Meet the Newbies is hosted by Rachel from A Perfection Called Books and is a way to get to know the latest debut authors and get a glimpse of their books. Check out all the authors and blog on the tour here.
Today I’m featuring the wonderfully talented and kind Heidi Heilig. I was blown away with her original take on time travel and how beautifully she wove mythology into her story.
Author Most Likely to Lose Her Voice/Mind at a Book Conference
Nickname: Maddog (this is true.)
First Day of School: February 16, 2016
Grade: Historical Fantasy
Extracurricular Activities: Cheerleader for The Sweet Sixteens, Captain of the Internet Debate Team
Favorite Class: Alternate History
Favorite Quote/Motto: The world will be better for this/That one man, scorned and covered with scars/Still strove, with his last ounce of courage/To reach the unreachable stars.
About the Author
She holds an MFA from New York University in Musical Theatre Writing, of all things, and she’s written books and lyrics for shows including The Time Travelers Convention, Under Construction, and The Hole. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their pet snake, whose wings will likely grow in any day now.
As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.
But the end to it all looms closer every day.
Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.
For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.
She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.
Or she could disappear.
Your debut novel, The Girl From Everywhere, was beautifully executed, written and so original. It was obvious to me while reading that you dedicated a good amount of time researching mythological creatures, settings, and time periods. What were some of your favorite things you stumbled upon while gaining knowledge for this book?
Research is truly one of my favorite things, and as is always the case, so much of what I learned didn’t make it into the final draft. I spent a lot of time actually setting up hypothetical trade routes between eras and maps–things like going to Lerna to collect hydra’s blood, which is a deadly poison, as well as the blood of Pontus ducks which is a mythical antidote to poison, and selling both in 17th century France where there was a rash of political poisonings.
Something else I got to really dive into was sailor and pirate lore, especially surrounding women. I loved learning that while women were sometimes considered bad luck aboard, they were also often thought of as being the greatest navigators. And I got to read a lot about famous female pirates like Ching Shih and Grace O’Malley.
I’ve read my fair share of novels that included time travel but never have I read one with a similar method as you’ve created. How did the idea of your travelers only being able to use original maps to venture through time (and only once) come to you?
I’ve always loved old maps, both because the edges are populated with sea monsters, and because I’m obsessed with the idea that an incautious sailor could go too far and sail off the edge of the world. That was what prompted the idea of travel via map–the idea that the world ended at the neatlines. The limitation of only being able to use a map once both prevents potential paradoxes and also imposes an additional challenge on the characters, which makes for better drama.
Obvious question but I have to ask- if you could-where and when would you time travel?
Oh there are so many placed I’d go! My answer changes almost every time i’m asked, but recently I’ve become fascinated by the colonial era China, with the high stakes political and social issues of the opium wars. Plus I love old photographs of Chinese people in Victorian era outfits.
I really felt that one of the strongest features in this book was the character relationships especially between Nix and her father. When writing do you tend to have a favorite character yourself? If so, does it make that character harder or easier to write?
The relationship between Nix and her father, Slate, was definitely the most familiar relationship to me, because it’s reminiscent of my own internal struggle with regrets and bipolar and self-destruction. The fact that it was so close to heart did make it tougher to write. By contrast, Kashmir is my absolute favorite character, and he came fairly easily to the page.
Can you give us any hints as to what’s coming in the follow-up and conclusion to the series?
The second (and final) book of this duology is currently in my editor’s hands, and while I don’t want to spoil anything, I can tell you that it concerns a dire fortune for Nix, an infamous liar from history, and a mythical kingdom doomed to sink into the sea.
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