Please give a warm welcome to author Heather Relken
Hello everyone!! I’m Heather Relken; I write romance in fantasy, paranormal, and (mostly) scifi subgenres! I’ve always had a rampant imagination and once that manifested into creative writing back in 7th grade, I’ve never looked back! I like to tell stories about realistic characters in unexpected scenarios, and my love for creating cultures, toying with taboo, and creating languages has made me fall in love with scifi-romance.
I lost my job to covid this year, which was a blessing in disguise as it gave me the opportunity to dive headfirst into my writing and pursue my authorship full-time! My husband has been so supportive and willing to help my writing however he can, and I’m now about to publish my second novel within four months!!!!
Honestly, it’s a dream come true. ❤
Have you always wanted to become an author?
Wanted to, yes. Did I think it was ever going to actually happen? Mmm, no.
I started writing in 7th grade thanks to a creative writing homework assignment for my history class, and soon enough I would daydream about sitting outside in the sun, sipping iced tea and writing the day away without a care in the world. That was always how I envisioned “my best life”.
Unfortunately I live in the midwest so sitting outside all day is bound to get me frozen to death!!
So I’ve always dreamed of being a full-time author but at the same time, I’ve also always struggled with self-confidence and all that, so I never actually believed I’d be able to make it happen. I always figured I’d do writing as a hobby and have some other job to make money with. When I say doing this is a dream come true, I really, really mean it!
What was your inspiration for your current book/series?
Man, I’ve been working on this series for so many years now it’s hard to go back to that initial, singular seed that grew into this universe.
The Aethercurrent Chronicles is a massive 20+ book endeavor. I plan on each being fully standalone, with Easter Eggs for those who have a sharp enough eye to catch them! I’ve been cooking this series for probably 5 or so years now, and I think the initial inspiration was probably after reading Amanda Milo’s series and realizing what the genre of Scifi-Romance was and how perfectly it was suited to my interests. So naturally, I wanted to create my own universe to play around in!
As for individual books though, I tend to get inspiration from my dreams. I have some really weird dreams and when I wake up, I’ll take one or two neat or interesting aspects and disregard the outlandish stuff that would never work, and I mash the ideas together until I get a cohesive sort of dough I can start to cook with! It’s honestly a chaotic mess, but I’ve learned it’s how I work best!!
What are you working on now?
Right now I’m working on a series-within-a-series, The Baron’s Hand Saga. This saga is about the curious case of amnesiac men & women who wake on a foreign planet and are sold at auction–no memories, no name, no language. These romances span the question of humanity–if other sentient life forms are capable of empathy, caregiving, humor, and love, does that not mean they too have humanity despite not being human?
Which is an elaborate way of saying it’s a romance between humans and aliens.
My newest book is actually the first in the saga, wherein a woman flees the man who bought her at the auction and stows away onto a stranger’s ship and eventually lives with them on their farm, trying to heal and learn who she is despite not having memories of her life before being sold. It’s a heartwarming story about family, identity, and forgiveness. ❤
Do you have any quirks while working?
Well, I’m a pantser through and through (meaning, I don’t plot or organize ANYTHING before knuckling down to type the story). I tend to pop on some music and just sort of word-vomit all over a document, and then afterwards I finger-paint the mess into art to make it look like I knew what I was doing all along lol my system is crazy, chaotic, and spontaneous!! Not knowing where I’m headed in the story keeps that zest of excitement in my fingertips and helps me to keep moving forward. If I know all the details and I know how it all goes down for every single chapter, that spark of interest is just…gone.
I find that my Muse (who I compare to Howl from the famous Studio Ghibli movie) works best in the early, early hours of the morning when I’m still somewhat asleep, so I try to get out of bed as early as possible to do my writing in the dark, by candlelight. Different candles for different scenes!! Earthy scented candles for adventurous scenes, floral candles for romance scenes, musky and masculine candles for the, ahem, REALLY romantic scenes…
What are your hopes for the future?
I have so many little goals, some of which I’ve already reached. “See someone recommend my book to another person”, or “be interviewed about my writing” (thanks Helle for fulfilling that one!!), or “have a reader draw fanart of my characters”, things along those lines. Reaching those little checkpoints always puts a smile in my heart!!
Long-term though, my hope is that I’m able to get enough solid ground under myself that I can stand on my author platform fully and not have to go back to a standard 9-5 once this covid nonsense calms down. I want to be able to thank my husband for his unerring support and belief by helping support the household in return, and make him proud that I put myself and my work out there, and that there’s actual people in the world who love what I write.
My fanciful answer, though, is that I hope sometime in the future someone will say, “This is my FAVORITE book!” about one of my novels. That would, I mean, that’d be absolutely incredible. I could die happy lol ❤
Do you have any advice for new authors about the publishing world?
I always give the same advice whenever I’m asked this, because it’s the only advice I DIDN’T get when I was starting out!
Every writer has their own way of doing things, their own system that works best for them. Stephen King’s routine probably wouldn’t work for Jane Austen. And it might not work for you. You have to find your own way, find the environment and schedule in which your Muse works best!
I recommend that you listen to EVERY piece of advice you come across, and also NONE of the advice! Try out each piece–plot instead of being spontaneous, be spontaneous instead of plotting, write at night instead of in the morning, write on your phone instead of a computer, etc etc etc. Taste each method and try every recipe for success, and only keep the ingredients that work for you. Disregard the rest. Build your own, personalized recipe of what you’ve found works or helps out, and eventually you’ll be able to churn out content in a very effortless and natural way that feels satisfying to the soul, rather than stressful.
Your Muse is yours and no one else’s. Be open-minded to other’s advice, but remember not to compare yourself or become a copy of anyone else. Their stories are already out there.
We want YOUR story ❤
Do you have anything to say to your followers?
Sometimes I stare out the window and look at the horizon and go “It’s so crazy to think there’s people out there, somewhere, who have read my stuff and really liked it.”
You guys aren’t obligated to enjoy my writing, but you do anyway. That boggles my mind and makes my heart do somersaults around my ribcage. I’d love to line you all up and go one by one hugging and squeezing you all and saying “thank you so much” a hundred thousand times, and KNOW that YOU KNOW I really mean that every time I say it.
Commenting “Thanks so much!” on each facebook post that says my work is good can come across as fake, or scripted, or empty, and honestly even though it’s my job and passion in life to write words and evoke emotion, when it comes to thinking of my readers? My fans?
Thank you so, so much.
You guys give my life purpose and I’m so happy that the stories I put out there can offer you solace, an escape, a laugh, or anything in between. ❤
Always feel free to reach out! I’m an open book and love chatting with folks about anything readerly, writerly, or really just about anything lol