Episode #1 – Pilot
You’ve just finished a book, and it was super awesome, right? You think: Man, I’d like to get to know the person who wrote this masterpiece. So, you flip to the back book cover and read the biography provided.
Then you think: This is it? This isn’t enough, I want to know more about them!
Well, that’s where The Author Next Door comes in!
Recently, I read Augment by Heather Hayden, and I felt very much the same. It was then I decided to request an interview with her. Fortunately, Heather generously accepted.
At that time, I thought it was my responsibility to provide other curious readers with a thorough interview.
But before we start, do you know why they call the first episodes of shows Pilot? Well, one definition of “Pilot” in this instance is something that serves as a tentative model for future experiments; otherwise, know as a “pilot project.”
The first episode is made on its own to see if it’s going to work. Then, the network executives decided if they’re going “pick up” the show. Sometimes the Pilot episode is the first, but not always.
There’s a little fun fact for you.
Now, please welcome Heather Hayden to The Author Next Door!
Heather Hayden is a writer, an author, and the co-owner of a publishing company. In the following episodes, we’ll learn about Heather and her writing goals. Let’s get right into the questions.
#1: When did you discover that you wanted to write?
HH: I’ve dabbled in writing for as long as I can remember, but the first time I realized how much I wanted to pursue it was when I wrote “The End” on my first NaNovel (for National Novel Writing Month), in 2007.
JB: That’s awesome! Honestly, I’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo. I’m not kidding. Does that make me a bad writer?
#2: Did you pick your genre or did the genre pick you?
HH: I grew up reading science fiction and fantasy, so I’m not surprised that I write the same genres. I wouldn’t mind trying out other types someday, but for now, those are my favorites to read and write.
JB: Wow, same here! I watch a lot of television shows and movies that are fantasy and sci-fi-oriented. I suppose it’s sort of the normal tendency to read and absorb what you write. Otherwise, why would you write it?
#3: What audience is your writing intending to reach?
HH: Pretty much everything I write is YA, either fantasy or science fiction, but I’ve had adults inform me how much they enjoyed my stories as well. That makes me happy—as an adult (on the young side…), I prefer YA often for various reasons, so having my own writing be enjoyed by other adults is gratifying! As for my target audience, I’ve definitely made a few fans so far—I love seeing their excitement when they read my work.
JB: I used to write for multiple audiences, but as I continued to read for inspiration, my work gradually molded itself for Young Adults. I find that it’s the easiest audience to write for and the most rewarding.
#4: What’s a struggling point for you when it comes to writing?
HH: Editing. I’m procrastinating from it by doing this interview right now, in fact.
JB: That’s funny and a natural instinct of mine as well; especially, when I’m working on a particularly crucial scene or one that’s going a little slow. Speaking of natural instincts…
#5: What about writing comes naturally?
HH: The first draft, usually anyways. I love falling into the flow of a novel with my fingers flying across the keyboard.
JB: I’m so jealous of you. It seems like every part of the writing process is hard work for me!
So, I have to ask you, Heather, about…
#6: The Age-Old Debate: Pantser vs. Outliner?
HH: Pantser for sure! I do a bit of outlining now and then, but it never sticks…my characters do what they will, and I have to run along behind them trying to keep things coherent.
JB: You too, huh? That means we can be Pantsing buddies! Sorry, does that sound weird? For me, putting off outlining is an issue with focus. In my experience, I can never stick with it long enough.
So, the most obvious question next is…
#7: Do you have trouble staying focused on writing?
HH: Yes, I do. I’m easily distracted, so have learned to focus on my writing in small chunks, such as writing sprints, or by taking a large chunk of time and moving at whatever pace my muse is in that day.
JB: Those are some great tips for focusing. Sometimes, I feel like I need to shove in earplugs and put on a blindfold so that I can concentrate without the outside distractions. Then, of course, the Internet gets in the way.
But it’s not always an issue with focusing…
#8: What tools do you use to break through Writer’s Block.
HH: Listening to music, being active, cooking/baking, gaming…basically, getting away from the story for a while so my subconscious can sort it out. Sometimes I’ll bounce between stories as well.
JB: I think it’s a good idea to step away for a while; otherwise, you may lose interest in a story. Sometimes you have to let the writing breathe.
#9: If someone wanted to torture you with writing, what would they use?
HH: Having someone read Twilight to me would be pretty torturous.
JB: Super funny. Don’t let my wife hear you say that. Sorry for the morbid question, just wanted to keep you on your toes.
Well, I think this week’s episode is almost over so…
#10: Do you have any tips for new writers or someone who may be thinking of taking the leap?
HH: The most important thing is writing. And reading. Read your favorite genres, read the genres you want to write, read things you hate, read everything you feel like. You learn a lot about the craft just from reading. But most importantly, sit down and put those subconscious skills to work by writing your own stories.
JB: What great advice. You see I had it wrong. I always thought I needed to read a bunch of writing books to get this writing thing done right. I’ve got a shelf of them sitting on my desk right now unread. But I’ve learned so much more writing and talking with other authors.
Heather, I wanted to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.
Thank you all for reading! On Episode #2, we will learn about Heather’s past and present stories and works in progress. Until next time, on…The Author Next Door.