Let’s welcome one of my favorite authors to the blog today. Heather Webb is the international bestselling author of historical fiction, including Becoming Josephine, Rodin’s Lover, and Last Christmas in Paris, which have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Elle, France Magazine, and more, as well as received national starred reviews. Rodin’s Lover was a Goodreads Top Pick in 2015. To date, Heather’s novels have sold in multiple countries worldwide. She is also a professional freelance editor, foodie, and travel fiend. She lives in New England with her family and one feisty rabbit.
Heather is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and Romance Writers of America.
What was your favorite book as a child?
I had many, but there are three that stand out in my mind: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Did you study in college with an eye towards your writing career?
I didn’t, actually. It’s funny. I studied French education and never considered myself a writer, or had aspirations to become one in any realistic way. Yet I was the copy editor of both my high school paper and college newspaper. I also entered and won several essay contests, and carried books and a journal with me everywhere. I didn’t think about writing seriously until Josephine Bonaparte appeared to me in a dream the final semester before I resigned from my high school teaching job. The rest, as they say, is history.
What is your day job?
I’m a freelance editor. I work on books with both aspiring writers and multi-published authors. This is part-time work for me, and I write during my other working hours.
When do you write?
I write best first thing in the morning so on the weekends, when my inbox and the internet are quieter, I get up early and write until about 1 p.m. (unless my kids have a sporting event). During the week, I usually get going by 10 a.m. after sending kids off to school and dealing with other chores, including some exercise. I try to write until the kids come home from school.
Are you a pantser or a plotter?
I’m a combination of the two! For my biographical fiction, I did quite a lot of plotting as the character/real life person had already lived so I was able to map out the three acts and the climax before drafting. As for my other novels, I worked on a synopsis, some character mapping, and a pitch before sitting down to write, but there are many instances where inspirations come and I change course for a scene, or even a whole thread of the plot. I’ve had surprise characters pop in quite a lot.
Do you have a daily word count or quota?
I do. While drafting, I try to aim for 1,000 words per day with a 5,000 word weekly goal. When editing, it’s really variable, depending on which draft we’re talking about. Later drafts move much faster.
Do you always write on the computer?
Mostly, but much of my brainstorming and plotting is done longhand. There’s something about holding a pen and using a nice little notebook that opens different creative pathways in my brain.
Tell us about your current release. What inspired you to write it?
I write historical fiction—my very favorite genre as I love digging into the past, learning why we are who we are, and gleaning understanding about where we’re headed in the future. My latest novel just released in early February, and it’s a historical suspense, so a bit of a departure for me. It’s a re-imagining of Phantom of the Opera, told from Christine Daaé’s perspective. Here’s a short pitch for you:
In this re-imagining of Phantom of the Opera, meet a Christine Daaé you’ve never seen before…
Christine faces an impossible choice: be a star at the Paris opera as Papa always wanted, or follow her dream—to become a master of illusions. First, she must steal the secrets of the enigmatic master who haunts her, survive a world of treachery and murder, and embrace the uncertain promise of love. To succeed, she will risk her life in the grandest illusion of all.
What are you reading right now?
I’m reading several books. (Always! I can never seem to stick to just one at a time.) Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, which I ADORE, about creative living beyond fear; Modern Girls by Jennifer Brown about a mother and daughter who both become pregnant by accident in 1950s NYC, and a young adult novel called Turtles All the Way Down by the fabulous John Green.
If you could give advice to a new writer starting out, what would that be?
My best advice for new writers is to take your time to get it right. We feel all of this pressure to rush and submit our work for validation. That rush short-changes us in the long run. Write, rewrite, and work with critique partners. Get as many eyes on your work as possible. Read like crazy and STUDY what you read, dissect it like a science experiment. Why does it work? How can you replicate this technique? Also, if you become frustrated with your work in progress, put it aside awhile and let it stew. Work on something new. You’ll find you learn best by working on more projects, over longer periods of time. Remember that writing is a skill, just like playing a guitar. Time and practice are key. You can’t rush it or it’ll sound disjointed and out of tune.
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2E1FS9e
FB: https://www.facebook.com/Heather-Webb-Author-124095350992513/ (Heather Webb, Author)