Name: Heather Hayes
- What kind of writing do you do?
I am a children’s book author. I have two books in print. My picture book is called The Fantastic Backyard of Imagination. It is the story of a brother and sister and their friends using the same tree and backyard to imagine totally different things. It encourages kids to get off the couch and play! I also have a young readers chapter book called Unexpected Magic. It is about a witch who has spent 50 years alone in her cave guarding a magic crystal. Some girls happen upon her, and after some grumpy interactions become her friend.
- Where did your love of reading and writing come from?
I was never very good at math, so I guess reading and writing has always appealed more to me! I used to write little books and newspapers for my friends and family when I was a child. I’ve always loved reading a good, grabbing story!
- How long have you been writing?
I wrote silly little stories as a child and teen. The first time I tried as an adult to write a real book was in 2013. My first edition of Unexpected Magic then came to be. I wrote it to be a Christmas gift for my daughters. I reworked the manuscript to make it a chapter book, and it was published in 2014.
- Can you share some stories about the people you met while researching the book you’re working on?
All of my work so far has not needed much research. It is all fiction for children. I imagined Woodsville and Griselda’s cave for the setting of Unexpected Magic. The five girls in that story are based on my daughters’ personalities and interests. Hannah in The Fantastic Backyard of Imagination is based on me as a child. The adventures and activities of the children in that story come from memories of my childhood.
- What was the hardest part of writing this book?
When you write children’s books, you have to find the perfect balance of writing and pictures. You don’t want to overwhelm your readers with too many words, or words they won’t understand. I end up simplifying my words a lot, which is hard sometimes. The word my grown up mind says is perfect for a situation in my book, might confuse a child, so I have to simplify it.
- Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
I love all kinds of books. I like Charles Dickens, Jane Austin, J. K. Rowling, Shannon Hale, Terry Brooks, Janette Oke, Rick Riordan, Stephanie Meyers, Gerald Lund, Lynn Austin, and L.A. Meyer. I like when these authors surprise me. I like when I can’t help but fall in love with the characters. But most of all, I love happy endings. If I’m going to spend hours of my free time engrossed in a book, I want to feel enlightened, uplifted, or warm and fuzzy when I’m done.
- What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has? Write the question out and then answer it.
Why does Griselda change her name at the end of Unexpected Magic?
Griselda changed her name to Rissy because that was a nickname her father used to call her. She hated when he called her that as a teenager. She insisted on being called Griselda during that selfish time in her life. Changing her name to Rissy represents Griselda wanting to turn a new leaf. She desires to surround herself with people who love her again. That story will come out in the sequel to Unexpected Magic.
- What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
In Unexpected Magic I wanted to tell a grabbing story with a good moral. I wanted people to want to be kinder and be willing to leave their own comfort zone after reading it. I think I did accomplish that.
In The Fantastic Backyard of Imagination I wanted to get kids off their electronics and excited to explore the fun worlds that could come to life in their own backyard. Like I say in that book, “When you have a good imagination, you are never bored.” I watched my kids and nieces and nephews take to the climbing tree in Grandma’s yard after reading my book. So I think I accomplished my goal for that book as well.
- What do you think most characterizes your writing?
I think my writing in general is wholesome, uplifting, moderately funny, and leaves you evaluating your own behavior, hopefully wanting to be a little better.
10) What inspires you?
My children inspire me all the time. My youngest two are in a really creative, imaginative phase right now and I just love to eavesdrop on their play! Whenever I don’t feel inspired, I usually pick up a book that catches my eye, and something creative in the story inspires me. On the flip side, when I read a truly uncreative piece of work, I tend to think I can do better, and then the wheels start turning…