Today’s interview is with Heather Biedermann. Welcome to the blog, Heather. Now, you’re one of the authors in the Agorist Writers Workshop anthology Echoes of Liberty, coming out next week. Tell us something about yourself.
Hi, Lela! I live in the land of the Vikings in Southern Minnesota. To pay the bills, I am a librarian. I am lucky enough to work in a university and get to work with amazing students and faculty. It really does keep you young! I am married to a great guy and have two rambunctious cats. For fun, I love to go glamping (glam camping) and enjoy traveling to visit friends. If we cross paths, pull up a chair next to me and we can share some wine or beer. I love to hear stories!
At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I have always had a love of writing since I was a little girl. I think it has something to do with my weird, overactive imagination. Mostly, I would write for my own enjoyment. I am my own worst critic, so until lately, I haven’t shared many of my stories publicly. Tell us about your writing process. I find it easiest to first daydream a basic story idea – the bare bones of the concept. Then, I write an outline with plot points I want to hit. I research for a day or two. Once I feel comfortable with concept and outline, I go straight into writing. When I’m in the writing mode, I try to write for an hour or two each day. I crank it out as fast as I can. After that, I let it sit a couple of days, to let it breathe. I rewrite and edit. I have someone else look it over. Then, I edit some more. Once I feel it has been picked apart enough, I’m done and won’t look at it anymore. Sometimes you just have to say, “Good enough,” and walk away. It feels pretty good getting to the finish line! What is your favorite genre … to read … to write? I work in a library, so I get a wide variety of great books to read all the time. I go between fantasy, horror and sci-fi for fiction. I have “Devil in the White City,” on my Kindle right now. I’m on a non-fiction binge lately, as well. I have been reading a lot about building tiny houses and getting off the grid. When you are not writing, what do you do? I love watching movies with my husband. We are totally addicted to Netflix, and binge shows together. Also, we play Xbox One games at our house. I’m in the middle of Fallout 4 right now. Where do you get the inspiration for your novels? I am a dreamer by nature. I find that in this hard world, having a vivid imagination is both entertaining and a life-saver. Some of my best ideas come from sitting at work when the library is quietly buzzing with students doing their homework. I saw my story with a superhero team of women come alive out of the quiet of a work day.
What sort of research do you do for your novels?
As a librarian, I can really lose myself in research for a novel. I love research! I have access to materials all over the world and the kind of incredible databases that any author would drool over. That said, I always limit myself to a week of research or I never would get around to actually writing my novel! Sometimes, it is better to write and highlight where you need more research later. It can be easier not to get too caught up in it, even though it is something I’m passionate about. If someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say? I love to have collisions of normal, everyday experiences with abnormal, unusual events. How would an accountant see an alien invasion? A housewife fights demons, and still finds a way to put dinner on the table and get the kids to school. These are my favorite kinds of stories.
I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have to worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?
I would love to get dropped in the remote cabin! There is never enough time to unwind and to unplug. I think it is something everyone should try to do. That is probably why I try to go camping every year. It is a chance to recharge and not feel so constantly connected to everyone. I’d love to explore the land in Alaska and get to know the nature around the cabin. Maybe I’d take a boat out on the lake and fish? I would definitely read a lot. I have a huge collection of books on survival and living off the land. One of my old favorites was the “Back to Basics,” book that talks about how you could make a homestead and live off the land. I would always daydream about doing that someday. I also have a never-ending pile of fiction to read. It would be fun to brush up on my homesteading skills. I’d love to cook big meals and take naps. Also, I’d write as much as possible. It would be a lot of fun. Can I bring my cats and husband, too? I think that would be even better for me.
Talk about your books individually.
My first story was published this year in “Valiant, He Endured,” a Libertarian Sci-Fi collection. The story I wrote is called, “The Keep,” and it talks about women in a future prison where the majority of the poor population is housed along with their families. There are elements of the government using technology to placate the population, and the story showcases the human spirit fighting back against an oppressive system. My newest book is the upcoming “Echoes of Liberty (The Clarion Call Book 2)” and I’m really excited to see that come out. The story I wrote for that is called, “The Guard and the Crane.” It is about two families living in California and one family is taken away to a Japanese internment camp. It is important to me to remember what we have done to our own people in this country, and to make sure it never happens again.
Was it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?
One important theme in my writing is that if we let our freedoms constantly be taken away, where does it ever end? Real evil is subtle. It is the sort of like being mugged and thanking your attacker. We see many times freedom taken away to “protect” us. If you don’t stand up for your neighbors, who will stand up for you when the time comes? For self-published authors
What influenced your decision to self-publish?
Self-publishing gives greater control over your content. The turnaround time to get your book into ebook and print format is so much faster in the self-publish world. I have many friends who are self-published, and they have had great success with it. Publishing houses often take a huge cut of profits, so the benefit is really only getting your book in bookstores. Bookstores are sadly on their way out, so really being self-published makes a lot more sense right now.
What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishing?
The greatest advantage of self-publishing is that you control your own content. You get a greater cut of the profits. I feel that if you have fans, you can really tailor your work to them and not have to change your message based on the publishing companies’ goals. It is about your own vision. I really think this is the way of the future.
Conversely, what do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?
I think self-published authors do miss out on a lot of the marketing available through publishing companies. Access to excellent editors, graphic designers, and someone to set up book tours is invaluable. However, all of these benefits can be self-taught or outsourced. You may have to spend your own money to get cover art or editing as a self-publisher. You may have to make connections to self-market your own books. Having a publishing company is easier for a newbie, but at a cost.
Do you believe that self-published authors can produce books as high-quality as the traditional published? If so, how do you think we should go about that?
To have high-quality books as a self-published author, you need to do your homework. You can design your own covers if you are comfortable, but it may turn out better if you hire someone to create your art. Ask around and find people you trust to be honest with you about your skills. The same can be said with editing your own books. I would never do it myself, when I know there are people who excel at each of these tasks that I can pay a reasonable price to. I always think having more eyes look at your novel is better. Errors are embarrassing and make people think you are unprofessional. Take your time to make things perfect and you won’t regret it.
How do readers find you and your books?
Valiant, He Endured: 17 Sci-Fi Myths of Insolent Grit (There Will Be Liberty Book 2) https://amzn.com/B01F2RLLGW
Echoes of Liberty (The Clarion Call Book 2) https://agorafest.com/index.php/echoes-of-liberty/
Heather Biedermann’s author page: https://heatherbiedermann.com/