The following is an interview with N.J. Gallegos regarding the upcoming release of the novel, The Broken Heart. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Gallegos about the creative process of bringing the story and characters to life, what she hopes that readers may take away from the story, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of The Broken Heart! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
N.J. Gallegos: Thank you so much, Barbra! It’s been a fun whirlwind, that’s for sure. The Broken Heart follows Casey Philips, a disgruntled housewife who suffers from heart failure after childbirth. After receiving an organ transplant from a donor with a dangerous past, she reclaims her life, all while protecting her daughter from the evil residing within their family unit… and from herself.
The premise came to me where most good ideas originate: the bathroom. Between seeing patients, I read a flyer tacked on the restroom wall about organ donation and naturally wondered: “Whoa, what if you got a murderer’s heart though?” Visions of a kind, caring housewife clutching a bloody knife leapt into my mind, and I realized I had to tell that woman’s story. She demanded it!
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in bringing this story to life, and what have been some of your creative influences?
NJG: Initially, I only wrote when my then-girlfriend wasn’t around, as I was suffering from imposter syndrome at the idea of me writing a book. Almost felt like I was doing something naughty! But then with the COVID pandemic, work and life grew significantly more stressful and writing became a major creative outlet for me, helping my work burnout. After seeing how fragile and fleeting life is, I decided to get serious and “came out” to people about my writing ambitions and goal to complete (and hopefully publish) a novel. The worst that could happen was nothing, right?
Stephen King—hands down my biggest influence. As a preteen, I devoured his early works: Carrie, Christine, Pet Sematary, and my personal favorite, The Stand. When I was younger, my mother watched a lot of horror flicks with me (At one point, we’d rented out the entire horror section of our local store.), but the biggest ones that stick out are Alien and Hellraiser. Both tickle a very real fear of the unknown I struggle with. My late grandfather was a key figure in my creative journey and was an amazing artist in his own right. We’d spend hours drawing, playing with LEGOS, and he taught me to never let go of the urge to create.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Casey’s story will connect with and impact readers?
NJG: Casey falls prey to societal expectations, putting her dreams on the backburner to get married and have kids because that’s what she thinks is supposed to happen… with less than satisfactory results. Yet… she reclaims her life and identity (in a rather grisly fashion) and protects the innocent. I think people can identify with the external pressures put upon us in life and can see parts of themselves within Casey. She’s a flawed person, as we all are, but she’s doing the best with what she’s given, which is all any of us can do.
BD: Do you foresee expanding the novel into subsequent books or even into other entertainment mediums, if given the opportunity?
NJG: I’m kicking the idea around. Seeing Casey’s journey after The Broken Heart would be intriguing… will she wash her hands of violence or… lean into it? Being able to see my story on the little (or big) screen would be a dream come true. Whenever I picture Casey in my mind’s eye, I see Kate Siegel from The Haunting of Hill House… so hit me up, Mike Flanagan!
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
NJG: Currently, I’m working on what would be my second novel (title still to be determined) about a neurologist, Dr. Absinthe, who invents a chip that cures migraines, but… she discovers a more nefarious use for the chips: mind control.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about The Broken Heart and your other work?
NJG: Head on over to my website, https://njgallegos.com, to sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss any updates. There, you can find my blog and links to my other works! You can also find me on Twitter (@DrSpooky_ER), menacing everyone with cat pics, memes, and the weird thoughts that populate my brain.