Our latest author spotlight is fellow Raven Tree Press author Heather Ayris Burnell.
Here is Heather’s Bio:
Heather Ayris Burnell lives and writes on a secluded mountaintop in Washington State. She’s a full-time mom of three and a part-time librarian at North Central Regional Library where she spends most of her hours shelving books in the children’s section and dreaming up new picture book displays.
What was your road to publication?
The word that probably best describes my road to publication is long. I wrote Bedtime Monster in 2005 and sold it to Raven Tree Press in 2007. Really, more happened after I sold the book than before. I wrote a guest post about it for Corey Schwartz’s blog and it was so long she broke it into two parts. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here if you want to hear the whole story.
Can you tell me a bit about your writing process? Do you plot or not?
My stories come to me in different ways. Sometimes I’ll have just a title that I think is catchy and will work from that. Sometimes I come up with a beginning and an ending then have to figure out the middle. Other times I’ll just sit down and write and see where it takes me. I do tend to plot out stories in my head while I’m doing other things. Driving by myself along my lonely mountain road seems to be the right atmosphere for me to think about plots, and it’s nice because scarcely anyone drives the road so I can pull over whenever I need to write something down.
Are you working on any new projects that you can tell us about?
I have so many projects it’s bordering on ridiculous. I like to spend my time writing so the projects tend to pile up. Right now I’m trying to focus on revising an alternative energy series that I’ve gotten requests on and finding a home for my early reader story collection that I like to think of as my Frog and Toad. I’ve gotten some great feedback on the stories, but no takers yet.
Describe your studio or usual workspace for us.
My usual workspace is my bed. Maybe that’s weird, but it’s really just the most convenient spot and it’s where I think best—plus it’s comfy! I have a table where I keep my notebooks, manuscripts I’ve printed out for revising, submission logs, writing books, etc. After I read to my little one and he starts to fall asleep, I just reach over, grab my writing, and get to work.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I would love to own a little getaway somewhere tropical where I could grow fruit and have cool rustic bungalow’s for people to rent. Of course, it would be a great place to write too! My husband and I have seriously considered doing this actually, but we’re going to wait until the kids get older, then we’ll see what happens.
What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?
I love roller-skating. If I could, I would go everywhere on roller skates. Unfortunately, there aren’t any good places to skate up here on the mountain where I live.
What was your inspiration for your book Bedtime Monster?
My son. You know, all kids go through a time when they don’t want to go to bed. They can even get a little grouchy about it, and sometimes you’re lucky and they get really monstrous about it and it inspires you to write a book.
How do you balance your writing and family life?
My family is a part of my writing life. I’ve learned to write with lots of noise and activity going on around me. I write outside in the play fort while keeping an eye on the kids, I write in the car while waiting around at school, I sit on the floor and write while the kids are playing in their room. My kids love brainstorming with me. They want to be a part of my writing, especially lately with Bedtime Monster becoming a real book that they can hold in their hands. We’ve spent a lot of time rolling around on the floor in fits of laughter while we come up with ideas together. Of course, I have to have some quiet time to write, so I sneak that in when I can. Usually after everyone has gone to sleep.
Have you met your illustrator Bonnie Adamson?
We’ve never met in person, but I did meet Bonnie via Twitter. When I noticed she was there I was actually a little hesitant to talk to her at first because from what I’ve heard, authors and illustrators don’t usually interact, at least not while the book is in the process of illustration. But, I figured there was no harm in just saying hi, and she was happy to connect. When I decided to do a new Illustrator of the Month feature on my blog I naturally asked Bonnie if she’d like to be the first. She said she’d love too and so we did an interview and put up some of her work. It was really a fun way for me to get to know her. Plus she showed me a couple of illustrations she’d done for Bedtime Monster. That was an unexpected bonus! It’s been really nice having Bonnie to email about book promotion concerns when I’ve needed to. She’s been a great partner.
We here at Writing on the Sidewalk tend to procrastinate with our writing, where do you fit in Procrastinator or Proactive?
I think I’m a proactive procrastinator. I always have writing on my mind. I know what I want and need to get done, but with all that goes on in life there isn’t always a lot of time to do everything and sometimes I just need to sit around and not do much of anything. I’ve learned that I can’t work all the time. The best way for me to kick start my writing seems to be for me to procrastinate a bit over on my blog , on Facebook , and especially on Twitter. Once I get all that procrastination out of the way, I’m usually ready to write!
Writing on the Sidewalk