written primarily historical fiction in various eras, from 600 B.C. to the 1900’s. In the past couple of years, I’ve been switching between contemporary novels, historical novels, and even a speculative novel. I usually finish a manuscript before starting a different one, but due to a tight deadline last year, I spent three days a week on a contemporary romance, and the other two days on a speculative YA novel. The best thing about it was that I didn’t encounter writer’s block—and if I was struggling—I could switch stories. I think that historical is my first love simply because it’s what I enjoy reading the most, and I also find the research fascinating.
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
Heart of the Ocean is a stand-alone historical romance. Will I revisit the era again? Perhaps something close to it. I’ve started drafting a novel about my 10th great-grandmother who was hanged as a witch in Salem Massachusetts during the infamous Salem Witch Trials. I’ll be able to use some of the research I did on the Puritans and other religious movements in my new novel.
What do you have in store next for your readers?
My contemporary romance Aliso Creek novella series has started its publication schedule. The first novella, Third Time’s the Charm, was released in December on ebook, and the second in the series will be out in February 2013, called Picture Perfect, as part of the Timeless Romance Anthology: Spring Vacation Collection.
My turn-of-the century historical romance novella, A Fortunate Exile, was recently released as part of the Timeless Romance Anthology: Winter Collection.
If my readers enjoy contemporary romance, then my recent novel Athena, fits the bill. As part of the Newport Ladies Book Club series, Athena is a sweet and thoughtful romance.
What type of hero do you like best?
I like heroes that are flawed, and understandingly so. When I was working on Heart of the Ocean, I asked myself what are some drawbacks that Jon had and what did he need to overcome in order to put his past behind him and move forward into a happier future.
What type of heroine do you like best?
My favorite type of heroine is one who is strong, flawed, and her character journey is believable and one that readers can relate to.
Do you write your friends or family members into your books? If so, did they figure it out?
I’ve put in names of friends or family into my books, but I’m always sure to make sure they are quite the opposite of the character I created. Or if there are similarities, then they are “good” similarities. I once named a goat after my nephew—he hasn’t read the book, but he did hear about it from others. And I named a harem worker after a lady in my critique group—it was all good though because she kills off a character named after me in one of her books.
How do you unwind after a long writing session?
Driving someplace is not a good choice after I’ve been writing for a while because my mind is quite foggy. Just doing anything around the house to slowly acclimate into the “real world” is the best thing before jumping into the car. I’m known to do a lot of U-turns already, so adding my foggy writing mind to that doesn’t work.
Is there a genre you wish you could write, but haven’t made the plunge? Which one and what appeals to you about it?
I’d like to write a fairy-tale retelling, or maybe a few of them. As a young girl, I loved to read the Russian ones, as well anything from Hans Christian Anderson, of course.
What are you reading now? Why did you choose that book?
I’m currently reading The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani. It’s an interesting historical novel that’s an epic love story between two people from the same Italian village and who both emigrate to America. It’s based on the love story of Trigiani’s ancestors. I chose the book because I heard about it through several different outlets, and I love historical fiction.
What challenges did you face in getting your first book published?
My first book published was my third novel written. I went through a lot of submissions, rejections, revisions, and resubmissions with various manuscripts. When I did finally get a manuscript accepted, it was almost a two-year process from submission to release date.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote my first novel at the age of 30. I had never planned on writing a novel, but I had an idea for a story that took place during WWII, and the first lines popped into my head one morning and I decided to see where that story took me.
Quick Answer Questions: (optional and will be used depending upon # of questions answered and length of answers)
Best Christmas present?
A serger—I was very into sewing as a teenager, and a serger made me feel like a professional.
Maeve Binchy, who sadly passed away in 2012.
Lilacs! Or roses.
(Let me preface this by saying that the name “Nathaniel” makes an appearance in Heart of the Ocean in honor of Mr. Hawthorne.)
“America is now wholly given over to a damned mob of scribbling women.” –Nathaniel Hawthorne
Is there anything else you’d like to share with your reader’s today?
Thanks for the interview and I hope you’ll enjoy Heart of the Ocean!
Author Heather B. Moore
Heather B. Moore is the award-winning author of ten novels, two inspirational non-fiction books, and two anthologies, including The Newport Ladies Book Club Series, A Timeless Romance Anthology, and Christ's Gifts to Women (co-authored by Angela Eschler).
Her historical fiction is published under the pen name H.B. Moore. She is the two-time recipient of Best of State in Literary Fiction, two-time Whitney Award Winner, and two-time Golden Quill Winner for Best Novel. Her most recent historical novel under H.B. Moore is Daughters of Jared (2012 LUW Gold Award of Excellence & 2012 LUW Best Book Trailer).
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