Today I am pleased to share my interview with Heather Huffman; I have previously reviewed two of her novels, “Ring of Fire” and “Suddenly a Spy” and getting to know Heather through our correspondence and our interview has been a pleasure. Heather’s answers are not all what I expected, yet after rereading her novels, I see a lot of her in her novels. Heather is a busy mom and author; I appreciate her taking time to answer my questions.
Hopefully you have read my previous post from August 31st about the ebook giveway that starts today. How to win???? Leave a comment about today’s interview with Heather, if you refer a friend to this blog, have them enter your name at the end of their comment for an additional chance to win. Winners will be choosen on September 17th in the afternoon and will be notified the following day. The more friends you refer to is blog, the more chances you have to WIN!!!
Please tell me about your first novel. What or who inspired you to write it?
My first published novel was Throwaway. So much about that book changed my life. It was inspired by a dream I had about a prostitute and a police officer. The dream was just one conversation between these two star-crossed lovers, but I became obsessed with them. I thought about them constantly and how they got to where they were.
It’s almost eerie how everything came together for that novel – I could write an entire post about how all of the little pieces of that book just fell into place.
Researching Throwaway also opened my eyes to an entire world I’d never known existed – modern day slavery. Once I knew it existed, I knew I somehow had to become involved in the fight. So, in many ways, that was the book that started me on my journey both as a writer and as an abolitionist.
Who are some of your favorite authors and books? Did they influence or inspire your writing style and give you ideas?
My reading tastes are pretty varied. Over just the last couple of months I’ve read work by Sylvain Reynard and Joel Rosenberg – there’s some serious diversity kicking in my reading stack. I’m getting ready to re-read the Chronicles of Narnia. I learn something about the craft from every book I read, good or bad.
I tend to be keep a fast pace in my own novels – writers like Sylvain Reynard or C.S. Lewis remind me of the beauty of the written word. With their own ability to stir the soul, they remind me how good it is to savor words instead of always devouring them.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What was the biggest compliment? Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
Before I was published, I had a reading partner who told me it took her five chapters to care about the book. That stung! After licking my wounds for a while, I started working on the beginnings of my books, on grabbing the reader sooner and letting facts unfold later. While my writer’s ego might have preferred she phrase her critique a little more gently, the reality is that writing partner did me a great service with her honesty.
As for compliments, any time a reader tells me they ignored life to finish the book, or they connected with the characters, it means more to me than words can ever express. No matter how many novels I publish, I’m still putting a piece of myself out there – I’m still vulnerable whenever a new book comes out – and the positive feedback means the world to me!
I try not to listen to the negative feedback that’s just mean-spirited, but when people have honest criticisms of my books, I definitely take note and try to work on those weak spots in subsequent books. It’s a process, and each book should be a little better than the last because I’m learning as I go.
This or That – Chocolate or Vanilla?? Coffee or Tea?? TV or Movies??
Vanilla – it’s too hard to find and afford Fair Trade chocolate! Movies – just because.
When you sit down to write, are you at a computer or do you do it, the ‘old fashioned’ way with pen and paper? Do you prefer one way or another?
I used to be a pen and paper girl, but lately I do all my writing on my laptop.
What do you do in your down time? Do you pick up something from your ‘to be read’ stack?
Since my family moved to a 10-acre homestead, there is little free time. I try to make time each day, even 10 minutes, to read my Bible and watch my chickens’ antics. It doesn’t always happen, though.
I have three sons. We’re a pretty close family, and we spend a lot of time together, usually outside. Some of my favorite moments are spent sitting in the shade watching the boys be boys.
If your protagonist was a real person, what would they think about you? Would they want to hang out with you?
They’d probably ask “Why’d you do that to me?” – I tend to put my characters through the wringer! I think the heroines in my books are pretty amazing women. I hope they’d like to hang out with me.
What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
It depends on my mood. Sometimes I want something that will make me laugh. Sometimes I’m in the mood for something that will make me think, leave me pondering it long after the last page has been read. My tastes are pretty varied!
When you go to Starbucks or Jamba Juice, what do you order? Do they know you by name or drink?
