Get Into The Mind Of Heather Wardell

Most of y’all have heard me spew beautiful adjectives about  Heathers work before, but I’m guessing there is a side of her you have yet to meet.  So today, on the book birthday of her very much anticipated novel “Planning to Live” I let you see the side of her she wishes I never would have exposed.  Brace yourselves people…it’s about to get deep in here.

KO:   Before we get down to the nitty gritty I have one very important question to ask you.  Being a self proclaimed (cause lord I couldn’t make this shit up) Meat Loaf fan. What is it exactly that he won’t do for love?

Heather: Nice, the first question and I don’t know the answer. I’m so going to fail this quiz. Let’s see… sing a song shorter than five minutes? I adore him because he’s over-the-top and doesn’t seem to care in the slightest what people think of him and his music. Maybe he won’t sell out for love? He does his own thing, from what I can tell, no matter what. And I love it.

KO: Is it true that you hide pictures of Simon Pegg underneath your mattress?

Heather: That’s a vicious rumor (which I think was started by you!). It is true, though, that I’ve seen “Hot Fuzz” and “Shaun of the Dead” more times than medically advisable. Fabulous twists on their genre, both of them, and ridiculously hilarious.

KO:  It’s funny the things we learn about people through the internet huh? LOL. Ok, enough of the badgering I promise.  So tell me please (since you completely avoided this question on your bio) What is your favorite book and why?

Heather: I feel the need for a tinfoil hat and a safe place to hide, but let’s go on. I didn’t mean to avoid the question, but it’s tricky because I’ve got so many favorites. The two that come to mind, though, are “Tara Road” by Maeve Binchy and “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card.  Very different books, but I love them for the same reason: I was reading along and BAM, the situation changed and I didn’t see it coming and yet it was foreshadowed when I went back to reread. I like not knowing how a book will end when I pick it up. Anything not formulaic ranks high on my favorite list.

KO:  When did you decide that writing was your calling? Being a woman so versed in the obscure ( “I run, swim, crochet, play video games that encourage button mashing rather than technique, play drum and clarinet) what was it that made you hop on the romance/chick lit train?

Heather: I should have written that as “games that require button mashing”, as I am a controller thrower when I get frustrated. Anyhow, I’d always loved chick lit books. Maeve Binchy, Marian Keyes, early Sophie Kinsella… I devoured them. In May 2005, my husband went away for a six-week business trip and for some reason I decided to try writing a novel. I’d heard of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which happens in November, and decided to do my own version in May. By June I was hooked on writing, and after many edits that book became “Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo”, my first novel (which is available for free download at I just kept going after that, and the lighter tone with romantic elements is a natural for me so I decided not to fight it

KO:  I just finished “Seven Exes Are Eight Too Many” and was told by a little birdie (aka you) that the “fall” in this novel was based on a real life experience.  #1. Holy crow buckets, that had to hurt, and #2. Are there any more “real life to book” moments you would like to share with us? Maybe your secret desire to be on a reality TV show?

Heather: I would so love to be on “Survivor”. I’m Canadian so I’m not eligible, but I would love it. But yes, the wipe-out in the jungle that I gave my main character was indeed based on my tripping over a sidewalk during a training run. This picture shows the immediate aftermath for my poor face, but not the mess I made of my knees and shoulder or the spectacular bruising that came up later. It did hurt, and it scared the stuffing out of me, but by the time I’d stopped bleeding I was already deciding how to work it into “Seven”, which I was writing at the time. I guess that’s a sure sign I’m really a writer?

As for other “real life to book” moments, I have tons. Since I had no outline for “Polar Bear” when I started writing it back in May 2005, it’s full of my real l ife. Even the polar bear tattoo of the title, which the main character has tattooed on her back in the book… to get the details of it I just had to look in the mirror at my own back!

Beside that and the fall, I also like the “airplane flight with an ear infection” in my “Go Small or Go Home” (short version: you can feel the pressure building and building and it doesn’t settle until the
plane levels and by then you don’t care if the eardrum does rupture just so long as the pressure goes away). It happened to me on a trip to a writing conference and I knew it had to be in a book.

KO:  How do you come up with such unique plots? (Hockey, Art, Deserted Island pole balancing) Do you bounce ideas off of friends, maybe consult a magic 8 ball, or are you old fashioned and just sorta start writing?

Heather: Every book is different. For “Seven Exes” the idea of being stuck on an island with your exes hit me when I saw a commercial for either “Survivor” or “The Bachelor” (can’t remember any more) and I started thinking about how awful it would be. “Go Small or Go Home” began when I was thinking about whether I wanted to keep working at selling my writing or just keep it for myself.

Once I have some kernel of something to explore, I create this long Word file, usually seventy pages or so, which I call “ramblings”, and just type away. I hit dead ends, change direction, write things like, “Don’t give up” right in there, and eventually find the book somewhere in that mess of words. Then I make an outline and get to writing the first draft, referring to the ramblings file if I can’t remember why I decided something. It feels wildly chaotic at the beginning, and occasionally frustrating, but it works for me.

I deliberately don’t bounce ideas off of friends, at least not until I’ve got the book clear in my mind. I find that exposing them to light too soon seems to kill them somehow for me, and besides, it’s fun to know something nobody else knows.

KO:  So tell me a little about your upcoming novel “Planning to Live” what’s it about? Can I expect a classic Wardell ending? And by classic I mean, where I want to smack you for leaving me hanging until the very last second?

Heather:  Um… get your smacking hand ready! 🙂

“Determined to lose weight for her best friend’s wedding, goal-obsessed Rhiannon flees her parents’ Christmas Day feast to avoid overeating but her car skids off the deserted road into a tree. Trapped and bleeding, with her cell phone out of reach, she struggles to escape, and to accept that she’s spent her whole life planning but hasn’t ever really lived. Will she get the chance to change that?”

