I was lucky enough to be able to interview Heather B. Moore, author of Abinidi, via email. I read her book recently and really enjoyed it! Here's the summary from the back cover:
Raquel has a secret. As the daughter of one of King Noah’s priests, she enjoys a luxurious life and the admiration of powerful men. But her heart belongs to a commoner, a man with no earthly wealth but rich heavenly gifts. When King Noah demands that Raquel join his harem, she flees the only life she has known and marries her secret love. His name is Abinadi.
The couple finds abundant joy in their community of believers and in their firstborn son. But when the Lord calls Abinadi as His prophet, their faith is tested to the outermost limits. Abinadi’s commitment to the Lord requires them both to give their all—even unto death. Yet if Alma, the newest priest in King Noah’s court, chooses to overcome his troubled past and cleave unto the truth, their sacrifice may yield rich fruit.
With vivid detail and poignant emotion, this historical novel pulls readers into a fiery tale of love, courage, and faith that is difficult to put down and impossible to forget.
Heather has also written 3 other historical fiction novels in her Out of Jerusalem series. Check out her website to learn more about her. http://www.hbmoore.com/
Jenni helped me come up with some questions to ask her. I was real excited to get to know more about Heather and her writing!
How have you felt the Lord's hand in becoming an author?
Many times. Although I didn’t set out to write inspirational fiction or religious fiction—whatever the buzz word is today. I thrived on the challenge. At one point when I pretty discouraged at receiving rejections, I was praying for a “sign” if I should keep writing with nothing to show for it. The next day, I received a request for sample chapters from a publisher. I took it as my sign and continued to forge ahead.
What are some cool things you've gotten to do since you've become published?
One of the coolest things is to become friends with other authors. I’ve met some incredible people who are extremely talented. Also, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to groups about writing and/or my books. I always feel honored to get invitations.
What are some "not so cool" things you've had to do/give up since becoming published?
I’ve given up basically most of my hobbies. It’s just a matter of prioritizing. I used to make Halloween costumes, Easter dresses, Christmas dresses, for my kids. Not that writing is an excuse, since I know authors who still do all those things. I guess I traded one creative outlet for another. I’m also WAY behind on my scrapbooking. Like 4 years behind. But digital scrapbooking is giving me hope. Oh, yeah, and I’ve probably watched American Idol twice.
I feel writing is a huge spiritual experience, how do you prepare to get ready to write?
Honestly, I don’t have all day to let the writing muse inspire me. I don’t think many of us do. Balancing a family makes writing time very precious. So I start out with a prayer in my heart that what I’m writing will be guided. I’ve seen the fruits of those prayers when I’ve hit the editing process. I’ve sailed through relatively well, with very few revisions.
How would you describe your book "Abinadi" to a non-member of our church?
Actually, I think Abinadi reaches across all religions. Many of us—especially if we are converts to a church—have had to give up something to become a member of that church. This is the story of Abinadi. A man who refuses to deny his god. A man who gives up everything for his religion—including his life. Throughout history, there are many instances of religious controversy and holy wars. Abinadi is one man’s story.
Do you ever feel unequal to the task of writing stories that are based on the scriptures?
I’ve put a disclaimer in a couple of my books that first, I’m not a scholar, and second, my creative fiction is in no way meant to replace or supersede any interpretation of scripture. I wouldn’t have attempted to write Book of Mormon fiction if it weren’t for access to Book of Mormon scholars—one of them is my own father. So you could say I have a pretty good reference and I can feel confident that I’m staying on at least a believable or plausible course. If there’s a tangent that I think needs to be taken, I explain it in the Preface.
Have you ever wanted to write something outside of your normal genre, historical fiction?
You might be surprised to learn that I’ve written several other books (unpublished as of yet): a suspense novel, an 1840’s paranormal romance, and a WWII novel. The fourth is a thriller (titled Queen). I have it with an agent right now. It’s based on the search for the Queen of Sheba’s tomb. The research was very interesting since there are so many strange legends surrounding her life. No one can agree on where she lived and died. Some even dispute her existence. The Egyptians, the Ethiopians, and the Yemenis all have differing opinions. In my story, a renowned historian is about to uncover the true location of her tomb . . . but he’s killed. Other characters come into play and must pick up the trail of clues that reveal the truth about the Queen’s life and death.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Not until I was in my 30’s. I had just moved from California to Utah and a few of my neighbors were reading LDS fiction.. I’d never heard of it. I read a couple of books and wasn’t overly impressed. Then my sister-in-law recommended a book by Richard Paul Evans. I knew he was LDS but wrote national books. I read one of his books and it was like a light went on. He didn’t write historical, literary, mind-numbing suspense—it was just a classic story with heart. I’d read hundreds of books and thought—why not me?
How long did it take you to find an agent or an editor?
I wrote my first book in 2001. Three manuscripts later, I finally got a publisher at the beginning of 2004.
How has writing effected you as a mommy? as a Mormon? as a wife?
As a mommy, I think it’s probably made me more busy on some days than I want to be. After the second book (which I wrote under a tremendous deadline), I’ve learned to pace myself.. I used to write 2,000 words a day, but I’ve cut it in half and extended out the months to complete a project.
I didn’t set out to be a Book of Mormon author when I first started writing. In fact, if you would have asked me 6 years ago, I would have been shocked. There are times when I think my research has kept me on the straight and narrow because I’ve had to read scriptures on a daily basis—as a job!
As a wife, you’d probably have to ask my husband. I think he was pretty excited when I finally got my first royalty check. He’s always been very supportive, but he was glad my hours of work were starting to pay off in a small way (very small). He brags about me to a lot of people, but I know there are times when he would rather have me hanging out with him instead of going to another book signing. Over the years, I’ve learned to only commit to one or two events a month and to get more creative with book signings so that they don’t infringe on family time too much.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Critique groups, writers conferences, books on writing. Writing a novel is like going back to college. Keep writing, keep revising, and keep submitting. If you don’t let others read your manuscript and give you feedback, you won’t grow. And if you don’t submit, then you won’t get published. Set goals, then go for it.
Thank you, Heather for all your insight! You are such an inspiration to us beginning writers!
Be sure to read Heather's book! It's amazing!