Friday, August 10, 2012

A View from Heather Munn's Window - How Huge the Night

I was able to interview Heather Munn just after she was nominated for a Christy Award for How Huge the Night.  It was a huge privilege, and she is a precious lady of God.  I look forward to reading more of her work in the years ahead!  Please join me, as we talk about her writing!

How was the idea conceived for this story?
My mom knew about this village in France.  The story is based on a true story.. about a little village in the middle of nowhere that became one of the safest havens for the Jews in Europe.  A town of about 3,000 people that saved the lives of about 3000 people.  The village is not far from where I grew up, because my parents were missionaries in France.  So that’s how my mom knew about this village.  There is a non-fiction book about this same village…Less Innocent Blood be Shed by Phillip Howe.  Mom found that American’s didn’t know about this heroic village. She started the book when I was about 13…she wrote the book and rewrote it several times…and got really tired of being told to rewrite it.  So my dad suggested that I help her rewrite it, so I agreed to help her.
She gave me her manuscript, so I treated it sort of like an outline.  We did change the ending, but we collaborated on that change.  How Huge the Night is the first published work for both of us.
When I completed a chapter, I would send it to her, and she would give me feedback.  We worked together really well.
Your novel was nominated for a Christy Award…were you surprised by this?  It was awfully exciting!  (lots of laughter)  I really believed in this book a lot, so it is a kind of validation for this story.
Do you have another project in progress?  We are working on a sequel for How Huge the Night.  We are working in much the same way we did on this novel…she wrote the manuscript, and I reworked it.  We just finished the rough draft.  This novel follows the life of the younger sister, Nina.  She was a character that I sort of reinvented. She represents things that are really important to me.   Adults tend to like Nina’s character, and the young adults tend to think of her as a weak person.  There are so many images in media of really strong kick-butt, beautiful women that are just unrealistic. This is unfair to young adults because they become unable to recognize real strength in the real world. That’s something that I want to shine in the sequel.  That’s what the protagonist struggles with in the story.  There are a lot of things that the main character struggles with.

Is Young Adult an audience that you are passionate about?  I don’t think I’ll write in the genre all of my writing career, but it’s something I’ve fallen in love with because sometimes so many adult novels are so neatly categorized…romance, police procedural ect… and young adult novels allow me to explore real life issues in a more realistic way, and that’ something I really like.

Do you think you will always write historical fiction?  I don’t see myself doing much contemporary fiction.  I really like history and the drama that I find in the past.  I do biblical retelling…some short pieces and that’s one of my very favorite things to do.   Kind of like a read aloud pieces.  I have a site where I post my short pieces…  I hope this will minister to others.

What is your writing schedule?  Writing half the day…pretty much all the time.  I work on a farm part time.  I’m working on a community garden. I start writing at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. If  I get on a roll…I’ll write into the evening, but writing half the day is writing full-time for me.  I tried writing an eight-hour day at one point, and I just got burned out.  So this is what works well for me.

What is God doing in your life?  God has been impressing on me the bigness of life and the smallness of us.  This is something that is deeply intertwined with the sequel of How Huge the Night.  The main character is reflecting on some pretty bad things that have happened and she says to herself, “God never promised that any of these people would live. And God never promised that my mistakes would never hurt people I love.”  The world sort of lets you imagine that the opposite is true, but it’s not real.
I suffered a miscarriage earlier this year, and it made me realize that we all really want to guarantee the survival of our children, but that is not something we can do with either modern technology nor with God.  God is alone is sovereign. 
To get to know Heather more, please visit her How Huge the Night website!

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