Free-range novelist Heather Graham may occasionally
be mistaken for the leggy blonde actress of the same name, but there's
no confusion over who gets star billing on the best-seller lists.
With more than 100 novels to her credit, Graham qualifies for frequent-typer miles, turning out four books a year in such disparate genres as suspense, historical romance, contemporary romance, vampire and ghost horror -- even Christmas fare. Her unbeatable combination of storytelling magic and light-speed production has established hers as one of the proven brand names in publishing.
Coincidentally, Graham the author was something of
a child star herself growing up in Miami, where her mother, who worked in advertising,
frequently recruited her for print ads and commercials. The budding actress studied
theater at the University of South Florida in Tampa, which afforded her the opportunity
to study abroad at the Marceau School in Paris and the Abbey Theater in Dublin,
Had Graham pursued her budding theatrical career,
she might have seen her name in lights instead of on book jackets. Instead, she
married her high school sweetheart and dabbled in dinner theater for several years
before settling in as a stay-at-home mom. They now have five children.
best-selling novels, including "Night Heat," "Ghost Walk"
and "The Island," have been published in 20 languages, selected for
numerous book clubs and garnered a shelf of publishing honors. There are more
than 20 million copies of her books in print. In 2003, Graham received the Lifetime
Achievement Award from the Romance Writers of America.
spoke with Bankrate by phone from her Miami home about fame, fortune -- and that
other Heather Graham.
Did you grow up with money?
I grew up in a nice lower-middle class home in Miami with great parents. I never
knew I was missing anything. I went to Miami High. My dad was in his late 50s
when I was born and was actually a Wackenhut guard in his retirement. He'd been
a CPA for ConEd, which is where he met my mother. They were both (Irish) immigrants;
my dad was from Stirling, my mother from Dublin. They met and married at ConEd
in Chicago. I always felt bad about my mom because she came in with an Irish family
where you worked and came home and gave everybody your paycheck and she was one
of those people who should have had a brilliant education and gone off to be an
archeologist, which had been her dream. She's a lot of fun because when she first
got down here, she worked for an advertising agency, so I got to be in a lot of
ads that way.
Bankrate: Were you
actually a child star?
(Laughs) I was very, very popular because the agency had Burger King when I was
in junior high and I had free Whopper passes. I was in print and TV. I was in
a Thanksgiving turkey ad that had a dog in it and the dog was actually paid more
than I was! I started at about age 7.