Today I am so pleased to welcome Heidi Cullinan to Joyfully Jay. Heidi has come to answer some questions from her latest release, Shelter the Sea (which I reviewed here and loved). She has also brought along both a tour wide giveaway and a copy of the book for a Joyfully Jay reader. Please join me in giving Heidi a big welcome!

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What made you decide to do another Jeremy and Emmet story next? Originally I had thought David was coming first. What influenced your decision to come back to these guys first?

Well, I thought so too, to be honest. I tried for a good seven months to write David, and man did it not work. I have a good thirty thousand words of attempts, but none of them are coherent story in a sequence, which means the story isn’t ready. I kept letting it cook, always thinking about it, but it wasn’t right. Then last year at Christmas (as in, 2015) I tried to write a short story about Emmet and Jeremey for my patrons. And it kept going. And going. And I thought, oh, now I get it…

This is the first time I’ve had a story continue like this in a contemporary, with characters straight-up saying, “here’s our HEA’s next chapter.” But it makes sense to me for these two. They had plenty of conflict left to manage. Not with each other, but they never had issues with each other. They were essentially paired at that picnic in book one. Perhaps a little bit of struggle when David showed up but not even really then. Everything since then has been them navigating the world. This is more of that. And honestly, I hate pairs, so now that there’s a book two, there will be some kind of third thing. A short story at least.

(Honestly, it’s me. It’ll be a novella at the least.)


Is David still up next? Have your plans for his story changed at all over the intervening time between books?

See now I don’t know if I write Ocean story 3 next or David next. And clearly this isn’t my decision so once I get some of this other stuff off my plate, I’ll sit down and say, “well, boys?” and let them tell me. But I’m so under everything at the moment, this is me dreaming of a day in 2018, when I can sit down. Literally. I’m standing as I type this.


Do you have more planned for the series after David’s book? It seems like the Roosevelt is a great potential setting to explore other residents. Do you have more in mind for the series?

I always wanted to explore other residents, wanting there to be three books. Now I don’t know if there are three sets of three, or what. I feel if I promise something it will all get messed up because this series does love to ruin my plans, so I would say stay tuned and see what Emmet cooks up. I’m sure he has a spreadsheet somewhere. Darren too.


Have you been surprised at all by the reader response to Jeremy and Emmet? It seems like for many Carry the Ocean is one of their favorite books of yours.

It’s been pretty intense from day one. You always hope people like your work, but I wasn’t quite ready for the reaction. It’s especially potent with people who have anxiety and depression, though many people who care for those with autism or have disabilities/care for
those with disabilities in general are glad to see a positive portrayal without it being sick lit. (I will never, ever write sick lit.) My initial idea came because Emmet walked into my head as a character and stared intently at me, telling me he had a story, so I sat with him and said, “Well, who are you with?” and we poked around and there was Jeremey. My thought was always that I wanted to push people against their assumptions, because culture says Emmet should be the one who “needs help,” and Jeremey is the one with the invisible disease. But I quickly learned I needed to shut up and let the story do its thing, so I did, and it was a good call.

Because both issues were important to me, and so sensitive, I asked in that book and this one for people who knew a lot about the issues involved to read and give me a critique, and in Carry the Ocean one of those people was my former therapist, who is truly who makes the book shine. She pushed me to make the book better, and I think it’s why the book makes so many people write me or come up to me and say it helped them enter therapy themselves or understand their own anxiety/depression or that of a loved one. Maura was retiring at the time this book published, so I love that this book became a send off that let her heal readers around the world, people she’ll never meet. So perfect a tribute to someone who helped me so much.

I don’t know what the response from Shelter the Sea will be, but of course I hope people enjoy it, and I hope to tell stories from The Roosevelt for as long as Emmet and the crew have stories to share. I’ve learned to be patient for the telling, as they do seem to take time to come out. I’ll do my best to make them worth the wait.


Shelter The SeaSome heroes wear capes. Some prefer sensory sacks.

Emmet Washington has never let the world define him, even though he, his boyfriend, Jeremey, and his friends aren’t considered “real” adults because of their disabilities. When the State of Iowa restructures its mental health system and puts the independent living facility where they live in jeopardy, Emmet refuses to be forced into substandard, privatized corporate care. With the help of Jeremey and their friends, he starts a local grassroots organization and fights every step of the way.

In addition to navigating his boyfriend’s increased depression and anxiety, Emmet has to make his autistic tics acceptable to politicians and donors, and he wonders if they’re raising awareness or putting their disabilities on display. When their campaign attracts the attention of the opposition’s powerful corporate lobbyist, Emmet relies on his skill with calculations and predictions and trusts he can save the day—for himself, his friends, and everyone with disabilities.

He only hopes there isn’t a variable in his formula he’s failed to foresee.


Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, playing with her cats, and watching television with her family. Find out more about Heidi at


Heidi has brought a copy of Shelter the Sea to give away to one lucky Joyfully Jay reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Monday, April 24th at 11:59 pm EST.

She has also brought a long a tour wide, Rafflecopter giveaway for a Shelter the Sea prize pack. Follow the Rafflecopter link below to enter. 

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