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Q & A with Author Heather Chavez

Cindy Burnett
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Blood Will Tell

Heather Chavez’s sophomore thriller, Blood Will Tell, is out this week.

Heather Chavez’s sophomore thriller, Blood Will Tell, is out this week. Schoolteacher and single mom Frankie Barrera has always been fiercely protective of her younger sister Izzy - whether Izzy wants her to be or not. But over the years, Izzy’s risky choices have tested Frankie’s loyalty. Never so much as on a night five years ago, when a frantic phone call led Frankie to the scene of a car accident - and a drunk and disoriented Izzy who couldn’t remember a thing. How intriguing does that premise sound?

Author Samantha Downing says about the book “Blood Will Tell is a fierce novel of suspense, secrets, and family drama. Chavez brilliantly intertwines story and tension into a captivating novel," while author Hannah Mark McKinnon says "I highly recommend you clear your schedule and buckle up for this one heck of a suspenseful ride."

Heather is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley’s English literature program and has worked as a newspaper reporter, editor, contributor to mystery and television blogs, and in communications for a major health care organization. She lives with her family and two cat overlords in Santa Rosa, Calif., where she is at work on her next novel.

Heather answers some questions that I posed to her about Blood Will Tell:

What inspired you to start writing Blood Will Tell

While I start a project with the premise, there’s also always some personal connection that informs the characters and serves as the emotional core of the story. In this case, that was my relationship with my older sister, who we lost when she was in her 30s. The dynamic between sisters can be complicated, and I really wanted to explore that in this book. 

What kind of research did you have to do? 

I tend to go down a rabbit hole on Google whenever I write. For Blood Will Tell, I researched drinking games. Car accidents. The history of a local ghost town. I also rely on the experts when I have questions, whether that be law enforcement, a friend who lives in the same town as my characters, or my stepdad when Frankie needed to fix her truck. My favorite part, though, was visiting the locations that serve as a backdrop for this story. I always try to do that while writing. For me, there’s nothing quite like standing in the same place my characters do. 

Do you have any say in what your book cover looks like? 
The relationship between an author and her publishing team is a collaborative one, so they consulted me on both covers. For my first book, No Bad Deed, for example, my editor asked for a list of covers I liked, and we talked about the key scenes in the book that might inspire my own cover. That being said, cover design is an art, and I trust my publishing team as the experts in that. With good reason - I got chills seeing my Blood Will Tell cover for the first time. 

What is the most difficult part about writing for you? 

The most difficult part is always staring at a blank screen, especially when starting a new book. While beginnings are exciting - oh, the possibilities! - it’s also terrifying. Even starting a new chapter can be daunting. That’s why I need an outline. I’ve also recently started to handwrite in a notepad at the beginning of my writing sessions - spend some time exploring the point of the scene I’m about to write and get that first sentence or two down before settling in front of the computer. 

What are you reading now and what have you read recently that you loved? 

After struggling to find time to read last year, I’ve made it a goal to read more in 2022. I recently finished (and loved) Lucy Foley’s The Paris Apartment, Colleen Hoover’s Verity, and Dean Koontz’s Elsewhere. I’m almost done listening to Nina Laurin’s What My Sister Knew and plan to start Kellye Garrett’s Like a Sister next. So excited for that one! 

For more book recommendations and bookish thoughts, see Cindy’s monthly Buzz Reads column, her Thoughts from a Page Podcast or follow @ThoughtsFromaPage on Instagram. Find upcoming Conversations from a Page events here.

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