Latest News

Heidi Kling, Debut Author of SEA

Still haunted by nightmares of her mother's death, fifteen-year-old Sienna Jones reluctantly travels to post-tsunami Indonesia with her father's relief team to help tsunami orphans with their post-traumatic stress disorder. But the last thing she expects is to fall for Deni, a brooding and handsome Indonesian boy who lives at the orphanage.

Kristin's review of SEA by Heidi Kling:

Any book which combines travel with romance and discovery is a must-read for me. I'd been anticipating SEA for some time, intrigued by the beauty of the cover, of the journey, of the promise of bittersweet. And what a promise fulfilled.

Kling writes a foreign locale beautifully: the humidity, sweat and salt in everything; hiding from watchful eyes in a culture that does not leave its teenage boys and girls alone together; a missing sad goat whose usefulness goes beyond "pet." SEA provides a clash of cultures that elicits bewilderment, laughs and sorrow from the reader and, just maybe, a growth of human understanding from Sienna.

It's no secret that I, personally, don't love dream sequences. SEA utilizes a number of these sequences to illustrate the longing and suffering Sienna feels over her lost mother. But I better enjoyed the moments Kling interweaves Sienna's loss and grieving with Deni's own grieving for his missing and presumed dead father. These are the deepest moments, the ones that help me connect with Sienna's pain. Unfortunately, the dreams push me away from Sienna. I tended to skim those passages, hungry for the deeper connections.

And there certainly are deeper connections in SEA. My heart ached for the multiple romantic veins, weaving through storylines and characters and countries. The tenderness with which emotion is handled is SEA's strength.

SEA is a read for those who love travel, discovery, sweet romance, serendipity and hope.

~ Kristin Miller

Kirsten's Interview with Heidi:
SEA was inspired by your husband's volunteer experience in a tsunami-torn Indonesian orphanage; it was a story you both knew you needed to tell. What unique challenges did you face when setting your book in a developing country?

First of all I wanted it to be authentic, respectful yet honest. I think those of us in wealthy countries like the U.S. take some things for granted like a plethora of toilet paper and clean, running water at our disposal. A Starbucks on every corner. So for Sienna to have a reaction to the heat, to the conditions, as a fifteen year old pretty sheltered kid I think is accurate. Another challenge was to create a setting so authentic it would feel like I'd been there--so far the readers who actually were there say it's pretty right on and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Overall, I have a tremendous respect for children and teen survivors everywhere, the fact that they are able to get up each day and carry on after facing losses I can barely fathom glued me to my chair for three years and made me write the book--as busy as I was, I knew I had to see this story through to publication to honor them and their fearless spirits.

Sienna's dad feels an overwhelming urge to help those in struggling and disaster-torn countries. Sienna, on the other hand, doesn't feel this push. What are the most important life/love lessons Sienna brings home from her experience in Indonesia? What do you believe are some of the biggest benefits teenagers can gain from international travel/volunteerism?

Well, I don't want to spoil the story. Are you sure Sienna learns anything overseas? ;-)

Honestly, I think just stepping outside your comfort zone is huge. The fact that SEA is set in Indonesia a predominately Muslim country is also major--in the U.S. most of the news we get about Muslim countries is not-great, and I was happy to introduce characters that weren't negative stereotypes. SEA would have been set in Thailand if that's where my husband would have volunteered, so I feel like that was an extra bonus, for me anyway, to add that extra dimension.

You've done an incredible job marketing SEA. What has made readers the most excited?

Thank you! The story means so much to me. I'm so in love with the characters--I really am. I miss them now that I'm not working on it and I just got teary answering your questions. I guess because I became friends with some of the real surviving boys, we supported them for awhile after the tsunami, and now one of my best friends Usul is working for a non-profit back in Aceh for woman's rights. He's my facebook friend and we email every couple of weeks. He was starving in the streets and homeless before we started supporting him. It's amazing what one person can do to help another, and I know that now.

I feel like in a lot of ways this is their story--I mean, it's told through Sienna's eyes, but through her she tells their story. I want to make sure as many people hear about it as I can. Maybe readers can pick up on all the love in the book and that's why they like it? I mean, I poured my heart into it. Maybe they can feel that? I don't know, honestly. I'm happy people are relating to it, and it's resonating with them.

What are you working on next?

I'm working on a fantasy about estranged witches and warlocks set in modern day beach town. It's a trippy, sexy, surfing magic mayhem book with swords and new agey type magic. It's a departure from SEA for sure, but still has a lot of heart and big themes like good and evil and everything in between. I'm a hopeful romantic, so I'm sure that will be an underlying theme in everything I do. I'm also contributing to Mystic Falls Vampire Diaries anthology that comes out with Smart Pop Books in October along with several happening YA fantasy authors. Did I just use the word happening? Is a disco ball spinning above my head? ;-)

If you had a month to travel anywhere you wanted (and no financial restraints!) where would you go and what would you do?

I just answered this in another interview and I said Indonesia--I'd walk where Sienna and Deni walked (and rode, and kissed and everything else.) So I'm going to tell YOU an around the world cruise. I love cruises so much. I know they are cheesy and wrought with senior citizens and buffets but I adore traveling to a new destination while I sleep, having no idea what new experience awaits around the corner the next day--and food availability 24/7! I told my husband when the kids are out of the house, that's what I'm booking first. I think they take 3 months though. Can I extend that month please?

Consider it done. Thanks, Heidi!

SEA's stunning book trailer:

Kirsten Hubbard

Kirsten is the author of Like Mandarin, Wanderlove, and the middle grade novel Watch the Sky.

Posts by Kirsten

website twitter instagram goodreads tumblr

  • Blogger Comments
  • Facebook Comments


  1. This looks like a wonderful book. I love that the inspiration came from a real-life experience that Heidi's husband had. The effort to make it authentic is admirable. The dedication to tell this story is inspiring. Thanks for this interview!


  2. Great interview and review! This book sounds great :)

  3. It was one of the ones that caught my eye on my summer reading search.

    Great interview too.

  4. this looks great -- i can't wait to pick up a copy :D

    thanks so much to you both!!

  5. This looks like just my kind of book. I can't wait to read it.

  6. Looks like a beautiful read - great review AND interview! Thanks, ladies!

  7. Great interview! I'm looking forward to reading this.

  8. Wonderful interview and the book sounds fantastic. Love the trailer, especially the music!

  9. Great interview and review! You've gotten me even more excited to read Sea (darn Amazon who says it won't arrive until the 19th, argh), if that's possible. This sounds like a very emotional read, and real life is always VERY emotional. :)

  10. What a beautiful cover! I was expecting a paranormal romance with sirens, but what an intriguing concept as well.


Comments are moderated on posts two weeks old or more -- please send us a tweet if yours needs approval!

Item Reviewed: Heidi Kling, Debut Author of SEA Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kirsten Hubbard