We’re pleased to have author Heather Greenis stop by today to chat about her debut novel, Natasha’s Dream.
Brainerd & Fraser: Welcome to Driving Blind. It’s great to have another Heather around here! So, where do you call home?
Heather Greenis: I’m Canadian. Southern Ontario, born and raised. I live about an hour’s drive north of Toronto in the country. No farm, just a spoiled dog and far too many flower gardens.
B&F: That sounds nice! We’re from upstate New York, not far from the Canadian border. Besides writing, what are a few of your favorite things?
HG: During the summer, I putter in the garden. Looking at the weeds, that is an endless chore. During the winter, I’m actively involved in our local curling club. I play at least two days a week and teach (manage the league) for the next generation once a week. I enjoy photography and traveling.
B&F: Gardening, photography, and travel are all things we enjoy, too! Moving along to your novel, we understand that Natasha’s Dream was actually inspired by a dream. Do you often get story ideas from your nocturnal adventures?
HG: Hard one to respond to. This is the first time I’ve taken a dream and wrote. If I don’t dream, I don’t feel I slept. As a kid and through into being an adult, I’ve experienced night terrors. While still in the dream state, I will get out of bed to investigate or try and find something. I open my eyes and will talk so heaven help my husband if he speaks to me. Most of my dreams are a big combination of things that happen with a touch of my imagination. My hubby and I normally talk about them in the morning, something my other character, Keeghan and I have in common. I will get up and ask did this actually happen? As I go along he will say yes, yes, yes, no, that was your imagination. It actually gets confusing trying to differentiate between the fact and fiction. I had a dream that evolved around the ending of the first book in the series. For some reason, I couldn’t get the characters out of my head. My imagination came up with the plot leading to the ending and then to the remainder of the series.
B&F: Wow, you really do have nocturnal adventures! Lucid dreaming is such an interesting concept. Are you able to take control of your dreams, or are you more of a passenger along for the ride?
HG: I’m normally involved, it’s happening to me; or a supporting character, along for the ride. With night terrors, I’m far too active. I get spooked. I will get out of bed to investigate something or to find something. Heaven help my hubby is he tries to talk to me. I’ll get mad at him for not helping me. I’m not a fan of horror movies so these dreams can really get my heartbeat racing. I’d love to work with these, but not certain I can without being of reader of this genre.
B&F: Hmm, that’s a very good question: how would you write a genre that you don’t normally read? Perhaps that’s food for another blog post. But getting back to Natasha, what is the setting for your novel?
HG: My novel/series has two settings. One is modern day with Keeghan and Will. They live on ocean front property in B.C. The main story line takes place a number of years ago. Natasha is the daughter of a King and Queen. She and her twin brothers are raised by a Nanny and have a distant, strained relationship with their parents. Natasha rebels, although her family isn’t aware of this, and she finds a secret friend. She lives on the edge, afraid someone, anyone will learn of her deception.
B&F: Are there any similarities between Natasha and yourself?
HG: Natasha is incredibly intelligent and equally beautiful – don’t I wish! Natasha is reserved and very shy – as a kid I was afraid of my own shadow – I’m still shy in large group situations.
B&F: She sounds like a very compelling character. Let’s move on to some fun stuff! If you could travel anywhere, what would your top destination be?
HG: Australia and New Zealand. I have three friends down there. Someday! The land of the kiwi is on our bucket list.
B&F: If you had to choose just one favorite book (we know this is difficult!), what would it be?
HG: One! You’re mean; Secret Daughter. It follows two couples, one from India. I’m told it was realistic; it was an eye opener. A close second is The Kite Runner. I cried while reading both.
B&F: Where is your favorite place to write?
HG: The kitchen counter. How crazy is that! I have a comfortable Lazy-boy couch and chair in the living room but 75% of the time I’m on a stool in the kitchen. I have a view through a north, south and west window.
B&F: Where is your favorite place to read?
HG: Reading – as a kid I finished a lot of good books in the bathtub. We had an old-fashioned soaker tub. It was heavenly. Now, I read in bed, snuggled under the covers. I love my e-reader.
B&F: Besides your dreams, what inspires you?
HG: Life. Things that happen around me. Conversations. My dreams can combine them and so can my imagination.
Now it’s time for the rapid-fire round!
Book or movie? Book – more detail. The real plot.
