Welcome to Heidi C. Vlach, this week’s Blog Ring of Power guest. Heidi is a Canadian chef graduate who didn’t care much for the high-stress kitchen life. Her knowledge of food and culture is now used for home cooking, being an overqualified waitress and fantasy world-building. Heidi currently shares an apartment with her (male) best friend, two cats and far too many video games.
Part 1 @ Terri– June 5
Part 3 @ Emily – June 7
Part 4 @ Sandra – June 8
Part 5 @ Dean – June 9
PART 2: THE WRITING LIFE
What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine? Do you use pen and paper or computer? Work at home or at the library/Starbucks, etc. I don’t have a particular routine, I just look for blocks of time and seize them. That school of thought where an author should wake up at 5 AM on the dot every day to write? Ugh, I just don’t do that. Not the least of which because I’m a nocturnal creature and sometimes I’m just going to bed until 5 AM!
I vary my writing location between my kitchen table, the library, and coffee shops/restaurants. Most of my writing and structural work happens on my Macbook Air, in the program Scrivener, but I’m not super-organized. There are dozens of random .txt files with worldbuilding notes. My apartment is littered with pencil drawings and scribbled notes-to-self.
How do you balance writing with other aspects of your life? I’m happily single, so my time is mostly my own. My day job is waitressing, so that has the benefit of relatively short working hours — plus, my work forces me to interact with lots of acquaintances and strangers. I’m an introvert and I find social activity tiring sometimes, but an author can’t write people unless they’re familiar with people.
How much time per day do you spend on your writing? It varies. Some days I feel into it — really connected with the story I’m currently telling — and I’ll write for 3 or 4 hours. Sometimes I take a few days off to refuel my brain with other stuff.
What has been the most surprising reaction to something you’ve written? I think I was most surprised by the book reviewer who said that Remedy made her cry. I mean, I cry over fiction all the time and I find it a reasonable reaction. But I was still shocked and flattered that I managed to evoke that kind of emotion in someone else!
What is the strongest criticism you’ve ever received as an author? The best compliment?
The strongest criticism I’ve ever received is probably that “nothing happens” in my writing. That comes up fairly often with Remedy, since Remedy is about personal journeys made during a plague outbreak. Because I didn’t use the old “hero finds a cure” model you usually see in fantasy plague stories, the disease outbreak does its damage and then peters out, and life moves on. So if you don’t consider the characters’ emotional growth to be “anything happening”, then, well, no. Nothing much happens. But I think that’s such an unfortunate way to interpret a story. It’s like someone looking at works of art in a museum and saying, “It’s just paint splattered on a canvas, what’s the big deal?”
The best compliment I’ve ever received was from a fellow local writer who had just read my first 2 books, Remedy and Ravel. Someone asked her who her favourite Aligare character was, and she paused, thought about it, and decided, “All of them.” That really made me happy. I strive to create likeable characters, people you’d actually want to meet and have a beer with.
Other than your family, what has been your greatest source of support? I’ve found random strangers in my daily life to be surprisingly encouraging. Maybe it’s partly because I’m young and I’m quick to describe my novel writing as a self-started career (I get a lot of, “Wow, multiple books at your age!”). But still, most people seem delighted to find out that they’re talking to an author of fantasy books. It always lifts my spirits when some person I don’t even know gives me a smile and wishes me success.
How do you deal with rejection and/or negative reviews? I try to rationalize why the person didn’t like it. No one likes everything, so if I figure out why my piece didn’t match the person’s tastes, it doesn’t seem like so much of a personal jab. If a reader prefers action and my book was never meant to be action-packed? Well, no hard feelings. It’s more difficult to deal with when a negative review attacks the author instead of the piece of writing, or when the review is really ignorant (e.g. insisting that no self-respecting adult reads stories about “talking animals”). But everyone has an opinion and I do my best to respect that.
What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)? 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/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorHeidiCVlach