We are still excited to see how the writers will frame the characters as the story of Amy and Heartland continues, but we have to continue the love story between the Ty and Amy characters, even if it is for our own pleasure.
My plans were to write “a” book, however, as I began to write, as it happens, I began to visualize a series of books that will take Ty and Amy through their years as they take over the Heartland tradition and grow their family.
I have been a technical writer throughout my career and have always wanted to try my hand at fiction writing.
You say that you used the writing as therapy. How come?
Over the years, I have had to develop ways to handle the amount of stress my career warranted to be successful. I built a cool backyard area where I could listen to my fountain, smoke a cigar, and have a scotch. Then, I started writing Christian music and probably have over 20 songs written. If you ever have written poetry or music, you would know that when you are in the process of development or just reading or playing the results, it steals you away into this bliss where all your troubles are left behind. Sounds like a song is in there haha.
Writing this book series has really been the most therapeutic. I guess because my wife and I fell so in love with the series that, not only is it an outlet to relieve stress from the day’s activities, but also the stress of losing the love story in the Heartland series. This may sound strange but when Ty died, we started grieving. Really grieving. Writing this continuation gives me an outlet to continue what we lost. I would say from the comments I get from the folks who have read the book, I am not the only one who felt the loss.
Heartland fan fiction has become quite popular now. How have you found the competition? Have you found it hard to stand out from others?
First, I did not know about fan fiction before I started this project so my goal was always to develop and promote the book using my own resources. Remember, I own software companies and have lots of smart marketing and development guys around me.
Second, I have tried vigorously to get some feedback from the owners of the Heartland series to see if there is an interest in a movie. I also tried Amber (Marshall), Graham (Wardle), Michelle (Morgan) to see if I could get them to change the outcome of Season 14..to no avail. Michelle is the only one who gave me some feedback.
Third, once I got wind of Fan Fiction Sites, I published up there as well. I am not getting as big of response there as I have on my own.
Fourth, my efforts are not without a reason. I wanted to see how social marketing works, so I am trying different ways to get folks to come to my site to read my books. I found that if I go to the Heartland blogs and reply to comments, I get great results. You can only do so many a day, but it is about 50, so I do 50 replies per day and it has got me to this point. Mission accomplished! Now I am trying to see how to get this to go viral so of the ones who have joined my site, I have asked them to spread the word. We will see how that goes.
You are an author of another book too, which is very different. It’s about increasing profit through modern technology and management. How do you go from Heartland to that? That’s quite a jump.
Well, I actually went from Increasing Profit to Heartland. I am trying to parley my 40 years of software development and application to digital, paperless business workflow into a new management platform that supports daily collection and reporting of data. With the advent of COVID, it has companies re-engineering their processes to adapt to working from home. My platform will show them how to do this.
My son has taken over all the business responsibilities of the companies and I just do consulting now. I am trying to re-engineer myself and writing the Heartland series, well, who knows where that will take me.
I have spoken around the country over the years and one of my specialties is storytelling. Writing fiction is much like that. I can visualize when I am writing.
How long have you been writing for, because you are a very talented author?
I have never written anything before Heartland and Increasing Profit. I don’t read fiction at all except for 1 series of books called Left Behind. The writers use dialog as their style, so I just copied that style. Seems to be catchy.
I do write a lot. I teach the Bible and prepare my lessons (30 years of it), which requires writing. I write on my website blogs. I post a lot of Facebook “stuff”.
How did you come up with where your story line of Heartland Reimagined would go next?
First, if you have read the books, my purpose for the writing is to introduce my readers to practical Christian application in daily life. Lyndi is my evangelist and she is slowly introducing Christ to all the members of the family. So that is my first objective when framing a story line. I have lots of folks who tell me about what I call “God Thangs”. These are events in life where the only explanation is that God had something to do with the outcome, so I blend those stories into the storyline of the book.
