Heather Marie worked as a hairstylist and makeup artist for several years before turning to her passion, writing. Her debut, THE GATEWAY THROUGH WHICH THEY CAME, was published by Curiosity Quills. Visit her here.
NAW- Tell us about your book, The Gateway Through Which They Came. How did you get the idea for it? What is it about?
The Gateway Through Which They Came is centered around seventeen-year-old Aiden Ortiz who is a Gateway for the dead. Along with his gift to cross the dead over by allowing them to walk through his body, Aiden soon gets mixed up between a world of Good vs. Evil when dark forces threaten to turn his gift into a curse.
The idea came from too many hours of paranormal investigation shows. I’m obsessed with that stuff. Anything related to ghosts and otherworldly beings simply fascinate me.
NAW- What drew you to the horror genre?
I’ve been a fan of horror for years. It started with the Universal Classics like Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, etc. Eventually I got really into 80’s slasher films and it escalated from there.
When it comes to horror, I’m more about the scares than the gore (and there is a difference). Shock factor doesn’t do it for me. If the story is done right, a good horror movie doesn’t need all the excessive blood. Personally, I just love being scared. Nothing makes me happier than hearing someone say my book kept them up at night. Whether it’s because they can’t get the terrifying images out of their head, or because they found themselves too consumed by the story—both are perfectly okay with me.
NAW- How long did you take to finish the book? How did you decide the title?
The title just came to be. No joke. As soon as I came up with the idea of a “gateway” the rest sort of happened.
I started Gateway during NaNoWriMo of 2012 (November), and it wasn’t complete and ready to publish until about Jan/February of 2014. It was a very long road and totally worth it.
NAW- What can a novice reader expect from The Gateway Through Which They Came?
Plenty of twists and turns, as well as a fresh take on the supernatural aspect of YA. Gateway became a thriller/mystery before I ever knew that’s what I was writing. The more it progressed, the more I realized it was turning into a game of whodunnit. I hope novice readers find themselves guessing and intrigued the whole way through.
NAW- Tell us about the character of Aiden Ortiz. How did you develop the character?
Aiden is a mixture of all the boys I grew up with as a skateboarder in Sacramento. I’ve always considered myself a tomboy, even after becoming a hairstylist/makeup artist. I’m the kind of girl who gets along with boys way more than girls. When it came to developing Aiden, I felt like I already knew him. He’s probably one of the easiest characters I’ve ever had to write, because he’s the most real to me.
NAW- Tell us about your publishing journey.
Where do I start… Gateway was my sixth manuscript. I queried every manuscript before that and got plenty of rejections. In fact, I got several rejections for Gateway at the beginning as well. Somewhere between my fourth manuscript and the start of the fifth, I managed to get an agent’s attention. I signed with them for a little less than a year, until we parted ways.
I’ve been around the industry long enough to know when things just aren’t right, and when you don’t see yourself working with someone for the long haul, you have to know when it’s best to back out. It was a struggle after that to get back on my feet. I’m very grateful to Curiosity Quills Press for giving me a chance.
NAW- Tell us about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing?
Read. A lot. I visit my local library almost every other weekend, so the stack of books on my shelf is never-ending. When I’m not reading, I spend most of my time at home with my husband and our cat. I’ve also been branching out a little bit more with my friends as far as testing my writing limits. They encourage me to work on projects that aren’t publishing related, and I love it because there’s no pressure.
NAW- Please name your favourite writers. Are there any who you’d like to name as an inspiration?
V.C. Andrews and Page Morgan are two of my absolute favorites for two very different reasons. V.C. Andrews tackles a lot of tough subjects in her writing, and does it effortlessly. Page Morgan on the other hand has a way of making even gargoyles seem romantic, and her imagery is absolutely breathtaking.
NAW-What are you currently reading?
As I fill this out, I have The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Córdova in front of me. Loving it so far!
NAW- What will you be working on next?
I’ll be working on The Gateway of Light and Darkness (Gateway 2) edits for most of the fall. After that I have a side project with a few friends that involves writing something I’ve never attempted before, which will be announced on my blog sometime in October. I also have another supernatural novel in the works, of course. I’m gonna be very busy in the coming months, that’s for sure. Definitely not complaining, though.