ღ ღ About Heidi Gray McGill ღ ღ¸
Heidi is an optimist who chooses to find the silver lining in life’s clouds of doubt. This plays out in her writing. Her ability to seamlessly weave scripture into the lives of her characters will uplift and encourage you, while her masterful storytelling will keep you turning page after page and wishing for more.
Heidi lives with her husband of thirty years near Charlotte, NC. When she isn’t writing, you will find her outside playing with her two grandsons, walking, scrapbooking, reading, cooking, traveling, or finding an excuse to have an outing with a girlfriend… as long as they’re driving.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.
I grew up in a pastor’s home and adopted early on the lifestyle of living for Christ… but not the deep heart commitment of being adopted by Christ. My parents called me the “joy of their lives,” and I worked diligently to make them proud. I was not rebellious by nature and didn’t struggle to keep God’s laws. I desired, more than anything, never to disappoint my earthly father. The problem was that I was trying to please the wrong Father.
When I was 32, married, and had my first child, we changed churches… because I wasn’t happy where I was (That’s an entire story all its own.) We joined a church plant. I mentored a new Christian— as in days old—who was from a background unlike any I’d ever experienced. She ended up challenging me and my faith, and I finally realized I had lived my entire life following rules instead of a Savior. I knew most Christian answers, or at least how to find them, but I had never written them on my heart.
Living life to please Christ and do His will is now the desire of my heart. I share my faith in Jesus Christ through my writing, fleshed out through the story’s characters. Although my book is not evangelistic, it shows how Jesus Christ can be an integral part of life and how leaning on Him can bring tremendous peace and fulfillment.
Can you share with us a book you have read recently, are currently reading?
I keep multiple books going at one time on my Kindle, the Kindle app on my phone, Hoopla audio, and Libby audio. I recently listened to “The Heart Mender” by Andy Andrews. I’ve probably read it five times. The story is set in WWII on the Gulf of Mexico coast. Andy is a tremendous self-help writer, and he says this book falls into that category because of the strong message of forgiveness. But it is also a clean love story, a mystery, and historical fiction. He packs so much drama, intrigue, and mystery into this book. Every time I read it, I find something new I missed before and wonder how much of the story is real. It is absolutely one I will read again.
What age did you realize you loved books, and when did you start writing?
Reading was difficult for me as a child. I may have read a book or two for pleasure in high school and college, but I spent too much time reading texts books to enjoy reading for pleasure. When my girls started reading, I began to see things in their simple stories that helped them with comprehension and began looking for details to help them figure out a new word or concept. It became a game.
As they got older, I intentionally read every book on their summer and required reading list for all twelve grades. It opened doors for communication and helped me understand where they were in life. When they hit middle school and started reading classics, I recognized I had not read most of them. I learned I’m not too fond of Sci-Fi and can’t read mystery at night. On-page sex and foul language are never appropriate for me.
When I truly gave my heart to Christ, I recognized how impressionable my mind was. I started choosing Christian Fiction over everything else. Now that I am an author, I will read as much of a non-Christian book as I need to get a good feel for writing style, but I rarely finish those books. An example of this is Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander.” She is a phenomenal author, but her books are not for me. She truly helped me with the characters of Paddy and Aideen O’Sullivan in my Discerning God’s Best Historical Fiction series.
Tell us about this book.
When I wrote Dial E for Endearment, I purposed in my heart to shed light on blindness. The main character, Everly, is blind. The story takes place in Blowing Rock, NC. Everly is the JOY Radio talk show host, She has discovered fulfillment, but she hasn’t found love, at least not for her—not even from her mother. Everly wants words—heartfelt, meaningful endearments meant for her ears only. She wants a man who will open her eyes to everything she cannot see to make her feel more than just the voice behind the mic and the girl behind the white cane.
The best way to tell you about Dial E for Endearment is to share what others have written in reviews.
Amy Bovaird, a blind author, shared that she “… was particularly touched by a scene between Everly and her mother. I loved the humorous quips tucked into this feel-good Christian novella, which shows her main character’s disability doesn’t define her.” (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4374206775 )
Jessica Grewe said, “I was immediately drawn into this book because the characters are so relatable. I felt like I was part of their world. Even Max, the dog, had me smiling and laughing at his actions.”
