In The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility with witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, and enchanting romance.
Rosalyn: I am dying to know how you came up with this idea. I mean, time travel is pretty common, but the idea of navigating a ship through time based on maps is such a cool twist to this. How did you arrive (see what I did there?) at this idea? And was it always ships, or is that something that came later in the process? At what point did you start thinking that this might be “the one”?
Heidi: The ship was actually what came first! I actually had to turn down the opportunity to crew on a yacht for the Atlantic crossing, and it ate at my soul, so I decided I had to write a book about a girl on a ship. And I’ve always been obsessed with time travel, so when I saw a newspaper article about a mysterious band of pirates who appeared and disappeared in Hawaii, stealing nearly a million dollars in gold and disappearing without a trace, it all came together in my head.
Rosalyn: I’m always curious about the process of writing and revising a book. Can you tell us a little about your journey for this one? How long did it take to draft and revise? What is your general drafting/revision process like? It’s clear from the fantastic details in your book, from the lake of mercury to the details about the 19th century Hawaiian monarchy, that you did a lot of research for this book. (Your Author’s Note was nearly as fascinating as the story itself). How does that research weave into the book? Did you do the research before you started writing, or as you went?
Heidi: I started writing in December 2012, and I started querying almost a year later, in fall of 2013. My process was very messy–this is the very first novel I ever wrote–and I wrote about 600 pages that were eventually cut for reasons of style or voice, or point of view. I really was making up my process as I went along, and I absolutely fell in love with the research and got lost in many rabbit holes as I went along. (The problem was compounded by my simultaneously having to research how to construct a novel in general.) Thankfully after all that, I think I’ve finally learned to outline, and also developed a bit more self-control when it comes to over-researching, which is a good thing because I have actual deadlines.
Rosalyn: When and how did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Heidi: In high school and college I wanted to be a musical theatre actor! Then after I realized that was an incredibly foolish choice for me personally, I went to grad school for Musical Theatre Writing. Only after my composer went on tour did I try my hand at novels–so, at age 32. But I have apparently always loved telling stories–my mom has old ones saved from when I was little. I just didn’t know for quite some time. (I’m not really the most self-aware person.)
Rosalyn: One of the things I admire most about you is how supportive you are of other debut writers. Can you talk a little bit about how the writing community in general has influenced your writing–and why it’s so important to you to give back? (Also, as a kind of bonus question, I’d love to know what inspired your cover-inspired fashion collections, and how you go about finding outfits to match the covers!)
Heidi: I love this community! And I actually had no idea it existed before this past year (I shudder to think how close I came to not knowing). But another friend from the theatre world (Lance Rubin, DENTON LITTLE’S DEATHDATE) was a part of the Fearless 15s, and so I decided to join the ‘16s to try to make author friends (I knew no others!) and to also get a handle on what on earth was going to happen in the year leading up to the book coming out. (Musical theatre is very different than publishing.) And I’m so glad I did. I give back because I truly, honestly love the community and the other people in it–they’re my people, and I came to them so late. Maybe I’m just making up for lost time.
With regards to the cover fashions, it started as a cover costume idea for Halloween, but it totally grew from there and I realized I wanted to do every cover. Polyvore.com makes it easy to search for the perfect dress (or dress shirt) to match any cover, and I love each cover so much that I like getting to stare at them and work with them and make little bits of ‘fan art’ for them (i would do real art but I’m no good at drawing.) And I hope you know I can’t wait to play dress up with THE BLOOD ROSE REBELLION.
Lightning Round Questions
1. You’re a navigator who can go anywhere and anywhen in the world: what map do you most want?
Kirchir’s map of Atlantis.
2. Oddest job you ever had?
Fry girl at a belgian fry place that later exploded (NOT MY FAULT.)
3. Music to write by?
The soundtrack to Pan’s Labyrinth.
4. What were you reading at sixteen?
Game of Thrones, if you can believe it!
A snake named Zeppelin.
6. Favorite Broadway musical?
Hedwig and the Angry Inch; I love beauty and the beast stories.
About the Interviewer:
Rosalyn Eves is a writer of romantic, lyrical, atmospheric young adult fantasy novels. Her first novel, THE BLOOD ROSE REBELLION, a historical fantasy set at the height of the Austro-Hungarian empire (with magic!) debuts Spring 2017 from Knopf/Random House.
In an alternate 19th-century Europe, after 16-year-old British gentlewoman Anna Arden is exiled to Hungary for spell-breaking, she finds that nothing about her world or her own lack of magic is quite as it seems. Fissures in the Binding that holds her world’s magic are expanding, and the ancient creatures bound by that spell beg Anna to release them. As rebellion sweeps across Hungary, Anna’s unique ability to break spells becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and gypsies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted—or embrace her ability, destroy the Binding, spark a revolution, and change the face of magic itself.