Since we’ve talked about how I come up with plots, let me tell you about this one’s process. While driving on a deserted road, I had the idea of a woman trapped in her car and waiting for rescue after calling 911. When I started looking for my next book, I saw that idea (I keep a list) and thought, “But what if she can’t call 911? Then what?”

It’s a darker book than I’ve done before, and it was painful to write at times, but I truly believe it’s why I became a writer. I don’t mean to sound cheesy, but writing and re-reading that book has changed my life forever, and I hope it will help others change their lives too.

KO:  Now… (and this is probably the most important question of the entire interview so pay attention) If you were offered a movie deal (and didn’t actually die of a heart attack from the sheer excitement of it,) who would you cast as Rhiannon from “Planning to Live”? (Say me… please say me! I need some quick cash)

Heather: There’s this chick who writes a blog about Kindle books. What’s her name? I forget. She’s obsessed, though, I know that… she’d be perfect…

I’m honestly not sure! I would like Rhiannon to be played by a somewhat bigger girl, not a Hollywood size zero who puts on a few pounds for the role, and a natural redhead would be nice. I wandered around online looking for appropriate actresses, and I’m leaning toward Kate Winslet (although she might not still have red hair) or possibly Melissa Gilbert. Ooh. My online search just paid off.  Christina Hendricks. I think she’d be perfect. I think.

It’s tricky! I think I’ll stick to writing books and let a casting director handle all that stuff.

KO:  And finally, (because I’m fairly certain I have worn out my welcome,) do you feel any remorse for leaving those poor, helpless, education deprived children behind in your quest to become the greatest author of the 21st century?

Heather: I suspect I did them a favor! I was famous in one school for talking to volleyballs, so probably removing that weirdness from the kids could only help them. (I suppose I should explain… I was teaching phys ed and the kids wouldn’t stop talking and I just held my volleyball up to my ear and said, “What’s that? I know, they are loud. Should I? I could ask them again to be quiet, sure, but do you think it would work?” By that point the kids were silently staring at me like I’d lost my mind. But they were quiet. Mission accomplished!)

KO:  Thanks so much for your time & your patience with me and my less than orthodox interviews!  Is there anything else you would like to add?

Heather:  I’d like to thank you for your hilarious interview questions and keen Twitter-stalking skills, and I’d also like to tell everyone that my three for-sale novels are all $0.99 downloads for the Kindle and other electronic readers. Excerpts of each book, and my free “Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo”, are available at I love getting reader feedback, so feel free to drop me a note via my site! Today is the first day of my blog tour for “Planning to Live”, and the other stops can be found on my blog at

Thanks so much! I had a great time answering these. 🙂


About Misty

Your friendly neighborhood narcissist. I'm sarcastic, cynical and a bit cranky. I own a soap box so big that sometimes I have difficulty stepping down off of it, and I'm about 94% certain I have multiple personalities. I don't sleep enough, and I read more than any person should ever consider normal. I have anger management issues, especially when I'm stuck in traffic and I have an unhealthy obsession with my Kindle. I am a vampire lovin', zombie obsessed, book-in-hand, iPod freak. You either love me or hate me. You be the judge.

16 thoughts on “Get Into The Mind Of Heather Wardell

  1. Again, thanks so much for this! I rarely get to giggle my way through interview questions. 🙂

    I’ll pop back a few times today, so if anyone has any questions (or can arrange for me to meet Meat Loaf!) let me know!

  2. What is the significance of your polar bear tattoo? Or is it in the book?

    Your books look interesting and unique, I will have to check them out

  3. Amber, you HAVE to turn it up. It might be a law. And if it’s not, it should be. 🙂

    Karen, I have always been obsessed with polar bears. The house is heavily decorated with them, my car’s license plate has one, and I even made my blog’s background a fake fur texture. They’re just the best animals. Not much more significance than that, I’m afraid! (And I actually have three polar bear tattoos, because one didn’t seem like enough. 🙂 I hope you like the books!

  4. Your new book sounds interesting. I may check that one out. I’ll definitely recommend your books to my wife, because she has a new Kindle and is looking for some good reads.


  5. I bought “Go Small or Go Home” a few months ago when Misty originally reviewed it and loved it. I was wondering if you had an art background? Where did you come up with the minature idea in the book?

    Nice Interview.


  6. Thanks, Jessica! I can barely draw a stick figure without instructions. 🙂 I knew I wanted to explore the whole “art as business or hobby” question and didn’t want the ‘art’ to be writing.

    At first, Tess in “Go Small or Go Home” was going to be a painter of huge canvases, but as I worked on the plan for the book I thought something small suited her better. The miniature scenes were one of those amazing “Huh, where’d that come from?” moments that I so love in writing.

    Early next year I’ll be releasing another book that will have Tess and Forrest returning as minor characters. I’m thrilled to be working with them again. 🙂

  7. Me too, Misty! Honestly I kind of fall for every leading man I write but Forrest is something else. I think it’s the hockey player thing. Us Canadian girls have a weakness for them! 🙂

    1. It’s the wounded bird thing. Big strong man taken down by his own rampant emotions. It’s hard to not fall in love with that 🙂

  8. Great interview! I must admit I love Meatloaf,too! I even watch the bad movies he’s in. Your book sounds fantastic,Heather…can’t wait to read it!

  9. I love reading author interviews! Heather, I made great progress when I tried NaNoWriMo, too (and I think May is a much better month for it than November, which is when I did it). And there’s nothing wrong with Meatloaf (Paradise by the Dashboard Light is one of my faves). Congrats on your book’s b-day. 🙂

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