Friday, September 25, 2009

Heather Moore Interview


Years ago I noticed books written by H.B. Moore. These books were about Book of Mormon characters and since I enjoy writing about them as well, I started paying attention to other authors who did also. However, it wasn't until I actually bought a book my H.B. Moore and turned to the back that I found the author was a woman...a very talented woman. Over the last year I have become more acquanted with Heather, and I'm so glad that I have. I thought you might be interested in learning more about this award-winning author.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always loved reading and taking English classes, but when I was in high school and failed my AP English placement essay exam, I decided it was a “sign.” So I didn’t major in English in college. It never occurred to me to write a novel, although I formulated better endings (in my mind) when I finished a book that I thought was lacking. When I was about 30 years old, I had an idea for a book, and decided that I would write it. “Why not?” I asked myself. There were thousands of authors out there and I thought it would be cool to get paid for writing a book. Of course, I had a massive learning curve to go through and I can only compare it to going back to college.

You won the Whitney Award for your novel, Abinadi. Your next book, Alma promises to be another bestseller. Why have you chosen to write about Book of Mormon prophets?
I was very surprised that Abinadi won the 2008 Whitney Award for Best Historical because the previous year my book Land of Inheritance also won a Whitney. Then Abinadi went on to win the 2009 Best of State award in Literary Arts. Needless to say, I now feel very anxious that my next book, Alma, will be compared to Abinadi. I can only hope that readers will like it just as much. When I first started writing, I was following my muse so to speak. And after getting my first novel rejected dozens of times, I wrote another one. More rejections. After that, I decided to aim for a more niche target market and write an LDS book. I did a conscious study of the market to find out what might be accepted. My father (S. Kent Brown) is a Book of Mormon scholar, so I had the idea that we could co-write a series about Nephi’s life. But my dad wasn’t interested, preferring to stay with non-fiction writing. So I warned him that he’d be getting plenty of emails and phone calls from me with lots of questions, which still continues today. I think people who love to write jump in with both feet—like I did. But often, it pays off to study the market, the trends, and to find your own strengths before writing that manuscript.

Tell us about your new books due to be released and the other books you’ve had published.
My four-volume historical series, Out of Jerusalem, is the story of Nephi and Lehi and their journey from Jerusalem to the promised land. All four books are out in hardcover, and are now being released in softcover. Abinadi and Alma are part of the newest “series”—although each book is a stand-alone—with Alma the Younger to follow in 2010, and perhaps another volume or two in the same era. This October (2009), a Christmas compilation called All is Bright will come out, featuring of my “finding God” stories that I experienced while living in Jerusalem as a teenager. I have a non-fiction book, Women of the Book of Mormon, which is slated for release in 2010. I also wrote a national thriller that’s based on the hunt for the Queen of Sheba’s tomb. I am still working on finding a national publisher for that book. I also have several unpublished manuscripts—which would take some massive revisions if I were interested in sending them to a publisher. One is a WWII novel, another a contemporary crime novel, another a paranormal mystery. So you can see what I said earlier about zeroing in on your target market.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?
Having a deadline is the most motivating, although most of my deadlines are self-imposed. It is difficult to write under pressure, and that’s what happens as soon as your first book is published. If you want to become an author with a readership, you should have at least one book a year published, especially in the beginning. The first book is inspirational. The next books are planned-out scientific creations. I keep a strict writing schedule, and I don’t have time for writer’s block (I have 4 kids). If I do feel “stuck” I do more research, or I skip to a scene where I know I can continue the flow of writing and still get my word-count goal in for the day. Of course life gets in the way sometimes, and that’s where the weekly writing goals come into play.

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your writing? Do you have a writing mentor?
When I first started out, I was inspired by Mary Higgins Clark. She was widowed when she had 5 young children and had to go back to work. In the meantime, she decided to write a novel and wrote from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. every morning. I’ve never forgotten that, and sometimes that’s what it takes to get the writing done.

Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now - city? Suburb? Country? Farm? If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be? I grew up in Orem, Utah, which is considered a suburb. I now live in Lehi, Utah, which is becoming more of a suburb, although it’s evolved from a farming community. If I could live anywhere, it would be in the area I’m already in while my children are school-aged. It’s convenient to the freeway, and schools are close by. Also several getaways are within driving distance, such as Park City and St. George. Yet, I’d also like a bigger traveling budget. I lived in the Middle East off an on during my childhood, and I’d love my kids to visit some of the same place.

Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?
I write mostly in my office in the far reaches of the basement. It’s a pretty messy office surrounded by book cases, filing cabinets, fax machine, stacks of papers, boxes filled with bookmarks, etc., and books. I do have a really cool Book of Mormon timeline on my wall that’s about 5 feet long and 2.5 feet high. I have a couple of world maps taped up on the walls, and I have an organizer shelf that has narrow slots specifically for manuscripts. I actually think better as I type. I noticed this in high school. Outlining by hand did no good. When I sit down to type the ideas flow. Sometimes I put on music, not to really listen to the words, but the background blocks my mind from wandering too much. When I’m not researching as I write, I often turn off the lights and just focus on the computer screen as I write.

Do you watch television or movies? If so, what are your favorites? Do they inspire your writing?
I watch very little television. When I added writing to my schedule, things like t.v., sewing, and scrapbooking went to the wayside. The other day I watched an episode of Hannah Montana with my 5 year old. I think it’s the first time ever. I do watch movies with my kids. But for myself, I love dramas, such as The Count of Monte Cristo. I think it has one of the most brilliant plots, and I enjoy the character arcs. I don’t think watching movies really give me ideas for books, but they are a good study of character and plot development. There are so many cliché characters out there, especially in a romantic comedy where the heroine is often an ill-fated beauty and misunderstood, then her sidekick friend is extremely confident, yet very quirky. The men are never quite realistically portrayed, right? So that’s why I digress to dramas where the male characters have depth.

How has being published changed your life?
Becoming published has been interesting. It has dropped a career into my lap—one that I never planned on as a young wife and mother. I’m not so young anymore, but I’ve had to work on balancing my temporary goals with my eternal goals. I hate the inauspicious word “balance” and basically to me it means a sliding scale of priorities. I went from doing 6 weeks of Saturday signings when my first book came out (my husband driving me back and forth, so I could nurse our baby between signings), to refusing to do a Saturday signing if it meant missing a child’s soccer or football game. It’s been a learning curve and growing process. Yet, I think it’s important for my children to see me love what I’m doing, as I, in turn, encourage and help them on their own path of dreams.

Do you have any book signings, tours or special events planned to promote your books that readers might be interested in attending? If so, when and where? Also tell about your blog and website.
My best answer is to check out the Events section of my website which I keep updated: http://www.hbmoore.com/I also post updates on my blog: http://mywriterslair.blogspot.com/And if you want to get email reminders, you can sign up for my emailed newsletter through: http://www.hbmoore.com/

Thanks, Heather!

4 comments:

  1. Great interview, Kathi! I adore Heather and her books!
    GG

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  2. GG:
    I admire both you and Heather. I hope your new book is selling well. Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. Fabulous Interview!! I just love Heather and her books. I love learning many new things about my writer friends.I really admire all of you!

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  4. Thanks for stopping by, Sheila! I admire Heather and her writing as well. It's so much fun to get a peak into other author's lives.

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