21 Jan 2013

Author Interview: Libby Heily

I'm a bookworm and a writer, a nerd that's seen every episode of Farscape and can't wait for the next Dr. Who Season to begin. I enjoy running and playing sports and am always hopeful the Baltimore Ravens will win a superbowl. I love movies but don't care about the Oscars. I eat apples regularly but find apple juice bitter and don't like it. I'm a foodie and a beer snob. I eat babies. Okay, just baby carrots. I studied acting, video production and creative writing. I've had very few jobs that reflect any of those years of study. I am Libby Heily, and it's nice to meet you.

Danger lurks everywhere in eleven year old Reggie's world—from the bully next door to the unwanted attentions of a creep at school. Raised by her mentally ill mother, Reggie is left to fend for herself in a rough neighborhood. She escapes in daydreams, battling aliens with her alter ego, Tough Girl.

When Reggie's mother disappears, her fantasy life spirals out of control and starts to invade reality. She is hunted by a creature of her own design, and even Tough Girl is not strong enough to stop him.

Will Reggie survive long enough for her mother to return, or will her dream world take over?


If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
There are definitely living authors I would like to work with, but if I could choose anyone living or deceased, it would be a toss up between Virginia Woolf and Muriel Spark. Woolf because she's a genius and I'm in awe of what she can do with language. She was also my first female writing hero. Spark because we have similar sensibilities. She has an interesting take on humanity where she sees the darkness and the humor simultaneously.

What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
When I don't have a day job, I wake up, check email and settle in for five to six hours of writing. Right now, I write in my little computer nook. It's a small space between our apartment entrance and the actual office. I like the smaller space, the way I can see out but still feel like I'm tucked away. When I have a job, I write whenever my schedule allows, usually one hour at night and weekend mornings. Sadly, I cannot write in coffee shops. I need privacy.

What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
My stories tend to have a lot of twists and turns and complications. Getting the plot exactly right gives me headaches. Tough Girl took me four full drafts and countless edits to get right. It also took the generous help of eight beta readers.

When and why did you first start writing?
I've always loved stories. When I was a kid, it was cartoons and TV shows. When I learnt to read, it was books. I think writing was just a natural extension of my love of stories. I've more or less been doing it since I learnt to read.

How did you come up with the idea for the book your book?
The idea for Tough Girl came to me rather slowly. I knew I wanted to write a story where a child slips away into a dream world. Alice In Wonderland and my own habit of daydreaming were huge influences there. A second project I had in mind was a film script about four siblings that were part of a crime family and had to fend for themselves when their father died. I thought about the two separately a good bit, usually while running, and slowly they merged over time. All the little nuances, characters, and world building (2 worlds) came over the two years it took me to write the novel.

Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I'm a slow reader but I do read constantly. Right now I'm reading An Actor Prepares (Stanislavski), Something Wicked This Way Comes (Bradbury), A Little Bit Lucid (Sven Scheppokat), and slowly making my way through Don Quixote (Cervantes).

Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Perseverance is all that is going to help you in this world. Writing really comes down to making yourself do it. Put in the time, grow a thick skin because you're going to need it, and listen to critiques. When the writing is done, it's you who is going to have to work hard to get it published, whether you go with traditional publishing or self publishing.


Writing Credentials:

2011 Pushcart Nominee for my short story "Grow Your Own Dad"
2011 Honorable Mention in Ohio State Newark New Play Contest for my play "The Last Day"
2011 Semi-Finalist for the Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference for my play "STUFF"
2010 Attendee Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive
Published in The Write Room and Mixer Publishing