On the last episode of The Author Next Door…We learned about Heather Hayden’s published novella, Augment, and her current work in progress, Upgrade. I can’t tell you how interesting it is to get a closer look into her writing process. If you missed Episode #2, you would find the link here.
Readers, thank you for all your support thus far, and I hope you enjoy Heather’s final episode.
Recently, Heather Hayden published a short story with her writing group, the Just-Us League, in their first anthology titled From the Stories of Old: A Collection of Fairytale Retellings. If you’d like to learn more about the anthology itself and its contributors, please go here. Her contribution is titled Beneath His Skin, and I’d like to talk more about that.
#1: Have you written short stories for other anthologies or is this the first?
HH: This is my first publication in an anthology, and I was super excited to see my story in print with so many other wonderful tales!
JB: As a contributor to the anthology, I can attest to the excitement of seeing your work in print. For me, it’s my first, and I’m STILL high from the feeling.
#2: What persuaded you to chose the selkie myth as your retelling instead of something more familiar?
HH: The selkie myth is one I’ve been interested in since I first heard of it… When it came time to pick a fairy tale for the anthology, I decided to do that one because I wanted to write a story that I could instill with my love for the sea.
JB: Yes, all of that makes sense. I’ve read your story, and it’s clear that your passion is showing through.
#3: Was there a particular message you were trying to convey in your story?
HH: The love created by friendship can be as strong—or stronger—as romantic love.
JB: A strong message indeed. Those sort of themes creates a better story in my opinion.
#4: Do you prefer group work like this or are you more of a solo author?
HH: I wasn’t sure what to expect, working with a group in this fashion, but I discovered that I love it as much as I love being a solo writer.
JB: Yeah, I hear you. In the past, I thought group work would distract me from writing a substantial piece, but it was much the contrary. I like being surprised and proven wrong.
#5: What particular challenge, if any, did Beneath His Skin present to you?
HH: For some reason, despite the fact that I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do with the story, the beginning was difficult to write. However, by the time I hit the second part of the story, it was pouring onto the page as fast as I could type.
JB: It’s like you’re reading my mind here, Heather. I know exactly how I wanted the story to go, but my latest short story is proving difficult to write.
So, we’re talking about challenges of writing short stories, but what about this…
#6: Do you find writing short stories 5,000 to 8,000 words difficult or a breeze? What about flash fiction of 200 to 300 words?
HH: Short stories aren’t too difficult, as I just write until the story is finished, then edit it down if need be. Flash fiction is a lot harder—there so much economy of words to keep within the limit that sometimes it’s hard to convey what I’m trying to say. I’ve written both, though—actually, when I was younger, I won a few prizes for my flash fiction (500 words was the limit for that specific competition.)
JB: I’m finding that as I expand my writing mind, I can wrap it around the idea of writing fiction that’s only 200-500 words. I’ve been doing it recently on this blog actually. Sometimes all it takes is a word, and the pen doesn’t stop until I make it stop.
I do have a problem separating the first draft and editing stage during my short story writing time. This is happening in my current WIP, and it’s annoying, but I can’t seem to stop.
#7: Are any more JL Anthologies coming soon?
HH: We currently have one involving people with superpowers planned for release this year, as well as another fairy tale one and one of original horror stories! They’re all slated for the later half of 2017—that’ll give people time to breathe a bit, write, and do lots of editing.
JB: SUPERHEROES! Did you hear what she said!? You heard it here folks, straight from the..uh..writer’s mouth! So, prepare yourselves for many remarkable stories filled with twists, turns, and powers.
As we reach the last half of this episode, I’d like to switch gears and talk briefly about the other side of Heather’s writing world. Rowanwood Publishing.
#1: What possessed you to start this company?
HH: When I started researching self-publishing, I realized that it would be pretty cool to run my own publishing company so all of my books would be kept under one umbrella, so to speak. The next logical step was to pitch the idea to my sister, and with that, Rowanwood Publishing, LLC, was born.
I wondered if you had a partner-in-crime so to speak, which leads to my next inquiry…
#2: How would you describe working with your sibling?
