BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

NORA INTERVIEWS ERIN HEALY

(Erin & her sister - Leah)


1. How did you start your writing career? Did you always know that you wanted to be a writer?

Writing has simply always been a part of what I do, of how I think and express myself. But I remember the moment I consciously thought I wanted to “be a writer”—it was after I read Harriet the Spy. I even kept a notebook full of spy-like observations for a while. Lucky for a few people out there, I have no idea what happened to it. Interestingly, though, I came to professional writing through the back door, as an editor. When I was a college senior, a friend sent me to a writers’ conference, where I had one of those fifteen-minute appointments with David Kopp, who was then editor of Christian Parenting Today magazine. Due to a miraculous intervention, Dave didn’t have time to read my submission in advance (or else he never would have spoken to me again). Instead of talking about writing (i.e., how bad mine was), we ended up talking about editorial careers, which was of interest to me. We stayed in touch through my senior year, and the week before I graduated, he called to tell me he had an entry-level position open and was I interested? I packed my bags.

2. How did the opportunity come about for you to co-write a book with Ted Dekker? Were you intimidated? Excited?

Ted and I have worked together for many years as an author-editor team. When he developed a plan with Thomas Nelson to expand his brand via co-authoring, he called me one day to tell me about it. I flipped through my mental Rolodex while he talked, thinking of writers I could recommend to him. So when he concluded by saying, “I was wondering if co-authoring with me might be something you’d want to do?” I was caught off-guard. It took me about three days to say what I should have said in seconds: “Of course.” I was far more excited than intimidated, though I sent up my share of “Don’t let me blow this” prayers during the writing of Kiss.

**I know your prayers were answered Erin. I enjoyed the book "Kiss." Looking forward to more by you and with Ted.**

3. How did you all come up with the idea for the book "Kiss"? Was that the working title for this book? Did you have any say so in what the cover would look like?

I came up with a concept for a story about a woman who can relieve people of their most painful memories, a mercy “angel” whose good intentions go all wrong. It was rooted in questions I’d been asking myself about how far a compassionate person could—or should—go in trying to relieve someone’s suffering. Maybe this story will find its footing one day in a sequel about Shauna. Who knows? Ted loved the idea of memory stealing and transplanted that device into a story concept that had bigger political and relational stakes, and Kiss grew from there. Yes, Kiss was the working title, Ted’s brainchild. As for the cover, I had only one thing to say about it when they showed it to me: “Wow! That’s phenomenal!”

**"Kiss" was very gripping and thought provoking. Fascinating!!**

4. Are you and Ted Dekker planning on writing any more books together? If so what? Please tell us a little bit about your next project. Can you give us a little sneak peak?

(Recent Book Signing at Life Way)




Yes, we will continue to write together, and I’ll be writing solo as well. I’m really excited about Burn, which is already off our desks and in the capable hands of our editors. Burn is another stand-alone novel that ups the ante. It’s an intense, brain-bending story about a woman forced into making a critical, life-changing decision … and what might have happened if she’d made a different decision. It’s a novel about the dramatic stakes involved in dying to self, and what life on the other side of that action looks like, for better and worse.

My first solo venture, "Ill Will", is still in the early first-draft stages, so I can’t say too much yet (otherwise the idea may crumble before my eyes). It’s the story of a hard-working, loving single mom who is haunted—and hunted—by an offense that she can’t forgive. Readers can expect my stories to be page-turning thrillers with sharp spiritual edges. Like Ted’s, but different. They’ll focus on emotional issues that preoccupy women. They’ll have more romance than Kiss or Burn. And they’ll probably have more than one word in the titles.

**Can't wait Erin - Ok, A title with more than one word. Hmm!! HA! HA! I'm excited about you dealing with topics you've mentioned. Wow!! What a line up!! **

5. Some authors plot by the seat-of-their pants and others say they plot everything step-by-step. What kind of writer are you? Was your style conducive in writing with another person? Did you and Ted's styles complement each other?

I expected to be a detailed plotter, but it turns out that too much advance plotting is an exercise in frustration to me. It chokes off creativity a little too early in the process. No matter what I think I’ve decided early on, some new idea will crop up and beg to be explored. So it turns out that, while I’m not quite a seat-of-the-pants person, I like a little flexibility. This style was a good match with Ted’s, but I have a feeling that’s a result of having worked together for so long rather than because our writing styles jive. We have similar ideas about what makes a good story . . . as well as plenty of differing opinions. We’ve been known to argue, but it’s all part of the process. Most of all, we trust each other.

