Heidi got the cover art today for her second novel, Special Delivery, which is due in February of 2010 from Dreamspinner Press. She sent me the photo in my email today to show me and I have to admit that it's pretty much EXACTLY like I pictured it, only in my mind's eye, they were looking in the other direction.
I don't want to steal any of Heidi's thunder, but this is one of my favorite stories she has ever written. The fact that it's a gay romance and that I am not exactly the target audience for this book is really beside the point. I know that many think that I like everything that she writes and, well, they would be right. The fallacy that many people fall for is that me liking all her stuff is in the fine print of the marriage license. Nothing could be further from the truth. Naturally, I'm going to be biased, but there's no guarantee that whatever comes out of her iMac is going to appeal to me.
But Special Delivery is a little bit special to me, because it's the only thing that I'm aware of that I really and truly encouraged her to finish. I don't remember the origin of the story exactly, although I think it started out as a short piece that quickly outgrew the short story format and graduated to novel length. She had an early draft that featured Sam and Mitch, but the set up was completely different and, as will frequently happen in first drafts, she wrote herself into a corner she couldn't find the way out of. But I always liked it, even though it didn't really have any conflict to speak of and the characters were quickly running out of things to do. But it had Kylie references and an iPod named after someone from one of my all-time favorite movies and well, I was sold. But she had hit the wall and couldn't find the way out, so that seemed to be the end of Sam & Mitch.
Not if I had anything to say about it.
No sooner had she given up on it than I was on her case to pick it back up again. My refrain was always "I wanna know what happens next!" And so she picked it back up again. Aided in no small part by our trip out west in June, she has crafted what is not just a romance, but also a physical and emotional journey. In many senses, it's a road book. I told her this early on and I stand by my assertion.
See, here's the thing. The fact that the sexuality of these characters is not the same as mine doesn't matter one bit. I end up relating to them anyway because Heidi does this incredible job of making the characters so REAL. There are conflicts and motivations and crazy risks taken. She manages to bring you along every step of the way. I feel for these characters, through every twist and turn and up and down. So much of what is experienced is part of the human condition, regardless of orientation.
I always say that I like her contemporaries more than her historicals because I like the soundtrack for the contemporaries better. She always borrows liberally from my iTunes collection - something she did quite extensively during the writing and revisions of Special Delivery, as well as her NaNoWriMo novel, Double Blind. Our musical tastes are overall compatible, but have only thin areas of overlap. So when she's coming down to my computer with the flash drive asking for Olivia Newton-John songs, somewhere in my youth or childhood I must have done something good.
For all the communities and groups that Heidi's a part of that center around writing, I think that if you asked her, she'd agree that writing is ultimately a very solitary activity. Even as her husband, I have only been able to be involved in it insomuch as I read everything she writes, do copy edits on early drafts, and the itsy bitsy detail that I earn the salary that has made her pursuit of this dream just that much easier. But as far as being directly involved, as a rule I'm not. But with Special Delivery, I was. In my own small, but direct way, I helped make this story come to life.