Monday, July 20, 2020

Heather Webber Interview - South of the Buttonwood Tree

Photo Content from Heather Webber 

HEATHER WEBBER is the national bestselling author of more than thirty novels--including Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe, the Lucy Valentine novels, and the Nina Quinn Mysteries--and has been twice nominated for an Agatha Award. She loves to spend time with her family, read, drink too much coffee and tea, birdwatch, crochet, watch cooking competition and home improvement shows, crochet, and bake. Heather lives in southwestern Ohio and is hard at work on her next book.

Forge Books
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Forge Books (July 21, 2020)
Language: English
On Sale: 07/21/2020
ISBN: 9781250198563

Praise for Heather Webber's MIDNIGHT AT THE BLACKBIRD CAFE

"Full of family secrets, undeniable charm and that particular touch of magic so often found in the South, MIDNIGHT AT THE BLACKBIRD CAFE is a heartfelt and redemptive tale of a daughter looking to move forward in the place her mother couldn’t wait to leave behind. Heather Webber creates a town as dynamic and real as her characters—and a story so compelling that it will stay on readers’ minds long after the final page. I savored every word." —Kristy Woodson Harvey, national bestselling author of Slightly South of Simple

"Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe is an enchanting gem of a novel, brimming with charming characters, heartwarming connections, old secrets, and a southern setting that makes you want to move there. As refreshing as a glass of blackberry tea, this is truly magical realism at its best!" —Karen White, New York Times bestselling author

"Family, fate, and magic intertwine in this endearing Southern tale of long-held secrets, homemade pie, and building one's future from the remains of the past. A tantalizing, delicious delight, through and through. Heather Webber writes with so much detail and imagination that I’ll be craving some Blackbird Cafe pie—and the comfort that comes with it—for a long time to come." —Kristin Harmel, international bestselling author of The Room on Rue Amélie and The Sweetness of Forgetting

What inspired you to pen your first novel?
A dream inspired my first novel. I woke up one morning in the late ‘90s with a vivid image of a plot, characters, and dialogue in my head. With some encouragement from my husband, I tried my hand at writing it all down.

It was four hundred and fifty pages long and included baseball players, a love triangle, an angel, and kidney donation—it was my first attempt at women’s fiction with a touch of magical realism. But don’t look for it in stores—it sits on a high shelf in my office where it leads a happy coexistence with the dust bunnies. 

Tell us your latest news.
My latest news is the release of South of the Buttonwood Tree on July 21st. All these years later, after taking the scenic route through other genres, I’m back to writing women’s fiction with magical realism. It’s truly a genre I love, and I hope to stay here a long time.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I’ve had many influences throughout my career. Personal ones, like my husband who encouraged me to write even though I had no formal training, to authors whose books I admire and who teach me to be a better writer, to author friends who commiserate and celebrate all the ups and downs in this business. 

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Oh, this is a tough one. On a personal level, it’s the reader letters I receive. The ones that share how much my books have helped them in some way through a hard time. Oh my heart—those notes mean so much to me. On a professional level, I’m going to say it was when I sold my first book. It was validation that I wasn’t crazy for throwing myself into this business, that I could write—and that people wanted to read my stories.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
It is always my hope that when a reader finishes one of my books they’re content and feel like they’ve escaped from reality for a while to a place they would love to visit again.

In your new book; SOUTH OF THE BUTTONWOOD TREE, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it 
My writing inspiration is highly influenced by song lyrics. For South of the Buttonwood Tree, I'd become enamored with Jim Croce's "I've Got a Name", most especially its opening lines:
  • Like the pine trees linin' the windin' road
  • I've got a name, I've got a name
  • Like the singin' bird and the croakin' toad
  • I've got a name, I've got a name
  • And I carry it with me like my daddy did
  • But I'm living the dream that he kept hid
So much of our identity is attributed to our names and our family history. There's pain in not knowing your heritage, but I believe that sometimes there's also pain in knowing exactly where you come from. These two types of pain are at the heart of this book, told through the characters of Blue Bishop and Sarah Grace Landreneau Fulton.

Healing is the overarching theme of South of the Buttonwood Tree, as Blue, who comes from a long line of troublemakers, con-men, and thieves discovers an abandoned baby south of a very special buttonwood tree and wants to adopt the child, and Sarah Grace’s family, one of the most beloved families in town, want her to seek custody of the newborn. As the police try to find the baby’s birth mother and a guardianship hearing looms, both women are forced to fight for what they truly want in life and for who they love.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Oh, that’s easy. It’s me. I’m the worst distraction. I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to procrastination. There are days I’ll find anything to get out of writing. Vacuum? Sure! Paint the bathroom? Sounds good! Reorganize the closet? Fine by me!

