I was fortunate enough to chat with the best selling author Heather Gudenkauf. She’s had wonderful success with her first three novels, The Weight of Silence, These Things Hidden and One Breath Away and now her fourth novel Little Mercies is now on the shelves. Read the interview below to find out more about her as a writer and information on her latest novel.
WMW – Hello Heather, welcome to Women Make Waves. What would you say is your proudest literary achievement so far?
HG – Each of the novels that I’ve written is special to me. However, there was something very magical when I learned for the very first time that the words I had chosen and arranged so carefully upon the page were going to be published. When I first held a copy of The Weight of Silence in my hands I was overwhelmed with gratitude.
WMW – Where do you find inspiration for your novels?
HG – I find inspiration for my writing all around me: in the people I meet and in the places I visit. An interaction between strangers, a headline in a newspaper or a topic discussed on a radio program can spark my interest and an idea for a new book forms.
WMW – Can you describe your writing process?
HG – I always buy myself a beautiful journal and spend the first month or so writing the story in long-hand. I’ve found that in writing this way I’m able to write nearly anywhere and minimise distractions. Later I transfer what I’ve written to a computer and continue to add to the story. I cannot write if the house is completely quiet. I have to have music or the television going in the background. I really love developing the characters in my novels. I get out my trusty notebook and begin to jot down these thoughts and gradually the character appears upon the pages – physical descriptions, histories, likes and dislikes, hopes and fears. I live with the characters for so long while I’m writing, and sometimes my hands hover over the keyboard and I have to decide which direction to take them, it’s not necessarily the outcome I envisioned, but it’s always an adventure.
WMW – What does your writing space look like?
HG – I can write just about anywhere and do. I do need a few items to make sure I have a productive writing session:
• Diet Coke
• Chocolate or when I’m on a health kick – frozen blueberries
• My German Shorthair Pointer – Lolo
• Music or some kind of background noise
WMW – Could you summarise each of your novels in just a few words?
HG – The Weight of Silence – Two young girls disappear into the woods, only one comes out and she can’t speak.
These Things Hidden – An infant is abandoned at a Safe Haven site, the mystery surrounding his birth, and the three women who love him.
One Breath Away – One small town, one school, a snowstorm, an intruder, one very big problem.
Little Mercies – A dedicated social worker finds herself on the other side of the system she works so hard to uphold.
WMW – Could you tell us a little more about your latest novel Little Mercies?
HG – Little Mercies is told through the eyes of Ellen Moore a social worker who, in a moment of distraction, could lose her job, her family and possibly the life of one of her children. This is interwoven with the story of Jenny, a smart, but vulnerable ten-year-old who finds herself all alone in the world. When Jenny and Ellen meet they realise they have a lot more in common than they thought possible.
WMW – Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
HG – The best advice I have for beginning writers is to do just that – write. It is so important to set aside time each day to get your thoughts and ideas down on paper. It can be an hour or ten minutes. You’ll be surprised at how quickly the pages start to add up. I also think it is crucial for writers to be readers. Read widely and deeply.
WMW – What book are you reading right now?
HG – I love the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mystery series by Louise Penny about the tiny fictional town of Three Pines just south of Montreal and its inhabitants. I tell anyone who will listen: After reading the first book in the series, Still Life, you will be happy to have met the characters, after the second book you will want to visit Three Pines, and after the third book you will want to pack up and move there. This is how enchanting Penny’s writing is! I’m anxiously awaiting the newest instalment – The Long Way Home. I can’t wait!
WMW – Do you have anything specific you would like to say to your readers?
HG – I love hearing from readers. Please stop by at HeatherGudenkauf.com and let me know your thoughts on the novels and books you currently are enjoying!
Thank you Heather, it was lovely chatting to you.
Heather’s latest novel, Little Mercies, is out now!