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Heather Day Gilbert: Writing What She Wants to Read #LadiesInDefiance

Writing What I Want to Read—Strong Women

by Heather Day Gilbert

Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not likely to relate to demure wallflower characters in books. Nope. Give me a woman who knows how to wield a weapon or who has her snark cranked up to whiplash level and you’ve hooked me.

See, I grew up surrounded by strong women. My Grandma Wilcox knew how to garden, can, and clean, how to raise her children right, and how to get through to a wayward teen granddaughter who thought she knew it all. She did it the mountain way—she told me stories. Real-life stories about people and family in West Virginia where I grew up. Stories of love and loss and times when women had to take stands for what was right. She always told me to “keep your chin up and your head held high because you’re just as good as anyone else.”

My mom and my great-aunt Jenny Lee are also strong women, setting an example of what it means to delve into the Bible and rely on God for each decision you make. I can never thank these women enough for the example they’ve set for me, and I can only pray I learn to live up to it for my kids.

So I’m drawn to strong women in books, and that’s also what I write. Case in point: my Viking historical, God’s Daughter, tells the story of a real Christian Viking woman who sailed all the way to North America with her husband. My second, Forest Child, will tell the story of Eirik the Red’s daughter, a wild warrior woman named Freydis.

My A Murder in the Mountains mystery series also features strong women—young and old. My main character, everyday housewife Tess Spencer, tries to be armed and prepared for danger at all times, and she’s no shrinking violet. Her best friend is a handicapped elderly woman who is very formidable. And her mother-in-law has a heart of gold and she loves on Tess like nobody’s business.

But we know there are different types of strength—it’s not always in-your-face. In my latest release, a romantic suspense novella titled Out of Circulation, I introduce librarian Katie McClure, who feels trapped in her small West Virginia town. She had big plans to go into the FBI like her dad, but a volleyball injury gave her a permanent limp, so she’s stuck shelving books and doing story times with kids. Although she’s Southern-polite and genteel on the outside, inside she’s struggling to understand why God seemed to thwart her dreams at every step.

Enter a mysterious bodyguard who’s visiting from Manhattan (the illustrious Ace Calhoun) and some Russian mobsters hunting for an old bank stash, and you’ve got a recipe for more excitement than Katie ever thought she’d see.

What I loved about Katie is that although she’s not glitzy and quick to speak like her sister Molly (who’s the main character in Undercut, book 2 in the Hemlock Creek Suspense series), she has deep loyalty to her family that drives her to protect them. Ace sees Katie’s strengths, not her perceived weaknesses, so she becomes bolder in the skin she’s in.

There are so many ways women can show strength, I couldn’t begin to name them all. But I hope my novels portray believable women who, although they have vastly differing personalities, discover how to become truly strong in ways that count for eternity.

smoke and mirrors

If you’re interested in Katie’s story in Out of Circulation, you can find it here in the 8-novella romantic suspense set, Smoke and Mirrors. This set is 99c for a limited time.

And if you’re interested in my Viking or my mystery series, you can find more info on those here. God’s Daughter, my Viking historical, is also available on audiobook, as is Miranda Warning, book 1 in my Appalachian mystery series. Miranda Warning is currently free for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iBooks.

Thanks so much for letting me visit today, Heather!


HEATHER DAY GILBERT writes novels that capture life in all its messy, bittersweet, hope-filled glory. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, generational story-telling runs in her blood. Heather is a graduate of Bob Jones University and is married to her college sweetheart. Having recently returned to her roots, she and her husband are raising their three children in the same home in which Heather grew up. Heather is represented by Rebeca Seitz and Jonathan Clements of SON Studios in FL.

Heather’s Viking historical novel, God’s Daughter, is an Amazon Norse bestseller. She is also the author of Miranda Warning and Trial by Twelve, Books One and Two in the bestselling A Murder in the Mountains mystery series. She has also written the Indie Publishing Handbook: Four Key Elements for the Self-Publisher.

You can find Heather online here:


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