HH: Pretty easy. So far it’s been “I’m going to do this,” and her response is something along the lines of “Okay, sounds good.” Next year I’m hoping to bring her more into the process of running the company, as we’ll be releasing one of her books.
JB: How exciting. Looks, like I have one new book that I plan to read in 2017! Truthfully, if I ever did something like this, I’m not sure I would run it with my sister. We are too much alike and stubborn as mules. Probably more so. It’s my dad’s fault.
We are becoming more like him every day.
#3: What books has Rowanwood published?
HH: Augment and From the Stories of Old are the only two released so far.
That’s a good start, but…
#4: Are there any future works that Rowanwood plans to publish?
HH: Definitely! Upgrade, for one, and then several other projects I’m hoping to release in 2017 and beyond.
JB: Sounds like business is good! Well, when you’re the boss, you get to decide when your work ready and how it’s going to be published. I bet that sort of freedom is nice.
Like many others, I’m considering self-publishing for my first novel. I’m sure as word continues to spread about Rowanwood, writers will ask…
#5: Does Rowanwood plan on taking clients or helping other writers achieve their self-publishing goals on a regular basis?
HH: Someday I’d like to open the doors to other authors, but until I have a better grasp of the publishing business, Rowanwood is going to be as it currently is, an umbrella under which my sister and I can publish our books. We are releasing anthologies written by the Just-Us League, a writers’ group that I’m a part of—however, all royalties from those sales go to the authors, rather than to Rowanwood.
JB: That sounds like a plan, Heather. Just from my time working with you, I can see that are endless avenues and alleyways in the publishing world. One must explore these thoroughly before setting out to help others. I’d say that the right person is on the job. We will keep an eye out for the latest news from Rowanwood.
#6: What genre of books would Rowanwood showcase? What audiences would they reach with potential clients?
HH: Should we open the doors, the genres will remain the same—science fiction and fantasy, most likely young adult audience-wise, although perhaps some middle grade or adult fiction as well.
JB: Perfect! I don’t think people realize just how big of a market middle grade and young adult books are. Although, I’d say that the young adult genre is more far-reaching than its younger counterpart.
It’s been great talking to you, but I want to finish the interview before I never shut up!
#7: Has Rowanwood streamlined their publishing process or are there still occasional hurdles to overcome?
HH: For Augment, I did the paperback formatting myself and paid someone else to do the ebook formatting. For From the Stories of Old, I did all the formatting myself, and it was easier to do the ebook than I expected. In the future, I’m hoping that most work will be done in-house, although covers will still be designed by my wonderful cover designer, Louis Rakovich of Indigo Forest Designs.
JB: Wow! Again, I congratulate you on having such a handle on this. At least from where I’m sitting (at the computer with a baby in hand). Also, I’ve seen Louis work, and I hope to use him for my manuscript, once I get there. As long as he’s okay with it!
If anyone is interested in finding Rowanwood in the virtual world, you can do so at www.rowanwoodpublishing.com.
Well, I said we were on the clock but looks like the producers are giving me a bit more time here. Better not waste it!
#8: Briefly, how did the idea for an anthology come up?
HH: The idea was brought up one day in the group, and people jumped at it. Before long we had a rough plan in motion, and things just went from there.
#9: Novella or Novel?
HH: My “novels” tend to fall closer to “novella” range, but I’d say I write both, as well as the occasional short story. It really depends on the story, how long it needs to be.
#10: Was writing always your intended career path or did you want to do something else?
HH: I’ve wanted to be many things. When I first arrived at college, I planned on being a marine biologist—I wanted to study sharks. Then I became interested in genetics. Then I thought I might pursue a career in Information Technologies. And finally, I came back around to my passion for writing and realized that was what I wanted to do.
All great answers, Heather, but unfortunately I’m getting the word that we have to sign off. It’s been great interviewing you and learning about your experiences in the writing world. Personally, I’m excited to see where you’ll go next. Thank you again for all your time, Heather!
I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but if you’d like to see what is Heather is all about for yourself, what better way than to visit her virtual home. You’ll find her at www.hhaydenwriter.com.