Interview with Heather Hayden

This month I had a chance to speak with Heather Hayden, who is one of the most supportive authors I know from Scribophile. She interviewed me back in September about inspiration and motivation when you have depression, and this month we’re going to talk about the creative process and different forms of media.

Heather, what do you think is the hardest thing about writing?

For me? Probably sitting down and actually doing it for a straight period of time. I’m easily distracted and too often find myself on Facebook or Scribophile or checking email again when I should be working on the latest chapter of my current work-in-progress. I’m very much a procrastinator, in other words.

I can certainly sympathize with that! Sometimes getting together the mental fortitude to tackle a task instead of brainlessly skimming things is really tough. Better to think about the easy things, right?

Coming up with ideas is pretty easy for me—they tend to pounce on me from all sides. Especially when I already have another writing project in the works! I also find it easy to write when I have a strong burst of inspiration—once on a bus ride I wrote over 6,000 words in a new story in the space of only a few hours.

Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever written that much in a single day, or even three! Do you aim for a set amount of words or pages a day?

When I’m editing a novel, so am focused on finishing a chapter per day. When I’m writing a first draft, I often focus on writing a chapter, or five pages, or a few thousand words, every day until I’m done. It isn’t a lot of work for me (unless the chapter needs a lot of editing!) so when I can I’ll do more than that, but that’s my general daily goal, provided I don’t have other priorities to deal with (such as work.)

Jeeze, you’re starting to make me feel like a lightweight. Let’s change the subject for a minute — what’s your favorite movie (and why)?

That’s a tough one! It’s like asking me what my favorite book is—I have too many to choose one specific one! I mostly watch science fiction and fantasy, though. My favorite animated movie would probably be Castle in the Sky, though honestly it’s tied with Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (and I absolutely love Brave, too.)

My favorite live-action movie…well, I love I, Robot and Transformers and Alice in Wonderland, just to name a few. Castle, Nausicaa, and Alice all have strong female leads—Nausicaa especially. And most of them have robots, androids, or AI to some degree as well—all things I’m fascinated with! I also really love the animation of Castle and Nausicaa—it’s absolutely gorgeous.

Finding a strong female lead whose author didn’t associate “strong’ with ‘bitchy’ can be tough. I admire your choices, though! What’s your favorite quote?

From a movie, or a book, or a writer?

Let’s start with a book quote and go from there.

I have many favorite quotes… My favorite movie quote is Optimus Prime “Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing.” This is true for so many characters—farm boys don’t expect that tomorrow they’ll find a dragon’s egg, slaves don’t expect to escape and join the rebellion, servant girls don’t realize their kindness may bring them the magic to change their lives forever.

How about from a movie?

I also love Captain Jean-Luc Picard (of Star Trek: TNG) who said, “Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey. It reminds us to cherish each moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived.” I once wrote a letter to Time, as the final for a class I took on literature, science, and spirituality. This is probably the most inspirational for life quote I have on my list of favorites.

Any other quotes you’d like to share?

As for my favorite writing quote… My favorite science fiction author, CJ Cherryh, said, “It is perfectly okay to write garbage – as long as you edit brilliantly.”

I’ve been practicing that idea lately myself. It’s hard to turn the internal editor off, but exciting too! But, I think our time is almost up — is there anything you’d like to add before we move on?

I’d have to say “Speak friend, and enter.” is my favorite quote from a book. My sister and I use that phrase frequently. Bonus points for our friends who know the proper response!

Heather Hayden Drawing

About Heather Hayden

Though a part-time editor by day, Heather Hayden’s not-so-secret identity is that of a writer—at night she pours heart and soul into science fiction and fantasy novels. In March 2015 she published her first novella, Augment, a YA science fiction story filled with excitement, danger, and the strength of friendship. She immediately began work on its sequel, Upgrade, which continues the adventures of Viki, a girl who loves to run, and her friend Halle, an AI.

Her latest release is a short story “Beneath His Skin,” which is part of an anthology her writer’s group put together called From the Stories of Old: A Collection of Fairy Tale Retellings. You can learn more about Heather and her stories through her blog and her Twitter, both of which consist of equal amounts of writerly things and random stuff she’s interested in.

Let me know what you think!