By Wendy Holdren
While many Christian romance authors focus on the prenuptial part of a relationship, one local author prefers to write about life after the “I do’s.”
“To me, the most interesting relationship is after you’re married,” Heather Day Gilbert said. “Marriage has been the best years for me. As a married person, I don’t want to read about people dating and romance. I want to read about characters with the same struggles that I have with marriage and kids.”
With that in mind, Gilbert set out to write books that she herself would like to read.
She graduated with her degree in humanities from Bob Jones University in South Carolina, and although she took many writing and literature classes, she didn’t begin her writing career until her three children were out of their toddler years.
She wrote her first book six years ago during NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, which is a challenge to write an entire novel during November.
This proved to be a difficult task, Gilbert said, but it helped her realize her true passion for writing.
After completing two additional novels and working with several publishers, Gilbert decided to look into self-publishing.
Her brother, who is a graphic designer, helped her prepare a cover for her newest novel, a Viking-themed novel called “God’s Daughter.”
Gilbert said her novels are set in West Virginia or in the Viking time period, but having a married main character is a consistent theme in her writing.
Gilbert, now 39, got married to her husband, David Gilbert, when she was 22 years old.
“I guess I always wanted to get married and have kids. My parents were great. They had a good relationship. My mom was a stay-at-home mom and that’s what I wanted to do. I don’t regret that for a minute.”
She said her parents’ marriage was always based on friendship, so when she was looking for a life partner, she wanted to find those same qualities.
She met David while they were in college. Although they dated for some time, their lives took different paths. David went to Columbia University in New York, but while he was away, Gilbert said God opened her eyes.
“He was the guy who was always there for me all along. He fit in with my family and my values, so I got back in touch with him. That was in the early days of e-mail, so we burned up the e-mail lines,” Gilbert said, laughing.
The two now have a son and two daughters, ages 14, 13 and 11.
“We’ve gone through a lot, had our ups and downs, but I feel like our marriage has gotten stronger over the years.”
Gilbert said one of the driving forces for her as an author is to create realistic relationships in her writing.
“Christian fiction romance authors can be really good, but for me it’s sometimes unrealistic relationships. I want people to see that things don’t have to be perfect. The guy doesn’t always have to say and do the right thing to have a rewarding relationship.”
In her latest novel, “God’s Daughter,” the main character is a married woman who has issues with thoughts of previous relationships.
“He’s a sailor and a trader, so he’s often absent. She sometimes wondered how her life would be if she had married someone else.”
Gilbert said her goal was to cover modern topics in a Viking setting — “I really wanted to show that marriage has ups and downs, but there are ways to make it work.”
She said she’s drawn to the Viking era because it’s in her blood. Her grandma said her family is related to Erik the Red and Leif Eriksson.
“She said our family came over from Norway. She kept the story alive that we were related.”
She said as she read the Icelandic Sagas, she loved the strong female character named Gudrid, who was an early Christian willing to travel all over the world with her husband.
“I’m a Christian and everything I do, I’m trying to glorify God with my writing. It doesn’t mean that I avoid difficult issues though. I see that a lot in Christian books, but marriages fall apart even in the church. Yes, you may have adulterous thoughts, or horrible in-laws, but how do you deal with that? I want to speak to both Christians and non-Christians.”
She and her family attend Daniels Bible Church, and she said her family and her faith are extremely important to her.
Her family has been very supportive of her writing career, and her husband has become increasingly supportive over time.
“He understands this is a job for me. It’s almost full-time, but I’m still homeschooling the kids. He’s always willing to help wash dishes, grocery shop and more.”
Her books are available for sale at www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble .com.
Gilbert will host a series of book signings in the upcoming months at the following locations: from 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 25 at Otter & Oak in Hinton, from 1 to 3 p.m. Feb. 8 at Summers County Public Library in Hinton and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 6 at the Raleigh County Public Library in Beckley.
For more information about Gilbert or her work, visit www.heatherdaygilbert.com.
— E-mail: email@example.com