TTBF Author Interview (2)


TTBF Interview with Heidi Heilig

by Colleen Wyrick


Colleen: Do you have a favorite word?

Heidi: “You know what… right now the word that’s on my mind is justice. I love that Terry Pratchett, in one of his books, said that “…there’s no justice, there’s just us…” and I don’t remember the original quote but I do love the back-to-back meanings of those words and the thoughts that are sort of entailed in them. So that’s my favorite word today.


Colleen: What is the first thing you remember writing?

Heidi: I was in love with dinosaurs and crocodiles and scaly creatures with big teeth as a little kid, I guess that’s where the dragon thing comes from, and so I actually wrote a “How to Make a Mechanical Crocodile” with a picture and labels because I wanted one as a pet but obviously you can’t do that. And it’s funny actually now that I think about it that kind of links to my book now.


Colleen: What other creative, fun, or artsy things do you do either outside of or relating to your writing?

Heidi: “Um I am really not artsy, not by hand, and I have a really bad eye for photos. Like the fact that I try to Instagram now is…ah well it’s that like my pictures are always weirdly in shadow. But I do love writing songs and lyrics. And I really like cooking and making infusions and weird  random stuff because I like eating.”


Colleen: What is one word of advice you would give to young girls who want to write books?

Heidi: “The thing that comes to mind first is to support other girls and just other young people who want to write empowering books. I think that supporting and making friends and banding together that there’s strength in numbers. Offering the support can feel good in and of itself and it can also shape the support that you get.”


Colleen: How has your travelling and adventures influenced your writing and your mindset?

Heidi: “For me, I love travelling because it gets me out of my comfort zone. I’m very headstrong and I hate to admit this but I can be really bossy, telling people what’s what and being kind of an as- sorry a rude person about it. But I like being in places where I don’t know what’s going on and I don’t have a sense of the cultural reality because it sets me back and makes me humble and reminds me that I hardly know anything. It’s good for me and then of course I learn more things. ” 


Colleen: What was difficult about accurately portraying a bipolar main character? Why was it important to you that you did that?

Heidi: “It was really hard and I am bipolar. In my first books, I included a bipolar character that was important to the story but he was kind of a morally grey character; a bit of a villain and also the main character’s father. But I didn’t want to put the mental illness central because I didn’t know how to do it. I only had an understanding of my own mental illness by hearing what other people said to me. I wasn’t introspective enough. And so when I finally set out, I was like “Oh I really should do it, but it’s really scary, so that’s why I should do it”. So it involved looking inward and it also involved a lot of forgiveness which was weird, because I’m like “loud and proud” about it. But sometimes I’m loud and proud about things because on the inside I’m ashamed and worried. And so I put on that face and that brave front. So it made me realize that a lot of it was an act, and it still is an act, but it’s a continual process of forgiving yourself for the things you know you’re going to f**k up and the things you know that you can’t help. It’s also learning what you can help.”


Colleen: What is your favorite kind of cake?

Heidi: “Oh my god chocolate. That’s like so immediate. I like donuts too, cake donuts and coffee cake is really good too.”


Colleen: What was your favorite childhood book?

Heidi: “It’s a terrible choice but The Giving Tree. I love that book and I realized later that I loved it because I was taught to give and give and give and so I thought it was beautiful. It was a sacrifice but the tree gets loved at the end. The I was like, well the tree gets sat on, and that’s not cool. So it’s one of those things when you look back on the way you were taught to do things in childhood and you see that it was really terrible, but it’s still makes for a beautiful story. And you can tell really beautiful stories about horrible things and convince people that the horror of their reality is okay. I still enjoy the book but I think and see different layers of it.”


Colleen: What has been your favorite part of TTBF thus far?

Heidi: “I love it. I love how enthusiastic everyone is. I love how the volunteers have ownership and pride in the fest, and they should because it’s a great fest. I love that everyone seems friendly and like family. Coming from New York, this is a very warm atmosphere and yet it’s professional and fun and I feel welcome. I feel like I can’t say enough good stuff about the fest.”


Colleen: Do you have a favorite genre to write or one that you would really like to try?

Heidi: “So I’ve done high fantasy and that was really hard, harder than historical fantasy for me. But I used to read so much of it so I was like, ‘Oh I should do it,’ without realizing how hard it would be. I would love to go back to historical fantasy but I also kind of would like to tackle a contemporary because I feel like there are modern things that I would like to discuss. It would be a stretch though because contemporary is very difficult. There’s less smoke and mirrors and the story itself has to really shine.”


Colleen: Do you have any secret talents?

Heidi: “I can cross my hands together and pop them back over my head. I could escape from handcuffs or at least bring my hands to the front and punch someone in the face.”


Colleen: How do hope to continue to use your voice as an author to impact people’s lives?

Heidi: “I love helping people, and this goes back to me maybe being a little bit stuck up. I don’t want to say ‘I’m helping people all the time because I’m so great.’ I want to think that I’m helping people and I like to feel like I’m helping people. Right now one of the things that I’m working on is community building. I have online groups where I’m trying to build spaces where authors and writers can come together to support each other and be helpful and also to learn from each other. Again going back to travelling, when I learn and become humbled by things I feel like I become a better person, well hope I become a better person. So I want to facilitate ways for people who are different from each other can learn from one another in respectful ways.”


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