Ask the Author: Wendy Heard
What would you like readers to know about you?
This is a tough question! Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything a reader needs to know about me, personally. I’m just the shadowy figure behind the book. It’s what’s in the book that matters.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
My first book, Hunting Annabelle, is out now. It’s about a young man who has been recently released from psychiatric prison and spends his days sketching people at the local amusement park, afraid to rejoin society lest he gives in to his violent impulses again. He meets Annabelle and falls for her hard. But then she’s kidnapped, and he has to figure out who took her before he himself is arrested for the crime.
Next up is THE KILL CLUB, out December 17, 2019. This is about a young woman who joins an underground, vigilante murder club to save her little brother from their unhinged foster mother. It takes place in inner-city Los Angeles and is an LGBTQIA+ book that has a lot to say about how easy it is for abusers and stalkers to stay on the good side of the law, leaving victims with very few options.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
Hunting Annabelle was an idea that came from a bunch of places. The character Sean came to me fully formed when I was at Disneyland, contemplating the idea that they have their own private ambulances that rush injured and sick people out of the park so as not to mar the happiest place on earth vibes. I thought, what if some really creepy shit happened at a theme park like this? And so the idea was born.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
The hunting knife scene. >:-)
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve been writing forever. I think my inspiration has changed with age. When I was a kid, it was all about the poems of Edgar Allan Poe and a lot of dark kids’ books–anything Victorian where children were orphaned was popular with young Wendy. (I had endless spiral notebooks of Poe fan fiction). As a late teenager, when I was writing my first novel, I went through a really douchey Kerouac phase that inspired my first novel, a truly awful work of fiction called Circles. Nowadays, I like books that surprise me or have a really unique and compelling voice, especially ones that are unapologetic and brazen and emotional. Amy Gentry is a writer whose books are full of one-liners you want to pin on your bulletin board forever. Jennifer Hiller goes so unapologetically dark in her thrillers, it gives me chills. Kimberly Belle writes domestic suspense so masterfully, I once shelved a project that sounded a little like one of hers because I knew there was no way I’d be able to execute it at her level. JT Ellison is a pro’s pro, and she whips out suspense like she was born to do it. Layne Fargo has a book called TEMPER coming out that is so punk rock and sexy and psychological, I can’t wait for everyone to read it. I have to stop; I could go on and on. Amina Akhtar (how many calories does murder burn?), Caroline Kepnes, Shannon Kirk, Emily Carpenter (southern gothic done so right), Kellye Garrett (if you like hilarious and smart protagonists), Angel Luis Colón, Gabino Iglesias (“Barrio Noir” is my favorite term ever; prepare to be terrified both by threat of death and by our own society), Steph Cha…I have to stop.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
I would encourage them to let go of any ideas about natural talent. Get rid of all your pride and get to work. Practice. Practice more. And more. Study plot, and then study it again. Find outlining tools that work for you. One person told me, “I had to learn that all the words I wrote were not precious.” Think about this: for every painting you see in a museum, there are hundreds of sketches, studies, that were created as practice before this painting was executed. We can be like that too as writers. We can be less precious about our art and not take ourselves too seriously.