Thursday, 31 January 2013

Interview with Heather Walsh

Today we're chatting with author Heather Walsh about her novel, DENTED CANS.

Welcome to We Do Write, Heather. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Things I’ve done (in somewhat chronological order): played rugby, written novels, eaten lots of delicious food, gone scuba diving with my husband, lived on both coasts of the U.S., had two children.

I have a more official bio on my website,

How long have you been writing?

I remember when I was very young, let’s say 6 or 7, I would “narrate” my actions in my head. Something like: “She walks down the steps and heads outside. She leaps over the rock.” Not terribly exciting, but I sure thought I was dictating the Great American Novel to someone. Since then, I’ve always dabbled with writing, especially in high school and college. But I never really had the discipline or motivation to focus on it enough to justifiably call myself a writer. That changed in 2001, when I promised myself I would write every single day, even if it was just a sentence or two. And I’ve never broken that promise so far. I even wrote during the two (unmedicated) labors of my children—but don’t ask me what!

Tell us about DENTED CANS. What’s the story about?

Dented Cans is the story of sixteen-year-old Hannah Sampson, who is focused on escaping her working-class Connecticut suburb, but who also finds herself being tugged back home as she worries about her brother Ben.

Hannah’s parents inflict one last family vacation on the Sampson children, a trip that goes comically wrong almost from the get-go. Hannah is forced to confront her family’s past in Disney World, of all places, when an emotional argument prompts her parents to disclose a secret they have been keeping from the children for sixteen years. Ultimately, she must decide whether to leave her hometown and not look back, or to focus on helping her family.

How did the idea of the story come to you?

I usually don’t have a grand plan on what I am going to write. I sometimes start with a thought or character and see where it takes me. In this case, I came up with the idea of a teenage girl and a family trip to Disney, and eventually it led to Dented Cans.

Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

I do a lot of self-editing. A lot. My husband is my star editor. He’s very detail-oriented, so he finds more issues than I’d like to admit!

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Somewhere in the middle. I tend to start with a loose outline, but often find that my characters will go off on their own to places I hadn’t envisioned, and I’m just following them, trying to record it all.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

The most difficult part is when I have to cut something I love because I know it doesn’t work. Like Faulkner said, said you have to “kill your darlings.” You create these characters or scenes or even just one prefect little sentence, and you get have to lose them because they don’t serve the story. It’s tough. I’m usually a wimp and will move it to the bottom of the manuscript, under the heading Can I Use?, knowing full well that I cannot and will not. I tend to be a better assassin after I haven’t seen the text for a while and feel more removed from it.

What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

Nothing is required. I am a pretty flexible writer. I don’t have to be chained to a desk. I love to write while I take walks (it’s a talent) or when I am a train or bus, preferably seated at a window. If I am writing on the go, I love to have a Sarasa Zebra pen. I own about 50 of those guys.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?


What's the weirdest thing you've googled?

Once I had kids I think my google searches grew even nuttier. Recently I googled “how many gummy vitamins equals overdose.”

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: stereotype, misguided, and peacock.

It would be misguided to stereotype any fowl, except for the vain peacock.

Finish this sentence: If I'm not writing, I'm probably ...

Eating something. I snack all day.

Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

My husband gets the biggest shout out for getting me serious about writing again—my spark. My children for teaching me to slow down, which is never a bad thing for a writer. My mom has always been a huge supporter in all I do. My brothers for their humor. And too many friends, family, and teachers to name.

And finally, where can people find you and your book online?

Right now it’s available just about everywhere you can purchase a digital book: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, etc. The paperback is available on Amazon. But I’m planning on trying the Amazon select program soon, which would mean the digital format will only be available through Amazon. I know this is controversial, because it cuts off a large part of my audience, but I’ve seen almost all of my sales come from Amazon up to this point. So I figured I would try it for the 90 days and see how it goes.

Well, I wish you the best of luck, Heather!

1 comment:

Jeniffer said...

Great interview! I've already started the book. - Jen