Recently, a follower reached out, asking for more information on the development of Trail of the Heart.
It was so fun to revisit the experience that I had to share it with you.
Thank you, Jessica, for your insightful questions and the trip down memory lane! Everything that brings me into the woods is a treasure. 💖
I take it you're a hiker! Have you ever done the trail Jordan does in the book?
Yes! I love to hike. Virtually every vacation I've ever taken has centered around it.
I have not thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, though I spent many days backpacking in the states it covers.
Adam's side of the story revolves around robotics. Is that something you had prior knowledge about before writing your book?
I knew a bit about robotics because my husband worked on the HVAC system of a corporation that made and tested robots and their many uses. He'd come home and explain how they pushed the machines to navigate things like rocks and slippery surfaces, things humans find simple, and robots don’t.
Though fast in terms of evolution, the learning curve of these metal menaces is difficult enough to help me sleep at night. It'll be a while before they can take over the world.
In Trail of the Heart, the focus is on robots' medical/surgical use. One of my past occupations was as a surgical tech, so writing and researching this part was fun and brought me back to the O.R. with all its tools and gadgets.
Which came first? Jordan's character or the hiking she does? Adam's character or the robotics storyline?
Walking in the woods as I recuperated from a bad fall, the framework for the tale, including Jordan's character, dropped into my head in a moment of stillness. It was an epiphany, and the result of weeks spent working on accepting my dream of thru-hiking the AT may never be realized. (I'm back to dreaming, which is a positive first step.)
Adam came later. I knew his occupation would be corporate, but the robotics idea occurred on the trail like many of the story's details. My fear was creating a wooden character who played off Jordan's natural effervescence. Inventing her best trail friend, Edge, invited more depth to all the characters, and Adam was able to grow from there.
...the framework for the tale, including Jordan's character, dropped into my head in a moment of stillness.
Was there any story element that you liked but later decided to cut for the book's overall benefit?
Yes. Initially, I developed Jordan's stepsister, mother-in-law, and the stepmother's character's to help the reader learn why Jordan was on the trail. Instead of buttoning things up, they took me off on a tangent of superficial word-filling that added nothing to the story, so I cut them out.
It's a funny book. Did you ever have to hold off on some of the humor? Did you have to suppress some jokes for the overall sake of the novel?
Thank you! ☺️
Like the previous answer, some jokes took me down alleys with twists and turns that led nowhere. My sense of humor can turn sophomoric quickly, so I stuck with an amusement level that most people could appreciate.
Why is food consumption a big thing for Jordan? Any particular reason?
Well, I read a lot of romance and chick-lit novels, and food is a hot topic in many of them. Maybe the main character opens a bakery, she's an overlooked waitress at a greasy spoon until she wins a chili competition, or her character struggles with weight gain/loss, eating/binging. I thought, "Women need permission to eat!" So I gave it to them.
It doesn't mean you throw your health out the window, but you give your body what you need, whether walking two-thousand miles up the country's length or getting through your busy day with enough energy.
Eating, breathing, sexing are human needs and nothing to be ashamed of or feel awkward about.
I thought, "Women need permission to eat!" So I gave it to them.
Do you identify with Jordan? Adam?
Jordan is everything I wish I could be: free-spirited, outgoing, uninhibited, forgiving. My personality is probably closer to Adam's as I take things seriously. Edge's restlessness mirrors something deep within me that wishes to be “there.” I share his introversion as well.
A common piece of advice for writers is to 'write what you know.' How do you feel about that advice?
You've got to start somewhere, and like many old isms, sound advice.
Writing what you know creates the foundation and structure to build upon. You fill in the many gaps with imagination, research, and observation.
Writing what you know creates the foundation and structure to build upon.
Thanks for reading!