Heather Davis, author of Never Cry Werewolf and The Clearing, joins us today to talk about writing and her books!
Hey, Heather, could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?
Heather: I’ve been telling stories and writing all my life - just ask my dad. He’ll tell you in kindergarten I talked my way from the school parking lot to the house. Anyway, I had planned to be a documentary filmmaker, but my life took a turn when I got married and let go of my goal of an MFA in film. Instead, I started concentrating on writing. After checking out some writers' conferences and reading a lot of books on writing, I sold my first short story to Cricket Magazine in 1998. That was a sign to me that I was on the right path, so I decided to try to write a novel.
In 2000 I found a critique group in my small mountain town, and they encouraged me to “pick a genre” so I joined Romance Writers of America to learn more about popular fiction. I tried to shoehorn myself in to romance, but didn’t have much success. (I was terrible at all the love scene stuff.) About that same time, I was teaching elementary school as a substitute and realized that I wanted to write something my students could read. I forged ahead with my first teen novel in 2004 and it was nominated for an RWA Golden Heart in 2005. The same book, and my next, finalled in the Golden Heart the next year and I won! I had an agent by then, and that fall he sold my third YA manuscript, Never Cry Werewolf.
After six years I was an overnight success! Never Cry Werewolf finally came out in the fall of 2009. It was a long road to publication, but I never gave up. That’s the secret - proceed with confidence that you will eventually succeed and keep getting better. It’s a war of attrition.
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.
Heather: Right now, I work at an office during the day. So, I either get up early (5:30 am!) to write an hour before I get ready for work, or I work all day and then go to the coffee shop to write after the office for about two hours. I do this about 3 days a week, depending on deadlines. When I have something due, I will work on the book nearly every day or night until it’s done. When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about the story, which is also writing for me.
Please tell us about your novel, The Clearing, and what we can expect from your characters.
Heather: The Clearing is a book about getting over the fear that you let other people impose on you (fear of the future, fear of loving someone, fear of being yourself) and having the courage to find your own destiny. It’s a book with a touch of magic, time-travel, and deep emotion.
Amy, the protagonist, is recovering from an abusive relationship and needs to find the joy in her life again, along with her self-esteem. Henry, a boy stuck in an endless time loop of the year 1944, needs to gain the courage to face the future he’s protecting his family from. He’s heroic, pure of heart, and has a touch of naivete that is really appealing to Amy.
What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.
Heather: In the Fall of 2011, Harcourt will publish my next book, Wherever You Go, a story about Holly, a girl caring for her Alzheimer’s-stricken grandfather who claims to communicate with the ghost of Holly’s boyfriend who died six-months earlier. Grandpa Aldo becomes an unlikely spirit guide for this lost boy and in the process, helps Holly heal her wounds of the past and open her heart to a new love.
Would you like to close with a writing tip?
Heather: Sure! I think the biggest tip I can give is to write toward the emotion. We read to process and feel things in our own lives - so find what moves you and write to help your reader experience that too. As you write, avoid getting too wrapped up in the “plot” of things and worry more about what the character feels and how they react - that will lead you to the natural action of the story and to the shape of the narrative. In other words, be true to the characters and the story will emerge.
Thanks, Heather, and please visit us again soon at YA Fresh!