A special edition of ask the author anything with Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel, this time centered around writer’s rituals as per asked my a reader.
If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why?
– Oh, this truly is a difficult question for me! As an inquisitive personality type, limiting to just three is a quite the task. Perhaps the first I’d start out with is God himself. That’d answer a great deal of my questions over the years about humanity! As for the next two, I’d have to say Ronald Reagan and Robert Ludlum. Robert Ludlum because the Bourne Identity was one of my favorite books that inspired me as a writer and Ronald Reagan for a great multitude of reasons about our world as it stands in the now.
How do you think your writing style has changed over the years?
For the better, I hope! Humor aside, I firmly believe that the more a person writes over time, the better they become. You start to see patterns or areas where you need to improve, so you become more proficient at story telling. In particular, I myself noticed that I favored certain words too much and lacked a certain sense of urgency at times when I was in my first two years of writing. When it was pointed out to me, I went to work on it and, in turn, improved a great deal.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
It takes some time to realize it thereafter, but I feel that my real life makes it into my novels all the time. For example, I realized that one of the scenes in War Machine (science fiction series) was actually a reflection of a serious operation I had. *SPOILER* Sierrenna was strapped to a table, another character preparing to torture her. The descriptions I wrote reflected the way I felt when I myself was going under the knife. But it took me years to realize the connection.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I read all my reviews. Everyone can learn something from their critics, even if it is just that the internet is sometimes a dark place where trolls hang out from time to time. From my reviews, I can see what people enjoy and what they do not. Or at worst, I learn that they do not read very well at all. The only one star review I have ever gotten was a complaint because the piece in question was not a full book, even though the buy page itself read that it was just a short story that they were purchasing and stated directly in the title. Sometimes keeping a sense of humor about yourself and your reviewers truly does help!
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Remembering that the thought process in many cases can be entirely different than yours is helpful. A man tends to think about his obstacles differently than a woman and vice versa. Remembering that while plotting is very helpful.
What inspired you to start writing? How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing on and off since I was a toddler, but never truly took it seriously until my late teens. So, in a broad sense, I suppose I could say I have been writing my whole life. On a more professional scale, a little over a decade.
Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?
One helpful tip is to remember that your keyboard is not judging you. YOU are judging you. A first draft is most always going to stink, even for professional novelists. “The first draft is to tell yourself the story” is a quote by Terry Pratchett. I agree with it. Every draft thereafter is to tell the story to your reader and to refine the writing itself. There may be many drafts. Or on contrast, there may be a few. The trick is to keep at it, even when your internal critic is being particularly brutal.
How do you feel when people recognize you in public and appreciate your work?
Elated! One of my favorite things to do is discuss their thoughts about the story or character in question. Sometimes they reveal things that I myself missed. One reader insisted that I foreshadowed my own tale in an instance with a particular sentence. After speaking with her, I realized she was indeed right! It did foreshadow another plot point I hadn’t even thought of.
Questions were submitted anonymously by readers. Thanks for reading! If you have a question for me, feel free to comment below.
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