Interview with Heidi Cullinan

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Hi, Heidi – welcome to Under the Covers!  We are so thrilled to have you here during your blog tour for LET IT SNOW!

As you know, we at UTC just loved LET IT SNOW!  And your dedication was adorable.  For readers who haven’t read LET IT SNOW yet, Heidi dedicated it to herself as she was hankering for a snowed-in story.  Heidi, since you couldn’t find one, and decided to write one for yourself, can you tell us a little about how your stories come to you?  Do you have to create the characters from scratch, or do they just appear in your mind?  Do they speak to you while writing?

To be honest with you, for every story that goes to print/gets written down, there are thirty that never see the light of day, short and long snippets I tell myself when I’m bored or doing something boring. My family knows when I go quiet in a car or while doing housework they shouldn’t bother me because I’m “writing.” There’s one in particular I might never write down because it’s my story, one I wrote just for myself in my own head.

Story is always wandering through my head, but the ones that get written down sparkle a little more. The best are the ones that I try to reject. Roe in Nowhere Ranch talked in first person, and I wanted to move him to third, but he said, “No, listen,” so I did, and he poured out of me. I tried really hard not to write Let It Snow, but it got so loud I ended up writing it down.

I never get the full story, though. It plays like a movie in my head, with colors and emotions and sets very clear to my mind. Their faces are never clear, which is why I’m not big on description of the characters (to the annoyance of many, I know). Like, I’d know Randy Jansen on sight, but I’ve never seen a picture that’s right. It’s more that I know the way his smile tips, the way his eyes crinkle. And of course that horrible hair.

I don’t get the whole plot, either. I get the setup, and I’ve learned I must poke them for a conflict…though they usually lie to me and I have to graft it back in later. I can’t outline. Well, I do, but they’re so fantastically wrong. I sold the sequel to Love Lessons with a partial and a synopsis, and I can’t wait to show the final product to Sasha. It’s…similar. But not the same. This is how it always goes. Some of this, honestly, is because if I know what’s going to happen, I get bored. Damon Suede gave me this great idea for a series, plotted it all out with me. It was dead in a week. I think about it and groan, I’m so bored. Though I suspect I’ll pick it up later and redecorate.

Let It Snow came as a hard, fast mental download. For a little while it wanted to do a King Arthur AND Goldilocks riff, but I said, “No, you can’t, that’s too much.” This is the thing that’s come with twenty works out: I feel a little more confident saying no, that won’t work. The muses still drive the bus, but the stories listen a little more. We’re still working on the concept of deadlines. We’re getting better, but we’ve got work to do on that score.

Did I read correctly that LET IT SNOW is the start of a new series for you?  If so, what can you divulge to us anxious readers about the series?  How many books are planned?  When is the next one due to come out?  Who will be the next couple?  (sorry, just a little excited here!)  😉

Never be sorry! I’m excited for them too. I’m writing the sequel right now, which is probably going to be called Sleigh Ride. This is Arthur’s story—yes, I break up Paul and Arthur, and I always intended to do that. Paul will be next year. Arthur is hooking up with Gabriel, the librarian very tangentially mentioned in book one. Paul’s love interest is still floating around out there. The nurse at the care center keeps whispering to me, but I am feeling kind of stubborn about Paul hooking up with another bear, because I never meant this to be a twink-bear thing every time. But I’m sure Paul will do whatever he wants.

Honestly right now I’m having so much fun I would do this every year forever. I’m a real sap for Christmas novellas, for one, and so long as I’m writing Love Lessons stories in the fall (which is also probably going on for a while), writing Minnesota Snow to go with them is a good sanity saver. Besides, I really think Paul and the nurse are friends, not lovers…

Frankie and Marcus were such endearing main characters.  Different in many ways, but totally perfect for each other.  Will we get to see more of Frankie and Marcus in the future books?

Oh, yes. With the exception of my fantasy series, it’s unlikely you’ll ever see a connected set of books from me with anything but each new installment featuring a new couple. Some of that is it’s how I cut my teeth in romance, and a lot of it is that it stressed me out too much as a reader and author to have that keep on going. The only way to sustain romantic conflict is for there to be conflict. That said, I hate saying goodbye, which to me is the whole point of a series.

Frankie and Marcus are definitely back in book two, and Paul as well. In fact, as soon as I finish this interview I’m off to decorate a sleigh with the full cast. It is possible there’s another cameo in there you’ll recognize, but I don’t know yet and it’s contingent on several other factors, so I’ll just tease you on that for now. Also I haven’t written that scene. They could be invaded by aliens by the end. You never know. Certainly I don’t…

How was writing LET IT SNOW for you?  Did it come to you easily?  Are certain characters more difficult to write than others?

Certain characters are harder than others, and certain books are harder than others. For whatever reason the Love Lessons series scrapes the insides of my soul, and it wears me the hell out. I think that’s because my college years were incredibly emotionally brutal, and while I started that series to be light and fun I ended up doing some private therapy. Plus those books get very epic and insane before I boil them down.

