Thursday, June 13, 2013

Always a Marine Q&A with Author Heather Long

Good morning, it's Thor's Day and for those of you who follow me on Facebook, you know it's the day I share pics of some of my favorites (notably Chris Hemsworth). The actor, of course, is best known for his role of Thor, but also for the role of Jed in the remade Red Dawn. I remember the first time I saw the trailer for the remake in the theater, there's a moment where someone asks Hemsworth's character, 'didn't you join the Army?' and he gives that little grin and says, 'no, Marines.' 

I literally bounced in my chair. Thor as a Marine? Hell yeah, I can get behind that concept! So I asked my readers to give me a hand with a few questions for this week's blog. Several sent me questions and without further ado (and in no particular order considering the low amount of coffee in my system as I write this!) here we go:

What do you find the hardest part of writing about the military?

Making sure I have my facts straight. There's the temptation to play fast and loose, but when I set out to write the Always a Marine series, I wanted to keep it honest. When I started work on a book that's coming out this Autumn, I had some scenes with food (yes, food in a Heather Long book, shocking I know!). But I had an entire set of sequences about ham until I learned that most of the deployed in Afghanistan can't have ham. No pork. Sure, I could have left that scene in--but if pork isn't a viable option on the menu and against the rules--nope, out it had to come.

Do you plot your stories or do you just wing it?

I do a little bit of both. I always know who my Marine (or in some cases Marines) are when I sit down to write, I always know something about their romantic interest and I always have a title and a blurb. Sometimes the stories decide where they are going without me and I have to adjust as I write, so let's say I work with a flexible plot!

How do you keep track of the story lines you have used?

Would you believe me if I said I have a card catalog file in my brain? It knows who everyone is, what their relationships are to each other--which of the guys have closer friendships than others. I know Matt leans on Logan because they bonded in physical therapy, on Damon because they were friends before and on James, because that's his therapist. He knows Brody, he knows Luke, and some of the others, but he isn't 'buds' with them. 

Conversely, there's Rowdy and Kim who sort stand on their own, they know some of the guys, but they aren't 'friends.'  As for the plots themselves, I try really hard to not repeat one, but if I have friends to lovers or second chance at romance, I do my best to give it a fresh spin. I have actually had one Marine that I considered writing and ultimately discarded, because it was too close to one of the others. Beyond that, I have excellent crit partners and an editor who thumps me and says 'love it' or 'hate it' and they all get to play continuity cop.

Favorite hero or heroine?

I love them all, so my favorites are almost always the ones I am writing about at the moment.

Will we get more books focused on characters who've already appeared like you did with Jazz, Logan and Zach?

I' going to say an unqualified yes here, I've had a follow-up story in mind for Shannon and Brody from Her Marine from the day I finished it, I just haven't had the 'right moment' for it yet. And I always love to go back and see my guys even as visitors in other books. Damon, for example, has a part to play in the upcoming Marine Ever After. There's a really big wedding in that book for characters we've met, too. We'll see AJ and Sheri in Marine in the Wind. Not everyone will get a follow-up stand alone book, but if I can weave them in--yeah, I will.

Will you write a Logan and Zach before they met Jazz book?

I actually posted this question on my Facebook page, because this request seems to be one I get consistently. Folks want to see Logan and Zach before Logan's injury, how they became friends, and etc. I won't say never, but based on the requests, I may take a look. Hard for me to imagine my guys without their girl though.

What's next for the Always a Marine series?

We've got three more releases this summer and then I have a series of holiday Marines coming out later this year that I keep calling my Toys for Tots Marines. I plan to use a portion of those proceeds to donate to Toys for Tots. Next year, we may have fewer "Marines" but I am planning full-length, longer books for all them. 

Will you write longer Marines?

As I said above, I am planning longer books for next year. I love writing the novellas, but like the Logan and Zach question, the will you write longer books is one of my more popular questions. Writing longer ones, also means writing fewer because a 50,000 word book is the equivalent of three shorts or two novellas.

Do you take ideas from people for your Marines?

Yeah, no. I have a story file with a little over 18 titles sitting in it to be written for my Marines, though my editor and crit partners have been known to quietly 'suggest' stories they would love to see, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, because they know once an idea starts to percolate and take root in my brain, chances are I will tell it.

Will you write about other branches?

I keep saying I plan to, it's just a matter of having the right story. It's like my male/male books, I had the right stories for those, so I went there. Fortunately, Rick is in the Navy so I did use Navy in that book!

Thanks for the great questions! Be sure to check out A Marine Affair which is my most recent release and stay tuned for Marine Ever After releasing next week! I am super fond of this book for a whole host of reasons, but mostly because of the challenge to telling that particular love story! You can find out more about my Marine series on my website and Facebook page! 

Happy Thor's Day!


  1. Heather,
    I've mentioned how much I have enjoyed your books and am happy to see you're planning to continue the series. Your description and sensitivity towards Vets with PTSD, without getting emotional, is spot on. I appreciate you writing about it!

    Go ARMY!


    1. Thank you! Some of those scenes are incredibly difficult to write, I would love to be able to just Band-Aid them and make it all better, but it doesn't work that way!

  2. Have ever mentioned how much I love you! :) Seriously I adore you. You are a superwoman with a bit of Wonder Woman thrown in. I don't know how you do it, but I'm so glad you do. Your books give me much needed escape. Thank you!

    1. See that makes my day, Sheri! That's why I love reading, going to other places and spending time with characters, so it's a thrill to do that for others!

  3. Thank you for answering some of my questions Heather it is so appreciated. I love your Marine Series and I am excited that it is continuing.

    1. You are so very welcome! Thank you so much for asking me!