Thursday, August 2, 2012

{INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY} Canadian Author Heather Beck


Today I am happy to announce that I have Canadian Author Heather Beck on the blog!!



Heather Beck is a Canadian author and screenwriter who began writing professionally at the age of sixteen. Her first book was published when she was only nineteen years old. Since then she has written several well-reviewed books.
Heather recently received an Honors Bachelor of Arts from university where she specialized in English and studied an array of disciplines. Currently, she is working on two young adult novels and has six anthologies slated for publication. As a screenwriter, Heather has multiple television shows and movies in development. Her short films include Young Eyes and The Rarity.
Besides writing, Heather's greatest passion is the outdoors. She is an award-winning fisher woman and a regular hiker. Her hobbies include swimming, playing badminton and volunteering with non-profit organizations.


 Thank you so much Heather for taking the time to stop by and answer a few questions!!

1) What got you started with wanting to write?
I believe writing has always been in my blood, and that it was honed by my education and love of reading. When I was in elementary school, I enjoyed writing stories and would always be the playwright for the class plays. I also read a lot of books during those years, most notably, theSweet Valley series and anything by Jack London. In high school, I took as many English and writing courses as possible since reading books and writing essays always felt more like fun than work! Teachers would often recommend that I publish my school assignments, but it wasn’t until taking a writer’s craft course that I began writing my first novel. Afterwards, I went to university and specialized in English. That’s where I was introduced to a vast range of literature – it definitely broadened my literary horizons.
My love of screenwriting also started at a young age because when I watched TV or a movie, I was a very active viewer, meaning I would write fan fiction featuring intricate plots and a ton of character development. I started seriously studying screenwriting after one of my books was optioned for a TV show and as I took cinema courses at university. Even without an education, I know I’d still be writing, but school did play a large role in shaping my knowledge and skills.
 
2) You started writing at 16. Was it easier for you then or now?
It was easier when I was younger only because I was more na├»ve and, perhaps, lucky. Although I put a lot of time into my writing and conducted thorough research about the publishing industry, I did land a contract with a small, but traditional, publishing company very quickly, specifically, on my third query. I also had a strong faith in my work and unwaveringly believed that my books would get published. After that first publishing contract, more contracts did come quite easily. The naivety part came into play when an established production company optioned my scary story series for a television show. Being only 19 at the time, I thought I’d now be making a living solely as a writer. It wasn’t until I learned more about the TV/film industry as well as all aspects of the publishing industry, that I realized how tough it really is to be a full-time writer. Even after a year of working on a TV show with talented professionals, the project can just fall through. I think that was a brutal lesson to learn when you’re 20 years old, especially when it involved one’s life dream. So, more knowledge and experience, ironically, has made this industry more difficult for me.
Emerging technologies have also greatly changed the industry. When I started out just over ten years ago, e-books were seemingly just arriving on the scene and paperback sales heavily outweighed e-book sales (for me, the opposite is now true). Marketing has also become way fiercer. Then there’s the poor state of the economy which is undeniably affecting funding opportunities for my TV/film projects. Nevertheless, I love writing with all my heart and I’ll continue to strive for my dreams despite the harsh lessons I learn along the way.
 
3) I know that I need background noise of some sort while I write or read. Is there anything you need while you are writing?
Writing comes so naturally to me that I don’t have any requirements that must be met, other than a pen and paper, of course. There are certain elements, however, that hinders or enhances the flow and quality of my writing. If I have a lot of unavoidable stress in my life, I find it more difficult to concentrate solely on my writing. This distraction impedes the usually quick flow of my writing. I can often write in noisy environments, although I prefer quiet surroundings and deem it necessary while editing. I find that some surroundings actually enhance the quality of my writing. They include being at my cottage, at the beach, near water, hiking or just generally being outdoors. Nature is my biggest inspiration simply because that’s where I get my best ideas for characters, plots and settings.
 
4) What is your favourite project so far?
That’s such a tough question, almost like asking which of your children do you like the best! :p I am particularly fond of The Horror Diaries. This scary story series for kids is available individually as e-books or as a paperback anthology in the following titles: HauntedJourneys Through The Unknown and Creatures Of The Night. These stories epitomize what I love about the horror genre – scary, suspenseful and filled with great mythology – and leaves out what I hate – excessive violence and gore. The Horror Diaries are also a lot of fun because I’ve allowed my imagination to run wild. The next anthology is Supernatural, which contains five creepy stories about people with very unusual secrets...
 
5) Do you prefer your writing projects or your film projects?
That’s another very tough question! I fell in love with writing books first and every time I receive one of my new books, I’m still excited. There is definitely anticipation to see the final product. I also love that, with books, the writer has a lot more control and can delve deeper into characters’ thoughts. Whereas, in scripts, writing inner dialogue and anything that isn’t visual is frowned upon. Writers also lose a certain amount of control in films simply because there are so many people involved. The large collaboration process of films can be positive though, especially when working with individuals who share your vision or even have ideas or ways to improve upon it. When comparing the cost differences between producing a book (especially an e-book) and a film, the book definitely comes out on top. For example, The Rarity cost the production company over $1000 per minute of screen time! Then again, there is something sublime about seeing your words come to life. In my mind, I enjoy and love writing books and films equally.

6) What comes next for you? Any plans for the near future?
My next film project is Too Sensible For Love, a dark romantic tale, which is currently in post-production and will be released this September. I also have a few other short films in pre-production. And, as always, I am pitching my television projects. On the book side, my coming-of-age teen drama, Vocations, will be re-released January 2013, and Supernatural will come out June 2013. Future titles in The Horror Diaries series, such as The Sands Of TimeShivers and When Darkness Falls are currently being edited.

Favourites

Actor: Ed Harris, Adam J. Harrington
      Actress:  Elizabeth Gillies, Phoebe Tonkin
Movie: The Edge, Gremlins, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Titanic
     TV Show: Higher Ground
Poem:  Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas, 
           In Flanders Fields by John McCrae
     Artist:  Robert Bateman, Jim Warren
Car:  Blue Hummer (H2) with lots of chrome, Dodge Ram 3500 with a Hemi
    Colour: Purple, Ocean Blue
Animal: Wolf
Favourite place you have ever travelled:  My favourite place I’ve ever visited is Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The beaches are so gorgeous and I just love the atmosphere. Scotland was also amazing. I especially loved the spooky castles!
Favourite place in Canada (gotta know fellow Canadian):  My favourite place in Canada is the forests of Ontario. The scenery is beautiful and I could hike and swim there all day.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and stopping by.  It's awesome to have a fellow Canadian on the blog!!


Heather has generously offered to give away PDF copies of:


All I ask is that you leave a comment on the interview or some nice words for Heather here in the comment section.  I will give out extra entries for tweeting about the interview/giveaway.  Make sure you add @Tiff_Mahaffy in the tweet and leave me the link in the comments and a way to contact you if you win.  1 person will win all 4 books.  Winner will be drawn on August 25 using Random.org


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