WiDo Publishing Interview with
Tamara Hart Heiner
February 1, 2010
WiDo Publishing: What kind of writer are you ie. Where do you get your ideas? What is your inspiration? Do you find any recurring themes in your writing?
Tamara Hart Heiner: I get my ideas from just about everywhere. Often I'll wake up from a dream with a strong feeling or emotional connection to characters in my dreams. Not so much the dream sequence which is usually quite silly. But sometimes, the people feel so real that I want to write about them. I'm also quite inspired by songs. Whether whimsical or romantic, I start picturing what kind of movie they would be the soundtrack to. That always gets my mind working. And of course, I write from experience. I've had so many interesting things happen to me, if I put it all in one novel, I'm sure my readers would roll their eyes and say, “Yeah, right, this can't all happen to one person.” So it gives me an infinite number of books to write! One recurring theme I notice is that of birth, or rebirth. It can be in a literal sense, as in a pregnancy, or a figurative sense, as in a total change of heart. Sometimes both are used.
WP: When did you start writing? How long have you wanted to be a writer?
Heiner: I attempted my first novel at age 9. I think I got the first three chapters done. I never really thought that I wanted to be a writer. I just enjoyed writing. I realized that I should pursue writing during my senior year of high school. I was taking a psychology class and my second AP English class. Honestly, I was taking the AP classes to get those credits out of the way so I wouldn't need to take English in college. I was taking psychology because that's what I wanted to mahor in (I'd already declared it at Brigham Young University). I excelled in the class, having the highest grade at the end of the semester. But I got a very strong feeling that I wasn't supposed to major in psychology. I had done very well in my AP English class the previous year, and so I decided to major in English. It felt right.
It wasn't until I had my first child and quit my full-time job that I decided I wanted to be a writer. It's something I can do while I have little ones (as long as I'm not sleeping!), and since I already don't work, any income that comes from writing is purely beneficial.
WP: What are your passions and hobbies?
Heiner: My absolute favorite thing to do (besides writing) is cooking. I love it. I also enjoy scrapbooking. I detest housework.
WP: What do you feel your strengths and weaknesses are as a writer?
Heiner: I really don't know. Grammar, obviously, is a strength, but that's learned (anyone can learn it). Even though high school was more than a decade ago, I remember it very clearly. Perhaps because I kept a daily journal (I have 17 journals just from 9th to 12th grade!) that I frequently refer to. Never in my life did I feel so many strong and conflicting emotions. I think one of my strengths is capturing the feelings of a teenager. Of course, one of my weaknesses is that as a teenager, I often didn't understand the feelings of those around me. So the feelings I capture are, more often, the feelings of myself as a teenager. Another big weakness of mine is setting. I'm all about action and dialogue and sometimes forget to put any setting in!
WP: Who is your favorite protagonist and who is your favorite villain in Perilous?
Heiner: My favorite protagonist is Jaci, the main character. I can't help but see so much of myself in her. She relies a lot on her feelings, and really cares about people. My favorite villain is The Hand. We cut his point of view from the novel, but I like him because he's very three-dimensional. He feels bad for what he does and manages to rationalize away his guilt, seeing himself as a good guy stuck up a creek.
WP: What is you favorite book or books?
Heiner: My favorite book is A Rustle in the Grass by Robin Hawdon. There is simply no other book like it.
WP: Why did you decide to submit your manuscript to Wido?
Heiner: After making some drastic changes to my manuscript, I started researching all the LDS publishers available. Quite a few popped up since the last time I had searched a few years ago, WiDo being on of them. I made plans to submit to all of them, but I remember as I looked over WiDo's website, I got that feeling: the one that says, “This is the one.” I just knew it was. I submitted to the others anyway (lack of faith?), but received a contract from WiDo before I'd even heard back from the others.