An Interview with Ann Nolder Heinz: Author & Entrepreneur
Sylvia: Hi Ann, it is such a pleasure to interview you. Please give our readers a brief introduction of yourself and a little about your book.
Ann: Thank you Sylvia. My name is Ann Nolder Heinz. I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Washington with a major in Sociology. When I am not writing, I work as the office manager of my husband’s civil engineering and surveying firm. We reside in East Dundee, Illinois, where several “depots” on the Underground Railroad were said to be located.
My novel “LAST STOP FREEDOM,” a story of slavery, the Underground Railroad, and women’s rights in the nineteenth century, is an e-book published by small independent publisher Write Words Inc. The book won first place for historical fiction from the 2011 Royal Dragonfly e-Book Awards. It portrays the degradation and ultimate triumph of two women, one a repressed preacher’s daughter, the other a black slave, who lives in bondage on a South Carolina cotton plantation in 1852. Their unlikely friendship gives each the strength to endure until circumstances threaten not only to rip them apart but to place their very lives in jeopardy. They undertake a harrowing flight with the aid of the Underground Railroad.
Sylvia: Wow, interesting! I would love to tour the ‘Underground Railroad.’ What inspired you to write your first book?
Ann: The fiction-writing bug bit me as a child, although I confess I was better in the early days at conceiving and starting a story than I was at following it through to conclusion, as is proven by the numerous “Chapter 1’s” in the box of juvenile writing stored in our attic. But the appeal was irresistible, and it found me again as an adult. I must stress that I did not make a conscious choice to become a writer. Rather, it was an itch I had to scratch regardless of how the finished product might be judged by others. As it happened, I experienced much more failure than success through the years, but I discovered that to feel truly happy and complete, I must soldier on.
Sylvia: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Ann: I was inspired to write this book after I visited several Underground Railroad sites in Jacksonville, Illinois. I subsequently discovered that very little adult fiction has been written about this era of our nation’s history, and I set out to rectify that deficiency. I hope my readers come away from this novel with a deeper understanding of the horrors of slavery and its complex social, economic, religious and political underpinnings as well as the courage of those who risked their lives and fortunes to help fugitive slaves escape to freedom by means of the Underground Railroad. Most important, I hope they find it a compelling story of faith, hope, love, and the victory of the human spirit over evil.
Sylvia: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Ann: Write because you can’t not write. Beyond that, a comprehensive set of writing tips appear on my website www.fictionbookmates.com.
Sylvia: Great, thanks for sharing the resources. What is the most challenging aspect of writing for you?
Ann: My biggest challenge is managing the emotional roller coaster I experience when I write. The highs come when an idea is blossoming and the plot path forward is clear. The lows come when the writing does not flow and I am uncertain of the mission I have set for myself. The trick is to keep working regardless.
Sylvia: Interesting Ann! Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Ann: Writer’s block is a common malady from which I am not immune. My cure is to place myself in a situation of total relaxation in order to allow my subconscious to work on the problem and come up with a solution. My favorite setting is a deep hot bath.
Sylvia: How did you deal with rejection letters?
Ann: There is nothing more depressing for a writer than a rejection letter (in print or e-mail form)—and I have received more than I care to count. My strategy was to permit myself to mourn for a short time. Then I forced myself back to work. I believe the key is to always have a new project in the pipeline.
Sylvia: What marketing techniques have you used to sell your books and which ones have been most successful?
Ann: Prior to this, I marketed my books to agents. When an agent sold one of my mystery manuscripts as a paperback original a number of years ago, the publishing house took care of promoting the book. Since my current publisher is a small independent firm with no marketing budget, this is my first foray into that realm. I began by vigorously pursuing reviewers. My efforts garnered positive results with four five-star reviews now posted on Amazon.com. I also entered two contests. One resulted in a first-place award for historical fiction. The other will report its results this coming summer. Beyond that, I have submitted press releases to local newspapers with articles appearing in two. I am also now dipping my toes into the blogosphere. As for the success of my efforts, the jury is still out.
Sylvia: Why should we buy your book?
Ann: Because it is a good read.
Sylvia: Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
Ann: In a sense, I am writing all the time and in all places because whatever I am working on sits in the back of my mind no matter where I am or what I am doing. Beyond that, I try to work at my computer, which is in my home office; at least some portion of every day depending on what else is going on in my life.
Sylvia: What projects are you working on?
Ann: In addition to promoting my book, I am formatting four other manuscripts for publication with my current publisher Write Words Inc. These books are psychological suspense novels written some ten or more years ago, and they all take place in my little river town of East Dundee, Illinois. In addition, I am writing a new historical novel with a working title of REFINER’S FIRE that plucks a character from LAST STOP FREEDOM and places her in a story of loss and redemption.
Sylvia: What is your POWER WORD? Why this word?
Ann: My power word is PASSION. I believe that in order to accomplish anything in life, one must possess a burning passion for whatever goal has been set. It’s what keeps a writer writing regardless of disappointments. It’s what motivates people to reach beyond the expected in order to unleash creativity. Determination, perseverance, confidence—all relay on an emotional commitment without which most projects would fade at the first obstacle.
Sylvia: Ahhhhh, passion is extremely important. Ann, thank you for your time. Where may we buy your book?
Ann: You are welcome. I enjoyed it as well. The book is available at www.writewordsinc.com, www.amazon.com, www.bn.com, and www.fictionwise.comhttp://www.mobipocket.com. These links are also accessible on my website www.fictionbookmates.com.