Today on Wednesday Writer Spotlight we have with us Heather Haven, an award winning author, a fellow Muser and a good online friend. Heather has written short stories, novels, comedy acts, television treatments, ad copy, commercials, and two one-act plays. She even ghostwrote a book on running an employment agency, ironically, while she herself was unemployed.
Her first novel in the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, Murder is a Family Business won the Single Titles Reviewers’ Choice Award 2011. The second and third books in the series, A Wedding to Die For and Death Runs in the Family, made the finalist list for EPIC Best eBook Mystery of the Year for both 2012 and 2013 in that order.
Her stand-alone noir mystery, Death of a Clown, published by The Wives of Bath Press draws on her real-life experience with the circus. No she wasn’t in one, but she comes from a family that was. Her mother was a trapeze artist/performer and father, an elephant trainer for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.
So with no further ado, join me in welcoming Heather to Gloria’s Corner.
GO: So Heather, can you tell us what draws you to metaphor?
HH: Metaphors are such fun!! I mean, something like “His words left me feeling like a squashed eggplant lying on the side of the road” is more fun to write than “He hurt my feelings.” Don’t you agree? Of course, that really isn’t a very good choice, but we need to move on. Hmmmm. Wait a minute. Maybe a squashed kumquat. How about a squashed banana? Never mind. I’m becoming obsessed. Squashed toad. Oh, no! I hate that. Nothing happening to animals. Never mind AGAIN.
GO: Does autobiography have a role in your creative writing?
HH: Not any more than any other writer. Often my voice reflects a lot of who I am, but it’s also fun to think and write outside the box, to become somebody else rather than yourself. For me, that’s real creative writing.
GO: Describe your research and writing process.
HH: I tend to do my research along with my writing, if it’s quick and easy. If it’s just one fact, I Google it. However, if it’s something more involved, I don’t want to stop the process, so I table it for later. Also, a lot of the time, I do the research ahead. Sometimes that spurs me on to a better path than I was originally taking. Truth is often stranger than fiction. It’s a weird world we live in. Just tap into it.
GO: What advice do you have for new and aspiring writers?
HH: Write! Write, write, and write. You can’t be a writer unless you write. People often ask me how I do it, and when the first thing I say is, “I sit down at my desk and start writing around 8 a.m.,” they often respond by saying, “Oh, no, I can’t do that. I don’t have time.” Well then, pal, it’s going to be pretty tough to become a writer. You need to sit down and start writing. Anything. You don’t have to show it to anyone. It’s yours. If you use it, fine. If you toss it, fine. It’s all a learning process. Don’t be afraid. You can do it. Just sit down and WRITE. Soon you’ll have something of which you are proud. And don’t let anyone take that away from you, either. Tell yourself you can do it. Give yourself permission to write.
GO: Where do your story ideas come from, and what is your process like for developing them?
HH: I read the papers. Honestly, I get most of my ideas from articles in the newspaper. My second novel of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, A Wedding to Die For, is based on an article I read about an Egyptian family that had been pilfering artifacts from a little known Pharaoh’s tomb for decades! Over 60 family members were involved. It intrigued me no end. I moved the idea over to Mexico – made it the Aztecs – and was off and away.
GO: What are your most unusual sources of information?
HH: I listen to conversations on the train, plane, bus and in restaurants, and all public places. I love what I learn! Once, when I was very young, my mother and I were sitting in a crowded Chinese restaurant in New York City. Everyone was talking and laughing and the din was unbelievable. Suddenly, as is often the case, it went stone quiet. Everyone stopped talking in this packed Manhattan restaurant…except…this one couple. The woman turned to the man and said, “It’s not the eggroll, Harry. It’s the past six-years.” Clear as a bell. The entire restaurant began to giggle and then went up in smoke. Years later, Woody Allen used that incident in one of his movies. I can only think he must have been there that afternoon, and why not? It was a very popular restaurant. I can’t imagine that couple went from Chinese restaurant to Chinese restaurant having the same conversation.
GO: What did you not know about writing when you started out that you know now?
HH: How wonderful it makes you feel when you get it right.
GO: Where do you continue to find inspiration and ideas?
HH: Life inspires me. People inspire me. Once again, I read the paper, listen to news stories; try to absorb the world around me. We live on a very fascinating planet!!
GO: What has been your single best experience as a writer?
HH: The appreciation of the fans who take their hard-earned money and buy my books. Also, spend their precious time reading them. I am very grateful.
GO: What is the most rewarding part of being a writer?
HH: See above, Toots.
GO: Well, that brings us to the end of your visit today. Thanks for stepping in with such short notice.
HH: My pleasure!!!!!