I would like to welcome Heidi Nicole Bird to my blog today. Heidi is the awesome author of Through the Paper Wall.
Q: Who or what inspired you to become an author?
I don’t know that I could pin that down, but I was definitely inspired by what other people had written before I started writing. When I was little we would go to the library almost every single day, and I had a deep love for books. I guess it came from that.
Q: What was the turning point in your life when you decided to start writing?
In 2009 I moved out for the first time and one of my roommates was a friend from high school who said she had “published a book.” She told me all about NaNoWriMo and how she had got her book printed because of a place called CreateSpace. Before this point I had started so many stories, but it wasn’t until I took the challenge to do NaNoWriMo in 2009 that I finished my first novel and knew I couldn’t stop writing more. In 2012 I decided to be a full time writer, and I’ve never been happier.
Q: What is or are the genres of your book or books?
I generally write fantasy, which is my favorite, though I have written one young adult book that was general fiction/romance.
Q: What made you decide to write in your particular genre?
I have always loved fantasy! It’s always been my favorite, and it is just so much fun to write because there is no cap on your imagination.
Q: Who is your favorite author, and how did they inspire you to write?
Lisa Mangum has by far inspired me the most. It is my goal in life to be able to write books that are as gripping as hers are!
Q: When you write do you take notes, organize your characters and plot, or you write freely as you go?
Yes. I didn’t in the beginning, but I have come a LONG way since then! I have a writing notebook where I keep all my plot ideas and such straight. Sometimes I draw maps in there, or make timelines, but I don’t usually write character bios. I have for some stories though, just to keep things straight if there are a lot of characters.
Q: Where does your inspiration come from?
Random ideas that pop into my head mostly, especially at night! Also from phrases I hear while other people are talking, or from events I hear about or see, or even things that I wish would happen.
Q: Do you write about your personal life experiences in your stories?
Not really, though I have based characters on myself before.
Q: Who is your favorite character in your book? Why?
Oh gosh, haha! Um . . . I’d have to go with Renna. She just rocks my socks. I love her spunk!
Q: What is your favorite scene in your story?
Honestly, I’m torn between two of them . . . I’d give too much away if I said the first one, so I’ll just say the fight scene. I really thinks it’s great.
Q: Are the characters in your story based on people you know?
I have named characters after people I know, but that’s it, unless you count me, in which case it would be the other way around.
Q: Is there any part in writing you don’t like?
Not even! I live for this! Editing, though, that’s a different story! Editing itself doesn’t bother me that much actually. It’s more the fact that you have to read the story a million times in a row that gets a little tiresome for me. Luckily I still end up loving it every time.
Q: Do you have any books in the works?
Besides “Through the Paper Wall,” I am also working on publishing “Ontario,” which will probably be released in May, and I am finishing up a young adult fantasy that I am particularly fond of, which is entitled “Lorn.”
Q: When you read, what is your favorite genre?
Fantasy! I also really like books involving horses and historical fiction.
Q: Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?
I have lots of hobbies that have unfortunately been pushed aside a lot lately! I sing and play piano, guitar, and violin. I also love to read, scrapbook, watch movies (not so much TV unless it’s older stuff), work on my family history, and organize things.
Q: If you would have time travel abilities and could meet anyone from any time, who would you like to meet?
James Madison. He was so incredible!
Q: What inspired you to write your first book?
My roommate, who challenged me to do NaNoWriMo, though I didn’t have any idea where the story was going until I was about half way through!
Q: Do you have a specific writing style?
I think I have a unique voice, and I also write in a specific style that is family friendly. I like romance, but I don’t go overboard, and I never get overly violent either.
Q: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I this particular story, yes there is a message, and that’s to realize the good in what you have. You can’t spend your life comparing it to what could have been, or what someone else has. The people in your life are doing their best and you choose if you are going to be happy or not.
Q: How much of the book was inspired by real life events?
None, for this particular story.
Q: What books have most influenced your life?
The Book of Mormon, The Bible, and Harry Potter. Weird combination! Haha!
Q: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Chris Baty, hands down.
Q: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Caitlin Hensley, Elyce Gobat, and Kim Emerson come to mind.
Q: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members in your writing journey?
God. Seriously, I couldn’t have done any of this without Him.
Q: Do you see writing as a career?
Oh yes! Besides being a mom, it’s really all I want to do. Unless some day I use my degree of course, haha.
Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, actually. I can’t believe how this all came together, but I think it is just right.
Q: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I was homeschooled until seventh grade and before that I was always reading and writing, thanks to a very encouraging mother. I’m sure that’s where it came from.
Q: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
This time around it was really interesting because this is the first juvenile fiction book I have written, which is pretty strange because that is my favorite group of books to read.
Q: Do you have to travel much in research for your book?
I haven’t traveled at all to do research, but that would be amazing! Especially since my degree is all about research!
Q: Did you learn anything from writing your book and if so what was it?
Well first I learned that I can write a book in twelve days! Crazy, I know. I also learned that I had a difficult time writing without a strong female character (one appears in the second half of the book).
Q: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Never, ever, give up! That’s always the first thing I tell people. I always dreamed of this happening, but I don’t know that I ever thought it actually would until a couple years ago. You never know what will happen, and the only way to find out is to keep going.
Q: Tell us about Through the Paper Wall. What’s the story about?
This story is about Jesse, a lonely thirteen-year old boy who has been drug across the country by his father, who is pursuing his old high school love after the death of his wife. In Jesse’s search of his new house he finds a tunnel leading from his basement, and he recruits a new friend to help him explore. The two of them find themselves in a city completely run by teenagers who control everyone using microchips. Jesse and his new friend Jake have to work to overthrow the ones in control in order to free themselves and everyone else.
