New York Times and USA Today bestselling writer Heather Graham learned the art of storytelling at her grandmother’s knee. “She was a fantastic storyteller,” Graham recalls. “Both sides of my family had lots of crazy stories about strange things found on misty nights.” Graham has managed to continue the tradition by penning over 100 novels and novellas that blend history, romance, intrigue and the paranormal into a reading experience that has inspired Publishers Weekly to say, “Heather Graham knows what readers want.”
Graham did not start out to become a writer. This native Floridian studied theater arts at the University of South Florida, married her high school sweetheart, and started a family. She spent some time doing dinner theater, singing back-up vocals, and bartending. After her third child was born, she decided that, given the cost of childcare, it made more sense to be a stay-at-home mom. This was the beginning of her foray into fiction. “I always liked reading,” she says. “I’m a huge history buff, and I loved The Twilight Zone.” In 1982, after a few false starts, she sold her first novel. When Next We Love told the story of a young widow in a conflicted relationship with her dead husband’s best friend. The book was picked up by Dell Publishing as part of its fledgling “Candlelight Ecstasy” series. “Category romance was getting very popular at the time,” Graham recalls. “It was a good place to be breaking in.”
Since that time, Graham has branched out into historical fiction, contemporary fiction, Southern Gothic, and paranormal thrillers. She wrote a series of historical romances under the pseudonym “Shannon Drake” while using her given name for her more contemporary novels. “Pseudonyms are helpful if you’re writing different genres,” Graham explains. “You don’t want readers buying something they didn’t expect.”
Graham's readers can expect a spine-tingling trip into the world of the occult with her “Cafferty and Quinn” series. Danielle (Danni) Cafferty is an antique shop owner with a mysterious family legacy, and Michael Quinn is a private investigator with a strange past who enlists Danni’s help in his battle against the forces of evil. The series is set in New Orleans, the city Graham calls her “second home.” “I’ve spent a lot of time in New Orleans, and I love it,” she says. “I have a lot of friends there and do a writer’s conference there every year. And I love the people. They’re crazy, spiritual and wonderful.” In the latest Cafferty and Quinn novel, The Dead Play On, the duo is enlisted to investigate the strange murders of musicians in New Orleans and the connection between the murders and a saxophone that belonged to a soldier who supposedly committed suicide.
Graham’s upcoming releases will feature three additions to her popular “Krewe of Hunters,” a series about an FBI unit specializing in crimes involving the supernatural. Graham describes the series as “Ghostbusters meets Criminal Minds.” The Silenced, scheduled for release on June 30, centers around the disappearance of a Congressman’s media assistant who suddenly quits her job and never makes it back to her apartment. In The Forgotten (release date July 28, 2015), the Krewe is called in when body parts begin washing up in Miami, and rumors of zombies abound. The Hidden (release date September 29, 2015) has the Krewe in Colorado investigating an unsolved murder from the 1800s that has an eerie connection to a series of deaths in Estes Park.
Despite her prolific output, Graham still manages to find time to pursue her other passions. A founding member of the Florida Romance Writers chapter of the Romance Writers Association, she hosts the Romantic Times Vampire Party, a yearly event that raises money for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Fund. Last year, Graham was invited to give the keynote address at the Key West Mystery Fest, which gave her an unforgettable opportunity to engage in one of her favorite pastimes – scuba diving. “Their lovely journalist/publicist worked for the Mel Fisher company for years, and she set me up to dive over the Atocha Bank of Spain site with the Mel Fischer crew,” she says. “For me that was far beyond WOW!”
Graham also sets time aside for family, something she describes as “the most precious thing in the world.” A mother of five, she became a first-time grandmother in February when her son and his wife welcomed a beautiful baby boy. “My daughter-in-law, mom of little Korbin, is an amazing professional within the book world as well,” Graham says. “She is an illustrator and book designer for ‘Up With Paper,’ the company that does those amazing pop-up greeting cards when you're leaving Barnes and Noble and other fine book stores. Her name is Yevgeniya Yeretskaya, and her projects have included incredibly beautiful and clever cards, tie-in books with Marvel and Disney, and beautiful fairy-tale books.” With such a talented mother and grandmother, it would be fair to say that little Korbin is destined to become an avid reader.
Graham hopes all her readers will enjoy the time they spend with her books. “I want them to come away feeling like they’ve spent time with good friends and looking forward to reading more,” she says. Judging from the success of her books, her legion of fans must be doing just that.