Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Heather Maclean Author Interview

Photo Content from Heather Maclean

Heather Maclean is a New York Times bestselling author and editor of 15 books. She has appeared on Good Morning America, the CBS Early Show, Fox Business Network, ParentsTV and Sirius' "Dr. Radio."

After graduating from Princeton University, she began her career at Entertainment Weekly. Her work has appeared in Conde Nast TravelerPregnancy magazine, NY Metro Parents magazine, as well as newspapers around the country.

Named one of the "16 Best Entrepreneurs in America" by Sir Richard Branson, she accompanied the adventurous business legend on a 50,000-mile trip around the world, alternately helping improve the lives of others (designing sustainable development initiatives in South African villages) and fearing for her own (rappelling out of a Black helicopter in a Moroccan sandstorm). She was also the first civilian mom to experience zero gravity aboard a "space plane," an experience she will never, ever repeat. Their journey, titled The Rebel Billionaire, was televised on Fox TV in 2005 for an audience of 8 million viewers.

Heather is also a former Disney executive. She launched several of the company's first, award-winning websites, and holds the distinction of being the first person to ever answer Mickey Mouse's email.

When not castle hunting in her husband's native Scotland, Heather fills her days with her two beautiful daughters, Hunter and Hadley, and dashing son, Gavin.


Series: Blink
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Blink (April 4, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310754747
ISBN-13: 978-0310754749


"Five Stars! Mysterious, romantic, and totally fun! Toward a Secret Sky is the type of adventure I could lose myself in over and over again." ―Stephanie Garber, author of Caraval

"A deliciously atmospheric, twisty read that will hook readers from the start with its mystery and romance. It left me aching to hop on a plane to Scotland and have my own magical adventure!" ―Rebecca Christiansen, author of Maybe in Paris

"Full of intrigue, savvy world-building, and sizzling romantic tension, Maclean's enthralling storytelling will keep readers flipping pages--and wanting more." ―Emily R. King, author of The Hundredth Queen

"I enjoyed this so much. It has just the right combination of magic, intrigue, and romance, and the beautiful Scottish backdrop and descriptions of various ancient sites just made it all the more appealing." ―Heather Fawcett, author of Even the Darkest Stars

"Five stars! This was the type of thrilling story I always dreamed of reading when I was younger (way before paranormal romance became popular!)" ―Shaila Patel, author of Soulmated, winner of the 2015 Chanticleer Book Reviews' Paranormal Awards 

"I would definitely recommend to anyone who liked Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, or even fans of the Princess Diaries. The book is fantastic overall!" ―Claire M. Andrews, author of Olympus Rising

What was your first introduction to YA literature, the one that made you choose that genre to write?
Even though it wasn’t called “YA” at the time, I’d have to say “Little Women.” I was mad for those March girls! I wanted to be each and every one of them (well maybe not Beth. She didn’t have such a happy ending… although I did have scarlet fever in college, so I could relate). I’m the oldest of 8 children and my younger siblings were always, always wrecking my stuff. My brothers would take my books and turn them into “stepping stones” to avoid the “alligators” in the hallway. I thought I had it bad, but then what Amy did to Jo’s manuscript! “Little Women” made me want to write, to hopefully make other young readers feel as passionately for a story as I did.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
My kids are my biggest influence. I always want to be writing what they want to read. When my oldest was 14, we had a mommy-daughter outing to see Twilight (after having read the book together), and it was just such a great day. When we got home, she said, “Write me a ‘Twilight!’ It has to take place in Scotland though, and I want my character to die!” Toward a Secret Sky was born that very night (although I refused to let her character die!).

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Passionate, daring, hungry

Did you learn anything from writing TOWARD A SECRET SKY and what was it?
I thought I knew quite a bit of Scottish history and lore from being married to a Scot for over 20 years and having been there so many times, but every time I sat down to write, I learned something new. I could do nothing but write books that take place in Scotland and I’d have material for 100 books! There’s just something so magical about a tiny place (Scotland is just half the size of my home state, Missouri!) that’s been occupied for thousands of years. Every step you take, you’re walking on the bones of history. Thousands of stories, both old and new. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it! It’s every bit as amazing as you think it’s going to be… and then some!

For those who are unfamiliar with Maren, how would you introduce her?
Maren is every girl: a normal teenager from the Midwest thrown into abnormal circumstances. She isn’t a beauty queen or a badass. She isn’t particularly talented. She doesn’t even think she’s very strong. And she doesn’t want to be. But life has other plans for her. I think she embodies how all of us grow and find our strength when circumstances force us to. You hope you’ll never be tested, that you can sit at home and watch Netflix and never have pain in your life, but that’s not how it works. We all go through terrible things, but in the end, they shape us into who we were meant to be.