I’m too frugal (we’ll call it frugal) to spend much time at either. I tend to make my own coffee.
What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?
My favorite part is interacting with my readers, hands down. I have met some amazing people online and in person because of the books.
My least favorite part is trying to come up with the 50th blog on the same topic and keep it creative and fresh. Blogging has opened up this amazing opportunity to reach people I never could otherwise. I’m determined not to simply post the same article all over the Web when I’m on a blog tour, but keeping the content creative and fresh makes my brain hurt by the end of a tour!
When you walk into a book store, where do you head first?
It totally depends on my mood. Usually, it’s probably the sale bin!
Did you get to quit your ‘day job’ and become an author, or do you have a ‘day job’ and writing is something you do for fun?
A family medical emergency forced me to quit my day job about two months before I got my publishing contract. My son is now healed, but the books keep me busy enough that I haven’t gone back to corporate America. Here’s hoping I get to keep my current occupation because I love it!
What has been the strangest thing a reader has asked you?
I can’t for the life of my think of anything – sorry!
What is your favorite junk food vice?
Pizza – I could live on pizza. In that regard, I’m very much like Neena in Jailbird!
Is their any movie you have seen that was based on a novel, which you think lived up to the novel?? What made it live up to the novel?
I consider the movies based on novels to be completely separate entities than the books that inspired them. I don’t think any movie can truly live up to the novel for all readers because all of us imagined something different when we read it. I tend to enjoy the movies more if I consider them on their own merits.
If you could step into the shoes of your protagonist for one day, would you? What would you like to experience or see during that day?
It depends on which day we’re talking! What I’d see depends on which protagonist I chose. The women in my novels lead very different lives. If I had to choose one heroine from my books to be, it would probably be Neena from Jailbird. Her life is very much one I would enjoy. Although, Alex from Ring of Fire lives on a PacificIsland. That’s not a bad gig if you can get it.
Did you have any teacher(s) in high school or college that encouraged you to write? Did you take their advice?
Mr. Kickham from Eureka Senior High. He didn’t encourage me to write specifically, but rather to live up to my potential. He was my teacher at a time when I was really struggling, things were bad all over in my world. (Or at least, it felt that way.) I honestly think I would have dropped out of high school and run away from home if it hadn’t been for him.
If I ever see Mr. Kickham again, I owe him a big thank you.
What type of ice cream could I find you eating on a hot summer day?
A scoop of vanilla and a scoop of orange sherbet. Love those two mixed together!
If we snuck a peek in your purse right now, what would we find?
My wallet, pens, lip gloss, postcards with my book descriptions, my pocket knife, my cell phone and a planner – along with the hodge podge of other things my kids have stuck in their over the course of any given day.
We all have our little ‘things’ when it comes to reading or writing; is their anything that bugs you when you read a novel?
When the author over-explains. There’s a balance between good description and four pages on the color of the sky. I tend to get impatient when books drag.
Who was your first novel dedicated to? Was their a particular reason for that person?
Emily Stoltz & Erica Fitzgerald – see question 23. :o)
This or That – Christmas or Your Birthday?? Chocolate or Flowers?? Cell Phone or No Phone?? Quality or Quantity??
Christmas – flowers – no phone – quality
What do your friends and family think of your writing? Have they been supportive?
At first, I think they all thought, “Yeah right, you want to write a book. Join the club.” Once I got a little further into my career, though, they became much more supportive. Two friends in particular, though were incredibly supportive from day one. To them, I am forever grateful!
In 4 words, describe yourself.
Friendly, passionate, stubborn, Christian
Is their anything else you would like to share or say to those who will read this?
One of the themes that runs throughout my books is that it’s never too late to embrace your life. All of my protagonist are strong women whose life took a wrong turn somewhere. In many respects, we’re with them on their journey to find the right path again. That’s something I believe translates to the real world – for those of us who took a wrong turn, who’ve been thrown curve balls – the right path is out there if we have the courage to look for it. In my books, I share glimpses of my own journey to find that path. I hope doing so encourages other women to take that first step towards theirs.