6. Some authors say that the characters have come alive and taken them places they didn't expect to go. They surprised them. Did that happen in the book Kiss or another books that you have written? Please explain.

No disrespect to any such authors, but I think that’s balderdash. Characters come alive, sure, and they ought to, but authors have control over their characters. Authors run the show even when their characters are acting, well, in character. In Kiss and Burn, when Ted and I didn’t like what a character “had to do,” we didn’t force the character to do something else . . . we changed the character’s nature.

**You Go Erin. Take charge and make your characters mind you!! If we could only do that with our children!! Ha! Ha!**

7. Why write Christian Fiction since you are writing about a murder mystery?

That probably depends on your definition of “Christian Fiction.” But if Christianity isn’t about life and death and an enemy who seeks to kill and destroy and a hero who always wins, then I don’t know what is.

**AMEN to that Erin!!**

8.What do you enjoy most about the writing process? What do you enjoy the least?


Most: the rewriting. Maybe it’s the editor in me, but that part comes pretty naturally. Manipulating a manuscript is like playing with Play-Doh. It’s so much more fun to have material to work with.

Least: the rewriting. After revision number six (or was it seven?) on Kiss, all I really wanted was a glass of wine and a twelve-hour sleep. Is it just me, or do others also find the creative process riddled with such love-hate tensions?







9. What I loved most about this story are two things: one, it wasn't really gruesome but exciting, thrilling and thought provoking. The other thing I totally was drawn into was the aspect of "PAIN". You made mention of that several times in your book. Wouldn't you be better off losing painful memories? Your main character was told that over and over. Where did your inspiration for the way you dealt with the "Pain" topic in this book come from?

Often, we deal with pain in one of two ways: we deny it or we wallow in it. Scripture seems to come at pain from a different perspective. In the Old Testament especially, God commanded his people to commemorate their suffering with altars and feast days. The point was neither to deny the suffering nor to dwell on it, but to focus on the Deliverer and remember all that he saved them from. Communion, too, is a remembrance of suffering—suffering that should have been ours but that Jesus took on our behalf. In Kiss, Shauna’s enemies are the ones who continually tell her she ought to forget her pain. Of course, they don’t have her best interests in mind, and so they provide a symbol of all the bad things that happen when we forget what God hopes we will remember. Kiss barely scratches the surface of what I think is a very interesting topic.

10. In the middle of all the activities you are in your life when do you have time to write? Please explain some of your writing process?

I write as I can, when I can, where I can. That means I have to learn how to work in fifteen-minute snatches, but I also do a lot of writing at night after the family has gone to bed, and I write around other editorial jobs. I start by outlining the major story arc, and then I try to outline the first act. This is a loose structure, because things will change as I write. The hardest part for me is letting the writing happen as I go, unedited. Editing my own writing is my form of procrastination. I work well under a certain amount of pressure: if I “have to” write a certain number of pages in a certain number of hours, I can usually get there.


Questions you really wanted to know about Erin but were afraid to ask- So I did.

1. What special quality, talent and/or event have you experienced that would surprise people?

When I was fourteen, my parents allowed me to travel with a small band of church musicians into Poland, which was still under communist rule. We took Bibles across the border and were blessed by the most giving, generous, spiritually wealthy people I have ever met. We also visited Auschwitz, and to this day I remember the profound images of that terrible gray place—but even more, the resilience of the Polish Christians, who were also slaughtered there in astounding numbers.

2. If you could hang out and/or interview (2) people who are alive or dead in the history of the world for 48 hours, who would you pick and why? What would you do? What would you ask them?

#1 - I’d ask Darwin if he is surprised by the ways in which his theories have been interpreted and applied since he put them to paper. I’d want to know if he feels misunderstood or boldly represented or somewhere in between, and which of his ideas he’d modify, reject, or continue to uphold in light of today’s scientific knowledge.

#2 - I’d ask Martin Luther what kind of emotional and spiritual process he went through before nailing those theses to the Wittenberg door. Did he have any doubts or fears? How did he overcome them? Did he foresee the historic significance of that action? What does he think of how Christianity has fragmented (shattered?) since then, and how does he reconcile this phenomenon with the need to respond to the convictions of our hearts?

