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Friday, July 24, 2009

Cafe Chit Chat: Heather Beck

Heather is a superb twenty-three-year-old Canadian Author. She had her first book, The Paradise Chronicles, published when she was just 19 and she has also written many other books after that including, What Legends Are Made Of. She is also a director of many short films. Now the interview...

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W: Can you describe a typical day?
H: A typical day actually varies a lot for me. Some constants are school, writing and just hanging out. There’s always a ton of business-related work to be done, such as working with producers, publishers, and doing interviews, promotions, etc. I also love attending all types of special events. However, my main love is hiking and being outdoors. My cottage is definitely my first love.

W: How do you come up with the ideas for your books? Are you a big fan of stories/fables/etc?

H: I’m a huge fan of stories. I would be in the wrong business if I wasn’t! I especially love folklore and the weird creatures that constantly appear in them. My favorite fabled characters would have to be gnomes and trolls.

Regarding the inspiration behind my writing, essentially, I create every piece that I do because I have to. While the craft of writing can always be improved upon, I believe that being a true writer is innate. I can’t be certain as to why I have all these stories to tell, but I think perception and experience play a major role in their formation. If I had to define the single external element which inspires me, I’d resolutely give that credit to nature. There is an undeniable contemplation and admiration in the seemingly simplest aspects of nature.

W: Are any of your characters based on someone you know?

H: All my work is at some level my autobiography masquerading as fiction. Although I will constantly rewrite events which happened to me, I don’t include people I know. It seems unfair and invasive. For example, two years ago when I was pitching one of my screenplays to a production company, they read my biography and wanted to do a reality piece on me. I started writing Fighting for Glory but stopped half-way through. To tell a good story I’d have to reveal so much about myself and others around me and I just wasn’t ready to do that.

W: What is your favorite thing to do (apart from writing)?

H: I’m completely addicted to the outdoors. I need the sun and water, and consider them to be God’s greatest gifts. Hiking, fishing, swimming, and being at the beach are the most important things to me.

W: What's your favorite color?

H: Purple is definitely my favorite color because it’s rich and mysterious. I also love that clear blue color of a beautiful ocean.

W: If you were stranded on an island and could only bring five things what would they be?

H:

1. A fully functional airplane and pilot (does that count as two things?)
2. An island survival almanac
3. My bf
4. An unlimited amount of pens and paper so I can record the stories which are inspired by the island and my experiences there
5. A phone with unbelievable range so I can keep in touch with family, friends, producers, publishers, and my manager.

W: Who are some authors you look up to?

H: I really look up to JD Salinger and Tennessee Williams because their works are so insightful yet compassionate when it comes to depicting the human condition. I also love Jack London because his multilayered descriptions of the universal man vs. nature theme are practically flawless.

W: Do you have a new project you are working on? And if so, can you tell us a bit about it?

H: There are many projects which I’m working on. It’s a long list but here’s a sneak preview!

My short film Young Eyes will be on DVD shortly. [For a full cast/crew list and pictures, please see HERE ]

I’m doing final edits on my coming-of-age teen drama Vocations which will be available in September from Class Act Books. The screenplay adaptation is in development so it’s a crucial time for both mediums of Vocations.

Red Rose Publishing has picked up my paranormal romance anthology, Whispers in the Shadows and it’s currently in the hands of an editor. I love this publisher!

I have five more books of scary stories for kids. They are the spin-offs of the best-selling Ten Journeys Through The Unknown and include: Haunted, The Sands Of Time, Supernatural Stories To Make You Shiver, Twisted Tales Of Terror, and When Darkness Falls. Two of the five forthcoming anthologies have been edited and I plan to have the other three completely edited by the end of summer.

My literary coming-of-age anthology, Assorted Candies is also forthcoming. I’m pretty excited about this book because I believe it contains my best writing as of yet.

Coming from Spirit Rider Productions in Australia is the trailer for my teen vampire feature, Rarity. I’ve been heavily involved in the casting and have learned so much. My producer is absolutely amazing!

I have two other TV shows in development but due to my contracts, I can’t share too much information about them. What I can say, however, is that one is a unique coming-of-age teen drama and the other is based upon my scary stories for kids.

I have started writing three more books, two are paranormal teen dramas and the other, Last Werewolf Standing, is a paranormal romance. I’ve got notebooks filled with ideas which I’m craving to write. Whether on the page, big screen, or small screen, I’m confident there’ll be a lot more of my work to look forward to.

W: I heard you got your first novel published at just 19!! Could you share your experience with young aspiring authors and share us some tips?

H: I would never recommend that one try to write fiction as a career. I write only because I have to and, during the tough times, occasionally think it would be best to ignore my urge to put pen to paper.

My road to publication goes something like this: I began writing a manuscript I believe in while researching the business of publishing. It was on my third query that I got a request for the full manuscript and then a contract. What really stands out in my mind was the pride I felt and the first time seeing my beautiful cover art.

Through interviews and letters I’ve given a lot of practical advice but the truth is, the love, need, and desire to write is the biggest motivator and most important aspect. If you have that, an industry connection is a blessing but, if not, it’ll mean enough to you to start from the ground up.

An author must find the equilibrium between the thin line of being unrealistic and rational. When it comes to contracts and conducting yourself with industry professionals, a level-head is needed. When it comes to creating stories and having enough faith in them to make it big, it’s all about being unrealistic.

W: Since you are still a student at University, how do you balance school and writing? Is it really stressful?

H: I just graduated from the University of Toronto with an Honors Bachelor of Arts. I specialized in English but took many different disciplines including film, management, new media, history, sociology, psychology, women’s studies, and geography. In a couple of months I will begin studying for my book and magazine graduate certification. I’m really excited about this since I’d love to work in acquisitions or subsidiary rights at a major publishing house.

As with everything I do, I took university very seriously and gave it my best effort. Education is so important and I would encourage anyone to get as much of it as they can. I loved the learning experiences that university provided. Meeting new students and professors, taking a vast array of courses, and the associated events were all great. University was something I wanted to do, rather than it being forced upon me. Nonetheless, my time there was hectic. I initially went to university to study new media design. Since it was a small, highly-competitive program, the entrance into it was difficult and included an extensive supplementary application, portfolio, and exam. I got accepted only to change disciplines a year later! Luckily, I knew from the start that I wanted to study English so this didn’t delay my graduation plans. So, as you may see, university has stresses which don’t even include the workload.

I know I’m repeating myself here but, the main reason I was able to balance school and writing was because they’re both things that I love doing. Technically, though, it was my time management skills and responsibility which helped me to succeed. I’m someone who starts an assignment right away and would never submit anything late.

W: What is your FAVORITE book in the world, the one that you think everyone should read before they die?

H: That’s a hard question but my final answer is John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Writing the screenplay adaptation of that book, with a huge budget attached, would be a dream come true. I’d also recommend any of Tennessee William’s plays, Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, and anything by Jack London.

W: Finally, do you have anything else that you would like to say?

H: I would like readers to know that I started in this business with nothing but passion and a dedicated work ethic. I strive to improve upon my craft with every word I write so the best is yet to come. I’d like to thank everyone who has read my books and offered me supportive feedback. I hope I can bestow inspiration and a reminder that it is possible to live a dream.

Thanks so much for the interview Heather!!

Come check out her site HERE!

Wdebo :)

4 comments:

  1. This is a wonderful interview, and I like those questions you ask. They really bring us to know more about the author and the book. Hope you can do more interviews in the future. :D

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete

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