What part of Blue and Sarah Grace did you enjoy writing the most?
For both of them, I really enjoyed writing the scenes where they show the parts of themselves they always try to hide. Those glimpses really bring them to life and make them relatable.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I think I’d introduce Lucy Valentine to Blue Bishop. Lucy is a Boston psychic who can find (inanimate) lost objects through a handshake, and Alabama-born Blue finds lost things with help from the wind. It would be fun to pair them up and see what they could find together. 


  • 1) “This is the South after all, where there’s always a touch of magic in the air.”
  • 2) Moral compasses are easily broken when dropped in between a rock and a hard place.
  • 3) That little voice spoke up again, telling me to get far away from him, away from the threat that always seemed to be hanging in the air along with the scent of bourbon, away from the phony life we’d created.
  • 4) Diffused sunlight glinted off the bookshop’s picture window that held a multilevel display of books, and I smiled when I saw Poppy Kay Hoppy Finds a Tadpole surrounded by a variety of stuffed frogs and a small notecard with local author written on it sitting in front of the book.
  • 5) Cold, black eyes shimmered with hatred that she polished with every fiery breath she took.
  • 6) Once when I was little, I tried to explain my relationship with the wind to Twyla, how it pushed and pulled, and how sometimes, most times, I was the only one that could feel it blowing.
  • 7) “Sometimes being a good mama is knowing when to ask for help—and accepting it when it’s being offered.”
  • 8) He’d been a preacher’s son, but his mama had been a devil in disguise.
  • 9) The house, one of my earliest friends, blew a sigh of relief, and the scent of warm bread and roasted chicken wrapped around me like a blanket, chasing away the chill that had started when Blue had looked at me with tears in her eyes and fear etched onto her face.
  • 10) “I’ve been at his side for more than fifty years, so long that I can’t hardly tell where he ends and I begin.”
What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?
Ha! I’ll go with how some people get goosebumps when they sneeze.

What according to you is your most treasured possession?
I’d have to say our family photo albums. So much history, love, and memories in those pictures. I’d be devastated to lose them.

Best date you've ever had?
The first date with my husband. We went mini-golfing and go-cart riding and he gifted me with a yo-yo (I loved yo-yos), and I still have that yo-yo around here somewhere. We were sixteen and seventeen years old. Who knew we’d still be together more than thirty years later?

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
I’d go back to when my kids were little. That time goes so fast, and is such a blur now that I’d love to revisit it.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
I’d have to say becoming a mother. Life becomes something totally different when you’re responsible for the care and well-being of a child, and then there’s the whole unconditional love aspect to it.

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
Honestly, I could do without potato eyes. 

Blue Bishop has a knack for finding lost things. While growing up in charming small-town Buttonwood, Alabama, she's happened across lost wallets, jewelry, pets, her wandering neighbor, and sometimes, trouble. No one is more surprised than Blue, however, when she comes across an abandoned newborn baby in the woods, just south of a very special buttonwood tree.

Sarah Grace Landreneau Fulton is at a crossroads. She has always tried so hard to do the right thing, but her own mother would disown her if she ever learned half of Sarah Grace's secrets.

The unexpected discovery of the newborn baby girl will alter Blue's and Sarah Grace's lives forever. Both women must fight for what they truly want in life and for who they love. In doing so, they uncover long-held secrets that reveal exactly who they really are--and what they're willing to sacrifice in the name of family.

You can purchase South of the Buttonwood Tree at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you HEATHER WEBBER for making this giveaway possible.
5 Winners will receive a Copy of SOUTH OF THE BUTTONWOOD TREE by Heather Webber.
JULY 21st TUESDAY Movies, Shows, & Books EXCERPT
JULY 23rd THURSDAY Reading Adventures of a Book Dragon EXCERPT
JULY 24th FRIDAY Nay's Pink Bookshelf REVIEW

JULY 29th WEDNESDAY Two Points of Interest REVIEW
JULY 30th THURSDAY Captivated Reading REVIEW
JULY 30th THURSDAY Gwendalyn's Books REVIEW 
JULY 31st FRIDAY J.R.'s Book Reviews REVIEW 
JULY 31st FRIDAY My Fictional Oasis REVIEW


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