Home cooking or haute cuisine? Haute cuisine – they can prepare dishes we’re not capable of (it’s a treat).
Fairy tales or reality TV? Fairy tales – I watch “The Voice” but that’s it, if you call that reality TV. I don’t. At least there is a lesson to be learned from fairy tales. I don’t consider them a waste of time.
Relax on a beach or explore a new city? No question, explore a new city. I cannot relax on a beach. I walk the shore, exploring. We went to Hawaii for an anniversary and came home without a suntan. Lot of pictures.
Winter Olympics or Summer Olympics? Winter – I curl and it is an Olympic sport.
Little Mermaid or Splash? Funny – Little Mermaid. Animation is amazing.
Roses or heather? Heather – I wasn’t named after the flower. No Scottish roots in my heritage. Mom simply liked the name. The flower is wild. You let it do its thing. Yes, I have heather in my garden. Come to think of it, I need to clip the dead sprigs away so the poor little thing can grow. Roses are too thorny. I don’t think much of weeding around it. Yes. I have 1 mini rose in my garden. (That reminds me that I need to plant some heather!! – HFB)
Heather Greenis: A few questions for you two and your followers…
B&F: Ah, turning the tables on us – we like it!
HG: What draws you to pick up a traditional book or to click on ‘details/product information’ for an e-book?
B&F: The cover is definitely the first draw. A compelling cover can do wonders to pique one’s interest.
HG: What draws you to buy that book?
B&F: A blurb that draws us in and leaves us wanting — no, needing — to know more.
HG: How often to you purchase books by unknown authors?
B&F: Sadly, not as often as we’d like. We both juggle writing with raising kids and caring for our crazy rescue dogs, so finding time to read isn’t as easy as it used to be!
Many thanks to Heather Greenis for joining us today! And please be sure to leave your answers to Heather’s questions in the comments (should you choose to accept this mission!)
And now for an excerpt from Natasha’s Dream:
The young man was skipping pebbles across the surface of the water. Terrified he would recognize her, she turned, dropping the blossoms. It was a mistake leaving the comfort and familiarity of the castle grounds. A foolish mistake.
She heard him speak but tried to ignore him.
“Hello,” he repeated in a louder voice. “I have admired you as I sat under the tree and studied.”
Embarrassed, Natasha was mortified at her stupidity. She hadn’t attempted to hide, but sat out in the open. The heat burned her face, but she couldn’t be rude and ignore him. She turned toward him shyly, tilting her head down.
“My humble apologies. I have embarrassed you. Allow me to introduce myself. Stewart—Stewart Donovan.”
She was afraid he would recognize her if she showed her face. But good manners insisted she acknowledge his presence. Perhaps she could tell him hello, and then leave swiftly and return home. She lifted her head. He was handsome, more so than she realized from a distance. He was her brother’s height, five feet-eleven inches with dark brown hair, a medium complexion on his face and a slight build. He appeared to be her age. His extraordinary blue eyes dominated his face. The colour was unlike anything she had ever seen before. Mesmerizing. Then he smiled. Her heart began to pound, so she shifted her attention away from his face. Nervous, she reached under her dark, wavy pony tail to scratch the back of her neck. When she looked up, their eyes locked.
“Natasha,” she responded. Panic rose as she realized he had introduced himself using his formal name and would expect the same from her. Mind racing, she tried to think of a fictitious name. He wouldn’t question it, and, she could return to the castle and never see him again. But, for the first time in her life, her mind was blank.
Think, Natasha. Think. Names. I need names. Think of your studies. Only two came to mind: William Shakespeare and his wife, Anne Hathaway. Terrified of using the surname Shakespeare, she prayed Stewart would not make the connection.
“Natasha Hathaway,” she stammered.
You can find Natasha’s Dream at MuseItUp Publishing.
Heather Greenis has an uncanny ability to frequently “manipulate” her dreams. As a bonus, she remembers them in extensive detail the following morning. A dream inspired the basic storyline. Then her overactive imagination developed the characters and the detail. In her spare time Heather assists the Healing Cycle, Hospice Palliative Care. She is also actively involved with the local curling club, currently volunteering her time teaching children when she isn’t curling herself. Heather has a passion for travel, photography and gardening. She would like to extend a special thank-you to her niece for reading and re-reading and to her husband for his support, and encouragement, suggesting she “write it down”.
You can find Heather Greenis on Facebook.