Headed into the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, let’s squeeze in one more Composite Sketch in this 10th anniversary celebration of BOLO Books.

I knew as soon as I heard the early descriptions of Heather Levy’s Walking Through Needles that it would be a book I had to read. Fortunately, it more than lived up to the hype, even becoming one of my favorite debut novels of 2021. I have yet to have the pleasure of meeting Heather in person, but we are social media friends and I am always interested to hear what she has to say on any given subject. She was a such a natural choice for this re-launch of the Composite Sketch series.

Once you read her answers to our standard questions, you too with be fan–looking for her unique take on all the world’s woes while managing to do it without ever dimming her own indomitable spirit. And tomorrow is her Birthday, so be sure to wish her a Happy one!

Name: Heather Levy
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

This person from my personal life is such an inspiration:

This is a tough one because my mom, who passed in 2017, is both an inspiration and a cautionary tale for me. She was one of six children, all adopted out between the beginning and ending of WWII, and most of her life was spent chasing the love she never received from her adoptive parents. This led to many unhealthy and abusive relationships, including the marriage to my dad, who passed several years before her.

Even through abuse and growing up in poverty in Oklahoma, my mom never lost her desire or hope for reciprocated love, and she always made her four children feel cherished. She was also an avid reader with a sharp intellect and humor, and she encouraged my love of storytelling at a young age. But, as a child, I realized something my mom never seemed to learn: people don’t change no matter how much love you throw at them. She wanted so much to see the good in everyone, even when they hurt her, and now I write characters who oftentimes have the same need for acceptance.     

One of the people I admire most in the crime fiction community is:

Many years ago, I had the pleasure of befriending Shawn Cosby (aka S.A. Cosby) online. We ended up exchanging early drafts of books we were working on, and I’ll never forget him reading Walking Through Needles and saying I was the most fearless writer he knew. This coming from someone I knew was about to blow up, someone whose work blew me away. His praise gave me the push I needed to get published. And now, after Blacktop Wasteland and Razorblade Tears (and soon All the Sinners Bleed—oh, it’s so good, y’all!), he’s still the same supportive, humble person he’s ever been. Recently, when he noticed I’d posted about having a bout of chronic depression, he messaged me just to check on how I was doing. He’s busy as hell and he did that for me. There are so many kind, generous people in the crime fiction community, I could easily name a hundred, and Shawn is one of the folks I admire the most.

STALKER ALERT! If this fictional character were real, they would likely need to get a restraining order against me:

I must have a love for assholes because I love Mr. Rochester’s character from Jane Eyre. There’s something about a brooding, intelligent man who’s not afraid to speak his mind I find so attractive. I definitely had Mr. Rochester in the back of my mind as I wrote the character of Detective Dayton Clearwater for my current work in progress HURT FOR ME. He’s had some tragedy in his life, but he also has magnetism and knows what he wants, sometimes to the detriment of others.

People are always surprised that I am a fan of this individual (singer, actor, or artist):

I’m not sure if it’s surprising to people, but I’ve had a few double-takes when I mention my love for Neil Diamond. I was obsessed with him growing up and still love his music. I remember watching his 1992 Christmas special dozens of times and wishing I could’ve been one of the kids in the choir singing with him. Then when Midnight Mass came out, I was thrilled to see so many people discovering his music when it was heavily featured on the show. 

My personal catch phrase is (or should be):

Make it happen! This is a phrase I’ve said countless times to my husband and kids to the point where they might ignore my wish to be cremated just so they can have it engraved on the tombstone. Sometimes it’s said in frustration (normally to myself), but it’s always said with love. 

Find out more about Heather on both Twitter, and Instagram