Friday Fanfare Welcomes: Heidi Vanlandingham With Trail of Hope
Was there hope? The lovely and talented Heidi Vanlandingham has an answer!
Join Heidi as she answers a few questions and shares Trail of Hope her wonderful new additions to the Tales Scrimshaw Doll series.
How did the writer’s journey begin for you?
I started reading when I was about four. My favorite book? Definitely Green Eggs and Ham. By thirteen I’d devoured the Tarzan series, every Louis L’Amour title, and JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Trilogy. Even then I was a fast reader, most of the time reading one or two books a day. I have a notebook full of poetry—most of which will never be seen. I tried to write a play at fifteen with my best friend. It was so horrible. After that, I got it in my head that I couldn’t write fiction. Give me an essay though and I happily churned them out.
In 2006, I found myself sofa bound after a complete hysterectomy and during the next month and a half, I wrote my first manuscript. I love the story too much to put it away and forget about it. I’ve been told by several published authors that it’s a great story. One even said it sounded like a great video game. Maybe I’ll get my thirteen-year-old son to help me with that.
I’ve worked in data processing, insurance, banking, management, bookkeeping, and owned my own medication transcription company. I’m not sure if any of these have helped me write a story, but they have definitely helped in time management and organization. I’m as anal as they come—good for me, bad for others.
Tell us three things about you-the writer-readers wouldn’t typically know.
1. I’m obsessed with weight—losing it that is. When I look in the mirror, I don’t see what others see. This rates right up there with the analness. Drives people crazy.
2. My oldest son has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome along with a multitude of other issues.
3. I’ve known my husband since I was thirteen (his age too). We dated in high school then broke up because I thought he wanted to stay in Woodward and he thought I wanted to stay. Four years later he looked me up and we’ve been together ever since.
It all began when… Where did you get the premise for this book?
A member of my writing group—OK-RWA—thought doing a series of books based on a central theme would be fun. Once she pitched her idea of following a cursed scrimshaw doll through time, I was hooked. Since I love historical, I decided to take Rose (the doll) from Savannah, Georgia to Oklahoma.
What stands out about this story that made writing it different for you?
I’d never written a historical before. I quickly found out that just because I’ve read 500+ historicals doesn’t mean I can write them, so I took it as a challenge. Thankfully, I love research.
That was my challenge with Home too, Heidi. I think we both passed! LOL
Were there any difficult challenges or special subject matter you came across while writing this book?
Growing up in Oklahoma, learning about the Indian removals was a yearly lesson. Too bad it was so one-sided. I’m a stickler for historical accuracy, so I did a LOT of research. Reading stories from the Cherokee’s point of view (from actual people who made the Trail of Tears) was heart-wrenching. The families who were torn apart, the children who starved to death, grandparents bodies left on the side of the road. I cried a lot.
It sounds like your trip through time and your reaction to the necessary research was very much like my journey through the Vietnam war era. But I know it was well worth it!
What about this book would make us want to read it more than others of similar taste?
I try to show people the historical truth about the Trail of Tears and what the Cherokee people went through—good and bad—through a young girl who’s forced to walk that same trail.
As a Cherokee (part) I can appreciate the effort.
What do you want readers to take away from this book?
That history is a living, breathing thing and we can learn from past mistakes.
Tell us about the finished book. Is there anything special we might not know after reading it?
There are a few things. One of the locations I’ve written about is located in southeastern Oklahoma. The Spiro Mounds were in use from approximately 950 A.D. until 1450 A.D and was a pre-Columbian Caddoan Misissippian ceremonial center and mortuary location.
Really? Sounds like I need to take a road trip to Spiro!
Abducted from her family home in Savannah, Sophia Deveraux is thrown into an army stockade with Cherokee prisoners destined for the West. Though stalked by her abductor, she is protected by three men on the long, deadly journey to Indian Territory. Despite her starved and battered body and soul, one of them steals her heart.
When Clay Jefferson lost his family, he vowed to kill whoever murdered them. Trying to help prevent the removal of the Cherokees from Georgia, he finds his heart torn in two when protecting Sophia becomes more important than his vow of vengeance.
Fate and a gypsy curse work together as Sophia is attacked again but finds an inner strength she never knew she had, and Clay is forced to make a difficult decision — honor his vow or listen to his heart?
One of my favorite excerpts:
Where can readers find you and your books?
Trail of Hope links can be found on The Wild Rose Press, my website, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
Is there anything else you want to share or add?
I hope readers love reading Sophia’s story as much as I loved writing it. I’m currently writing follow-up story about one of the secondary characters. Bryan was supposed to be a one-time character. Instead, he morphed into someone special and I just had to tell his story. As soon as I’m finished, I will post it as a free-read on my website.
That’s a great idea, Heidi! I’m sure readers will just love the new story. 🙂 Thank you so much for allowing me to be your first ever hostess!!! Congrats with Trail of Hope and I wish you the very best with your writing.
This is a wonderful story–not that I’m prejudiced or anything. 😉 Heidi is a very talented writer and I loved watching her story morph from the gem of an idea to a full-fledged story with characters you just have to root for (and against! Major Todd is soooo easy to hate! 😆 )
Naw, we Okies don’t know what prejudiced of one of our own means, do we, Silver? 🙂 It’s just a case of awesome writer revealed! 😀 Thanks for coming by.
It’s nice to meet you, Heidi! This book looks fantastic! I am a huge historical romance fan…huge! But, I am not brave enough to write one. Okay, truthfully, I wrote a historical romance my senior year in high school. It will never see the light of day. Ha! Reading your interview, it seems we have a lot in common. Again, so nice to meet you 🙂
I’ve heard about that one, Niecey. I think we all have one of these dust bunnies. 🙂
I love this book, too, and am so pleased and proud that it’s available for all to enjoy. It felt very authentic to me, even though I don’t know a great deal about the Trail of Tears. Which is shameful, since I’m 1/16 Cherokee. Great post, ladies! Congrats Heidi!
Thank you so much! That was my intent for the message behind the story. The responses I’ve received from people have been very complimentary regarding this tragic event.
Congratulations on your debut book, Heidi! Your excerpt proves you’ve made an excellent start, and I wish you best success with sales and reviews.
I once lived in an area used to congregate and hold Cherokee for the Trail of Tears. The memory of the many injustices perpetrated for greed remains in parts of the land and older buildings. Thank you for writing a book that helps replace sorrow with healing and hope.
Good interview, ladies. Best of luck with your book, Heidi. It’s a great one.
I’ve read this book and it’s terrific. Congratulations, Heidi.
Awww, shucks. Thanks for visiting!
Congrats on the release! I hope it goes well for you, it’s going on my TBR list.
Thanks Krystal! I really hope you enjoy it.
Enjoyed your interview. Great blurb and I absolutely love your cover. Hope you have great sales.
Thank you! I love the cover too. Kind of weird, but the female character sort of looks like me too. I can’t claim to have any Cherokee blood, but I do have a minute amount of Powhatan (eastern tribe). And I do mean minute–like a single drop. Lol!
Welcome, Heidi! I’m so excited to finally see this book come out into the open for all to see!!! 😀
Me too! I know I’m biased, but it is a really good story and a bit different because of the focus on the Cherokee and not one of the plains tribes.
I’m captivated, Heidi. I have a dear Native friend who helps me with research of Natives. She’s helped make me aware of all they’ve been through and continue to go through. I wish you lots of luck with your release. Calisa, hugs, darlin’.
Hi Vonnie! Love you. Thanks for being the early bird to meet Heidi. 🙂
Thank you, Vonnie! My critique partner is Native American and helped me a lot with the little details that were hard to find.