Interview with Heidi Vlach
The Blog Ring of Power Presents...
Today, we have fantasy author Heidi Vlach on the Blog Ring of Power. This interview is a prime example of why I love being an author - I get to meet new people! I saw a guest post by Heidi on a friend's blog and I fell in love with the cover of Heidi's book Remedy. I plucked up my courage to cold contact Heidi (because I find approaching someone author-to-author much less scary than approaching them as a random stranger) and ask if she'd come on the BRoP and she said yes! Heidi is here to tell us a little bit about how she got into writing and about her latest book, Render.
This is part one of a four-part interview. Be sure to check out the other BRoP sites for the rest of the interview:
Part 2 @ T.W. Fendley - Thursday, June 6
Part 3 @ Emily LaBonte - Friday, June 7
Part 4 @ Sandra Ulbrich Almazon - June 10
BRoP: How long have you been writing?
Heidi: I'm definitely not going to answer in the single age digits, because I don't think my elementary school scribblings count. At that time, I only wrote so I'd look clever and receive praise. I didn't grasp the real point of sharing stories. I think my writing truly began when I wrote a Pokemon fan fiction at age 13 and shared it online. That story looked at the thoughts and feelings of a "bad guy" character, and it made people say, "Wow, I've never seen anything like that!" It was the first time I consciously attempted to compose a meaningful, surprising, enlightening story and I think that's what writing fiction is supposed to be.
BRoP: When and why did you begin writing?
Heidi: I saw people writing fanfiction and I thought it was great. Here were fans of a creative franchise, playing with ideas and talking about them — for pure enjoyment, not money or endorsement deals. Anyone could participate. I think a bunch of kids writing fanfic together was a more inspiring experience for me than reading the "real books" in the library. Any creative discussion worth having should be an open discussion.
BRoP: Tell us about your early works—what was the first thing you ever wrote?
Heidi: The first original thing I wrote was a predecessor of my Aligare world, a manuscript called Shades. It was one of those clumsy first fantasy novels where some characters randomly journey across the land to earn some sacred magical objects — but to my credit, I finished it and it came in under 125k words! I submitted that manuscript to a very few publishers and agents, before I figured out that it was too flawed to be worth anyone's time, including mine.
BRoP: When did you first consider yourself a professional writer?
Heidi: It's not a simple distinction for a self-publisher, that's for sure. But I figure that if a start-up business owner is a "real" business owner the first day they open their doors to the public, how is a self-publisher any less valid? I've sort of felt like a professional since I made the decision to self-publish my first book, Remedy. Not the kind of professional who knows everything and has seen it all, but, y'know. I'm working on that.
BRoP: What books have most influenced your life?
Heidi: I've never really imprinted on specific books. Reading was absolutely part of my life as a child and a teenager, but I don't really remember much of what I read. It's just part of the stew of my life experience.
I mainly draw my inspiration from the fact that weird books(/movies/games/ideas) can break into the public consciousness at any time. I model my work on the fact that no one thought Watership Down or Jonathan Livingston Seagull would sell, never mind sell well. But it turned out that people loved those stories. That's what I'm trying to emulate. Also, Harry Potter doesn't fit my personal tastes but I have a great respect for that series — because of J.K. Rowling's first book being such a dark horse and because I think she came at writing with the right attitude.
BRoP: What genre do you write?
Heidi: Fantasy. I love fantasy's way of making the intangible real. Magic and emotion and determination become these real forces that can shape lives, instead of just being abstract ideas. I do incorporate science into my work — such as using bird evolution as a basis for dragon physiology — but the science is never front and center. It's a background note that lends credibility to the magical stuff (I hope!).
BRoP: What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?
Heidi: I really like questions of identity. Having a sense of "I" is what makes a person a person, and there are so many possible ways to define what "I" can be. In particular, I love the quandary of what a name means and how a person's name affects them.
BRoP: If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
Heidi: I graduated chef training and dabbled in professional cooking for a bit. If writing wasn't my creative career, I'd probably turn back to cooking as my way of creating works for people to enjoy. Maybe I'd see about starting a little restaurant, some comfortable hole-in-the-wall where everything is made from scratch.
BRoP: What format is your book available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)?
Heidi: My books are available in ebook and print-on-demand paperback. All the buying options are listed on the Books section of my blog: http://heidicvlach.wordpress.com/books/
Where can readers can stalk you:
Website | Tumblr | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Amazon Author Page | Smashwords
REMEDY: After a century of mining, Peregrine is tired. He is an older avian who can't hear a simple conversation for himself -- he relies on the help of keen-eared weasel assistants, whom he raises like his own children. But with his two hundred year lifespan, Peregrine has buried four of his dear companions and he will outlive Tillian as well. Convinced that he is robbing Tillian of her short life, Peregrine resolves to change his profession. He promises himself that he'll set his earferrin free. The same day Peregrine takes wing for a messenger job, Rose's village faces an epidemic. Dozens of insect people are showing symptoms of gripthia -- and without enough healing magic, they will die. Young and recently hurried into her mage position, Rose can't save her village alone. She sends out a plea for other races to lend their hands. And because Tillian wants to help, Peregrine leaves his other half behind sooner than he ever planned. While innocent people grow sicker, Peregrine wonders whether he can live for himself, whether Tillian wants to live without him, and whether Rose and her villagers will live at all.
RENDER: Rue may be young, but she can see that her people have laid poor plans. The aemet race isn't known for rash choices — and yet Rue now lives in a new mountain village that can hardly feed itself. Rue's father left to seek otherkind aid and, years later, has not returned. Then the wolf attacks begin. Menaced by the forest they revere, fearful to set foot outside their homes, the people of Aloftway village look to Rue and her rumoured luck.
But Rue is sick of relying on such inane things as luck. With her chemistry skill, her analytical mind and a guard dog by her side, she begins searching for trade resources and possible solutions. She talks local recluse Felixi down from the sky: he is a korvi, a hunter of wild game who can keep Aloftway's guard dogs fed. And as the wolves grow bolder, Rue suspects that Felixi knows more about the attacks than he is willing to share.
Render is part of the Stories of Aligare, a fantasy series set in a magical, human-free world. Each book is a stand-alone work.
The Blog Ring of Power (BRoP) is a consortium of five speculative fiction writers who have banded together to bring you highlights from the current speculative fiction market--news, reviews, and interviews with speculative fiction authors--with an emphasis on small-press and self-published authors. So grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and relax. Have we got a story for you...