Please welcome to the stage Miss Heidi, our featured literary lady for November! *hands microphone over to Heidi*
Introduce yourself! Tell us your name, your age (if you don’t mind sharing), three of your biggest passions and one thing you love about November. ~ First of all, thank you so much for having me, Emma Jane—I’m most honored! :)
And for an introduction… I’m Heidi, the oldest of five children, and I’m in my mid-twenties. Three of my biggest passions are: writing (and reading, by definition), history (including under that heading as many diverse items as Egyptian chronology, 1800’s fashion and art, period dramas, etc.), and theology. I’m not sure that dance or photography fit under any of those three items, but I love those, too.
And one thing I love about November…cranberries! Real marbles—intensely, wonderfully red—they’re so quintessentially wintery and festive. I love cooking with them…rolling them round on the cutting board or making ruby sauce.
Where is home for you? (Be as vague or specific as you like.
~ Home for me… A place with kindred spirits—where humor is caught and understood. A place with warm cozy beds, good coffee, good books, and good conversation. A place of richly shared stories.
What is your current situation academically? (For example, what grade are you in, are you homeschooled, our of school, go to public school, or take lessons from an elderly spinster aunt.)
~ I was home educated and now help a bit with my siblings’ education.
Is there one author who has particularly influenced you in your writing? ~ Josef Conrad and G.K. Chesterton have both done their fair share recently, but I realized another huge influence (right back to the beginning of my writing) is Caroline Dale Snedeker. I’m always amazed by how incredibly and deftly she ties together both the seen and the unseen in her character’s world—and all with a breathtaking clarity of description.
Favorite book series? ~ John Buchan’s Richard Hannay spy novels/thrillers set during and just after WWI and particularly the first four: The Thirty-Nine Steps, Greenmantle, Mr. Standfast, and The Three Hostages. Definite page-turners with vivid characters, they’re edge-of-your-seat material.
Favorite childhood book? ~ Let’s see, there are a lot… I read the yellow Nancy Drew’s over and over (and also the Boxcar Children, etc.), but for a specific stand-alone title there’s always By the Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleischman. The story of a correctly mannered butler and a young boy traveling out to California during the Gold Rush to mend the family fortunes, it’s thoroughly fresh, delightful and funny.
I know it can be hard sometimes for us bookish personalities to pick a favorite author, but if you had to choose just one, who would you pick? ~ Being highly unoriginal, I shall say Jane Austen (but…there are also Tolkien and C.S. Lewis—and about 15 other top favorites ;)).
What’s your favorite book that’s been made into a movie? How do you feel about the film adaptation as compared with the book? ~ North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell—and I love the adaptation/s!
Who is one literary character you feel you are most like? ~ Elstrid in Margaret Leighton’s Journey for a Princess. The youngest daughter of King Alfred, she’s uncertain at times (mostly of how people will respond to and view her), yet all through the story she’s learning how to live with the responsibilities of her birth—the role and place she was born into—as well as maturing through friendships and growing into a woman with a woman’s heart, ready for her strong-armed warrior. I’ve always identified with and loved the story and looking back, it’s amazing to see how particularly it’s shaped my writing as well.
Where is your favorite place to read? What about writing? ~ I enjoy reading (and stretching at the same time) on the floor beside my bed. My favorite writing time is on the computer early in the morning.
Do you normally write first drafts on a computer, or do you prefer old-fashioned pen and paper? (I say, three cheers for pen and paper!) :-) ~ I’m going to have to say the computer :), but I generally write all my initial notes/ideas out longhand so—if packed notebooks count as rough first drafts—then pen and paper.
Be honest: what is your handwriting like? ~ Under most circumstances it’s clear and I think could be described as pretty (in a simple, unornamented sense)—but on occasion and in certain places (let us say, when writing a list or transcribing notes in the heat of composition), it does sometimes become illegible.
How long does it generally take you to read a good book? (Of course I know it depends on just HOW good it is, but in general.) ~ Of late I’ve tended to read mostly at night before bed, so (if the book’s of average length) a couple of evenings—maybe a week. If it’s a thick classic, it might be a good bit longer.
What’s your record time for finishing a book? ~ My most recent record (for a good-sized, fascinating work of historical fiction), was about eight hours—and that time I think I was up till about midnight or one o’clock.
Name five of the best books you’ve ever read that you recommend to other fellow bluestockings.
~ The Christian Imagination, edited by Leland Ryken. With a wide range of accessible essays from Beuchner, Tolkien, Lewis, O’Connor, and others, it’s an astonishing exploration of both story and the imagination in literature (and film).
~ Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Stunning—a marvelous example of an intensely, thoroughly Christian story handled with power and subtlety.
~ The Flying Inn by G.K. Chesterton. A rollicking adventure first published in 1914 and touching on Christianity and Islam, modern art, and a whole host of accompanying “ism’s,” it’s a breath of fresh air and delightfully fun.
~Farmer Giles of Ham by J.R.R. Tolkien. Told by Tolkien to his children, Farmer Giles is the humorous and lighthearted story of a dog, Garm, and of his master—that fighter of giants and dragons Ægidius Ahenobarbus Julius Agricola de Hammo (aka Farmer Giles of Ham).
~A Sea Queen’s Sailing by Charles W. Whistler. Recommended by a friend, this was one of my greatest finds of the last year! It’s absolutely beautiful, so sweet—and amazing in its relevancy and authenticity.
Tell about the things you think are most important in a good novel. ~ A smooth, flowing balance of action and description. Also subtlety, honesty, reticence, and a depth of language.
About what age did you start writing stories? Do you still have your early works? ~ I was about eight and yes, I do. I put them all together in a binder a few years ago and they’re quite fun and encouraging to look through once in a while.
Are you currently working on a novel/story/project? ~ I’m about a quarter of the way into my current novel, On David’s Shoulders. Set in the 1880’s, here’s a summary for it:
“In a world where one must die in order to live, Cedric—youngest son of his father—must choose between gratifying his father or fulfilling himself. His two older brothers have their own difficult paths to walk. The three live out their lives moving from stately English sitting rooms to the horrors of Indian battlefields under the British Empire and to the wide spaces and danger-ridden lands of the American west. With opposing themes from Homer and Spenser—and in a story rife with truth, desire, guilt, and betrayal—all three come face to face with responsibility, the consequences of abdication, and the realities of redemption.”
Folks, do check out Heidi's darling blog, Along the Brandywine, where she writes about books and movies and writing and all sorts of lovely things. A very lovely and inspirational literary lady indeed!
Thank you Heidi! :-)