I met Heather on a writing site, and I fell in love with her writing right away. She always has good advice and she is very nice. She writes wonderful fantasy stories, and if you have young people in your life, you should pick them up one of her books. You won’t be disappointed. She and I had a lot of fun together doing book reviews for The Naked Reviewers, and I enjoy her take on the books I read.
Please allow me to introduce you to, Heather Hayden.
Hey Heather! Welcome to my little blog. I’m excited to get started. For my first question, I’d like to ask what drew you to write fantasy?
Heather: Reading is my way to escape reality, so fantasy is naturally one of my favorite genres. When I began writing, it was only natural that I would write fantasy. In fact, most of the stories I’ve written to date have been fantasy, though a few have delved into other genres (including a YA science fiction novel and a YA horror short story).
I feel the same way about reading. My escape is historical romance. Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm fantasy story ideas.
Heather: A story usually pops into my head as a vague idea, which starts to flesh out as I think about it more. Sometimes it has to stew in my brain for a bit before I write it down, other times I simply open a Word document and start writing. I don’t usually plot out stories—I find it hard to enjoy the process when I’m not discovering the story alongside my characters.
What are you currently working on and what is it about?
Heather: I’m currently working on Within the Ironwood, a gaslamp fantasy novel that will be the first in a planned series of fairy tale retellings. This tale is a retelling of Snow White. It is set in a world where magic is fading and technology is on the rise. The main character, Branwen, is an insecure princess who enjoys building clockwork creatures.
That sounds interesting! Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate, or longhand?
Heather: Always, always a computer, unless I have an idea I simply must write down and pen and paper are the only things available. I have used a typewriter before and they’re loads of fun, but it’s annoying to retype everything. I have also tried dictation software but was unimpressed by its ability to handle fiction—especially formatting dialog.
I love to write on my laptop. If it wasn’t for computers and spellcheck, I wouldn’t be writing now. Do you have an illustrator? What is that like?
Heather: My writers’ group, the Just-Us League, has an illustrator for our anthologies. She’s actually my sister, the incredibly talented Heidi Hayden. You can see some of her work here. The process is relatively simple. First, the authors provide her with suggestions and options regarding what could go into their illustrations. Second, she does rough sketches to demonstrate how she has taken those suggestions and turned them into a cohesive piece of art. Third, once the sketch has been revised and/or approved, she finishes the illustration and inks it.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years regarding published works?
Heather: Ten years from now? Hm. Well, I’m hoping to reach a point where I’m releasing 2-3 titles a year, so in 10 years I hope to have 20-30 titles published. Perhaps even more. Once I reach a point where I can support myself with my writing, I’ll be able to focus more time on my stories.
What do your fans mean to you?
Heather: Every time I hear from someone, especially a stranger, who enjoys my stories, I am stunned. It’s still hard to believe that my writing has touched others, but it makes me glad. I originally began writing for myself, and I still do—but knowing that there are people out there in the world who are enjoying those same stories is inspiring.
It’s so great to take someone out of their hum-drum and help them escape into a world they’d love to live in. Do you read your reviews?
Heather: At times, yes. I enjoy seeing what others think about my stories, and it also tells me—through the more critical reviews—where I still need to improve as a storyteller.
And now for a couple of more personal questions. What is your favorite quote?
Heather: C.J. Cherryh, my favorite science fiction author, once said, “It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.” Being a perfectionist, I often need that reminder when I sit down to start a new story. It doesn’t have to be perfect when it first hits the page, it just needs to be written down.
I agree. What is your favorite way to avoid writing?
Heather: Me, avoid writing? Perish the thought! Haha, to tell the truth, I do sometimes procrastinate. Most often, it is either by watching Netflix (I’m currently wrapping up Star Trek: Voyager), or by gaming (usually with friends). Current passions are Magic the Gathering, Stellaris, and Dungeon Defenders.
At least your procrastinating is doing fun stuff. I tend to clean. Darn. That wraps up our time. Thanks so much for stopping by. I had a blast!
Though a part-time editor by day, Heather Hayden’s not-so-secret identity is that of a writer—at night she pours heart and soul into science fiction and fantasy novels. She is currently working on Upgrade (the sequel to her first published novel) and an as-yet-untitled series of fairy tale novelizations.
Her publications include Augment, a YA science fiction novel, and several short stories in the JL Anthology series. “Monsieur Puss,” a retelling of Puss in Boots, will be released on May 31st in A Bit of Magic, the fifth JL Anthology volume.
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