An Interview with Heather Reid: Author
Sylvia: Hi Heather, it’s a pleasure to meet you and I am excited to share your story. Please tell us about you and your book.
Heather: My love of words started like most writers I know. It started with a story. In this case, the stories came from the imagination of my great-aunt, Delia. She weaved magical tales to send me to sleep. She wasn’t a writer, she never wrote any of her stories on paper, and she read to me too, but I loved her stories best. Neither of us knew she was giving me the greatest gift of all, the love of storytelling.
At the age of four I started dictating stories to my mother who would illustrate them for me. By the age of nine, I was writing plays for friends and binding my own picture books with cardboard and string. At eleven I tried my hand at a first novel. (No, you can’t read it. It’s buried in a deep dark hole somewhere in the Tasmanian Outback and guarded by a three-headed dingo.) It was then I told my parents I wanted to be published by the age of sixteen. I also told them I wanted to be Wonder Woman, a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader, a Broadway star, and an archaeologist. Those dreams faded. I never did get that invisible jet, and I would be a lot older than sixteen before I got a publishing deal, but the dream of being a writer stayed with me. After college I decided to stop dreaming and start getting serious. I joined the Society of Children’s book Writers and Illustrators, joined a writer’s group, read books on writing, went to conferences, workshops, and most importantly, I started writing every day.
After over twelve years of studying and writing, I finally found my voice in my first young adult novel, Pretty Dark Nothing. This is a a young adult paranormal novel about a seventeen year old girl who is plagued by nightmares and can see demons. She thinks she might be crazy and holds the secret close to her heart. It is about her battle her inner demons as her life spins out of control.
Sylvia: I can just imagine how intrigued you were by your great-aunt Delia’s stories. It takes me back to a time when I was a little girl and enjoyed listening to my grandmothers stories about the good ole’ days. What inspired you to write your first book?
Heather: I think the spark of inspiration for Pretty Dark Nothing has been brewing my whole life. As a child, I suffered from night terrors and sleep walking. Although I eventually grew out of the sleep walking, the nightmares never went away. I would dream of faceless entities and demons on a reoccurring basis. I spent my pre-teen years trying to rationalize my fear while I spent my nights huddled under my covers with a book and a flash light afraid to fall asleep for fear of what would greet me in my dreams. I kept this a secret from my friends and afraid of what they would think. The dark torture of my imagination lasted through three years of middle school and finally faded. I still don’t think my mother knows how terrified I was of falling asleep and I have no idea why the nightmares stopped, maybe they were my way of coping with the stress of adolescence. I don’t know.
When I reached college, I went through a particularly bad time in my life, suffered from depression, illness and the nightmares returned. I wasn’t frightened like I was when I was young; I recognized them for what they were. We all have inner demons we battle, those voices that tell us we’re not good enough, taunt us, paralyze us with fear. That’s when the idea for a novel started to form. I asked myself what would happen if those negative voices, inner demons weren’t imagined. What would happen if they were real and they started to manifest outside the dream world? What if they influenced things around us and what if you were the only one that could see them? That’s when Quinn and the idea for Pretty Dark Nothing was born. Quinn and I battled the demons that tortured her together and in the process, she taught me how to battle my own.
Sylvia: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Heather: Although the book is paranormal fantasy, and the things that happen to Quinn are not real, I hope it opens up conversation about depression and insecurity that can consume and drive people to make bad decisions. There is a stigma and a fear for those with depression, that if we revel our dark places, we will be ridiculed or shunned. Sometimes admitting weakness is what makes someone strong. No matter how dark things get, there is light somewhere if you make the choice to look for it.
Sylvia: You have a good point. Mental illness is an important matter and if your book can start serious dialog about the topic, then that’s awesome. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Heather: Read, read, read. Everything you can get your hands on. In you genre, outside your genre, good books, poorly written books, everything. Sometimes you can actually learn more from reading a book that’s not well written than you can from a good one. Learning to spot flaws in other stories can help you spot flaws in your own.
Connect with other writers who understand what you’re going through. You will need their support. Surround yourself with positive people.
Don’t be afraid to fail, just get the words on the page. There are no wrong choices and if you don’t like what you’ve written, you can always delete it and start over. Those words are not wasted. Every word you write is a learning experience, even the ones you delete.
Be patient. Writing is a process and the best way to learn is by doing. Also, finding your voice, your process, is about trial and error. Try different techniques, but don’t be afraid to adapt them and make them your own.
Don’t give up. If you are passionate about writing, if you are willing to work and grow in the craft, if you are ready to listen to constructive criticism and strive to improve, if you can’t imagine doing anything else, then don’t give up on your dream. It might take months or years to get published, but it’s worth it.
Everyone’s journey is different; don’t compare yours to someone else’s and don’t put other people’s choices down. You’re not in competition with anyone but yourself. Keep learning, keep striving and remember those who help you along the way. Don’t get caught up in trends, social networking, or platform building. A writer writes first and foremost. That’s the most important thing, everything else is secondary.
Sylvia: Awesome advice! What marketing techniques have you used to sell your books and which ones have been most successful?
Heather: For me, the best marketing has been making real and genuine connections through attending conventions, library events, and engaging in social media. It’s not about selling books, it’s about finding common threads and being interested in people. Listen to others, pay it forward, and come at ma
Sylvia: Yes ma’am… you said it best; its not about selling but making those connections. Music to my ears! Why should we buy your book?
Heather: Pretty Dark Nothing is full of demons, and I don’t mean the hot fallen angel, bad boy types. These demons are the evil, hairy, sulphurous kind, bent on manipulating and destroying Quinn’s life. Throw in some romantic sparks with a psychic amnesic, an ex-boyfriend she can’t quite get over, and suspension from the cheerleading squad for failing grades, all while the demons are pushing her to the brink of madness, and I hope it’s a recipe for something darkly paranormal and not quite typical.
Sylvia: Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
Heather: I like to mix it up a little, that’s why I prefer to work on a laptop. Sometimes I write in bed, sometimes on the couch, in the garden, at the library, or in a coffee shop. As long as I have my laptop and my ipod, I can write almost anywhere.
Sylvia: Yep, that’s me, I am all over the house, but my most favorite place is on my little brown leather love sofa. It’s about 18 or so years old but in good shape. What projects are you currently working on?
Heather: I am currently working on the sequel to Pretty Dark Nothing.
What is your POWER WORD? Why this word?
Heather: My power word is CHOICE. Knowing that I have a choice in how I live my life makes me feel empowered and reminds me that my past decisions don’t have to define my future. We all have the choice to follow our dreams, to learn from our failures, and to move forward.
Sylvia: Heather, its been a pleasure. So that my readers and followers connect with you, please share your social media and book contact information.
Heather: Certainly, my links are below. Also, thank you for your time in interviewing me.
- Website: http://www.heatherlreid.com/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeatherLReid
- Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Pretty-Dark-Nothing-ebook/dp/B00C8X0BMO/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1368047292&sr=8-1