A Chat with Author Rachel Heffington

When my novel With Every Letter came out, I received a letter from a reader that completely charmed me. Not only had she penned a lovely letter, but she’d used sealing wax on the envelope! Rachel Heffington and I struck up an online friendship, and I’m impressed with her writing ability, her willingness to learn, and her delightful personality.
When she told me she’d self-published her first novel, Fly Away Home, I was pleased to help her get the word out. Although I haven’t had the pleasure of reading Fly Away Home yet, she’s already getting glowing reviews. So, I’m pleased to introduce you to young authoress Rachel Heffington.
Rachel, it might not be polite to ask a lady her age, but there’s an exception for the young! How old are you and how long have you been writing novels?
I am twenty-one and rather loving this age. It’s lovely: people take you seriously but not too seriously. I am still full of all the joy and promise of youth and all the opportunity of adulthood; it’s pretty wonderful. I will be twenty-two in July.
I’ve been writing novels since I was twelve years old, when I thought I’d read everything worth reading in the world and had better start adding to the pile with my own. I’ve since learned the faulty logic in that, but after having toiled out a fifty-thousand-word disaster by the age of thirteen, the lure of Story has never left me. I’m a writer for good, I fear.
At your age, I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Do you hope to have a career in writing, or do you plan to pursue other interests as well?
Because writing is such an integral part of how I process things and how I view the world, I feel like “it’s the boy for me”. I have always had a desire to be married and have kids, and writing seems like something that will couple well with that. I chose not to go to college because I feel strongly that in writing it’s the trial and error, picking yourself up and falling down again, and reading-reading-reading that is the major part of mastering the craft. So yes: I plan to build my career in writing. On the other hand, I have a wide array of interests besides authorship: I cook like a fiend, put on Broadway revivals with my siblings, and dabble in watercolors and other art forms. Besides these more genteel things, I work part-time in my family’s landscape business, have experience in plumbing/building/electricity from building our house, have run a bakery and cut-flowers business, and teach several students creative writing. I’m rather a lass of all trades and I think it’ll serve me well in years to come.
What inspired Fly Away Home?
My love for the 1950s, which led to a piece of flash fiction which led to a full-length novel. The “glamour and glitz” of the era has always fascinated me and in writing this book, I feel like I was able to dabble my fingers in the current of time. On another level, Gregory Peck’s performance in Roman Holiday gave me the physical image and profession for the leading man, Wade Barnett, in Fly Away Home. The rest of the story fell together gently, and I think Callie’s journey was an exploration for me of another woman’s fumbling through her early adulthood.

The letter Rachel sent me. Love the sealing wax!

Your book cover is lovely! Tell us a bit about the design process.
Like most beginning authors, I don’t have a lot of money, but I knew that the cover design was a thing on which I was not going to cut corners, especially as an indie author. I do judge books by their covers. I also knew I’d never be able to do it myself, so I put out feelers to my other indie-published friends and was directed to the woman I now call “St. Rachel” Rossano.
I marched in, guns a’blazing, handed her the mock-up I’d paid another friend to do, and asked her if she thought she could handle a project that I had very clear ideas about: it could not look self-published; it could not look sloppy; it must capture the feel of the characters and story; it could not have a full-body shot of the heroine (I dislike those covers); and on and on. I’m usually not a picky person but on this I would not bend.
St. Rachel took the blows, assured me of a professional job, and delivered a stunningly gorgeous cover; in the process, I gained another friend. So cool how God does that sometimes.
What are you working on now?
Currently, my life is quite full with editing a novella that won a place in a Cinderella-retelling collection (Five Glass Slippers) to be published under the headship of author Anne Elisabeth Stengl and Rooglewood Press in June of this year. Beneath that, I am working on a 1930s-era British murder mystery (Anon, Sir, Anon) with several other stories simmering in the background. Always room for another plot, right?
Thank you so much for having me, Sarah! I have so enjoyed my visit.
About Fly Away Home:
1952 New York City: Callie Harper is a woman set to make it big in the world of journalism. Liberated from all but her buried and troubled past, Callie craves glamour and the satisfaction she knows it will bring. When one of America’s most celebrated journalists, Wade Barnett, calls on Callie to help him with a revolutionary project, Callie finds herself co-pilot to a Christian man whose life and ideas of true greatness run noisily counter to hers on every point. But when the secrets of Callie’s past are hung over her head as a threat, there is space for only one love, one answer: betray Wade Barnett to save her reputation, or sacrifice everything for the sake of the man she loved and the God she fled. The consequences of either decision will define the rest of her life. Self-preservation has never looked more tempting.
Rachel Heffington is a Christian, a novelist, and a people-lover. Outside of the realm of words, Rachel enjoys the Arts, traveling, mucking about in the kitchen, listening for accents, and making people laugh. She dwells in rural Virginia with her boisterous family and her black cat, Cricket. Visit her at The Inkpen Authoress to learn more about her upcoming projects.

4 Responses to “A Chat with Author Rachel Heffington”

  1. Karen Barnett

    The cover is gorgeous! I wish I’d been so focused at 21. It took me another 20 years of dabbling before I got serious about writing. But God knew what he was doing in my case. Dabbling and life adventures provided good story fodder.

    I’m hearing more and more people talking about not going to college, and it always surprises me. I understand the rationale behind it, but I wouldn’t trade those years for anything. But then, it sounds like you’re very self-motivated and perhaps that’s what I lacked at the same age. I’m curious, Rachel–were you home-schooled? I’ve met a lot of home-schooled kids that seemed to have this level of self-confidence.

    I can’t wait to read your books!

  2. Rachel Heffington

    Karen: I was, in fact, homeschooled! I suppose we do tend to have lots of self-confidence, though I think that for me it was a combination of stubbornness and being glad to be finished with schoolwork so I had more leisure to write. 😉 But I do feel like my parents gave me a “lifestyle” learning philosophy which makes me look at every opportunity in life as a way to further my education, even outside of formal “schooling.” 🙂 Thank you for the comment — I’m pleased to “meet” you.