For my most recent University assignment to be published in our paper, I was given the task to try to get an interview with a writer and have it published somewhere other than the universities paper. One who I admire. So my first thought was the one that has guided me in the last few months to help further my future writing career. If you haven’t heard of her, her name is Debra Heather, a Canadian writer originally from BC, she currently lives in Montreal. She writes with an expressive and professional writing style and writes on a wide variety of different topics. She started out as a music journalist and has written for newspapers, several magazines, short stories and is now the editor-in-chief of a news and entertainment web magazine called underthepress.
Here is our interview:
Alison Sanz (AS): Thank you for taking the time to do this interview, I really appreciate you letting me get a deeper look into the mind of a writer.
Debra Heather (DH): No problem at all, thank you for thinking of me.
AS: It’s a little known fact, that quite a few well-known writers have come from small towns. I read that you are from a very small town in BC, do you feel like that has played a big part in your writing?
DH: Yes, I grew up in Penticton, British Columbia depending on where in the world you are, you may think of it as a small town, but in fact it is a beautiful small city in the Okanagan Valley. To answer your question, in a way, it absolutely has played a big part in my life and my writing. For any individual, your roots and upbringing mold you in a colossal way extending to your adult life, which has been the case for me.
AS: Speaking of upbringings, I find that writers who are genuinely passionate about what they do, write from experience and a lot of times come from dysfunctional backgrounds. Is this the case for you also? I ask because I found through my research on you, one of your short stories A Loss for Time, and wondered if the main character, Emily is based on you?
DH: Wow, I wrote A Loss for Time, so long ago, in College actually, (great research on your part). As for my upbringing, that is a rather personal question, very few people know about my childhood and I think that’s how I would like to keep it! However; many aspects of the character of Emily are based on emotions and feelings that I did have as a child growing up.
AS: Okay, my next question is: Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
DH: I did actually, from the time I can remember, I would get home after school and write quite vividly, in my journal about my thoughts on any given day. For some, it can take years to know what it is you want to do with your life, but for others you just know at a young age what your passion is, for me that was the case, writing has always been a part of me, both personally and now professionally.
AS: I’ve spoken to different writers, and they tell me it’s difficult being in a relationship with a non-writer, is this true to you?
DH: That’s a good question, Yes, it can be at times, the way a writers brain functions can be very different from others, unless both parties have a passion for writing or understand the mechanics of a writers brain it can be trying at times. Speaking from experience, the best tip I’d say for anyone in any kind of relationship with a writer would be don’t always expect deep, conversations. A writer expresses his/her thoughts through their written words and quite often need time to process a verbal response. Truthfully, we will most likely think on it, break it down, then write our response out and only then get back to you.
AS: Speaking of relationships, what does the writer Debra Heather look for when it comes to love or relationships, and do you use your past/present relationships in your writing?
DH: Hmm another personal question ha ha. Okay, well what I look for is intellectual stimulation that to me is the biggest attraction, someone who “gets you and how your brain works” and a little brawn doesn’t hurt either! Of course, every experience, and relationship I have past or present, in someway or another ends up in writing, but that’s usually on a personal level not as much as on a professional one.
AS: You’ve accomplished a great deal in your profession so far. Now being in your mid-30’s, do you feel like you have more to accomplish, as a writer/editor, what else is there for you?
DH: OUCH! That comes across as almost ancient sounding, I’m 35 and I can say I absolutely have more to accomplish. I believe everyone does, if not our lives would be rather dull and complacent. It doesn’t matter what profession someone has, whether you’re a doctor,lawyer,soldier,chemist, or writer: passion is the key to success, passion drives you to set goals for yourself and allows you to exceed through the ranks of your profession. As for what else, is there for me, I have quite a few different projects coming up and at the moment I’m working on a novel, which will be finished with any luck in the next 6 months.
AS:What is your novel going to be about? What advice would you give writers just starting out?
DH: The novel is a memoir inspired story and my advice for writers starting out is to write, write and write again, the more you do the better you become. NEVER GIVE UP, it is a hard profession and doors will slam in your face, try not to let this discourage you. You just have to be persistent, and at times aggressive, in my case (passive/aggressive). You only need one person to believe in you and as cliché as it might sound, that person is you. The key is to be confident and believe in yourself, if you can do that everything will eventually fall into place.