The Minnesota Snow boys, though. They’ve got a special place in my heart because they’re easy. They’re light and fun by design. I set a hard limit at 60k for length, which for me is practically a novella. This means the conflict can’t be that involved. The scenes are shorter too, and punchier. And the characters are a riot to write. I’m not sure where they came from exactly. I believe in archetypes: I think I have a set of about a dozen I pull out and put new clothes on at this point, though some of them morph a little one they get in the game. I had a lot of fun with how grumpy Marcus was. Frankie was never quite as sassy as I thought he’d be. But he was still pretty great.

Arthur, though. Man, I love that guy. I think he’s one of my spirit animals.

Will we get to see more of Paul and Arthur in the future books?  You made sure to emphasize in LET IT SNOW that they really aren’t compatible for each other as a couple – does this mean that they will not be each other’s HEA?  If so, does their relationship cause problems for their future HEAs?

Yep: Arthur is book two, Paul book three. They’ll remain friends, though they’re negotiating that peace right now in book two. It was Paul’s idea to move on, which kind of hurt Arthur’s feelings. He thought things were fine. Then he met Gabriel and realized he understood the “more” Paul had been hankering for.

The thing is, people date and don’t always stay together, and in a small town you have to sit next to them in church and shop in the same four-aisle grocery. That was something I wanted to play with, so I built it in from word go.

Heidi, you have written a multitude of books that run the gamut from happy to angst-ridden, sweet to hardcore, contemporary to paranormal, and everything in between.  Do you prefer one type of book over the other?  Any particular genre?

The only genre you will never see me write is thriller or suspense. I can barely read them and the level of suckage I’d have for writing them would be galling. As for favorites…well. I go through moods. Reading and writing both, sometimes I want a little of this, sometimes a little of that. I’m more patient with a badly written contemporary than I am a paranormal or fantasy, but I don’t mind anachronisms in my historicals. I just figure it’s like TV. Full of inaccuracy, serve the story and move on.

I’m writing more contemporaries right now but there are probably more of the fantasy and paranormals coming eventually. The fantasies in particular really drain me, and the market for them is funky at the moment. So it’s hard to write them knowing they won’t sell well despite how much work they are. I do have this futuristic cowboy space opera thing I want to write for my editor, though…

Your next book out is TOUGH LOVE, the third in your Special Delivery series, correct?  I’ve read that that one was very difficult to write.  Can you elaborate as to why?

Oy vey. Yes, Tough Love about knocked me out. I’ve been struggling with it off and on for three years to varying success. Part of it was knowing everyone wanted the sequel and feeling pressure to get it right. Some of it was the simple logistics of getting everyone down to McAllen to start the story and working out where the hell it went from there. More than anything, though, Chenco kept morphing and changing. It wasn’t until I found out he was a drag queen that I knew what to do with him, really. It helped everything that by the time we moved the series to Samhain I was fully in love with my editor. I think I could write anything for Sasha.

Lastly, is there anything you would like to share with your readers?

That you are all wonderful and I love you to pieces and bits.

Heidi, thank you so much for taking time to be here with us at UTC, and giving us some good info about LET IT SNOW and your other series.  It’s been a pleasure!

Thank you, Leigh! <3

 

Let it Snow

The weather outside is frightful, but this Minnesota northwoods cabin is getting pretty hot.

Stylist Frankie Blackburn never meant to get lost in Logan, Minnesota, but his malfunctioning GPS felt otherwise, and a record-breaking snowfall ensures he won’t be heading back to Minneapolis anytime soon. Being rescued by three sexy lumberjacks is fine as a fantasy, but in reality the biggest of the bears is awfully cranky and seems ready to gobble Frankie right up.

Marcus Gardner wasn’t always a lumberjack—once a high-powered Minneapolis lawyer, he’s come home to Logan to lick his wounds, not play with a sassy city twink who might as well have stepped directly out of his past. But as the northwinds blow and guards come down, Frankie and Marcus find they have a lot more in common than they don’t. Could the man who won’t live in the country and the man who won’t go back to the city truly find a home together? Because the longer it snows, the deeper they fall in love, and all they want for Christmas is each other.

Warning: Contains power outages, excessive snowfall, and incredibly sexy bears.

Buy Now:
Samhain | Amazon | B&N

 

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About Heidi Cullinan

Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren't enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn't writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and ten-year-old daughter. Heidi also volunteers frequently for her state's LGBT rights group, One Iowa, and is proud to be from the first midwestern state to legalize same-sex marriage.

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Amy R

I am looking forward to reading this book and I have also requested my library purchase this along with other titles from Heidi Cullinan.

Timitra

Great interview.

Emily W.

This sounds like an awesome book, plus I love pretty much everything that has Heidi’s name on it 🙂

Sophia Rose

Enjoyed the interview with a bit more about the books in the series being revealed. Sounds good! Thanks for sharing!

Elizabeth

Thanks for the interview

Leigh

Sure thing! I was very excited as well with all the information Heidi revealed, too. Love her and her books!