Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Interview With An Author!

I have a special suprise, today. I had the pleasure of interviewing Heather Vogel Fredrick, and here it is :) She is an author, a very good author.

1- So, how old were you when you wanted to become a writer? Did anything inspire you?

I was probably about five or six when I suspected I wanted to become a writer -- it was around the time I realized that books didn't just magically appear on shelves, but that actual people called authors wrote them!  I was inspired by READING.  Fortunately, I was born into a family of bookworms, and I loved to read, and to be read to, and our house was filled with books. I knew for sure that I wanted to be a writer the summer I was 12.  I was at summer camp, homesick, and to cheer myself up I started writing a story in my bunk during afternoon rest hour.  Seven weeks later (it was a long summer camp!), I had a full novel. It wasn't any good, it never got published, but that didn't matter because I absolutely LOVED writing it, and my career path was set from then on.

2- What inspires you the most, both as a writer and just a person?

Something that the writer William Maxwell once called "the happiness of getting it down right."  I love the simple, sheer satisfaction of a job well done, of putting the right words in the right place to tell the story just the way it needs to be told.

3- What is the book you've had the most fun writing?

That's a really hard question!  They've all been fun -- hard work, but fun.  I really enjoyed cutting loose with the SPY MICE series, though, especially FOR YOUR PAWS ONLY.  There were times when I was actually laughing out loud as I wrote that book.

4- Do you have any advice to other aspiring writers out there?

Absolutely.  Two important words, first of all:  PATIENCE and PERSISTENCE.  Everybody's in a rush to be published, but learning the craft of writing takes time, and it takes a determination not to give up.  It's easy to get discouraged -- writing is hard work!  But so is anything worthwhile, so stick to it, keep trying, keep moving forward. 

5- How did you come up with the idea for The Mother-Daughter Book Club? What about Spy Mice?

The idea for the mother-daughter book club series actually came from my editor at the time, Alyssa Eisner Henkin.  She called me up one day out of the blue and said, "Heather, there are mother-daughter book clubs all over the place these days -- I think it would be fun if someone wrote a story about one.  How about you?"  Stunned silence on my end of the phone.  I have two BOYS!  I've never been in a mother-daughter book club, and I never will be!  But my editor recalled that I spent my middle school years in Concord, Massachusetts, where Louisa May Alcott lived when she wrote "Little Women."  She suggested I have the book club read that and -- well, I was instantly hooked.  Louisa was one of my childhood heroes!  So armed with a title and that idea, I was off and running search of characters and a plot.  And the rest is history.

As for the Spy Mice books, those came about because of a newspaper clipping I saved for many years, that told about the building of the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.  I'd always loved a book called "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" by E. L. Konigsburg, which features a couple of kids who get locked in the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, and I've always been fascinated with spies -- probably because I grew up watching "spy-fi" TV:  shows like Get Smart, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible, and The Avengers.  Originally, I thought the book would just feature human characters at the Spy Museum, but then one day those four-legged critters skittered into thought along with the words "spy mice," and once again, I was off and running...

And last but certainly not least...
6- Do you get Writer's Block, and how do you beat it?

Everybody gets stuck now and then.  I like to think of it as "Writer's Slow" instead of "block" -- it sounds less scary!  When I'm stuck, I try and do something physical, like take my dogs for a walk or swim laps (my favorite exercise) or tidy the house or bake something. It takes my mind off the problem, for one thing, and somehow frees it up to go off and tinker while I'm busy.  More often than not, a solution jogs loose.  Another strategy is to simply skip to a different part of the book and keep writing, or skip to a different project altogether and keep writing. That helps keep the juices flowing, and again, more often than not, the logjam breaks.

Thanks again, Mrs. Fredrick! :)

Thank you for interviewing me, Hannah!
Thank you!

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