Today I'm happy to be interviewing fellow writer and blogger Heidi Grace Salzman!
Heidi Grace Salzman is a Christian YA writer. She loves writing, blogging, talking with friends, attending writing conferences, reading almost any genre, baking, swimming, throwing knives, and analyzing plots. She lives in windy, hot Texas with her three sisters and parents. She credits all her writing skill to her Savior Jesus Christ. She blogs at wielderofwords.blogspot.com.
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1. (Heidi P.) Some differences and similarities you see between the three major forms of storytelling—literature, music, and film?
(Heidi S.) Well, books have the advantage of letting you into the character’s thoughts, emotions, and hidden agendas. We also are seeing the world through the character’s eyes. In movies we see the world through our emotions, but we can hear and experience the world better than in a book. Film also has the advantage of showing us exactly what the characters look like. Movies take us on a journey that we can’t put down and rest from as you could with a book. It builds more tension in that way, more than a book does. I’m not sure about music . . . Although, it really adds to the emotion in movies. If you removed the music from movies, it would lose a lot of power.
2. How have you seen those three mesh together in your own creative process?
Movies help me with my characters and setting. I always imagine my book as a movie in my mind and then write whatever I feel, smell, see, etc. Books help me hone my own voice and show me what I don’t like and how I can improve as a writer. They also help me be more creative and refresh me. I love listening to soundtracks when I write because anything in the music may bring a surprise about in my writing. It also helps set the mood for the scene. Music helps a lot for action scenes.
3. When and how did you first begin writing?
I began writing when I was 16. (I even know the date. ;) January 2, 2012.) Before that, I hated anything that had to do with books. I detested reading and I always had something better to do. Then I read the Viking Quest series and I knew I wanted to become a writer.
4. What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a novella, which is the first book in a series I’m planning. I don’t have a title right now since I just started the rough draft, so for right now I’m calling it The Radley Collins series. (Radley is the protagonist.) It’s an adventure/mystery series like The Hardy Boys. I’m really excited about this novella. This is the first book in years that I’ve felt certain I’ll finish.
5. Particular author/s who have influenced you?
Well, Lois Walfrid Johnson who wrote The Viking Quest series, Chuck Black whose sword fights I’ve studied in order to write my own (I read all of them and wrote down each adverb he uses in his fights), K.M. Weiland, and of course Daniel Schwabauer who developed the One Year Adventure Novel (OYAN) curriculum.
6. Is there a “non-writing” activity that shapes your writing?
Really, doing anything helps shape my writing. When I’m doing chores (or other things), I often describe the surrounding area or my actions as if I was writing it. I think it helps strengthen my perception of details and ability to write good setting.
7. Your opinion on the advantages and disadvantages of digital books?
A good advantage of digital books would be space. You can have hundreds of books on one slim, eBook reader. But that’s not nearly as impressive as a room stocked with books. I also think digital books have the disadvantage in the reading experience. You can’t feel the book, smell it, flip through it . . . It’s just not the same and I think I will always prefer paper books to digital. ;)
8. Do you ever do graphic design to help with your writing?
No. I’m a terrible artist on and off the computer. A few times I made a rough outline of a castle or house, but nothing more.
9. Do you outline? If so, in a general way or very detailed?
I do outline. I’ve discovered that it is absolutely vital to writing. I used to be pretty general with my outlines, but as I’ve grown as a writer, I write more detailed outlines. With my Radley Collins book I did a very detailed outline using K.M. Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel as a guide. The book was so thorough that I finished my outline 18 days before my deadline. I also spotted huge plot holes that would have discouraged me later on.
10. Do you work on multiple projects at once?
No. I never have and I probably never will unless I’m in a tight fix. If I focus on even just two projects, neither will be thoroughly done.
11. Do you edit as you write?
It depends on the book I’m writing. If I’m writing an epic, yes, I do a 50 page edit, but with the Radley Collins novella, I’m going to edit after the book is completed. However, because I’m a perfectionist, I go over my chapters about three times before I move to the next. (It’s awful, I know.)
12. Certain themes you see surfacing and resurfacing in your work?
In almost every book I write, a theme on self-sacrifice or the power of love pops up. I’m not sure why I always target that theme in particular . . . I suppose because it’s something I want to remind myself of.
13. A particular aspect of writing you struggle with or a challenge you’ve overcome?
I struggle with actually finishing a book. Which is obviously a big problem for a writer. I have finished three whole novels and several short stories (one of which I've published). But for the past two years, I’ve had trouble finding a story good enough or the motivation to finish it.
14. How do you deal with feedback—particularly negative feedback?
When I get feedback—especially negative—I try not to talk to the person for a little while. If it’s an email I don’t reply for a couple days. I take my writing very personally, especially since I put a lot of my own emotions and experiences into my work. When people insult it or even gently suggest a better way to word sentence, I take that to mean they don’t like me. That is one thing I really need to overcome. I know I’m way too sensitive towards critiques.
15. One thing you’ve learned from other writers?
That’s a hard question . . . I’ve learned a lot. But one main thing would be to study the craft: Read all you can about writing, write all you can, get critiqued, critique others, talk to other writers, go to writing conferences. The more you learn, the better you’ll become.
16. A helpful nonfiction book or website?
K.M. Weiland definitely has one of the best writer’s blogs out there. Her books on outlining and structuring your novels are excellent as well. Emily Tjaden also has a wonderful blog with tons of advice. I love her style and how easy it is to grasp the concepts she’s talking about. Nonfiction books would be Outlining Your Novel, The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction, Writing Active Setting books one, two, and three.
17. What do you consider one of the single most important things to remember (i.e. an attitude or technique)?
I think the most important thing to remember is that you can do this. Even if your novel is a flop you can still make it good. It’s okay to stop writing for a while and cry out your frustration, but you have to get back to work and try again. I’ve fallen many times in my writing journey, but I remembered that I had to get on my feet and roll up my sleeves. When I did that, I found a little gem of a novella. I might not have found it if I had given up when I wanted to.
18. A word of encouragement for fellow writers?
Pretty much what I said above . . . Just keep on going and don’t give up. If this is what you really want, don’t trade it in for something else. Authors can make it in this world. But they have to start as beginners. You have to work to get there. So keep on working. :)
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