Saturday, August 7, 2010

Not All Mythology is Myth

An Interview with Heidi Joelle Wright

Hello my darling, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gal... Sorry it's been stuck in my head for weeks! Moving on...While most of us "twenty-somethings" are struggling to finish the first hundred pages of our soon-to-be-novels Heidi Joelle Wright has written and self-published two novels. No, she didn't cheat and write the Shortest Book Ever(!). Her first novel , World's Collide, came to an end at 701 pages long... Yes... Seven hundred and one! The sequel, Lost and Found, came in as a close second at six hundred. Not too shabby, eh? (wow, suddenly I'm Canadian... okay then)

I met Heidi... nope... I can't do it... I met Joelle (her screen name) on a Narnia forum way back when I was just starting to take writing seriously. She was just finishing up World's Collide, a
nd was an inspiration to us little fledgling writers. So, after reading Lost and Found and becoming exceedingly more jealous than is probably healthy, I was prepared to beg for an interview. Of course, she didn't make me beg, but that's not the point. Without further ado (hehe, I did it again), here is an exclusive interview with Heidi Joelle Wright.

When did you start writing seriously?

March 2006. A friend had died and I needed something to keep my mind from obsessing over that fact. I don’t remember why I decided to try once again to write, but when I stopped writing that first time after I had sat down, I saw thirty pages worth of work.

That first writing session of new inspiration is always so exhilarating! Is this a family thing, or are you and your sister they only ones who write?

My dad has had a story laid out in his mind for decades, but he hasn’t written it out yet.

Are you kind of exclusive to fantasy, or are their other genres you enjoy?

Your question answers a question that I often ask people who’ve read my Fairy Tales! It is a divided opinion of whether my books are science fiction or fantasy. So, to answer your question, I prefer science fiction and fantasy. In recent years I’ve gained an appreciation for historical fiction, but I doubt I’ll ever write it.

Are you working right now? Going to school?

At this very moment I am in the biggest in-between of my life. I’ve recently moved and am looking for work. I did graduate with my AA degree; I plan to go back to school to get my bachelors in the future.

How do you balance your time between writing and the rest of you life?

HAHA. Ahem…. I have to be honest, not well. Especially with Worlds Collide, I was more than a bit obsessive. I’m the type of person who once they start a project, it is very difficult for me to focus on anything else until I finish. It was purely out of mercy that I passed Greek class, because I spent more time plotting and pondering story ideas than studying.

Trying to put this next question without sounding condescending, or like the weird aunt that coos over you at every family function like you're still three, but it didn't work... You are so young, is there a “when I grow up”?

First, thank you. Second, that’s a very good question. I think there is, but I have yet to figure it out. My motto for 2010 has been ‘I am so glad God is in control, because I have no idea what is going to happen!’.

Now you’ve self-published two substantial novels, what made you decide to self-publish?

When I heard about, and that I could self-publish for free, and receive my novel in a book that I could display next to my traditionally published books and no one could tell which was self-published and which was “officially” published that decided it for me. I would have thought it was too good to be true if I hadn’t known someone who had used lulu for years and had had good experiences through it.

It is fun to see it in print! Do you ever plan to publish “Traditionally”?

Another good question. Maybe when I grow up? The biggest hindrance I have right now with getting Worlds Collide traditionally published (other than my fear of rejection) is most of the publishers or agents I’ve looked into won’t even consider a book over 200 thousand words, which it is.

Tell me about Worlds Collide, why first person?

First person is the only way I know how to write successfully. By successfully, I mean, more than ten pages.

And why so many perspectives?

Because I wanted to show the readers different sides of the same story and to be able to get into more than one character’s head. Such a big part of the story is how the characters interact; it wouldn’t be complete without more than one character’s perspective.

I have to say, one of the things that impressed me the most was how unique each voice was. It was easy to see their personalities through it. How did you keep each characters’ voice separate?

Thank you!