( https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4332649010 )
What was your inspiration for starting this book or series?
Being a part of the You Are On The Air series is an honor for me. Dial E for Endearment is my first Contemporary RomCom, and these ladies embraced and encouraged me. Each book in the series is standalone with a radio theme.
Authors often write what they know. I am legally blind. Everly, the main character in Dial E for Endearment and I have this in common.
Those who do not know me well often don’t realize I have low vision. As humans, we are amazingly adaptable, and I do a pretty good job covering up my disability. My friends have learned to watch out for me and alert me to potential pitfalls, some better than others, which is always good for a laugh. I use a white cane when I’m navigating alone, and I’ve traveled to China—that cane as my only companion.
People are often confused that I can still see yet use a white cane. The word “blind” Can be confusing. I have 5% of my peripheral vision left. That means, when I am looking you in the eye, I can’t see your mouth. Thanks to corrective lenses in my glasses, what I see in the 5% is blessedly clear. If you’d like to test YOUR knowledge of blindness, take this fun quiz https://www.tryinteract.com/share/quiz/619891b729cc730018978f00
Vision loss does not discriminate. My diagnosis in 2001 of Retinitis Pigmentosa was devastating. There is no cure, and there is no surgery. But that does not mean there is no hope. I still have value. Being blind is certainly not something I would have chosen, but it does not define me.
What character do you like best?
Max, Cam’s dog, is by far my favorite character in Dial E for Endearment. Max’s breed often frightens people, but Everly does not see his exterior, and she immediately accepts him for who he is on the inside—exactly how she wants others to treat her. Max ramps up the excitement in this story, providing the reader with many opportunities to belly laugh.
What was something that surprised you in the way this book unfolded?
The most surprising part of the story was the dog, Max, but he was not in the book to start. Making a story plausible is one thing but making it believable is challenging. I work diligently to get a reader engrossed in the story without getting hung up on little details. I could not figure out the best way for Everly and Cam to meet, then Max bumped right into me, introduced himself, and stole my heart.
What’s one thing you wish readers would take away from this book?
Dial E for Endearment will grow you if you are willing to put yourself in the character’s shoes. The central theme is we each have value, and more minor themes are forgiveness, acceptance without judgment, and paying close enough attention to others we see the needs of their heart before anything else.
What project is next on your list?
I will be writing another book in the You Are On The Air series, and it will tie in with Dial E for Endearment. It releases in September, and I’m very excited about it. Readers can keep up with each release by joining the You Are On The Air Readers Group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/182640397166338.
Where do we find you and your books?
As Blowing Rock, NC’s JOY Radio talk show host, Everly has discovered fulfillment, but she hasn’t found love, at least not for her—not even from her mother.
Everly Johnson is every man’s dream of the perfect date, even though her audience has never met her. As host for the EnJOYing God’s Best program on JOY Radio in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, she receives countless gifts of flowers and candy from her listeners, some callers being more ardent than others. Everly has no interest in such offerings and promptly bestows the bounty on her mother’s assisted living facility. Everly wants words–heartfelt, meaningful endearments meant for her ears only. She wants a man who will open her eyes to everything she cannot see to make her feel like she’s more than just a voice behind the microphone.
Cameron Boyd is every woman’s dream of the perfect man. He’s intelligent, has a strong work ethic and career, lives on his own, and is downright adorable. But being an introvert can make eye contact with a pretty girl a challenge, let alone saying something coherent—unless it is the one-way conversation he has each Friday with Everly Johnson. Date night for Cam involves sitting alone on his back porch overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains while he dreams of things to say if he were ever to meet her face-to-face.
A chance meeting changes everything.
Will Cam be able to step out of his comfort zone and into the world he has only been able to envision in his mind? Will Everly trust this stranger with her life as well as her heart?
Tune into JOY Radio to find out!
If you enjoyed getting to know Heidi today, she writes an engaging monthly newsletter. When you sign up, you’ll receive Deep in my Heart, the prequel to her Christian Historical Fiction series. This novella is Free with Newsletter sign-up