It’s time for another Author Interview which I am really excited about! I was lucky enough to interview Terry Maggert the author of the magical new YA fantasy “Heartborn”. It was released on September 1st and I was lucky enough to receive an e-copy from Terry which I am really excited to read. Look out for a spotlight coming soon that will include a giveaway for an audiobook of “Halfway Dead”. So keep your eyes peeled for that! But for now let’s get on with the interview! Yay!
1. To begin with can you tell us a little about yourself.
The official bio is left handed, likes pie, runs, likes giraffes and the outdoors and such. Oh, tomato plants. I like growing them. I’m a late-in-life father of an enormous son. My wife is tall, has fluffy hair, and is hilarious, but not before she has a Diet Coke. I teach history, used to own a pub, and was born in South Florida. The water is my home, the mountains of New York are where I went to High School, and I live near Nashville, Tennessee. I love art and music and food, but I can’t sing. I’ve written several letters to Santa about this, all to no avail. I recently had my DNA tested to confirm a few things (How much of me is from Poland? Why am I tall and vaguely hairless? How come I don’t sunburn—ever? The answers—quite a bit, unsure, and part Polynesian. Who knew?).
2.What inspired you to write Heartborn?
I had a dream. Seriously. I was dreaming about a girl walking toward me on a road, and her hand covered her chest. There was a scar—terrible, purple thing in a line, and she kept touching it and gasping for breath. I couldn’t see her feet, so I knew she wasn’t human, and when I woke up (actually, my basset hound woke me up at around 3:00 AM!), I sat down and began sketching notes. In an hour, I had the first three chapters, and the book began to take on an inertia of its own.
3. Who was your favourite character to write?
Livvy, yes, but her mother, Vasa is—complicated. On one hand (or wing) she’s this radiant being of love who wants nothing other than to secure the future for her family. Then again, she has depths that are quite murky. Her morality is flexible; the love of her family is not. In the next novels, she’ll become someone even more layered, because we have an expectation that mothers are these paragons of virtue. Maybe she is, but she’s also not shy about sacrifice.
4. What was your favourite scene to write?
I teared up writing the scene in Livvy’s yard. There’s one line, which is a spoiler—about the ash tree—that is exactly the kind of raw, stripped down words I love using. I think that some sentences can be short, clear, and brutally honest. I hope that scene hits the mark. It did for me when I was writing it.
5. Was there a lot of research involved in writing Heartborn?
NONE. Which is surreal given the amount of research I’ve done for other novels, but hear me out: I teach college history, and my entire life has more or less been research. Wait- I just remembered; I had to look up the names of angels from the Sibylline Oracles for Heartborn, but other than that, I sat down and began writing with every tool I needed at my disposal. The good news is it only took me four decades of reading to get there.
6. Which if your books do you feel particularly connected to?
Books are a lot like kids in that we create them from start to finish. I love my books, because the characters are mine. With that being said, I’ve been a dragon freak since I was a kid. I loved dinosaurs, things that looked like dinosaurs, and anything in between. Naturally, I gravitated towards science fiction and fantasy. When I was a kid, my best friend gave me a copy of “Dragonsinger” by Anne McCaffrey. It was the beginning of a love affair with her books that hasn’t stopped. I’ve worn out copies reading them, bought more, and worn those out as well. In between, I read nearly everything. I teach college history, which is more or less a poem about everything, so there’s no topic that I don’t find, at the least, mildly interesting. When I wrote Banshee, I wanted to have a strong female character, a dragon with a moral compass, and a southern male character who isn’t portrayed as an idiot. I was also given the freedom to trash the planet in whatever way I saw fit, and if you don’t think destroying Montreal is fun, you haven’t written about it yet.
7. What is your favourite thing to write about?
Vengeance and food. I find both very satisfying. If you see three pages of a dinner scene in my novel, you may safely assume I was writing on an empty stomach. If you see a gruesome death, you may conclude I was just dealing with traffic, or am short on coffee. Either can be fatal to side characters.
8. Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
I’ve thought about this a great deal. Beyond the usual platitudes (Follow your dreams! Don’t give up!) I would add a few things I’ve learned. The more you write, the more mistakes you make, and the better you’ll get. The way you get better quickly? A good editor, who understands what you’re trying to say. I have an excellent relationship with my editor, because she *gets* my characters. She also tells me I’m wrong. That’s critical. From the first day I became a professional writer, I wanted to get better. I think we should look back at our first novel and cringe, because if we don’t, as writers it means we’re treading water.
Oh, and I say this with feeling: hire the best cover artist you can. You can’t see personality from across the room, right? Covers count.
Thank you so much Terry for answering all of my questions. I love reading about which was your favourite scene to write and how you came up with Heartborn. Who knew Dreams could be so useful!
So remember that Heartborn is out now! If you are a fan of action, love and a book full of interesting characters then go give it a read now! Remember there will be a spotlight soon that will contain an audiobook giveaway.
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