This Heart of Mine
Author: C.C. Hunter
Publication Date: February 27th, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Synopsis: After ten books and millions of readers, C.C. Hunter’s New York Times bestselling Shadow Falls series came to an end last year. Now with a popular paranormal young adult series behind her, Hunter decided to turn her prolific pen to a new project, a personal YA contemporary. THIS HEART OF MINE (Wednesday Books; February 27, 2018) tells the story of a teen girl who receives a lifesaving transplant and discovers there is more to the heart keeping her alive. With Hunter’s experience as her husband waited on the transplant list, her change in genre is full of real emotion and love that can only come from the author’s heart.
Seventeen-year-old Leah MacKenzie is heartless. An artificial heart in a backpack is keeping her alive, which will only work for a few years. And with her rare blood type, a transplant isn’t likely. Living like you are dying isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But when a heart becomes available, she’s given an amazing second chance at life. Then Leah discovers who the donor was—a boy from her school—and people are saying he killed himself. Plagued with unsettling dreams since the transplant, Leah realizes she may hold the clues to what really happened.
Matt refuses to believe his twin killed himself. When Leah seeks him out, he learns they are both having similar dreams, and he’s certain it means something important. While unraveling the secrets of his brother’s final moments, Leah and Matt find each other and a love they are terrified to lose. But life and even new hearts don’t come with guarantees. Who knew that living took more courage than dying?
Switching genres from paranormal to contemporary came from an extremely personal place for Hunter, as her husband’s life was saved by the transplant list much like Leah’s. She says, “His journey, his pain, my pain, his fear, my fear, and our enormous appreciation to the donor and his family for the gift of life, poured out of my soul and into my keyboard.” The effect is palpable making THIS HEART OF MINE a haunting, poignant tale about living and dying, surviving grief, guilt, and heartache, while discovering love and hope.
What made you decide to write a contemporary?
I’m really no stranger to writing contemporary. Under my real name, Christie Craig, I write romantic suspense and humorous romantic suspense. When the Shadow Falls series was coming to an end, paranormal novels were no longer the preferred genre. I met with my editor and we talked about what I should write next. Her advice was always to write what you are excited about. I suggested I try my hand at writing young adult contemporary and she agreed. While This Heart of Mine is certainly a contemporary. Leah who learned to accept death, now has to learn to live with someone else’s heart. However, there is a thread of the mystical woven into the plot. Leah, gets a heart transplant, and when she wakes up, she having dreams that aren’t her own, but that of the donor. And the donor’s identical twin brother, Matt, is having the same dreams. Police say the donor committed suicide, but the dreams are saying something different. Leah and Matt come together to find answers. Along the way they find a love and hope.
In what ways was writing a contemporary different from writing a paranormal novel?
When Born at Midnight, the first book in the Shadow Falls series released, I was asked how I made my paranormal story feel so contemporary. For me, what makes a contemporary is character’s dealing with real-life issues. And in all the Shadow Falls, they did just that. So I guess, I don’t feel as if I approach a paranormal idea that much differently than I approach any novel. Yes, there’s the supernatural element. But nine times out of ten, my stories are born with the character and grow from character. I will say that writing paranormal with magical elements allows you to plot outside the box. I’ll be writing and think, how cool would it be if a sink hole appeared, and then realize, I can do that.
What was your favorite part of writing the book?
I loved showing how two people, both wounded by hard times, come together and help each other heal. I’m known for adding some humor in my books, and this book was no different. In rare moments of humor, Leah and Matt find a tender bond. Because Leah had accepted she was about to die, Matt teaches her how to embrace life again. Because Matt has lost both his father and his brother, Leah helps him let go of grief. One of my taglines for the book is, “While life hurts, love heals.” Because I almost lost my husband except for a transplant that saved his life, so much of the book came right from my heart and poured out onto the page. Perhaps that is why their love story seemed so vibrant to me.
This Heart of Mine deals with some really somber topics, including suicide. What was your process for developing the story like, when you planned on including tough, yet important issues?
This Heart of Mine was the hardest book I’ve ever written. Not because it didn’t flow, but because it flowed with tears. So much of Leah’s story came from the personal experience of my husband’s transplant. Even the dreams Leah was having that felt like they were from donor, was inspired from my husband’s reoccurring dream. The book deals with a lot of hard issues, but it’s countered with love and hope, and even sprinkled with a little humor. I wrote it, not to be a sad story that will weigh on a reader’s heart, but one that will leave a footprint of love and courage on the reader’s mind.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Never give up. Writing is a tough business. But it’s one you can learn. I’m dyslexic. I didn’t have the educational background to be a writer. I didn’t know how to spell. I’m comma impaired. And I’ve got the rejections to show for it. But I didn’t give up. It took me ten years to get my first book published. It took me another thirteen to sell the second one. Now, This Heart of Mine is my thirty-eighth book. If you want to do this, just keep doing it, keep learning, until you make it.
Thank you so much for sharing about This Heart of Mine.
C.C. HUNTER is a pseudonym for award-winning romance author Christie Craig. She is lives in Tomball, Texas, where she’s at work on her next novel.