Tuesday, September 13, 2011

with Kat Heckenbach

Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft, Kat!
People talk about life before children—what was your life before writing?

Actually, my life before writing was all about my children, so that’s kind of an odd comparison for me :). I homeschool, so my days were filled with lesson plans and field trips, going to the library, and a lot of let the dog in, let the dog out. These days, they are still filled with that stuff, but now writing is squeezed in, too.

Before I started on my novel, writing was never something I thought about—not that I was aware of. I know that sounds strange, but my desire to write was something I had sort of hidden from myself. My husband saw it, though. He said to me a couple of times, “If you want to write a book I’ll be supportive.” I didn’t know why he was saying that to me until I went to Barnes & Noble one day and memories flooded back. Mainly me as a teen trying to write a novel and becoming increasingly frustrated. I had always been an artist, and I ended up majoring in Biology in college because I’m a total science geek as well. But a writer? I didn’t think I had it in me.

When it finally sank in that writing a novel was still something I wanted to do, I just sat down and started. No outline, no plan. I told myself that if I was meant for it, the words would come. And they did. The first chapter of Finding Angel emerged that day. It has, of course, been completely rewritten, but the bones are still the same.

What book have you recently enjoyed reading?
Just one? Really? Oh, wow…I don’t think I can do that. I am a complete Harry Potter fanatic. I also love books by Cornelia Funke and Madeline L’Engle, and gobs of other authors of YA and teen fantasy. I do read plenty of adult fantasy, and I wander from my preferred genres now and then as well.

How about this—I’ll tell you a couple of (ok, several) books that recently surprised me with their awesomeness:
A Star Curiously Singing, by Kerry Neitz. Kerry’s voice is unmatched by any other author I’ve read.
Havah by Tosca Lee gave me a whole new perspective on Eve.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss—any book that can go on for over 700 pages and make me wish it had been longer ranks at the top of my list for amazing writing.
Seabird by Sherry Thompson. Young Adult with a classic fantasy feel, but such originality of world. Absolutely lovely.

And I have to say the books published by Splashdown Books, of course, too. I know, you can’t assume I’m not biased, but I wanted to be taken by Splashdown for quite a while before I landed a contract there because I was so blown away by titles like The Muse by Fred Warren and The Duke’s Handmaid by Caprice Hokstad.

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
I’m not sure how to answer without just naming the kind of music I like. I used to call myself “punk” when I was younger, but I was really more of a new-wave/industrial/goth mix. (“Punk” was just easier to say.) I think that probably still describes me, though. A little on the dark side. Certainly not top-40 or pop—I’m not at all mainstream. But there is some classic in me—I love acoustic guitar and folk music, but even that kind of stuff I tend toward the more haunting songs. (No one has ever called me “perky”—hehe.)

If you were to find a purple polka-dotted monster in your kitchen one morning, how would you respond?
I would probably assume the kids had been painting the dog.

Tell us about one of your favorite memories or moments in your life.
Well, if we’re talking long-ago memories, it’s sitting outside on a tree exactly like the one I describe in Finding Angel. It was my favorite place to be, the spot where I felt the most peace. I would sit out there and read or listen to music for hours. I know that’s not one memory, but that’s what I collectively remember most about my childhood. More recently—the quiet moments I have with my kids, watching movies and such. Or those times when my kids were tiny babies and they’d fall asleep lying on my chest. That was heaven :).

What's one of your dreaded things to do?
Cooking. I hate it with a passion. And everything that goes along with it. Grocery shopping, planning meals, remembering to defrost things. Bleh. I’ve tried all sorts of cookbooks to try to inspire myself, but nothing has worked. Fortunately my daughter loves to cook, so as soon as she is old enough I will relinquish the entire kitchen to her. I am SO looking forward to that day!

What is the Lord teaching you, or recently taught you?
I think most of the challenges I’ve faced in recent years—both writing and personally—have had to do with learning to trust Him and at the same time gaining confidence in myself. I was really disappointed when my manuscript didn’t wow agents in the beginning, but back then I had a misguided idea about what being an author is really about. I thought it was still like the old days of a writer being “the eccentric recluse.”

I’ve had to learn to come out of my shell in order to market myself, submit short stories, etc. Blogging, speaking at local writers groups, being interviewed by other writers and local newspapers—all of those things have helped me develop at a pace that’s right for me. I believe God knew my pace, and He kept me moving only as fast as I was ready for. When I got over my disappointment at not selling my manuscript quickly, I realized God was making me stronger by making me wait and learn.

And learn, I have. I’ve had time to research different modes of publishing, and I’ve worked closely with Grace Bridges from Splashdown on the other books she’s published, be it artwork, back cover blurbs, editing, whatever. It’s a learning experience I would have never had if my manuscript had sold immediately.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
At this point, I don’t have another book set to come out. Finding Angel just released. But I have a sequel in progress, about halfway done. The tentative title for that is Seeking Unseen. In that book, Angel will be a couple of years older, and I’ll be pulling in a few of the characters who stood on the sidelines in the first novel.

A third book in the series is in my head as a concept only, and a fourth book will be a prequel of sorts. I’ve started that already. It was supposed to be a short story companion to Finding Angel—I have several of those published in various magazines and anthologies already—but at about 4,000 words I realized it was going to have to be another novel in order to tell the tale.

I have another, completely unrelated novel, in progress as well. It’s tentatively titled Relent, and it falls under the umbrella of paranormal thriller. My short horror story “Willing Blood,” which won Editor’s Choice at The Absent Willow Review, involves three characters I really like. I decided to, um, recycle them and write an entire novel around them. They are essentially the same in characteristic, but I’ve completely changed their situation and relationships to each other. I’ve got a ways to go on that one. You can read “Willing Blood” at www.AbsentWillowReview.com/archives/willing-blood to get an idea, but the book looks to be considerably different.

You can purchase Finding Angel from Amazon.

Kat is giving away an eBook copy of Finding Angel. To be entered in the ebook giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the ebook giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.


Anonymous said...

Great interview - I will follow anyone who loves to write and hates to cook - ahhh, Kat's a kindred spirit!

Suzanne said...

Thank you for sharing, Kat. It's always fun to get to know authors through interviews like this.

Jeff Chapman said...

Loved the comment about the kids painting the dog. I suspect your dog will soon be changing its spots. : )

Amy said...

Great interview. You are one busy woman. I also homeshcool and we just got a new puppy so I am constantly saying let the dog out/in too.

sweetdarknectar at gmail dot com

Kat Heckenbach said...

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by! Glad you enjoyed the interview--and glad to see I have some homeschooling, cooking-hating kindred spirits out there :). And the kids painting the dog is something that would not surprise me at all....

Tracy Smith said...

LOL I can totally relate to the line about let the dog out, let the dog in. That's all I get done.

Wold love the chance to win this book. Thank you for hosting this giveaway.

countrysunset40 (at) aol dot com

Caprice Hokstad said...

I hate cooking too, but my daughter doesn't want to take it over and my oldest son only makes Ramen noodles. I am doomed for life.

Thanks for mentioning me. I should have checked your interview sooner and I would have seen that! I'm honored.

cfvici at aol dot com

Kat Heckenbach said...

And I should have checked back here sooner to see that you checked in here, Caprice :). You are most welcome!

Tracy, thanks for stopping by and entering!

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