YA Fresh welcomes Heather Davis to our interview mic today, to talk about her recently released debut novel, Never Cry Werewolf, and her writer’s life.
Heather has been kind enough to offer up a signed copy of the book to one lucky commenter, so be sure to enter. (But sorry, cupcake not included!)
Hello, Heather! Thanks for joining us. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?
I’ve always been a writer. When I was in elementary school I wrote plays and in high school, I wrote poetry and faithfully kept a journal. I went off to college as a film major. I had a weekly comic strip in the school newspaper and did a ton of writing related to film. After graduating, I fell in love and stayed in the Pacific Northwest for a boy. I turned back to comics and story boarding, until I went to a writers’ conference and the light switched on. I should be writing stories. After that epiphany, I started writing and submitting short fiction and made my first sale to Cricket Magazine in 1999. By the end of 2000, I’d completed my first adult novel and was attending a critique group in the small mountain town I’d moved to with my then husband. Flash forward to me a few years later substitute teaching elementary school, with five unpublished adult novels under my belt. Suddenly it occurred to me that I needed to be writing for my students – and a YA novelist was born.
Two years and many rejection slips after that, I had a fabulous agent, a manuscript that won the Golden Heart for best Young Adult Romance and was a single girl, once again. My agent sold Never Cry Werewolf that fall of 2006. Yep, it’s been a long, convoluted road. No one ever said you shouldn’t suffer for your art, right?
Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.
I work a regular office job for a great company and it’s very demanding. At the end of that long workday day, I pack myself down to the coffee shop on the way home from the office – 3 days a week, usually. I sit there with my laptop (never asking for the Internet password!) for an average of two hours working on a new draft. When I’m revising, I’m more likely to be doing my normal two hour stint at home after work. I guess the energy and comfort required for revising and drafting are completely different for me.
On an average day on a new draft, I’ll spend a few minutes reading through what I wrote during my last session and making tiny adjustments. I’ll pore over the handwritten outline in my journal and make adjustments on that. Then, I just write, usually two scenes. Then, after my time is up, I’ll make a note in my journal on how long I wrote and what I accomplished. Sometimes I write on the weekends, too – it just depends on what else is going on in my life. Above all I know that if I haven’t accomplished the weeks pages, I will feel really, really guilty. Writing for me is a regular, disciplined process that I need to do regularly to sustain my happiness and well-being.
Please tell us about Never Cry Werewolf and what we can expect from this book.
This is a sweet, funny paranormal romance that is perfect for younger YA readers. This is not doom and gloom and suffering – it’s just for entertainment. There are a lot of paranormal books out there which fill the need to bring people down, but NCW is uplifting. It’s the tale of Shelby, an average girl sent to brat camp by an evil stepmother. At Camp Crescent, she meets Austin, a dark hero trying to keep his Lycan heritage under wraps. Shelby’s struggling to do the right thing, but her need to help people usually gets her into trouble, and once she meets irresistible Austin, she’s toast.
And allow me to add that I read Never Cry Werewolf--practically in one sitting because the pages just kept on turning. The woodsy setting of the Brat Camp, the full moons and the idea that Austin might go werewolf at any point kept me spellbound, and jumping at unexpected noises in the book and in my house! Plus, I loved the romance: Austin is totally dreamy, even with all those extra whiskers...
Next question: you have another project in the works?
Yes, The Clearing will be coming out this April from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It’s a dark, time-travel romance with an empowering theme. Amy, a girl recovering from an abusive relationship, moves to the country to escape her old life. There on her aunt’s farmland, she meets Henry, a boy stuck in the endless summer of 1944. They are two people, out of time, who need each other in different ways. It’s a very romantic, powerful story. It’s very different from NCW.
I'll be anxiously awaiting it. And would you like to close with a writing tip?
Just that if you’re trying to write you should be kind to yourself. By being kind, I mean that you shouldn’t judge yourself too harshly, or expect perfection. Let yourself be messy and terrible – whatever it takes to get that first draft down on paper. Later, you will go back and revise and clean everything up.
And, don’t compare yourself to other people. Your writing journey is your own – so whatever anyone else is doing has very little to do with you. Just write the best story you have inside of you. And if it’s not the best, revise it, learn from it, and then move on a write more. It takes zillions of hours of practice to master anything, even if you have “natural” talent. Okay, I guess there were a few tips in there. I hope at least one of them was helpful.
Great! Thanks, Heather!
And now, about the contest! Never Cry Werewolf has a dark, gruff but charming, British hero that readers seem to love. To win a copy of the book, in comments, post the qualities of a hero character you would love to create or read about. One winner will be chosen at random on Sunday evening to win an signed copy of Never Cry Werewolf. Good luck!