What part of Gavin did you enjoy writing the most?
I loved writing every bit of Gavin because he is so based on my husband; the same mannerisms, same jokes, and the same build, actually.

I especially loved writing about Gavin’s insane patience with Maren. She asks him tons of questions—why do you dress that way? What’s that knife in your sock?—and she doesn’t listen to him, she’s headstrong, but he’s just solid and calm, so patient and strong. Every girl needs a Gavin! (Again, I highly recommend visiting Scotland. The country is full of them!)

If you could introduce Graham to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would introduce Graham to the rich and powerful Jardine family in Vic James’ “Gilded Cage.” I think he’d fit right in with their elegance and swagger.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Ally Condie and Ally Carter because they are both my absolute favorite writers, and they are insanely generous and wonderful with advice and encouragement!

How many books have you written?
Published books: Toward A Secret Sky is my 14th! But my first fiction!

I’m almost finished with 2 other fiction novels (one YA, one Adult), and am working on the rest of the Secret Sky trilogy as well.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Life is long, and you will have time for everything. For three different careers if you want. And relationships, and kids, and travel. Take a breath. You’ll get there. To wherever it is you want to go. I promise.

Who was your first boyfriend?
My very first boyfriend is actually in the book! His name was Adam, he asked me out in 5th grade, and he called me “Quarter Pint” because I was super short and half the size of Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie (whom they called “Half Pint”). I left school for a day to get a mole removed from my chin, and he broke up with me when I got back because he said he liked the mole!

Tell me about your first kiss.
It was horrible! And I was a late bloomer, so it wasn’t until I was 15! I was set up on a blind date for a formal dance at our school. That I wasn’t allowed to go to, so I did the whole, “I’m spending the night at Dione’s” thing, then this boy picked me and Dione and her date up in his bright blue IROC-Z. We actually passed my mom in her minivan on the road, and I had to crouch down! After the dance, we parked, he turned on the Guns ‘N Roses and went in for the full French kiss. I remember thinking his tongue was like a helicopter blade and made me dizzy. He was a model though, and super cute, so I was happy, if not impressed. I was a little worried though that all kisses would be like that, but thankfully they weren’t!

What is your happiest childhood memory?

When I turned 6, we drove down to Walt Disney World on my birthday, and right before we got into the car (for the 18-hour drive), I got a Princess Leia doll with the real hair buns. Is there a happier day?

What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
My first job was being a waitress at the nursing home at the end of my street when I was 15. It was a trip because I did not like old people. I wouldn’t even go with the Girl Scouts to sing at the retirement center; I’d pretend to be sick those days. But my mom forced me to get a job, and it was the only one I could walk to. It was quite an education. One gentlemen used to ask for the same thing every day: “You! On toast!” I didn’t even know what that meant. I grew to love the all though, and one day that same man and his wife got all dressed up in their Sunday best and walked into the middle of our neighborhood pond and killed themselves. She had gotten a terminal diagnosis, and he couldn’t take care of her, so they left the world together, holding hands. I still cry thinking about it.

We didn’t get tips or anything, just minimum wage, and for some reason, the kitchen staff was full of these guys in their early 20s who were in a heavy metal rock band. The lead singer used to wear his hair net over his face when he washed dishes, and he wrote me a song, and asked me to run away with him. He was 22, and I was just 15! I was flattered, but I stayed put. That time.

Where did you go on your first airplane ride?
My first airplane ride was when I was 8, all alone with my sister who was 6. My mom sent us to visit my aunt Debbie in California. I don’t remember being scared at all, just fascinated by the clouds.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
The 1950s! Because I love the fashion, and those pointy, missile-shaped bras would have come in so handy for my little late-bloomer self!

What is your greatest adventure?
Travelling 50,000 miles around the world with Sir Richard Branson in 2004 for an adventure reality show when I was a mom of two. I did crazy things in college, but I didn’t think I still had it in me once I had kids. I rappelled out of Blackhawk helicopter in a Moroccan sand storm, did a 300-foot freefall next to Victoria Falls, capsized in Class V rapids on the Zambezi River, and was the first civilian mom to go to Zero G on the “space plane” (aka “the vomit comet”).

Where can readers find you?
In real life, usually in the woods behind my house, strung up in a hammock, or at the local Panera typing away furiously on my bright green laptop (while talking to myself). Online, I’m a Twitter junkie, but my home base is: www.heather-maclean.com.

