guest post Saturday, June 30, 2012
“Be true! Be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby your worst may be inferred”
That’s a line from one of my favorite novels, the Scarlet Letter. Maybe it’s because I read that book at an impressionable age, but that line has stuck with me through the years and become something I live by. It inspired the transparency that permeates my life. It’s freeing because it removes the fear of “they wouldn’t like me if they knew [fill in the blank].”
I sometimes joke that I don’t make mistakes, but I do have lots of learning experiences. Everything that’s happened in my life, every choice I’ve made, has in some way molded and shaped me and my world into what it is today. And I like who I am today, so how can I regret those choices? They’re a part of me. I’m far from perfect, but I’m comfortable in my skin and I think I’m on the right path for my life.
Those two concepts – living transparently and not lamenting wrong turns of the past – not only help me navigate my life, but they drive the choices my characters make and how their worlds unfold. Often, when trouble develops in a novel, it’s because of a secret. Skeletons in the closet have a way of haunting a person at the most inconvenient of times.
If ever a character of mine had a reason to hide her past, it’s Neena from Jailbird. If ever a character had reason to be hardened by her past, it’s also Neena. Maybe that’s why she’s one of my favorite characters. Despite her terrifying past, she moves forward with her chin up, determined to set her life right again. She keeps her wit and fights to regain her sense of humanity.
Neena has her share of secrets – things she feels she can’t tell without putting herself and others in danger – but she’s constantly wrestling with herself over half-truths. She wants desperately to tell those she loves about her past. This, in many ways, is a book of unraveling secrets of the past.
On one side, there’s old money, cover-ups and corruption. On the other, secrets preserved to protect loved ones. When the two collide, everything explodes. But sometimes that’s what has to happen to build something new.
Heather Huffman writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense with strong female leads who refuse to lose hope. She sees her books as a way to not only entertain, but to also raise awareness of the realities of modern day slavery. She shares the passion of her resilient heroines to make a difference, and so dedicates both her time and a portion of her book royalties to organizations that fight against human trafficking.
Heather was born and spent her early childhood in Florida, but now calls the beautiful state of Missouri home. Her greatest joy, aside from writing, is to hit the road with her three boys for adventures unknown.