Welcome to author Wendy Heuvel who comes to us from Canada. Thank you Wendy for taking some time away from writing and answering some questions for us.
Describe your favorite writing spot or space.
My writing space is in the corner of my bedroom, next to my wooden bookshelves displaying all things mystery, fantasy and speculative. I have a desk that closes up, so when I’m not working it still looks bedroom-like. When it’s open however, it’s a complete office – the doors are covered with my schedules, calendars, and sticky notes of everything I have to do. I also have inspirational pictures of classic detectives (Holmes, Poirot, Mrs. Marple, Nancy Drew).
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I’m fortunate to be a full-time author. I keep regular business hours (8-5, Monday to Friday), but often also do work in the evenings and on Saturdays.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Keeping in mind that I work full-time (and very often over 50 hours a week), I can complete a book (plotting, writing, self-editing) between 8-10 weeks before sending it off to the editor. But my books are also only around fifty thousand words.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have a few! Some that will never be seen EVER. LOL. And one YA dystopian I may consider redoing for a future release. I also have about a dozen screenplays that I’ve written and never done anything with.
Do you write under a pseudonym? If not, have you ever considered it?
No, I don’t. I have considered it, but I just find it easier to use my own name.
What comes first for you, the plot or characters?
Good question! I’ve never thought about it before. I think they happen simultaneously. Sometimes the plot influences the characters, yet once the character is formed, they always influence the plot.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I take way more time on this than is necessary. I have about a dozen baby name and name meanings sites bookmarked on my browser. I keep searching and trying names until I get the ones that feel right.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
My books are written from the female point of view, so it’s always based on her interpretation of men. Is that cheating?
Can you hear your characters talking?
Yes. As I write, I often pause to listen to the story before I write it down. Each character is well-formed in my mind and I can often let them do the writing for me (in a non-crazy sort of way – LOL).
Were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one? For how long?
I’ve been writing all of my life. I’ve had numerous articles published in magazines, and even did a stint as a copy-writer for a while.
How much time do you spend on research before starting a book? While writing?
It depends on the book. I love research, so I often do a ton beforehand – most of which doesn’t even end up in the book. As I’m writing, I’m constantly flipping back and forth between my manuscript and the internet to check facts.
What kind of research do you do for a book?
I like to keep my books as realistic as possible. I often visit locations to get a feel of what it’s actually like so I can involve all the senses as I write. I often visit the town that inspired ‘Banford’ and I recently climbed a series of rickety ladders to get into a bell tower (for Peril of the Bells – coming out in December). For the YA dystopian book, which takes place in the future UK, I travelled the country last year and visited the spots to check for accuracy.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A cat. Always a cat. Fits for cozies, and fits for speculative fiction.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Screenplays are actually my first love, so because I’m so visual, I have visual inspiration around me when I write. This includes maps of my town and locations, photos of my characters, and other things to get me into the mood of the story (music, Christmas things, etc). I also write my books using the cue card method often used for screenplay writing.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Oh gosh. I don’t think I can pinpoint it to one thing – unless I lump all of the courses together that I’ve taken. Never underestimate the importance of continuing to learn.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
What is this thing you call ‘not writing’?
Do you ever Google yourself?
Sometimes – but usually only to see if my books have popped up in places I don’t yet know about. I once found my book on a Japanese site. I have no idea if the reviews were good or bad! LOL.
What is your favorite childhood book(s)?
Just one? Not possible. Nancy Drew, of course. And the Mandie series. I also loved, ‘The Pig, The Prince, and the Unicorn’. It’s one of those obscure books no one has ever heard of, but it fed my love of fantasy.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid. Keep learning. Keep doing. Make it happen.
Wendy is Canadian by birth, Dutch by blood, and British by heart.
She enjoys writing and relaxing in the cozy, country home she shares with her husband, 4 kid-things (Thing 1, Thing 2, Thing 3 and Thing 4, respectively), fluff-monster dog, and three adorable, fluffernutter kitties.
Sometimes you will find her sitting by the water (but never in it). She is passionate about Christian mission work, travelling, birding, BBC mysteries, droppies (Dutch salted-licorice candies), potatoes, decaf earl grey tea, and Harry Potter.