  • It’s a thrilling adventure
  • It’s an epic romance
  • You’ll feel like you’re in Scotland
  • You’ll learn about the secret places in and around (and under!) London
  • It will help you plan your next vacation since you can visit every location in the book
  • You’ll be smarter after reading the book; you can impress your friends with talk of pi, priest holes, and Louise Bourgeois
  • You’ll start scouring rooftops looking for your own guardian angel
  • You’ll Google “ancestral memory,” discover that it’s real, and spend the rest of the night reworking how you know what you know
  • Gavin will melt your heart
  • You’ll get to cheer for a protagonist who saves the day without using sex, spells, or swords

Shortly after 17-year-old Maren Hamilton is orphaned and sent to live with grandparents she’s never met in Scotland, she receives an encrypted journal from her dead mother that makes her and everyone around her a target. It confirms that her parents were employed by a secret, international organization that’s now intent on recruiting her. As Maren works to unravel the clues left behind by her mother, a murderous madness sweeps through the local population, terrorizing her small town. Maren must decide if she’ll continue her parents’ fight or stay behind to save her friends.

With the help of Gavin, an otherworldly mercenary she’s not supposed to fall in love with, and Graham, a charming aristocrat who is entranced with her, Maren races against the clock and around the country from palatial estates with twisted labyrinths to famous cathedrals with booby-trapped subterranean crypts to stay ahead of the enemy and find a cure. Along the way, she discovers the great truth of love: that laying down your life for another isn’t as hard as watching them sacrifice everything for you.


While I was content to stand at the balcony’s edge until the party was over, Anders found me and had other plans.

“It’s our very own American princess!” he said, sucking on a cigarette and blowing smoke above his head.

“I prefer ‘queen,’” I replied. “And you know smoking kills.” Even though he acted like a pig, there was no denying Anders was attractive. Aggravatingly so.

“Eventually, everything does,” he said with a smile, taking another drag.

“Well, it’s disgusting, anyway,” I retorted.

“You’ve never had a ciggy, then, have you?”

“No. I told you, it’s gross.”

“I’ve been smoking since I was eleven,” he said. “I should probably stop, but I’ve never found a good enough reason.”

“Not even for a girl?”

“Psssh.” He shrugged. “Never happen. Most of the Scottish girls I’ve kissed don’t seem to mind.”

“Ugh, I would never kiss someone who smoked.” I turned back to the garden as if I couldn’t be bothered to continue our conversation, but inside, I was reeling. Talking about kissing with a gorgeous guy, even if he was smoking, was titillating.

“Wouldn’t you?” he asked. “If I gave them up right now, just for you, would you kiss me?”

“Your mouth is already completely ruined for the night,” I said. We were definitely flirting now, and I was sincerely enjoying the rush of power it gave me.

“What about tomorrow?” he asked.

“I’m busy,” I said.

“So you wouldn’t kiss me, even after I gave up smoking for you and everything? I’m crushed.” He took a few exaggerated steps backward, clutching his heart.

“’Fraid not.”

“How about a dance, then?” he asked, putting his cigarette out by squishing it on the stone railing just an inch from my hand. “Look, my last one. You’ve convinced me. I’m through forever. The least you could do is dance with me.”

Like all the guys in Scotland, his accent made him a million times more gorgeous. He bent his head and gave me an impish smile, making him really hard to refuse. What could possibly be the harm of a little dancing?

You can purchase Toward a Secret Sky at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you HEATHER MACLEAN for making this giveaway possible.
5 Winners will receive a Copy of Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean.
APRIL 5th WEDNESDAY Sabrina's Paranormal Palace REVIEW & FAVORITE BOOKS 
APRIL 5th WEDNESDAY Book Lady's Review REVIEW 
APRIL 7th FRIDAY Insane About Books TENS LIST 

APRIL 9th SUNDAY Read Day and Night REVIEW 
APRIL 10th MONDAY TMBA Corbett Tries to Write TENS LIST 
APRIL 10th MONDAY Wharever You Can Still Betray REVIEW & RANDOM THINGS 
APRIL 12th WEDNESDAY Owl Always Be Reading REVIEW 
APRIL 12th WEDNESDAY Reading for the Stars and Moon REVIEW & MUSIC PLAYLIST 
APRIL 13th THURSDAY Bookish Things & More REVIEW 
APRIL 13th THURSDAY The Silver Dagger Scriptorium TENS LIST & EXCERPT


  1. Looks like a good book! Thank you for the contest!

  2. I really want to read this. Thanks so much for the chance to win.