What’s the best way to answer this…before I wrote most of my characters, I had had their voices in my head for a long time. Some, a very long time. It came natural that when I wrote them down, they came out as individual voices.

So glad I'm not the only one who "hears voices." Did it every get confusing for you to keep it all straight?

The only thing that got confusing was the spellings of the names and places. I had a stack of little square pieces of paper that were my cheat sheets/security blanket! I’d take them with me whenever I’d write to make sure I spelled Kurios correctly, or that I had indeed changed the spelling of ‘Emily’ to ‘Emilee’.

I have to be honest, the editor in me was looking for 'Emily' to pop up somewhere. Do you have a favorite character to write for?

Dra or Emilee. Dra because she’s the most comfortable to write and Emilee because she can get away with what I never could.

I love Emilee! She was my favorite female character. Why two really long books instead of four "normal" size books?

I get this question a lot, especially for Worlds Collide. Short answer is, I view them as two stories. Lost and Found is Caleus’ story. Worlds Collide is its own entity; I have never felt comfortable breaking it up as I don’t feel any of the parts (well, maybe Part Three) stand well on their own.

I never intended on either book to be a 'tome'! In fact, I tried very hard not to drag any part of the story out.

That was very evident in your writing. So many people assume 700 pages means long drawn out descriptions, but it's very well paced. Now that you’ve finished your second book, what have you learned? And would you have changed anything from Worlds Collide?

Wow, it’s been three years since I finished Lost and Found, seems like a long time. I think I learned my strengths and weaknesses. Worlds Collide flowed so fast that my fingers couldn’t keep up with my brain, Lost and Found was harder and I had to work at it.

For your second question the answer is yes. Nothing big though, I’m very content with how it turned out. Lost and Found is the one I’d be more likely to change bits of!

A little more technical. You and I talked a very long time ago about your editing process. Can you take us through what happens to your work from when it gets written until it is published?

My work goes through three filters before I consider it done. First, I give it over to the Midget [her sister] and she edits for story structure. Her specialty is making sure I didn’t think I had written something explaining something and really hadn’t. Once it’s given the Midget Stamp of Approval, I hand it over to my mom. She edits it for grammatical and spelling errors. Once both of them have finished going through it I reread it through myself.

Has that process changed between World Collide and Lost and Found?

Very little. For Worlds Collide, I gave my mom and the midget a whole Part at a time to go through. For Lost and Found, I would give them whatever I had finished at the time!

What advice do you have for aspire writers?

Never give up. Not everyone can produce inspiration on demand, maybe today you may feel completely stuck, it may take some time for your ideas to ‘cook’ before they’re ready to be on paper. Don't give up on your story just because you feel stuck, even stuck for a long time!

Choose your audience before you starting writing. Before ’06, whenever I’d try to write I’d find myself asking ‘what would so and so think?’, and this was holding me back. It’s intimidating and overwhelming to be writing for the approval of the world! And, for me at least, when I’m intimidated and overwhelmed it’s much harder for me to go on without second-guessing myself. It’s much easier for me to write with the mindset that this is just a story for the midget.

Read! Watch movies! Tuck away bits you learn/hear/see from your friends, school, church, you cannot write from a ‘blank slate’, feed your imagination wherever you go.

Some great advice. Finally, what everyone really wants to know: What’s next? Are you working on anything, and can you tell us about it? Will we be seeing more Dunami? (okay, so I kinda snuck four questions in there… )

After Lost and Found my imagination felt sucked dry. It’s just this year that I feel I’ve filled my ‘inspiration bank’ enough up to write some more. I have a fully developed new character, and new ‘dunami race, and a few more new faces. I’m planning on incorporating some more of the mythology hinted in the end of the last book. Right now I’m working on how to tie it all together!

Thank you again, Joelle, it was fun! If you want to know more about these amazing "psuedofiction" novels, you can find them on her website, The Lonely Isle.

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