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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Author Interview: Heather Beck

The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Heather Beck. Not only is Heather a published author, she’s also a student at the University of Toronto. Heather’s first book, The Paradise Chronicles, was published when she was only nineteen, and she’s had several more published since then. She’s also passionate about the outdoors and is an award-winning fisherwoman and hikes on a regular basis.

I asked Heather what advice she would give a new writer who was just starting out. She told me it would depend on what their motivation for writing was. “If it’s for money,” she said, “I would be quick in showing them my royalty checks. Of course, different types of writing jobs (such as, freelance, novelist, screenwriter, full-time with a company, etc.) yield vastly different paychecks.” She decided to focus her advice to the aspiring novelist. “If the writer is truly in love with the essence of writing,” she told me, “I’d recommend taking writing courses to hone their craft and understand the fundamentals of fiction writing, such as structure, plot, character development, etc.” She also feels that people should start writing their first manuscript, even if they don’t think they are really ready. She continued, “While writing and taking inspiration from whatever they can, research into the publishing company and how it works must be conducted. This includes understanding key terms, how to format a manuscript, and how to approach an agent or publisher.” The most important thing, however, in Heather’s opinion goes back to her first peace advice: to begin writing. “The informed writer must have a manuscript they believe in are willing to fight for in an extremely tough business.”

Heather told me she’s never suffered from writer’s block. Instead, she has the opposite problem: too many ideas and not enough time to write them all in. “I have a screenplay which is half done,” she shared with me, “another screenplay with is a quarter of the way done and yet another which I’ve just started and have an outline for. I have a half-completed novel and two anthologies waiting to be finished. Furthermore, I have two features and three television shows that are in the pitching, or development, stage so I’m always on the standby for revisions. The insane thing is—I don’t consider these ventures as work. Writing, even if it yields very little monetary gain, is one of my greatest loves. I can’t imagine myself not having something to write about.”

I asked Heather if she would describe her writing space for us. “I love this question,” she said, “because my writing space varies vastly from season to season. I summer I can be found writing beside a pool, on the beach, or in some nature retreat. During the winter most of my writing takes place by the moonlight’s reflection upon the snow. As for the fall and spring, I guess it depends on the weather. I prefer writing in my backyard, but my bedroom will also suffice.”

As much as she loves writing, she despises editing, and for multiple reasons. “Besides being time-consuming and tedious, I dislike rewriting because it censors what I felt and the time of writing,” she said. “And...no matter how many times I read and reread my works I always miss something.” She told me that her editing skills have gotten better over the years, but that there were still improvements that needed to be made. She does have one thing going for her though. “Thankfully, I have some awesome people who help check for spelling and grammatical errors.”

One question I like asking our authors is, “You can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be?” Heather told me, “Every person has had experiences which they would rather erase than remember. However, I personally refuse to forget because in doing so I would be losing a part of who I am today. From the past I do gather some regrets. Mostly, it’s about missed opportunities. I’d rather deal than dwell though, so I’m adamant about making amends via present action.”

Her favorite animal is the wolf because of their beauty and loyalty. “I also love the myths of magical realism with they are associated with,” she said.

If she could know the future (she called that question fun but scary) she would like to know the winning lottery numbers a week in advance. She added, “I would also like to know where to be at the right time and, vice verse, where not to be at the wrong time.”

Heather told me that she thinks generalizations of any kind are dangerous. “The fact is,” she said, “we are all multifaceted beings with react differently according to situation, time and feeling.” Therefore, when asked what stereotype she would label herself, she said, “I would stereotype myself as someone who rebels against stereotypes... I can only hope to be ‘labelled’ as someone who constantly acts in a compassionate manner.”

And, finally, in keeping with her thoughts on compassion, Heather told me, when asked what she would with for, “If I could wish for anything I’d wish for a universal understanding and application of the concept of compassion. This, in essence, is world peace since the ideology of compassion encompasses sympathy (if not empathy), benevolence, and the ability of altruistic foresight. If I were to dwell in conspicuous consumption however, I’d wish for a Hummer (2007 H2 SUT with lots of heavy chrome and a Hemi).”

You can keep up with Heather on her website, http://heatherbeck.tripod.com

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