This week my transporter takes me to author Heather Ingemar's living room. Her house is old; a 1917 Sears and Roebuck. History adorns the walls–from old artwork to antique family branding irons. Multi-colored leaves litter the lawn outside. The wind blows around the eaves, making the old timbers creak. A few of the cattle she helps raise with her husband make lowing noises in the back lot. We kick back on her couch with a couple mugs of hot cocoa to discuss her writing.
1. Who is Heather Ingemar and what makes you fascinating?
Well, contrary to what my mother will tell you, I'm simply pretty average. I work a town job in addition to the ranching my husband and I do, and I have hobbies – I perform folk music, I like shooting sports. All in all, I'm just your average farm girl.
2. What one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
I think they'd be surprised to learn I'm a Cowboy Action Shooter, because most everyone IS surprised when they find that out. I guess I don't come across as the type of gal who gets all dolled up in Victorian dresses to go shoot targets with reproduction firearms. I'm such a tomboy -- I almost never wear a skirt! (laughs) I suppose the idea of me in a frilly dress is… shocking.
3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else?
Writing actually took me by surprise. I wanted to write books, I wanted to write stories – I just didn't have the skills. I directed all my energy toward music, because it was something creative that I could do, something I knew how to do. It wasn't until college that I discovered I had the knack for prose, thanks to my creative writing prof. I wouldn’t be here if not for her.
4. Writers are readers. Which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
While I absolutely looooove Poe's work, I have the sneaking suspicion he'd be a bit of a depressing dinner guest… So, it would have to be Karen Chance or Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. They seem like they'd be pretty neat people to talk to.
5. If I were stranded on a desert island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?
Well, because I wrote it, of course! (laughs) No, kidding aside, I've been told I have an unusual way of re-interpreting our monsters, a different method of looking at our archetypes and our fairy tales and that sort of thing. If you're looking for something a little strange, strange is what I do.
6. Share the Ingemar process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outlines, research (do you Google, visit places/people, or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.
Well, let's tackle the easiest things first: SCHEDULE: it's simply when I have time and the words are there. Being a rancher's wife means life is unpredictable. If I have ten minutes and I have words waiting for me? Awesome. IDEAS, ETC: They tend to let me know when they're ready to be written. I don't touch an idea or a character until they are pounding at my door. OUTLINE: As broad as I can get away with… (laughs) I think that when you get down to listing all the nitty-gritty details, you lose the beautiful spontaneity of the act of writing. RESEARCH: Well, seeing as the day-job is being a librarian, I'm kind of obligated to cross my 't's and dot my 'i's, aren't I? (laughs) Seriously though? I use the Internet and my local resources – library, people I know, books, etc – to find my answers. EDITING/NUMBER OF REWRITES: I rather enjoy the editing process. It's satisfying to polish a piece of fiction. The number of rewrites I do depends on how close to my characters' wishes I get on the first draft. Sometimes, I nail it the first time; other times it could be fifteen plus drafts. It really depends.
7. "I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don't know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?"
Sit down, do some writing, and find out what works for you. Explore; read about what other writers do. Try different methods. One of them is bound to click.
8. I saw an amusing t-shirt the other day which read 'Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.' What is your philosophy of life?
I find myself adhering more and more to the Taoist principles of wei-wu-wei, or "practicing not-doing." We spend so much time and energy beating around the bush, stressing over details – we forget to DO. We're always trying to make stuff fit OUR schedule, when if we just take some moments to relax and let it happen on its own… Things will work out. Learning to keep that in mind seriously lowers my anxiety level.
9. Please tell me you're not going to stop writing? What's next for you?
I'm planning on writing as long as I have fun doing it! I'm currently in the middle of drafting my next novella, so I'm enjoying that.
10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
They're more than welcome to pop by my website (http://heatherthebard.wordpress.com), follow me on Twitter (http://twitter.com/heatheringemar), or even fan me on Facebook (). I love to hear from readers!