We are pleased to welcome with us today author Heidi Schulz.
Heidi Schulz is a writer, reader, and giraffe suspicioner. She lives in Salem, Oregon with her husband, co-captaining a crew made of their teen daughter, a terrible little dog, and five irascible chickens. Heidi worked in accounting until the birth of her daughter, at which point she chose to pursue a career in playing Barbies and scraping Play-Doh out of the carpet. After many years, she was promoted to head chauffeur and frequent co-conspirator. She has been homeschooling her daughter since 2007. Bloomsbury Kids will publish her picture book debut, GIRAFFES RUIN EVERYTHING, in 2016.
Heidi was kind enough to answer some questions for us today, so without further ado, here she is!
About Hook’s Revenge
When did you first start writing your book and when did you finish?
I took a long time with this book. I had the idea in the fall of 2006, but a cross-country move, the extended illness and death of my father-in-law, and deciding to homeschool my daughter were important family things that needed my attention. Though I had worked in fits and starts enough to have a first draft completed, it wasn’t until early 2012 I began to seriously write (and revise) with an eye toward publication. I sold the book in February of 2013 and turned in my very last edits in April 2014. It was nearly eight years exactly from idea to having a book on the shelves.
Wow! That is some major multi-tasking! I love how you stuck with it though. As with all things in life, you have to dig in and be committed to seeing it through to the end. Congrats!
What is YOUR favorite part of the book?
I love the chapter where Jocelyn has to face down a tribe of hungry cannibals and defeat them…with table manners. Not only was it absurdly fun to write, I love that Jocelyn is able to put her finishing school training to good use. I truly believe that no learning is wasted. I suppose Jocelyn learns that in this chapter as well.
Cannibals?! Oh, I love the absurd – so glad you mentioned this scene.
What is the main message you want to convey to your readers in your books?
I want readers to believe in their own abilities and to know that they may do things in a way different than someone else, but that’s what makes them awesome.
I can see that this would be an important message for this age group (tweens) as they navigate their way toward independence. Self-esteem and self-confidence are so important to nurture at this age.
Can we expect more books from you in the future?
Definitely. Hook’s Revenge: The Pirate Code, a sequel to Hook’s Revenge, will publish in September 2015. My picture book debut, Giraffes Ruin Everything releases in the spring of 2016.
Awesome! I love how you are venturing into picture books as well – a bit of a different process, isn’t it?
About Being an Author
What has been the best compliment you received as an author?
I just received a bundle of letters from a group of Seattle fifth graders I visited with. There were a couple that said Hook’s Revenge was their favorite book, which was such a wonderful thing to hear, but even better were the ones that said I had inspired them to want to be writers. That feels amazing.
That must be so rewarding. Parents are often the gate-keepers (and reviewers) of middle grade books, so to get positive feedback from your target audience must feel soooo good!
How do you react to a bad review?
Don’t laugh, but when I was a kid and stayed home sick from school, I’d watch Bob Ross on PBS. His voice was so soothing and his paintings seemed magical. A couple strokes of the brush and suddenly, a tree! He always made me feel better. I’ve discovered Bob Ross clips on YouTube can also soothe the sting of a bad review. Bob Ross believes in me. I can keep going!
OMG, when I first saw your answer, I googled “Bob Ross” and I immediately recognized him! I used to watch him paint as well. It was absolutely magical how he could just sweep his brush on the canvas and Bam! Lifelike clouds. How does he do that!?
What advice would you give someone aspiring to write a children’s book?
Finish your book. Researching agents, stalking editors on twitter, learning about marketing…all those great things are a distraction if they are keeping your from writing your book. Finish it first.
I can see how someone would want to think ahead and on-line “research” is such a time-drain. That is some solid advice!
More About Reading and Writing
What are some of your favourite books from when you were a child and did any of these inspire you when writing your books?
I loved Beverly Cleary, her Ramona books in particular. I think Jocelyn and Ramona probably have a lot in common—both sassy and determined to be their own selves, but also both somewhat insecure. Roald Dahl’s books were (and are still) favorites. He understood kids and had a wonderful way of balancing darker or subversive ideas with a lot of humor. I try to do the same in my books.
Beverly Cleary’s books are wonderful! My kids and I have enjoyed many of them at bedtime.
What books are you reading right now?
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty, both excellent.
I have not heard of either of those books – thanks for the recommendations!
More About the Author
What is a typical day in your life?
I tend to get up fairly early and spend some quiet time thinking about my day as I feed and water the dog, unlock the chicken coop so our five chickens can range around the backyard, and gather eggs.
I check email and social media (twitter is my morning paper) over breakfast. And then, depending on the day, I either work for a couple hours or start driving my daughter to her various homeschool co-ops, lessons, and clubs.
In the afternoon, I try to fit in more work time: writing, revising, working on blog posts, or doing promotional work.
Before I know it, it’s time for dinner. Once upon a time I made most of our meals from scratch, right down to homemade bread, but this year has been so busy, I often now ask my husband to pick up something at the store on his way home form work. I’m trying to find a better balance there, but it’s tough.
Evenings are for hanging out with my family, reading, catching up on favorite shows, and procrastinating doing the laundry.
Sounds like my typical day minus the chickens. Can you please email my husband and tell him chickens are a good idea? This is an on-going battle in our household! Who wouldn’t want fresh eggs every day?
If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?
A solar powered, fully loaded e-reader, a bathing suit, and a speedboat.
I believe I may have to disqualify one of your answers. I’ll give you a hint as to which one (see image above). I’ll make the assumption that you are not really stranded if you have a speedboat! lol
If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
You’re Not the Boss of Me: The Heidi Schulz Story
This reminds me of the theme song from Malcolm in the Middle (Boss of Me by They Might be Giants). I am literally singing that song in my head as I’m writing this!
- Place to travel? Cabo San Lucas
- Dessert? Pie, especially strawberry-rhubarb
- Animal? Platypus
- Colour? Turquoise
- Musical Instrument to Play? The kazoo
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