The Author from Everywhere: An Interview with Heidi Heilig

Dec 14, 2015

Hello, readerlies of time and space and parallel universes! I am super excited to share today's post with you, because I'm interviewing Heidi Heilig! Her debut novel hits shelves early next year and it's one of my most anticipated novels of 2016. Perhaps you've heard of it? The Girl from Everywhere features a time traveling ship and maps and thieves and fantastical creatures and MAPS. In case you weren't already willing to sacrifice a lamb to get this book--and even if you already were--Heidi is here to make you want it a million times more and want it now.


 

Rachel: Hi, Heidi! Rumor has it that your debut novel The Girl from Everywhere has a number of maps. (Yes, I'm starting this interview off by talking about maps. I am obsessed with them.) Please TELL ALL.

Heidi: Hey, Rachel! Thanks so much for having me. Well! Starting with maps is really an excellent choice, because of course in the book, every journey begins with a map. The captain of the Temptation uses them to travel to historical and mythological times and places, and there are at least a dozen mentioned in the book, from Carthage in 165 AD, to Robert Peary's 1906 map of "Crockerland," to a version of Scandinavia--or "Scandia," as it was known back then.

Maps were a huge inspiration to me for the idea of the book. I've always loved the strange drawings of fantastical beasts at the edge of the world, and the warning that There Be Dragons. Unfortunately, we could only pick four maps to actually include--two of which are modern New York and 19th century Hawaii. But I won't reveal the others because it might be too spoilery--all the maps included are of the places Nix visits during the course of the book.

RachelI see you mentioned fantastical beasts and dragons--can we expect to see such creatures in The Girl from Everywhere, or is the world more realistic?

Heidi: Yes, and yes! The setting is realistic--down to accurate phases of the moon in Honolulu 1886 and the names of ships known to have been in the harbor at the time--but within that realistic world, you will see the occasional creature from myth or legend, including the caladrius--a white bird noted in the Aberdeen Bestiary for its ability to cure any illness with a glance--and a little chinese dragon. My favorite part of any myth was always the fantastical beasts.

RachelI love beasts and fantastic creatures, and I can't wait to see how you incorporate them into your story. Speaking of which, your book isn't even here yet (insert sad face here), but someone already made you a totally cool book trailer. I mean, I didn't know The Girl from Everywhere could sound more awesome, but HOLY CRAP. Fancy maps, time travel, a Persian thief... I feel like your book is going to explode into a thousand pieces of coolness when it lands in readers' hands.

Heidi: Yes, the book trailer is amazing! The fan art has blown me away. I've seen a Girl from Everywhere cake, a rendering of one of the characters, photo collages--I think hands-down the most incredible thing about the world of books is the creativity, talent, and energy of the community. 

RachelSince we're talking about creativity and fan art, if there was one thing or object to represent your book--just one--what would it be?

Heidi: I have a strong desire to create an atlas, or maybe a globe, where all the mythological places the Temptation visits are represented, down to all of the legendary dragons and monsters that lurk near the horizons. While the book is about history, romance, and adventure, it's also about trying to understand where you fit in the world--where you belong. Maps are a great help for that.

RachelOh my gosh. That's a thing I NEED now, so thanks for that. I'm going to loop back to the fanmade book trailer for a second, because the trailer mentioned how Nix's father is trying to go back in time and prevent his wife from dying. I think we've all heard various time travel stories about how changing the past can seriously alter the future, right? But I'm wondering: If you could go back in time and change the past, would you?

Heidi: My obsession with time travel actually began because of a very specific regret I had for many years. When I was 17, my family moved from Hawaii to New York City, and I left my best friend behind. I'd always been a little (okay... a lot) in love with him, but what with one thing and another, I'd never told him so. Now, this was in 1997--before Skype, before unlimited data on cell phones--and we kept in touch, but I thought my chance had passed. Still, I often wondered what my life would have been like if I'd only told him that I loved him before I left Hawaii.

So if you'd asked me a few years ago if I would go back and change the past, I would have said yes--I would go back to tell him I loved him. But then, in 2004, we saw each other again at a wedding in Hawaii, and I decided to tell him then. My story has a happy ending--we're married now. But I carried those regrets and questions for a long time, and they definitely shaped this story. 