Second, I have used my own life stories. My wife had severe depression after the kids, so I had Amy with postpartum after the twins, my grandson has ADHD and my son and his wife argue over drugs or not. The first book was centered around Ty getting his memory back, so there were 15 years of material there. My Georgie section with the Olympics is probably my best. You know the euphoria you get when you have a show that just hits all the stars. When I wrote the Georgie event, I cried as I wrote the crowd response to her riding the event and winning the Gold. I had goosebumps. I still get them when I read it. To me, when a “God Thang” is happening, there is a joy that you just have and it can only come from Him.
Third, where am I going? I pray about it, then I start writing. It is amazing how it just comes together. In book two, Lisa died. Not sure why I did that, but now in book three, I have a whole new story line with Jack, where he is GG and is giving the reins of Heartland-Fairfield to Ty and Amy. I see Ty and Amy growing their love story through their kids, much like my wife and I of 45 years, but I want to stay on the same Heartland theme which has been developed from the beginning.
Why did you decide to make the series for free?
The best answer is that the Gospel message that I have intertwined into the books is enough payment for me. As a Christian, if my books can bring joy to someone’s life, that is worth more than money. Also, many people know God, but don’t have a practical application of His will in their life. I hope that message resonates as well.
You have mentioned to me before that Ty & Amy’s love story parallels your love story with your wife. In what way? Please tell us more.
I met my wife at 15 and instantly had an attraction. Lots of bumps between 15 and 18, but knew then, she was going to be my wife. After 4 years and a lot of coaxing, we got married. She is my best friend. Always was, and still is, which is the basis of our relationship.
She is dedicated to her Faith, which meant that if I was to win her over, I would have to change my life, which was not dedicated to really anything but a good party. She saved my life and that is what made me into who I am today.
I use a phrase in my books that I stole from somewhere “I thought I couldn’t love you anymore, but you always seem to bring our love to another level”. For almost 48 years, my wife has shown me another level of love that she has for me almost every year. That is what Amy and Ty have. That is the love story. Ty treats Amy with that respect. This may sound chauvinistic, but a man’s job, not a husband’s job is to nurture the relationship with his wife. God made women from man and gave us the responsibility to care for them and nurture them. Men have done a terrible job living up to that standard, hence, women have had to learn how to care for themselves. I think the appeal of the show is that even a strong, talented woman like Amy, appreciates and loves a man who will nurture and care for her. If more men did their job, you would see stronger families and less divorce. I make every attempt to make my wife feel respected, loved and appreciated every day.
Finally, Ty and Amy’s love story is real. To sustain a marriage for over 43 years, you must have the relationship that they have and developed. Ty genuinely loved Amy. I love my wife the same way. I would do anything for her. When she hurts, I hurt. When she is happy, I am happy. She is my soulmate.
I see that you have released a Book 2 of Heartland Reimagined. How many more can we expect? How do you know when and how to finish it?
I am working on Book 3. My best answer is I will finish when there is nothing left to write. Not so sure when that will be. I really, really enjoy doing this. Yeah, it would be nice to monetise it, but for now, the message in the stories is what I think people need to hear, so just to see that people enjoy reading them is enough.
What advice would you give to our audience who would like to become a writer like you?
I am a passionate person. Throughout my life, once I grabbed on to something, and became passionate about it, my vision took over and I could see the results. This Heartland project is just that. People need a love story.
Start writing. Social media is a great platform to write something, post it, and get feedback.
Knowing what you know now, what would you tell your 14-year-old self?
Find God in your life. Once you have done that, tap into that resource. Most people don’t understand the power of the Spirit in their lives. Once you accept Christ, he lives within you and you can call on that for anything and everything. If you don’t know God, this might seem stupid, but it isn’t. When I met my wife and saw the presence of the Lord in her life, the Spirit she had, I wanted that. Today, that is the basis of my life and everything I do. I just wish I understood that as early as she did. It would have kept me out of a lot of trouble haha.
Once you find God, you will find your passion. What you were made for! Some folks might disagree, but as a Christian, I received a gift from God. Once I realized that gift, I was able to leverage that in everything I do.
Where should we all follow you on social media?
Check out Heartland Reimagined here.
Thanks again for having a chat to us today Steve.
– Interviewed by Lauren Yeates
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