Q: How did the idea of the story come to you?
It just sort of hit me. The first part, about a kid finding the tunnel in the wall, came to me a long, long time ago, and I just decided to run with it this past November. I got stuck for a really long time, and then all of a sudden the fantasy stuff just appeared and I ended up writing an insane amount, writing half the book in only three days, if I remember correctly!
Q: Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?
Three of my fellow writers graciously chipped in to help me edit and proofread: Caitlin Hensley, Tameka Armstrong, and Nicole Wells. All of us worked on it, and they did a fabulous job! I am so happy with what this book has become.
Q: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Usually a punster, though there have been times when I really had to plan some things.
Q: What’s the hardest part of writing for you?
Making sure I don’t leave things unresolved.
Q: What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?
My water bottle, my notebook and a pen. And most of the time I also need Owl City music.
Q: If you could have any super power, what would it be?
To fly! I’ve always wanted to fly like Peter Pan.
Q: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve googled?
Gosh, I have no idea. I am a crazy researcher, and I couldn’t even tell you what I’ve looked at. There’s been way too much.
Q: Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: randomly, dome, and memorize.
Cara let her eyes trace each and every golden line, memorizing every stroke that randomly made its way around the dome.
Q: Finish this sentence: If I’m not writing, I’m probably…
Heidi Nicole Bird has been writing for as long as she can remember and it is her favorite thing in the world. Heidi is a regular NaNoWriMo participant and is mostly a young adult fantasy writer, but also likes to write juvenile fiction and other genres. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Brigham Young University and she looks forward to exploring the genre of historical fiction. Heidi lives in Utah with her family and three dogs, and loves working from home as a full time writer. To learn more visit heidinicolebird.blogspot.com.
Jesse entered the storage room and Jake followed, his eyes never leaving the picture, which he had to duck under so he wouldn’t hit his head. Jesse closed the door behind them and sighed. … As the tunnel came into view, Jake stopped.
“Whoa!” he said. “That’s crazy!” He pointed at the tunnel and looked at Jesse.
“I know!” Jesse said, nodding excitedly. “And you won’t believe how far it goes. I didn’t even go very far, but it goes way farther than our property, that’s for sure, and I still couldn’t see the end. It just seems to go on forever!”
“Does it go down at all?” Jake asked, coming over and running his hand along the edge of the tunnel, as if he was convincing himself that it was actually there.
“Not that I remember,” Jesse said, watching him. “As far as I could tell it just kept going on straight forever.”
“Weird,” Jake said, standing back up and dusting his hands off on his pants. “That would go straight under the highway.”
“That’s what I thought,” Jesse said.
“There did used to be miners who lived here for a while I think, but that might only be one of those rumors that flies around. People say all sorts of things about the people who used to live here ‘way back when.’”
“What sort of rumors?” Jesse asked, intrigued.
“Well, the old folks around here say that weird things used to happen around these parts fairly often,” Jake said shrugging. “In fact, I think a lot of what people have to say is about your house. That’s why I was surprised that you’d moved in here. Nobody has lived here for as long as most of us can remember. Of course that isn’t saying much in my case, but others who’ve lived here for a long time . . .”
“What weird things were going on?” Jesse asked. “And what do they have to do with my house?”
“Well,” Jake said, shifting the things in his belt. “If I remember right, it seems like a lot of things would go missing,” he said. “Things like food, and tools, and clothes and such, and they always turned up here, either in the house or just outside it.”
“So somebody was stealing things?” Jesse asked.
“That’s the weird thing,” Jake said. “It continued even as different people moved in. People would get tired of being accused of taking people’s stuff, so they’d leave, but then it would just keep going on. Finally the town stopped persecuting people because they decided it just had something to do with the house, like it was haunted or something. People must have mostly forgotten about it now, or they probably wouldn’t be so nice to you guys. Or they don’t know where you live yet.”
“Some people know where we live,” Jesse said. “My Dad’s met people and told them, and he always said they were nice. And you were nice to me when you found out,” he pointed out.
“Well,” Jake said, running one hand through his hair. “I don’t have anything against this place. Nothing weird has happened here since I’ve been here, so why should I? Plus,” he added after a few seconds, “I liked you. I didn’t want to come up with some dumb reason not to be friends with you. I didn’t believe in those legends at all anyway. Well, until maybe today.”
Jesse looked back at the tunnel, where Jake’s gaze had shifted to. He wondered if something did live in there, and if it had been stealing things from people. But why had things always ended up in the house, or outside it? Did that mean that for some reason the thing that was taking things couldn’t bring the things into the tunnel with it?
Jesse put his hands on his ears and shook his head. None of this was making sense. He felt like he had been plunged into some sort of science fiction movie and he didn’t really like it.
“Well,” Jake said after the two of them had just stood there for a few minutes. “Are we going, or what?”
Jesse looked back at the tunnel with a rekindled fear. The rumors, the fact that the adults couldn’t see the door, and the fact that the door had gone right through the picture were starting to make him think that there really was something super weird going on.
“You aren’t backing out are you?” Jake asked. Clearly the older boy had only been pulled in more by the idea of exploring, and his fear had diminished if anything.
“Of course I’m not backing out,” Jesse said, color rising in his cheeks. “Let’s go.”
Jake nodded and the two of them fell to their knees. Instead of proceeding down the tunnel, or even leaning in closer to it, they simply stayed there, rigidly poised in a half kneeling down half kneeling up sort of way.
“Alright, man,” Jake said after a few seconds of this. “We’ve just got to do it. Come on.”
And with that, the two of them checked that they had all their gear, then looked over at each other and nodded.