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Saturday 20 December 2014

12 Curly Questions with author Michelle Heeter

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 
I am 1/64th Native American.

2. What is your nickname?  
Micho. In high school, it was “Mitch,” sometimes “Mitch the Bitch.”

3. What is your greatest fear?
Being poor in my old age.

4. Describe your writing style in ten words.  
As in “how to describe your writing” (which is what you probably mean): Dramatic, unflinching, occasionally mean, reflects the variety of human experience.

As in “your style when you go about writing” (which probably isn’t what you mean.)This is a 10-step sequence, from picking up the pen to polishing the final draft:
Afraid, hesitant, frustrated, uninspired, plodding, determined, curious, engaged, absorbed, satisfied.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Perceptive, precise, irreverent, unconventional, unpretentious.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
I would be Smilla in Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow. She is smart, strong, enjoys luxury and intellectual challenges, disrespects authority, fights for justice, and swims through freezing water to escape from a burning boat when someone tries to kill her.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why? 
To me, the question “when” is inseparable from “where.” A schoolteacher great-aunt of mine, whom I never met, rebelled against the family during the Great Depression by refusing to move back home and help pay the bills. Instead, she ran off to Hawaii, where she taught English to the native children. If I could travel back in time, I’d go to Hawaii, anytime before it was overrun with tourists.

8. What would your ten-year-old self say to you now? 
Fate plonked you into a mediocre school system. Your teachers are barely adequate and the mean kids on the playground are stupid, but they’re in control now, so you need to learn how to conform. Learning some social skills will make things easier for you. Just keep your head down, pretend to agree with them, and bide your time. You will grow up, move overseas and have adventures that they couldn’t even dream of.

9. Who is your greatest influence?
I can’t name one. Everyone who has ever pushed me to do better, from my high school English teacher to my karate teacher in Japan to the friends who’ve told me to aim for better-paying work, has been a huge influence.

10. What/who made you start writing?
My parents drummed it into my head that no one can make a living just from writing, so I never really tried until I was in a poorly paid job and desperate for money. I wrote a romantic short story and sent it to That’s Life magazine; three days later an editor called saying that they loved it and to send them more of my work!

11. What is your favourite word and why?
When I lived in Japan, I was in a public bath house and an elderly Japanese lady was watching me, a bit suspiciously, probably to make sure I got myself clean enough before getting into the large hot bath. She discovered that I could speak some Japanese and was delighted, urging me to continue studying the language. “There are so many beautiful words in Japanese, aren’t there?” she said. “Oh, yes,” I replied. “My favourite word is ‘tokage’.” This is the Japanese word for “gecko.” The old lady blinked in surprise—it’s probably a strange choice. I’d still pick a Japanese word—“natsukashii”—which means “nostalgic”

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?  
What a torturous question! I’ll pick Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, the edition with the Middle English on one page and the modern translation on the facing page.

Michelle Heeter is a full-time technical writer who also enjoys writing fiction. She has had several short stories published in various magazines and anthologies. Her first novel, Riggs Crossing, was published in September 2012 by Ford St Publishing. Visit Michelle's website for more information about her writing.

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