Welcome to the inaugural author interview of Musings of a Manic Blond: A Place to Read About Writing. I am very pleased to introduce Heidi Bird, whose second book Ontario was released last Monday. Thank you so much for being the first on my blog!
M.O.M.B: Please tell us a little about yourself:
HEIDI: I was born and raised in Utah and am 23 years old. I am devoted to my religion and I believe in writing engaging, family friendly books. I have been writing for as long as I can remember, and I would love to continue being a full time writer for as long as I can. Besides being an author I am also a regular blogger and occasionally I do freelance work. I received my Bachelor of Arts in History from Brigham Young University and I love to have fun and get to know other writers!
M.O.M.B: So let’s start out with the basics. How long have you been writing? What exactly inspired you to be a writer?
HEIDI: I couldn’t tell you how long I’ve been writing, but think I wrote my first story when I was probably about ten years old. My mother was brilliant enough to put my sister and I in a writing workshop, and I really think that got me going. I think that workshop, and the deep love for books my mother helped me develop at a young age are really what got me going. That, and NaNoWriMo.
M.O.M.B: I think NaNoWriMo kick-started a lot of people. What was your first NaNoWriMo novel?
HEIDI: A story currently called Crent. The first three books I did NaNoWriMo turned into a YA fantasy trilogy that I have yet to publish. I plan on working on them soon, because I absolutely love them and I think my readers will too.
M.O.M.B: You mentioned your devoted to your religion. Which you would have to be to go to BYU (congratulations by the way). How much has your religion influenced your writing?
HEIDI: It never did when I was younger, but as I’ve actually been finishing novels it has played a large part I think. While my stories don’t include religious references, at least not the ones so far, my religion has definitely provided guidelines for the content I include in my stories.
M.O.M.B: What are some of those guidelines?
HEIDI: Well, first and foremost no cursing or anything too romantic that it would make someone feel awkward. While the story line for a book may be more mature, that doesn’t mean the content has to be, if you know what I mean. Even if I’m writing YA, I want my books to be readable for any age. They need to be something I’d be comfortable with my mom, or my own children reading.
M.O.M.B: What inspired you to write the genre that you do?
HEIDI: I mostly write fantasy, and that is probably because that is what strikes my fancy. I have always loved fantasy. I was raised to have a fabulous imagination, and I am able to put it to use best when I’m creating or writing in a fantasy world.
M.O.M.B: Who are your biggest influences?
HEIDI: God, first and foremost. My friends and family, and if I were to pick an author I’d have to go with Bruce Coville. All of them provide inspiration and encouragement.
M.O.M.B: Do you have a process when it comes to starting a new story?
HEIDI: Not really. Usually a story idea just comes to me out of the blue. Occasionally though I have just sat down and started thinking when I’ve wanted to start a new story. I let my imagination wander, looking for ideas for a great story line or character. These usually come to me when I am not expecting it though.
M.O.M.B: Do you follow an outline when writing or just write whatever seems to come next?
HEIDI: I’m pretty much a panster. I usually will figure out the main story line, but I tend to let the story write itself, though sometimes I do take the reins. I’ve only ever used a time line so I could make sure everything was correct as to the time of year and such in the book, but I’ve never really used an outline.
M.O.M.B: How do you handle writer’s block?
HEIDI: Stop writing? Haha, really though. Usually I just keep putting words down to the best of my ability and eventually I get back in the groove, though with Through the Paper Wall I literally didn’t write for about two weeks because I wasn’t getting any inspiration at all.
M.O.M.B:What is your editing process like?
HEIDI: Once I’ve finished a manuscript I try to wait for a bit before jumping into editing, but I don’t always succeed with that step, haha! Then I read through, looking for obvious mistakes, such as grammar and things that don’t make sense or events that are out of sequence. Then I like to send it off to a beta reader or two and get their input. Then I go back through the manuscript with their notes, and then once more after that to do the final edit myself. Occasionally I will use another proofreader. I probably always should!
M.O.M.B: How much of your past experiences finds itself in your writing?
