For today’s Sunday Dinner, I invited Heidi McCahan. Heidi writes sweet romance novels set in small towns featuring flawed but loveable characters who need redemption and second chances.
Sunday Dinner is a traditional (noon) meal served after church on Sundays. Whole families, including extended family, would gather over a large meal to celebrate a day of rest. Multiple cultures enjoy this Sunday Dinner tradition. In my experience, I know it from both my Midwestern farm family as well as my Italian-American family. Now, I’d like to bring Sunday Dinner virtually to you. So, pull up a chair as we invite various guests to join us each week!
Without further ado, please tell us interesting readers would enjoy learning about you.
Before I got married and had children, I worked at a large university as an athletic trainer. I attended games and practices, traveled with the women’s basketball team, and helped athletes recover from their various illnesses and injuries.
Can you tell us about your latest novel?
An Alaskan Secret is the first book in my new Home to Hearts Bay series published by Love Inspired.
Coming home as a single dad…with a seven-year secret.
Back home in Hearts Bay, Alaska, Asher Hale’s past has caught up with him. His son Cameron’s new reading tutor, Tess Madden, is actually Cameron’s mother—but she doesn’t know it. Their teenage romance is one neither has forgotten, but Asher’s secret lies between them. Now he will have to risk it all. Because telling the truth is the only path to a family reunion.
What made you choose Alaska as your setting?
I grew up in Alaska so I thought my familiarity with the state would make writing a whole series slightly easier than if I wrote about a setting I hadn’t visited. Also, books set in Alaska consistently appeal to readers, and the editorial team at Love Inspired publishes a lot of books with Alaskan settings. So for those reasons, Alaska was the ideal setting for a long series.
Have you lived in or visited Alaska? What research was required to set a book there?
I lived in Alaska from the age of 6 months until I left for college. My family doesn’t live there anymore so I don’t go back often, but we’d love to visit again and take our kids. Alaska is a huge state and there’s so much I haven’t seen yet. I did research what life is like on Kodiak Island because it loosely inspired the fictional island in the Hearts Bay series.
What natural disasters are common in Alaska?
Earthquakes are quite common in Alaska. In 1964 my hometown was destroyed by an earthquake and the subsequent tsunami. I can recall at least one volcanic eruption during my childhood that dropped ash on our communities. Recently, a severe weather event in western Alaska caused a tremendous storm surge, which resulted in high seas and severe flooding. There aren’t a lot of roads in Alaska, so coastal flooding and tsunami warnings can be quite dangerous because evacuations aren’t always possible.
What research was required to write a switched-at-birth story?
I read several magazine and newspaper articles regarding people who discovered as adults that they’d been switched at birth. The editorial team at Harlequin is amazing and once I’ve written the manuscript, they help identify plot holes and inconsistencies that need to be revised.
Were resources easy or difficult to find? Do you have a favorite resource?
Magazines, newspapers, and podcasts are excellent resources because they often feature interviews and stories about people’s real-life experiences. If one has the time, I feel those resources are easy to find. My favorite resource is the internet.
What is one piece of your research that you couldn’t include in the book, but wish readers could know?
Some of the books in the Home to Hearts Bay series mention commercial fishing and crab fishing. I don’t have any personal experience in that industry, so I had to do some research. I fell down an internet rabbit hole and learned that most of the fish sticks and fast-food fish sandwiches that we buy in the Eastern United States come from pollock, which is a type of fish caught in Alaska. There’s a whole complex supply chain involved, which I won’t get into, but I love learning new and interesting facts about how Alaska’s economy and its natural resources create a ripple effect.
Do you have another book in the works? What can you tell us about that book?
Home to Hearts Bay is a six-book series and I’m writing the fourth book now. It’s about a widowed mom-to-be who moves to this island in Alaska because she was one of the babies switched at birth and now she wants to get to know her biological family. Of course her next-door neighbor is quite handsome but not at all interested in romance because he fears he’s going to develop Huntington’s disease and feels it is unethical to marry or have children. There’s also a rambunctious dog named Scout who is a ton of fun to write about.
The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw the stories to an end. Heidi, thank you for joining us today!
If readers would like to purchase a copy of An Alaskan Secret, where might they be able to do so?
My Love Inspired novels are available as e-Books and paperbacks from most major booksellers.
If readers would like to learn about you or your other books, how might they find you online?
I’m most active on Instagram and my handle is @heidimccahan.author. Readers are always welcome to visit my website HeidiMcCahan.com. Everyone who signs up for my e-newsletter receives a free digital novella.
Over Sunday Dinner next week historical romance author Kate Breslin will join us. See you then!