3. Where are your two favorite places to shop and why?

I don’t enjoy shopping much. It’s an overwhelming, overstimulating experience for me that brings out my unattractive qualities, like frustration (not being able to find what I want when I want it) and ingratitude (greed). For that reason I like to shop online, where I can find almost anything without having to leave home or “see” the whole store. When I do go out, I like to go into downtown Colorado Springs and nearby Manitou Springs, where certain little local shops boast some unique and beautiful things that make great gifts and break the cookie-cutter shapes of commercial America.

4. If you could be any super hero for 48 hours which one would you be and why? (You are the author here - you can mix and match powers and costumes. Ha! Ha!)

Wonder Woman. If I could look that good in a strapless leotard and high-heeled boots, I’d endure 48 hours of it.



5. What were your favorite books you read as a child?

How far back can I go? Are You My Mother?, Mike Mulligan’s Steam Shovel, Where the Wild Things Are, Encyclopedia Brown, all the Nancy Drew books, all the Narnia books, all the Little House books, all the Caldecott winners, Agatha Christie, Catherine Marshall, Charlotte Brontë . . . and for a brief time, I read every sci-fi book I could get my hands on.

6. You have just found a magic lamp and the genie says he'll grant you three wishes. What would your three wishes be?

(Erin & her husband hanging with wolves - I'd love to hear the story behind that!)

(1) To never make a mistake in parenting or marriage.







(2) To have a year’s sabbatical AND a round-the-world airline ticket AND money to go wherever I wanted. (Just so we’re clear, that is ONE unified wish.)



(3) For my kids to stay kids until I’m ready for them to grow up.




7. They have just invented a machine that would allow you to change one thing about yourself. First of all would you use the machine? Second if you did use it, what would you change? Why? What would that change look like in your life?



Oh yeah. I’d zap myself into a person who never ever lost her temper, and that would change this Irish girl’s life pretty radically.


8. You find yourself in a life threatening situation, who would you pick to save your life? Why? (You can choose from some one on T.V, movies, cartoons, books, use your imagination).







Miracle Max from The Princess Bride might be a good guy to have on hand, seeing as how good he is working with people who are mostly dead.


9. You have been given two generous gift certificates to eat at the place of your choice. Where would you pick to eat breakfast at? Given you have lots of time and money. What would you order? Where would you pick to eat dinner? What would you order and why?


I’d rent a time machine and go back to The Pierpont Inn, a hotel-restaurant in Southern California that overlooks the ocean and was owned by my family for more than seventy-five years. (Today, it’s a historic landmark.) I’d go back to when I was a kid and the chef’s name was Kenny, and I’d order the Monte Cristo, which I’ve seen on other menus since but never, ever prepared the same way. It was a triple-decker ham sandwich that was battered and deep-fried, dusted with powdered sugar and served with real maple syrup. And if you eat that stuff when you’re a kid, you eat it without thinking of calories or cholesterol, which makes it taste that much more amazing. Perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

10. If you had to pick a TV Realty show to be on, which one would it be and why?

Forgive me, reality-TV fans, but I can’t stand these shows. I feel embarrassed to watch them. If I “had to” pick one, I’d pick something like The Great Race, where I’d surely be eliminated in the first round and could go home.


Thanks so much Erin for hanging out with me today. It's really been a pleasure to get to know you better. I love the book "KISS". Looking forward to reading "Ill Will" and "Burn". We'll have to do this again.


Thank YOU for letting me ramble, Nora. I’m so glad you liked the book and hope our readers do too. Ted and I have had a great time writing these stories and look forward to keeping the story-lovers happy. It was great to meet you in Atlanta!

I enjoyed meeting and talking to you too Erin.

Blessings on your writing Adventures :D

Nora :D

4 comments:

  1. Most excellent interview, Nora! (and Erin of course!)

    This was terrific! Erin is a special lady, no doubt, and I will be eagerly looking for more of her work as well as her collaborative efforts with Ted.

    Thanks for this!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great interview Nora & Erin! Can't wait to read the books.

    Gail Mundy

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've enjoyed Ted Dekkers books to date. It will be great to read Kiss, since you worked with him on it. I'll be curious about the change of style of writing. And then to read one by yourself, as well. Thanks for giving your interview.

    ReplyDelete
  4. WOW! I need to read "Kiss". My TBR pile is growing daily, but the interview was great and now I just have to read it. Thanks!
    Kay Clark, Frisco, TX

    ReplyDelete