Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A View from Heather Burch's Window - Guardian!

I recently had a chance to interview Heather Burch about her latest release in the Haflings series - Guardian!  This series presents a lot of new ideas and some unique conundrums for the young people within the novel!   Join me as I talk about this great young adult series with Heather!

·         You have a HUGE heart for teens! You have taught teens, and have now created a YA series that has drawn a great following!  When did you realize you wanted to write for this particular market?

      When the idea for Halflings began percolating in my head, I realized I should have been writing for teenagers all along!  

·         What draws you to minister to youth?

      I think teens are the most amazing people group on the planet. They have so much to offer and the thought of helping lead them deeper into the things of God is as exciting as it is fun.

·         You’ve received great reviews from both the Christian and secular markets...what does that feel like?  What do you find most encouraging in this market crossover?

      What does it feel like? Amazing. And not for the reason you might think. I love that a good book can simply be viewed as a good book without all the labels. Yes, these storylines have a Christian world view, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t relevant to today’s average teen who isn’t a Christian. I hate that so many books are segregated. The most encouraging thing in this market crossover is that it’s successfully crossing over. Anyone can read Halflings and Guardian and enjoy them and most importantly not feel condemned by them. I write fiction. That’s what I’m called to do, so I’m careful to not overdue the message. God is big. If He has a message for someone—and I’ve been obedient to write what He’s given me—the message will be there organically for that specific person. I don’t have to try to shove an idea down anyone’s throat. God is so much bigger than my powers of persuasion! Those who have a heart to seek, will find. And those who don’t will just get a good, entertaining read.  

·         Half-human, half angel…where on earth was that idea born? 

      I’ve always been intrigued by the scripture in Genesis that talks about the sons of God taking the daughters of men as wives. It’s a controversial passage, but had always made me wonder. Also, I think the message of salvation is the best love story in the world. So, those two ideas started bouncing off one another. What if the race of (fictitious half humans) were alive today? What would they be like? What would they do? They would serve God, of course, because they would know His greatness and unending love.

·         You have really drawn on the earth-shaking, undeniable pull that exists between young folks that fall in love.  When you talk to teens, as you meet them across the nation, what do you say to them about first love?  What do they say to you?

      I hate the term puppy love. I think it’s kind of offensive. When you are feeling emotions like love for someone, that sensation runs deep, no matter how old you are. It’s gut wrenching. What I try to encourage teens with is remembering that they are at one stage of their lives and they are going to change drastically over the next few years. Do you still like what you liked at age 6? Or 12? No. And statistically, over the next 5 to 6 years, your tastes will continue to grow and change. What you love about that person may be the very thing you detest in a year or so. I’ve seen that happen on multiple occasions. So, keep that in mind as you navigate the relationship. The guy or girl is also changing and growing. Invest in yourself. Examine and learn what makes a good match and what might become toxic. And don’t be afraid to step back and remain friends rather than jump into a deeper relationship. Give yourself time to become YOU before you become a THEM. 

·         Why/how did you come up with the idea of making the consequences of falling in love so extreme in this series?  What do you hope readers will draw from this situation?

      After years of working with teenagers, I’ve watched relationships have life altering consequences time and time again. Think before acting. Do you really know what this relationship could cost you? I never meant for there to be a lesson in that, but I guess it’s there because I’ve watched too many shipwrecks. 

·         This series began in January 2012 and concludes in April 2013….that’s a lot of writing!  What kind of schedule does that require?  

      I begin at around 6:00 a.m. and usually write until 1:00 p.m. I do this four days a week. So, I can usually write a book in six months, less if there’s a rigid deadline. But this is the same schedule I kept for three years before I sold a book. You have to be disciplined. It just won’t work any other way. J

·         Where do you do most of your writing?  Where is your favorite place/most inspirational place to write?

I usually write at home in my office. I have a giant window that faces a palm tree and various tropical plants. Nice for inspiration. Sometimes, when I need a change of scenery, I take my computer to Panera Bread or Starbucks. Once in a while, I go out to the beach. But not too often. The water is far too great a temptation and I end up people watching or scanning for Dolphin. Discipline is easier for me at home.

·         You offer a variety of workshops and conferences for writers.  What do you feel is the most important part of the writing/publishing process?  What words of encouragement do you want to share with other writers?

      NEVER STOP WRITING! Find a critique group that understands your voice and learn from each other. Some critique partners work and some just don’t. Go into it knowing that everyone may not get you. That’s ok. Be ready to take jaw dropping criticism. It will happen. No one is ready right out of the gate. It takes time to learn craft, point of view, essence of story and conflict. Join a group like ACFW or RWA. They have wonderful workshops to help you learn the nuances of popular fiction writing. And never ever give up!

·         Do you have other writing projects that you are working on while promoting the Halflings series?  Can you give us a sneak peek?

      I do have another project but it’s a bit too early to talk about yet. Let’s plan to get together again and I will let you in on the new project. What I can say about it is … it’s way super fun to work on! Totally different, but having some of the elements folks love about Halflings. Also, I have AVENGER, book three in the Halflings series ready for edits. It will hit the shelves in April. 

·         What words of encouragement do you want to share with your readers?

      Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. Is there something burning inside you? Something you’d love to do but can’t even fathom doing it? Move forward, take a step in that direction and see if God won’t meet you there. Remember, He will give you the desires of your heart. Not only that, He placed those desires within you. If you can imagine it, you can accomplish it.

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