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Writing A Debut Novel

By January 5, 2018October 11th, 2021No Comments

Tips from WHAT THE VALLEY KNOWS’ Author Heather Christie

Heather Christie’s YA debut novel What the Valley Knows drops on January 25th – a tightly-plotted thriller of a new kid in a quiet town with more secrets than it cares to admit. Here’s the trailer…

I hopped on the phone with Heather to chat about her seven-year journey to publication, juggling a successful business and kids along the way. Read on for some stunningly practical advice on how to keep your head (and craft) above the water…

Q: WtVK is your first novel — congratulations! How has the journey been?

HC: It’s been a long journey. This book started its first incarnation seven years ago. In that period I ended up getting an MFA, completing a first draft, getting an agent, and finding a publisher etc.

It’s a journey that’s been equal parts gratifying and frustrating. Everything happens so much slower than I’m used to, because in my other life I’m a real estate agent and business happens very quickly…like, in a matter of hours. So to wait years is tough.

Q: Balancing a successful business and your art. How did you make the decision to start pursuing your passion for the literary again?

HC: One thing to keep in mind as you’re starting this journey is to really think about what you love.

I’d been a business woman for many years and when I turned forty I had a creative wakeup call. I’d been an actress as a teenager, and my undergraduate degree is in Literary Studies, but I wasn’t doing either of those things. It really felt like something was missing. I’d always kept a journal and tried to write some poetry over the years so I turned toward the writing. Here I am eight years later!

That being said, I don’t believe the cliché “Follow your dreams and the money will follow.” If you’re going to be an artist of any kind, you need to figure out how you are going to support yourself, because more than likely very little money will flow from your creative endeavors (at least initially). It’s not fun being poor and starving!

I’ve come full circle because I went through a period in which I resented my real estate business and I just wanted to pursue my art. But I’ve come to appreciate that real estate gives me the means and the flexibility to write.

Q: How do you balance work and creativity, specifically?

HC: That’s the beauty of my job as a real estate agent: it allows me to time-block. As an indie author, a lot of what you do is work on your business – and it is a business. I try to divide my day into segments: in the morning I concentrate on my real estate, then I block a few hours to write, and in the evenings I focus on the business side of my writing, i.e. platform-building, social media interactions, etc.

Q: Any tips for writers working on their first novel?

HC: Do a little bit each day. You can’t eat the elephant in one bite. You can only take little bites. Six months, a year will pass anyway. Even if you can only work on your art in small doses because of your other responsibilities, if you are consistent, you’ll write your debut novel.

Find your tribe, Facebook groups are great. Find the writers who are working in your genre. Support them. Write great reviews. Be a good literary citizen.

Interviewed by Andrea Wijaya

For more information on author Heather Christie click here.

To order What the Valley Knows click here.


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