Born in a suburb of Chicago, Heather was adopted by the Engels family as a baby. By the age of three, the Engels had moved from the winter chill of Chicago to the desert heat of Phoenix, Arizona and she would spend the next twenty or so years in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. Although her adoptive parents divorced when she was young, Heather’s parents were determined to maintain a cordial relationship so that neither Heather, nor her older brother Nicholas (named after his father), would be denied contact with either parent. Even after her mother, Jeannie Sue, remarried, her adoptive father was still a regular presence at holidays and Heather frequently stayed over at her father’s home.
A quiet and almost painfully shy child, Heather spend more time reading and dreaming up stories for herself than making friends with children her age. A reader from an early age, Heather virtually devoured books and had a particular love of fantasy stories. As she grew older, that love expanded to scifi and to movies as well. Eccentric childhood interests include Star Wars, Dr. Who, Benny Hill, and Monty Python. She also managed to sneak viewings of The Terminator and RoboCop.
Heather did not really have a large circle of friends until she got into high school. Jeannie Sue, concerned with Heather’s innate shyness, went to the school guidance counselor and asked if it would be possible to find another student to initiate a friendship with Heather. Once that initial contact was made, Heather really began to open up and soon surrounded herself with many friends from a variety of social groups.
When Heather hit college, she needed another elective and Jeannie stepped in, recommending that she try out the creative writing workshop that her school offered. Although dubious initially, and more than a little fearful over the fact that the class would require frequent speaking in front of the group, Heather agreed. Thanks to the patience of the instructor, Lois Roma-Deeley, and the support of her fellow writers, Heather gained in confidence and soon found herself looking forward to sharing her work each week.
When Heather was in her early twenties, several major events occurred that helped shape her life. The birth of her nephew, Nicholas (named for adoptive father and brother), allowed her to realize that she did, in fact, wish to have children of her own one day and taught her much about the joys of having children in her life. Unfortunately, only a few years after Nicholas’ birth, Jeannie Sue lost her long-running battle with chronic lung disease, passing away on Halloween 2001.
Shortly after Jeannie Sue’s death, Heather withdrew from the real world into online chat rooms, which is where she met Garth Reasby, who would one day become her husband. She met Garth in real life for the first time when she flew up to Seattle for Norwescon 2003 where she participated in the Fairwood Writer’s Conference, and knew right away that he was who she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. She returned to Seattle seven months later and has been living happily with Garth and their small menagerie of animals.