How did you start your writing career?
One summer, at Girl Scout Camp, we were on a primitive campout. Which meant we’d left the main camp, where we slept in wood-floor tents and ate meals in a lodge, to rough it for a few days, sleeping in pup tents and cooking our meals over open fires. I can’t remember the details of the conflict, but our group of thirteen-year-old girls—or maybe we were twelve… or fourteen (it was so long ago!)—had had a huge blowout while we were setting up our tents. Everyone was stalking around glaring, slamming tent stakes into the ground.
After I’d set up my tent with my buddy, I drifted off from the group, and sat on the bank of the river our campsite was near. To deal with my own hot emotions—that I had no ability to voice—I composed my first poem.
Something along the line of… “we’re all like rivers, born in such beauty and mystery—and then a beer can floats by…”
It worked as a way to deal with my turbulent emotions, and I suppose I was hooked.
What is the hardest part of writing your books?
The first draft is always the hardest part for me. I have days where the writing flows, but just as often, I face the blank page with a kind of horror. When the first draft of anything I write is done, I always feel like throwing a party.
Where do you research for your books?
The internet, the library, my memory, my dreams, my unconscious… wherever I am at the moment.
Does your significant other read your stuff?
My significant other, who is my husband, is my first reader. He’s much more logical and attuned to plot than I am. So, he always does the first read, and has the dubious task of telling me where I’ve come up short. Which I do. Often. Then we have long discussions, as he explains that nothing actually happened…
Then I go off, and make sure something happens!
Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
Through the years, I’ve had many different writing partners and beta readers. For me, it’s been the critical process in my writing journey. Since I’m not formally trained, the input from other readers—especially, other writers—has always improved my writing. I’ve attended workshop classes, had one-on-one partnerships, have been part of an on-line workshop group, and now rely heavily on beta readers.
Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you come up with it?
Heidi Garrett is actually my pen name. However, I’ve used it online so deeply, and for so long, that it’s now as much of my identity as my other name. When I was young, I fell in love with the story of the Swiss orphan, Heidi, who lived in the Alps with her stern grandfather. One of my aunts told me that Heidi was my mother’s first choice for my name. However, my paternal grandmother talked her out of it—”It sounds like a German milk cow.” When I found out, I wished my mother hadn’t capitulated, so I took Heidi for my pen name. Garrett is also from my mother’s side of the family. The Garretts are great story tellers. Any storytelling ability that I have, comes from them. So my pen name, Heidi Garrett, is an homage to my mother and her family.
What book are you reading now?
After reading Jane Eyre earlier this year, I decided to try Wuthering Heights.
What are your favorite TV shows?
The recently completed series, Dexter, on Showtime, and Bones, are probably my two most favorites. However, I’m really enjoying the second season of Elementary, and The Blacklist and Sleepy Hollow are two of my new favorites this season.
What group did you hang out with in high school?
Groups are so not my thing. Although I had friends from all kind of groups—band nerds, druggies, cheerleaders, honor students, bad boys, drop outs, teacher’s pets—I always hung out on the fringes. I’ve always been the most comfortable at intersections, thresholds, and borders, it’s the same with groups—I’m always on the edge.
After I graduated from college, I loved to organize eclectic happy hours in my hometown. I’d invite my friends from all the different high school groups, and—all grown up—we’d have the most amazing parties.
When's the last time you played that musical instrument?
The last time I sat down at my piano was a few years ago. It’s in my living room, and sometimes, I think, I need to play something—at least my Hanon/scale exercises. Unfortunately, it’s still gathering dust.
What would we find under your bed?
Several cat beds—and possibly—a cat.
Beatles or Monkees? Why?
Monkees. My older sister had claimed the Beatles, and I loved to watch the Monkees TV show! But… I was a fan of Peter, the dork, lol!
If I came to visit early in the morning would you impress me as being more like a chirpy bird or a grumpy bear?
Definitely, a grumpy bear. I love to get up early, to experience the peace and quiet of early day, so if you came to visit, and interrupted that, yes, I’d probably be a bit put out!
What one word best describes you?
Have any of your characters been modeled after yourself?
The main character, in the three short original fairy tales that introduce the Once Upon a Time Today collection, is modeled after me.
A while back, a friend told me, “Write a book about the story of your life,” and I’ve actually written my story, to-date, in many different ways—a first novel that’s buried deep, my songs… However, my story, as told in the three fairy tales, that introduce the Once Upon a Time Today collection, is the most enjoyable and concentrated version. Although, I confess, there are fictionalizations and embellisments—conflations and deletions…
Do you have a favorite quote, quip, or saying? What is it?
These are the three sayings that I will catch myself saying, or thinking, with regularity:
All is not lost.
The truth will set you free.
To thine own self be true.
If you could exchange lives with any of your characters for a day which character would you choose and why?
Melia. I would love to be a half-faerie who could cross back and forth between the Mortal and Enchanted worlds!
Heidi Garrett is the author of the contemporary fairytale novella collection, Once Upon a Time Today. In these stand-alone retellings of popular and obscure fairy tales, adult characters navigate the deep woods of the modern landscape to find their Happily Ever Afters.
She is also the author of The Queen of the Realm of Faerie series, a fairy tale/high fantasy mashup about a young half-faerie, half mortal woman who must save both the Enchanted and Mortal Worlds.
Heidi was born in Texas, and in an attempt to reside in as many cities in that state as she could, made it to Houston, Lubbock, Austin, and El Paso. She also spent a decade in southern California, but was disappointed to discover it seldom rains there. Now Heidi lives in Eastern Washington state where she's content experiencing the four seasons with her husband, their two cats, her laptop, and her Kindle.
Being from the South, she often contemplates the magic of snow and hopes to remind readers that: Once Upon A Time You Lived in an Enchanted World Too…
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