RachelI was hoping this story would end with you and him together and oh my gosh it did, SO CUTE. So is romance a big part of the stories you write? Or do you try to paint it as part of the whole, but it's not the piece to put it all together?

Heidi: Strangely, in early versions of the book, I didn't intend for there to be a romance at all. But my characters surprised me by falling for each other in later drafts. Romance is woven into the story, but the main focus is the relationship between Nix and her father, and the adventure they embark upon with some reluctance. I don't want to give too much away, but piracy, time travel, and Hawaiian mythology are all involved. 

RachelA little birdy told me that The Girl from Everywhere is not a standalone--it's a duology! When writing the sequel, did you already have it all planned out to coincide with the first book? Or did you write it separately and just continue where the previous novel left off?

Heidi: When I finished the first book, I did have it in mind to write a sequel, but I had only the vaguest of ideas for the plot. Then the book sold and my editor asked me what else I had planned, so I had to figure it out very quickly! I wrote an outline that I ended up only sort of following. But the nice thing is that there really are a lot of adventures you could have aboard a ship like the Temptation, and so it wasn't hard to craft a whole new story in the same world. It does pick up where the first book leaves off, and follows the crew to a new place right out of an old myth. (Sorry to be vague but I don't want to spoil anything!)

RachelAh, so are you more of a pantser or a plotter? (Also, oooh, traveling to a place from an old myth. I am intrigued.)

Heidi: I'm kind of a plotzer, to be honest. Best of both worlds. I use the outline as a vague guideline, giving the characters freedom within the framework. It's most useful when I'm stumped--I can refer back to the outline and know what I have to write towards. But after the book is drafted, I re-outline the book as written. The new, improved outline then helps me to move, cut, or rework scenes. 

RachelIf Nix is the girl from everywhere, then you're the girl from...

Heidi: I'm the girl from the big city and the little island. New York and Hawaii are both a part of me. 

RachelHoly guacamole, it's publication day! You go to the store and see The Girl from Everywhere on the shelf. *turns on Price is Right voice* Heidi Heilig, what do you do?!

Heidi: EEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

You know, honestly, I hadn't thought about it until just now. I've never really envisioned it before. I suppose that once I gathered up the courage, I might write a little note on a scrap of paper and tuck it into the pages. The note would say "I made this for you. Love, Heidi."


TitleThe Girl from Everywhere
Author: Heidi Heilig
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publishing Date: February 16, 2016
Pages: 464

Heidi Heilig’s debut teen fantasy sweeps from modern-day New York City to nineteenth-century Hawaii to places of myth and legend. Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. The Girl from Everywhere, the first of two books, will dazzle readers of Sabaa Tahir, Rae Carson, and Rachel Hartman.

Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own.

In The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility with witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, and enchanting romance. 


Heidi Heilig grew up in Hawaii where she rode horses and raised peacocks, and then she moved to New York City and grew up even more, as one tends to do. Her favorite thing, outside of writing, is travel, and she has haggled for rugs in Morocco, hiked the trails of the Ko'olau Valley, and huddled in a tent in Africa while lions roared in the dark.

She holds an MFA from New York University in Musical Theatre Writing, of all things, and she's written books and lyrics for shows including The Time Travelers ConventionUnder Construction, and The Hole. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their pet snake, whose wings will likely grow in any day now.


How excited are you to read The Girl from Everywhere? I am SUPER EXCITED. Also, here's some fun stuff for you: preorder The Girl from Everywhere and Heidi will send you goodies!

1 comment:

  1. Ahhhh, this interview just made me even MORE excited about Heidi's book! The maps, the mythology, all of the vagueness she mentions above. CANNOT. WAIT! I also loved hearing about her happy ending, and I think she should totally put that note into one of the books. Imagine finding that before, or even during, reading the book. That would be cool! I'm also a huge fan of maps, and history, and time-traveling, so this book needs to hurry up and get here. I NEED IT ALREADY.

    Loved this interview, Rachel!

    ReplyDelete

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