Good morning, readers! Today we give a warm welcome to novelist Erin Healy. After editing fiction for many years, Erin began to write novels of her own by collaborating with author Ted Dekker on the novels Kiss and Burn. Healy's more recent works include Never Let You Go, The Promises She Keeps, and The Baker's Wife. Erin's next novel, House of Mercy, will be released in 2012 through Thomas Nelson.
I’m from Ventura, California, which is a beach town north of Los Angeles and the inspiration for one of my first stories, Sammy the Bad Seagull. In Ventura, all seagulls are vermin. Sammy was a terribly arresting morality tale about a seagull who stole picnic lunches, and a dog who taught him to turn from his wicked ways. I think I was in the third grade.
What was it like switching careers from being an editor to becoming an author? What made you decide to start writing novels of your own?
It was like a God-ordained exercise in humility. Editing and writing are related but require different skill sets, and I got into writing with a lot of intellectual but not practical knowledge. After I edited several of Ted Dekker’s novels, he invited me to write two with him. Part of that contract was the opportunity to write novels of my own. It seemed like a no-brainer opportunity. Even if I failed, it would be a great learning experience.
Describe for us your writing process. Do you use an outline or do you go by "the seat of your pants"?
My definitive creative process hasn’t solidified yet. I continue to experiment with different methods. But generally speaking, I start with a very big-picture outline (that is, the general idea of where I want to start and where I hope to end up). Then it’s seat-of-the-pants from there. The actual process of writing is where I make most of my discoveries about my characters and the influences that direct them.
Has anything in your novels been inspired by real people or events?
Never Let You Go was inspired by my observations of a family dynamic of bitterness and unforgiveness. As an outsider looking in, I thought that the parent’s bitterness was having a clear and negative effect on the child. But the parent seemed unaware. I saw it as a spiritual dynamic that challenged me to think about unforgiveness: if we realized the collateral damage it causes to people we love, would we be quicker to forgive?
What inspires you to write? In other words, what causes the seeds of your stories to begin to grow in your mind?
As you might have guessed from my answer to #4, I almost always start with a thematic idea. Themes don’t make good stories, though, so it takes a while for me to “see” who the involved characters might be, and what events might propel them to thematic discoveries. I think I’m a backward storyteller. So far, the stories I’ve written evolve to such an extent over the course of writing that by the time each is published, it’s really, really hard for me to answer the question, “Where did you get the idea for that?”
What are three things that your readers would be surprised to know about you?
I had a higher SAT score in math than in English.
I have been to Auschwitz.
I gave birth to my second child at home with a midwife.
What do you do when you aren't writing?
Reading. Hanging out with my family. Editing. Thinking about exercising. Trying to decide what to make for dinner. If not for my children my days would be pretty boring.
Do you ever listen to music when you write, or do you have to have absolute silence while you craft your stories?
I was the girl who did all her homework in the library because the dorms were too loud. Yes, it’s silence for me, though I love music and listen to it often when I’m not writing.
If you could visit one place in the world, where would you go?
I’d like to spend an extended time in Ireland, writing and walking and finding my roots.
And last of all, where can your readers find you and your books on the Web?
The best place to read about my books is on my website: erinhealy.com. But I love to chat with readers on Facebook at erinhealybooks. Hope you can drop in soon!