Interview with Fantastic Heather Hayden

This month, I am thrilled to introduce you to Heather Hayden!

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Though a part-time editor by day, Heather Hayden’s not-so-secret identity is that of a writer—at night she pours heart and soul into science fiction and fantasy novels. In March 2015 she published her first novella, Augment, a YA science fiction story filled with excitement, danger, and the strength of friendship. She immediately began work on its sequel, Upgrade, which continues the adventures of Viki, a girl who loves to run, and her friend Halle, an AI. Her latest release is a short story “Beneath His Skin,” which is part of an anthology her writer’s group put together called From the Stories of Old: A Collection of Fairy Tale Retellings. You can learn more about Heather and her stories through her blog and her Twitter, both of which consist of equal amounts of writerly things and random stuff she’s interested in.

Immy: Alright, I’m psyched for this interview. So let’s get straight to it! Always a burning question on my mind, since it touches on one of my big writer’s insecurities. How much research do you do?

Heather: Sometimes, not enough. Other times, too much. It really depends on what I’m working on. I write science fiction and fantasy; the latter tends to require less research and more imagination, while the former tends to require more research and controlled imagination (I try to keep the science somewhat realistic in my science fiction stories. Sometimes a little stretching of physics is needed, though!)

Immy: Stretching of physics. I love that! Research is one of the hardest parts for me. What is the hardest thing about writing for you?

Heather: I’d say editing, but technically that’s an entirely different kettle of fish. So I’m going to say the sitting down and writing part. I tend to work on bursts of inspiration for the most part, so days or even weeks might pass before a story has anything added to it. Granted, those bursts are usually pretty big—at least several thousand words, if not more—but I know that’s not going to hold up in the long run, so I’m working at writing a bit every day, inspiration or no.

Immy: I write a lot like that, too. Ten thousand words might pour out in a weekend, but then not much for a couple weeks. It’s frustrating when I’m on a deadline, but man, those spurts feel so good! Tell us about your style. Do you write in a specific tense or point-of-view? If so, is there a reason for it?

Heather: Most of my stories are written in third person, though, surprisingly, my first published novella, Augment, was mainly written in first person. I generally go with whatever best fits the story—usually by the time I’m a few chapters into a novel, I know what point-of-view is needed. As for tense, I’d say that probably 98% of my stories are written in past tense. I’m not as big a fan of present tense, but I do use it when the story calls for it. And I certainly can’t explain why I choose what I do in technical terms! All I can say is I have a gut feeling, and go with it.

Immy: So you’re very organic in your POV. Does that carry through for the whole novel? Do you prefer working to an outline or plot, or do you just see where an idea takes you?

Heather: One pantser, reporting for duty! I’ve tried plotting before, and I do sometimes follow a loose outline, but for the most part I just sit down and follow where the story goes. It’s more exciting that way, and when I’m excited about what I’m writing, my muse is much more inspired.

Immy: Ha! Pantsing can be so dangerous though! And when you aren’t writing? What is your favorite movie and why?

Heather: You might as well ask me what’s my favorite book! I love science fiction, especially anything pertaining to robots or AI (except the movie A.I., which is heart-breaking), so some days I might answer I, Robot or Real Steel or even Transformers if I’m feeling nostalgic. (Yes, I know how bad the live-action Transformers movies are. However, they did introduce me to my favorite fandom, so I’ll always have a soft spot for them. Only the first three, though. Four didn’t happen.)

In the realm of animation, Studio Ghibli pretty much walks away with the gold, silver, and bronze metals. I love Castle in the Sky, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Howl’s Moving Castle, and even Spirited Away has grown on me since I first saw it. Not to mention all of their other amazing movies. Again, hard to pick one specifically as a favorite, but I’m a sucker for anything with beautiful animation and a good story.

Immy: My answers change by the day too. It’s too hard to choose just one! Great choices though. Thank you so much Heather! It’s been so fun chatting with you!