SMC Professor Moonlights as Award-Winning Novelist
By Jeremy Handel
This article appeared originally in the fall 2021 issue of Frontiers Magazine.
Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and its functions, especially those affecting behavior. What better training for someone who creates fictional people and interactions as an author? SMC Psychology Professor Heather Austin often gets into the minds of others as she develops characters for her award-winning novels.“I have always enjoyed reading and had some stories in my head for a long time. My husband encouraged me to do something with them,” said Austin, who publishes under the pen name H. Elizabeth Austin. “When self-publishing became an option, it opened many doors for people like me, who might want to share stories but weren’t able to pursue a traditional publishing contract.”Since taking her husband’s advice, Austin has published nine books, and her tenth is nearly finished under the romance and romantic mystery genres. Her hard work and creative mind have been rewarded with several awards, including her book Someone Like You, which recently won gold in the 2021 Global eBook Awards for Romance/Contemporary and was also named a finalist for the Book Excellence Award in Romance.“Being selected as a finalist really is a great boost to an author’s self-esteem, especially in the self-publishing world. We have to do everything (write, edit, market, etc.),” Austin said. “Getting awards lends more credibility to a self-published author.It really made me feel like I am doing something worthwhile and am writing stories that people enjoy reading.”The Book Excellence Awards is an international awards competition that recognizes books for high quality design, writing, and overall market appeal. The awards intend to help authors get not only recognition but help improve their marketing and sales for their books.This is the second time she’s had a book recognized for the award as her book Stay With Me was also a Book Excellence Award for Romance finalist in 2019. Some of her other titles were recognized in the American Fiction Awards for Romance and the Global eBook Awards.Austin, who lives in Greer, has been teaching as adjunct psychology professor at SMC since 2014 and recently joined the faculty full time. She also continues to write books, saying she has ideas for another 10+ books jotted down.