Welcome, book lovers. I have a guest with me today: Lindsay Harrel, who’s book The Heart Between Us released earlier this month. We’re talking bucket lists, travel, and sisters, plus there’s a giveaway! Oh, and if you’d like to read my review, you can check it out here.
~ About the Author ~
Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd with a B.A. in journalism and M.A. in English. She lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Lindsay has held a variety of jobs, including curriculum editor for two universities, medical and business writer, and copywriter for a digital marketing agency. Now she juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with working freelance jobs, teaching college English courses online, and—of course—writing novels.
When she actually has time to do other things, she loves to sing, read, and sip passion iced teas from Starbucks. She loves to watch God work in ordinary lives to create something extraordinary, and she writes to bring hope to those who may have lost it along the way. Connect with her at http://www.LindsayHarrel.com and any other place she hangs out online, including Facebook and Twitter.
~ About the Book ~
Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide and living with her parents in her small Minnesota hometown, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.
When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb—a friend from her years in and out of the hospital—reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.
As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.
~ Interview ~
Thanks for joining me today, Lindsay. Let’s start off with a little ‘flight of fancy’. How would you finish the following questions:
If I could assign one household task to the fairies forever, it would be…
Laundry, all the way. I am pretty good about actually doing the laundry, but then it sits in the laundry baskets for days, weeks…you get the idea.
Oh, I definitely get the idea!
If I was an animal, I would be a…
Cat. Lounging around all day doing whatever I wanted with no expectations from anyone would be heaven. 😉 Of course, I am currently the mom of two little boys, so perhaps I’m just gravitating to the other extreme…hehehe.
Lol! A girl can dream…
If I could have one superpower, it would be…
Super speed, hands down. Then I could get all the chores done and have more time to write, read, and spend with my family.
Yep! The good ol’ Mary Poppins ‘snap of the fingers’ would be even better!
My ideal place to read would be… (can be as creative or idealistic as you like!)
A window seat. I’ve always wanted one. They feel so whimsical!
I’ve always wanted one of those. I think there would be nothing quite like cozying up there with a good book while the rain falls against the window.
Okay, let’s get down to business. What was the inspiration behind The Heart Between Us?
There are a lot of things that inspired parts of this story, but the first story spark for me was hearing a story on the radio about a woman who went sky diving because her donor always wanted to. I thought that was such a cool thing for her to do—and then I thought, what if someone fulfilled her donor’s entire bucket list?
Wow! Not sure if I’d be game to do that, even for my donor. Maybe when I was younger…
How did you decide which places/activities would be on the bucket list Megan would fulfill?
I chose a handful of places I’d been myself. Then, I looked at a lot of “Top 10” must-see travel lists. I also considered what I would want to do myself (e.g., see the Roman Colosseum, snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, etc.). When thinking about the few bucket list items that weren’t location-centric (like “Kiss a handsome stranger in the rain”), I considered the reason Amanda wrote the bucket list and why she would have wanted to do that particular thing.
Personally, I think this would have been one of the most fun parts about writing the book. In fact, I’m not sure I would actually get around to writing the story!
Which of the items on the bucket list have you done?
I’ve been to England, Ireland, Scotland, and France (Paris in particular). The other bucket list items required lots of research!
I’ve been to all of those except Ireland. Lovely spots!
There are a couple of items on the bucket list that really push Megan out of her comfort zone. Are there any items that made you glad you were only writing a novel and not experiencing them for yourself?
While I wouldn’t mind seeing it in person, I don’t think I could ever see myself running with the bulls in Pamplona! That takes some serious guts. Haha.
Lol! That’s almost dad-joke worthy! But I think I would have to agree with you…
Are there items that you wanted to include on the bucket list, or that you would put on your own bucket list, that didn’t make it into the novel?
I considered having a scene where they watch the Great Migration across the Serengeti, but the timing within the novel and the other events they had to complete just wasn’t working out. I also wanted to put in something about Glendalough, Ireland—there are some really cool monastic ruins there and a gorgeous lake I visited in college. I think I wanted to write about it because I had such a spiritual experience there myself, but it just didn’t fit within the story, so I had to axe it.
They do say you need to kill your darlings sometimes. Writing can be a cruel business!
How did you go about researching the places you haven’t visited in person?
I did everything from reading library books to looking at maps, using Google, and gathering information from online encyclopedias. I also read a lot of travel blogs written by people who had visited the places I wanted to feature—they include lots of details the factual websites don’t.
Oh man. I would never have gotten this novel written! 😄
Megan and Crystal both did a lot of growing and learning about themselves on this journey. Which sister do you think you identified with more, and why?
I definitely see myself a lot in Crystal, which is ironic, because when I originally pitched the book idea to my agent, the story was only about Megan. Crystal was more of an antagonist character without her own story. My agent challenged me to give her a voice. And her voice ended up sounding a lot like mine. Like Crystal, I worry a lot. I tend to put a lot of stock in achievements and trying to be successful. I also know what it’s like to grow up with a critically ill family member (my mom) and how that can kind of lead to someone defining herself by her family circumstances.
I confess I saw more of myself in Crystal too. I’ve always been achievement driven.
What do you think was your biggest challenge in writing this novel?
It’s always challenging to be vulnerable enough to feel what your character is feeling. If you do it right, the characters are raw and real. But it takes a lot of emotional energy, and it was a bit difficult at times to find that energy since I’m a mom of little boys and pretty busy.
I totally get that!
What’s next for Lindsay Harrel?
I recently turned in the first draft of my next book, The Secrets of Paper and Ink, which will release February 2019. It’s about a broken woman who travels from America to Cornwall, England—the setting of her favorite author’s novels—to find the courage to write her own story. And now I’m busy brainstorming yet another book! It’s a never-ending cycle, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m so blessed to get to do what I love.
I can’t wait! Thanks for chatting to me today, Lindsay. 🙂
~ Giveaway ~
Lindsay is giving one lucky visitor a paperback copy of The Heart Between Us. Let us know an item you would have on your bucket list by commenting below, then go the rafflecopter entry form: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/bd61d44b29/?
* Giveaway closes 11:59pm on 4 April 2018 EST. For full terms and conditions, see Disclosures.