HEIDI: Not a lot, actually. I tend to write fantasy more than not, so I don’t end up using a lot from my own life, but Ontario certainly has a lot of little things from my own life. I’ve also named characters after people in my life before, and occasionally I do include a small event that I have witnessed or participated in.
Now it’s time to get into the fun stuff. The whole reason that we as writers stay up until the wee hours of the morning and consume caffeine and chocolate in mass quantities.
M.O.M.B: You and I are friends on facebook, so I happen to know that you have more than one book out. What are their names?
HEIDI: Through the Paper Wall, a Children’s/early teen fantasy, and Ontario, a young adult romance.
M.O.M.B: Please give us a synopsis about each book:
HEIDI: Through the Paper Wall tells the story of Jesse, a thirteen-year old young man whose father is pursuing another woman after the death of his wife. Jesse’s Dad moves them out to Oklahoma to get closer to the girl he’s dating, and Jesse is furious, now stuck in a tiny little town with no friends and nothing to do. While exploring his new house Jesse discovers a tunnel coming from a room in the basement that his Dad can’t see. With his new friend Jake, Jesse discovers an entirely different sort of life at the end of that tunnel, full of fantasy and adventure, and he learns that maybe, just maybe, things could be worse.
Ontario is the first-hand story of a high school senior who has demons in her past. Her father died when she was young, and her mother has just abandoned her and her brother Eddy. Eddy becomes her legal guardian and supports the two of them. In an effort to feel like less of a burden, Ontario takes on a job at the local diner. It is through the new friends she makes there that she comes to learn that she can still trust and love.
M.O.M.B: Congratulations on the release of your second book. Are you self published or through a company?
HEIDI: I chose to self publish through Createspace, though I was offered a contract for Ontario. I have really enjoyed the self publishing process, and I’ll probably stick with it.
M.O.M.B: What made you decide to turn down the contract for Ontario and choose self publishing?
HEIDI: I can’t specifically discuss anything in the contract, but there were points that I wasn’t satisfied with. From the beginning I have had specific goals I have wanted to accomplish with my writing, and I would not have been able to realize some of them if I were to go with the contract, whereas with self publishing I could because I had full control.
M.O.M.B: What finally gave you the courage to publish?
HEIDI: I’d reached a point where I wanted to start getting my name out there. Through the Paper Wall was my sixth book, and it was time to get something out there for people to read.
M.O.M.B: What one piece of advice has helped you – whether it be writing or in life?
HEIDI: The first thing that came to mind is the advice I’ve heard about not being too much of a perfectionist. I know writers who edit, and edit, and edit, never thinking their book is ready. There’s a point where you just have to go for it and get your work out there.
M.O.M.B: What advice do you give to other writers?
HEIDI: My favorite thing to say – NEVER GIVE UP! I can certainly tell you that a year ago I couldn’t have told you I’d have two books published. It may seem like you are never going to get to where you want to be, but I can guarantee you won’t ever get there if you stop.
Before we close out, I’d like to start a segment that’s completely meant to be silly, goofy and show your fans a side of you they may not have seen before.The next set of questions have nothing to do with writing, your books or anything to do with one another. Say the first thing that comes to your mind.
M.O.M.B: Edward Cullen and Harry Potter are hanging off a cliff and you only have time to save one. Who do you save?
HEIDI: Harry Potter, hands down!
M.O.M.B: Who would play you in the movie of your life?
HEIDI: Hilary Duff (what??? haha)
M.O.M.B: What exotic pet you would you like to own?
HEIDI: An elephant!
M.O.M.B: What is the one piece of technology (minus your cell phone or lap top) that you couldn’t live without?
HEIDI: My record player.
M.O.M.B: What is one very little known fact about Heidi Bird?
HEIDI: I love scrapbooking.
M.O.M.B: What’s next for Heidi Bird?
HEIDI: Well, good question! First off I think I’m going to finish my current work in progress Lorn, a YA fantasy I am rather fond of. Then I’d really like to tackle my trilogy. I also have several other great story ideas I want to get started on. You can stay up to date with everything I’m doing by joining me here:
Thank you, Heidi for gracing the pages… the page??? of my blog. I certainly had a good time interviewing you and I wish you continued success with Ontario and cannot wait to see what else you produce with your immense talent!