Teenager Ingrid Liebschreiber is devastated when her parents move the family from their native Munich to Los Angeles in the late 1950s. Homesick, she accepts a neighbor’s offer to get her a job as a showgirl in Las Vegas.
Intent on earning enough money to return to Germany, she must grow up quickly in the neon jungle — where she is pursued by high rollers and headliners, including a vacationing Elvis.
Life’s twists and turns land Ingrid in New York in the Swinging 1960s — where she is romanced by Armand: a strong, quiet, handsome businessman in “construction.” Most girls dream of Mr. Right, and Ingrid’s hard-won independence is challenged when she falls in love.
Will she find true romance — a man who can love her as much as she loves him? Or is “happily ever after” just a crazy fairytale?
An interview with Heidi Loeb Hegerich
How long have you been writing romance, and what inspired you to get into this genre?
Love Target is my first book! For all of my adult life, friends, family members and even random strangers I happened to chitchat with told me I should write a book about my life. When I finally I sat down and stayed committed to writing my story, I decided to write a fictionalized account — a memoir novel, so to speak. This allowed me both poetic license and a way to condense my story into something readable with a theme (or several themes).
The primary theme of my story turned out to be a quest for true, lasting love. (Isn’t that true of most people’s lives?) Therefore, my manuscript naturally fit into the “romance” genre. The main character, and first-person narrator, of Love Target is Ingrid Liebschreiber. In the story, Ingrid is pursued as a “love target” by an enormous number of men. But she, too, has her own “love target”: finding a man with whom she can live happily ever after.
What gave you the idea for your latest book?
I am writing a sequel to Love Target. It is nearly finished! It carries on the story of Ingrid Liebschreiber.
Who are some of your favorite romance writers or other literary inspirations?
I have read so many great books, classic books, over the years, that I can’t even begin to name which authors — men and women — have had the most influence.
I must say I am intrigued by books that are unique enough that they capture the fancy of millions of readers. For example, E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Another example is Xaviera Hollander’s The Happy Hooker, her memoir of being a call girl. It was frank, honest, and fresh.
Describe your typical writing routine. Where do you usually write? How many words/pages per day? Do you keep set hours? What does your workspace look like?
I wish I could say I have a set writing routine — the patience and discipline to adhere to that — but I don’t! I travel a great deal for business or pleasure, I have numerous hobbies, I am always on the go. To complete a book-size writing project meant scheduling myself nearly every day as I got underway to work two, three or four hours at a time, usually after lunch.
My first attempt at writing my novel resulted in my burning about 60 pages in my kitchen sink, and giving up. That was a few years ago. For my second attempt, I engaged the help of an editor and two professional readers — all of whom helped me shape and, ultimately, complete the manuscript. I met regularly with the editor and fleshed out a chapter outline, and ran through all the different points each chapter would have, and then I wrote and wrote — and then rewrote, and rewrote some more. I was mentally drained after every writing or editing session!
After several drafts of the manuscript, completed over about 18 months, my editor and I discovered we had, in fact, two books: The first book, and its sequel. That was a relief! It meant the finish line was closer than we’d been known. It meant simply rewriting, and rewriting again, and polishing and proofing half of the manuscript into its finished form as Love Target, my debut novel.
Some really wicked chapters ended up on the cutting-room floor. Perhaps they’ll be used for a book of short stories at some point.
Do you have any favorite foods or beverages that help keep your creativity flowing?
I try very hard to eat a healthy diet. I drink a large quantity of water every day, and I drink nutrient-rich drinks of vegetables, fruits and herbs. This increases my energy — both physically and mentally. But when I’m worn out or feeling mental fatigue, I will have a shot (or two) of espresso to perk up and finish out a writing or editing session.
Do you have any writing superstitions or rituals when starting (or ending) a new book?
My only “ritual” in finishing a book is to make sure I’ve had several trusted people read through the manuscript! I don’t want any factual errors, or poor transitions, or weak plot points, or even typos surviving in the manuscript when it’s sent off to the printer. I suppose this is the German in me. I am a perfectionist.
What do you think takes a romance from good to great?
It has to come from real life. It has to be real. That’s why readers will relate to it, identify with it, believe in it. The story must be the kind that could really happen to real people. That’s what gives a book longevity, rather than it being just the big hit of a summer or a year.
What’s the strangest or most interesting question you’ve ever been asked by a fan? And what was your response?
“I know the guys you were writing about, back in New York.” This came from the father of one of my friends. He actually had lived in New York City, and associated with mobsters, back in the 1960s, when Love Target takes place. It reminded me of what a small world we live in!
If you were in charge of adapting a scorching summer romance for the big screen, what book would you like to see made into a movie, and who would you pick to star as the male and female leads?
My own book, of course! I would want Jennifer Lawrence to play Ingrid Liebschreiber! J-Law could do an amazing job. Do you know how I can get the book into J-Law’s people’s hands? (LOL!) Scarlett Johansson would do an amazing job, as well! As far as a male lead — it would have to be a dark-haired dramatic actor with the right chemistry to first be the lead female’s best friend, and later on her lover. In their roles, they have to feel true friendship and devoted love, or it won’t work.
If you had to become a showgirl in Vegas, what would be your selling point or special skill that set you apart from the rest of the dancers?
Well, you have to be dedicated to the show and the work, and be responsible and show up on time for every show, and avoid the offstage drama that pervades that world. You can’t be too much of a partier, or that will eventually affect your work on stage, as well as your reliability! You should also get into that line of business when you are fairly young — your late teens or early twenties — and prepare yourself to get out of that line of work after a few years.
What’s your favorite Elvis song?
I’ll always have a place in my heart for “Love Me Tender” — since that’s what he serenaded me with on our first date, strumming his guitar and peering at me with those beautiful violet eyes of his. Ironically, I was not a fan of Elvis’ music back then, when I was 18. I was into jazz singers — Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Ray Charles — not rock ’n’ rollers or pop singers.
But over the decades, Elvis’ music has grown on me. A lot of his earlier rock songs still sound childish and silly to me, and many of his later ballads sound corny. But a song such as “Love Me Tender,” or, “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” move me. And I mist up when I watch the video of him playing piano and singing, “Unchained Melody,” taped in a concert a few weeks before his death in 1977.
Is “happily ever after” something worth pursuing, or just a fairy tale?
What woman doesn’t crave the romantic ideal of “happily ever after”? If we dream of it, why not pursue it? For many women, it will wind up just being a fairly tale. For a lucky few — who dare to pursue it — it is more than a fairy tale.
About the Author
Heidi Loeb Hegerich has lived in places as varied as Munich, Las Vegas, Miami Beach, New York, Los Angeles, Squaw Valley and Reno. She has worked variously as a showgirl, business executive, entrepreneur, interior designer and real estate developer. She has traveled to six of the seven continents, and vacationed in spots as different as the French Riviera, the Andes and Afghanistan. She counts among her hobbies weight training, shooting assault rifles, and racing sand rails; she found skydiving entertaining but not as much of a rush as other pursuits. A philanthropist for the arts, among other causes, Hegerich is now embarking on her own artistic quest as an author. The novel Love Target is her first book.