Recently, I reviewed YA fantasy novel Heart of Mist by debut author Helen Scheuerer. I really enjoyed it, so to promote this wonderful lady even more, I’m going to do a little Q&A with her in this post! Hope you enjoy it. If you have any more questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll see if I can get an answer for you.
I’ve always loved creating new worlds and completely building them from the ground up. Do you have a specific process when it comes to world building? What’s your favourite thing to create?
I definitely have a process when it comes to world building, and actually – it’s the same sort of process I use for creating characters too. I always start with a very vague notion of a location or a person in my head, and then I layer more detail in, draft after draft. It’s a long and difficult process, but I really struggle to create something authentic from the get-go. I need to take my time getting to know the place or the character, and work authentic details in naturally.
As for favourites… I had a lot of fun creating Valia Forest, the home of one of the protagonists in Heart of Mist. I created word pools, moodboards and really let myself go where the story took me 🙂
Why did you choose to write in the genre your book is in?
I didn’t always write fantasy, previously I wrote literary fiction. But I had a bit of a lightbulb moment not all that long ago where I realised I should be writing what I loved reading, and I haven’t looked back since then.
Are you traditionally published or self-published? Do you have any tips for other budding authors who want to go down that route?
I’m self-published, though I prefer ‘independently published’ because if you go the indie route properly, it’s certainly not a solo journey.
For people who are considering any publishing option, I’d tell them to do their research. Really have a hard think about what they hope to achieve through publishing, and learn about the pros and cons of all your options, before making an informed decision.
Going indie was the best decision I could have made, but it’s not always for everyone!
If you could spend some time with a character from your book, which character would it be and why?
Ohhhh I love this question! I think it would have to be Fi (Captain Fiore Murphadias). He’s good fun, and a bit of a dreamer. And although I’m a tad biased – his banter is on point 😉
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
Ahhh that’s a tricky one… For the most part, I’ve been lucky enough that throughout my career so far, criticism has been constructive…
However, there was one instance when I was working on a different book, where an editor made a very derogatory comment about my work being like Dan Brown’s. I’ve never actually ready any Dan Brown, and despite him being a very successful, bestselling author, I know that in certain literary spheres there’s a stigma towards his books. This criticism was tough to take because more than anything, it came across as extremely unprofessional, and it simply didn’t provide any specific advice as to how to improve.
Are any of your characters based on real people, or are they entirely fictional?
My characters are all completely fictional, I would never base a character on a person in real life. However, that’s not to say certain aspects of people I’ve encountered haven’t subconsciously wound up in them. I think every author takes in details of places, people and experiences as they go through life, and consequently, these leak into their work from time to time.
And finally, going back to world building – how much of your world did you plan before writing? Do you have J.K. Rowling-Wizarding World-depth notes or do you just plan enough to cover what happens in the book?
Hahaha, I wish I had Rowling-level planning abilities, but with Heart of Mist, much of the worldbuilding came after the first draft. Once I had the basic plot and characters down, then I was able to sculpt the world. I drew a map (one that went on to become the foundations of the map now featured in the book) and I created secret Pinterest boards to help me imagine the settings and the feel of each location…
Now I’m working on the second book in The Oremere Chronicles though, I’m planning a lot more. I’ve actually taken to using spreadsheets to plan out the multiple perspectives and plot points. I think at the point I’m at now, things would get overwhelming without planning!
Thank you so much to Helen for taking part in this Q&A. I hope you liked it! Like I said above, if you want to ask anything else, feel free to leave questions in the comments and I’ll pass them on. You can read my review of Helen’s book, Heart of Mist, here.
If you’d like to find out more about Helen Scheuerer or Heart of Mist, here are some handy links!
- Helen’s website
- Free Heart of Mist prequels
- Like on Facebook
- Follow on Twitter
- Follow on Instagram
- Goodreads Book Page
- Goodreads Author Page