Have you met Heather Grace Stewart? She is a Canadian poet, speaker, and author of the newly released novel Strangely, Incredibly Good. I have had the pleasure of getting to know her on Facebook and Twitter, and was recently delighted to win a copy of her new book. Yeah for me! It was a lovely Valentine’s present to receive and I flew through the pages. You can find my book review over at A New Day.
As Heather is such a warm individual, I thought I would take a chance and ask her if she would be willing to answer a few questions about her writing. I was thrilled when she graciously agreed to share a few thoughts with me and my readers.
Without further ado, I would love to introduce you to Heather!
Chatting with Heather Grace Stewart
Tell me a little about yourself. What do you do when you aren’t writing poetry or fiction?
HGS – When I’m not writing, I love playing with my daughter. The snow is finally melting here, so we just came in from enjoying a scooter ride around our street. I stole the scooter from her for a while. 🙂 I’m looking forward to Spring, when we can plant seeds together, and later in the summer, make bouquets from our garden.
I also love photography, scrapbooking, inline skating, and just hanging out with my family. We love flea marketing and gardening together and walking long stretches of the beach when the tide goes out.
You have written several poetry books. What made you decide to write a work of fiction?
HGS – I just wanted a change, and the idea for my story grabbed me and wouldn’t let go until I wrote it! I’d been writing poetry since age 5, and getting it published since I was 22 (in newspapers and the Queen’s University yearbook, then in a few poetry Reviews, and eventually, with my first collection in 2008). I just didn’t feel ready to put out a fifth poetry collection; it felt time to try something altogether different. I’m pleased I did!
As a writer, I know how exciting it is to have something published. Did it feel different to have ‘Strangely, Incredibly Good’ published versus when your poetry books were published? If so, how?
HGS – Three of my poetry books were self published, and for Carry On Dancing, I’d only queried about four or five publishers before landing my publisher. So yes, it was quite a different process.
Strangely, Incredibly Good was a lot more work. It took over four months to write and edit, with some months on hiatus in between because I hurt my back, and then I went through the long process of sending out query letters to try to find an agent and/or a publisher. I sent out 20 letters, and was ready to quit when I didn’t even get rejection letters back after eight weeks. Then I sent out a 21st letter, and got back a personal, kind reply from an agent, saying she wished she didn’t have so much on her plate because she’d love to take me on; that she was in love with my story. That gave me enough motivation to send out my 22nd query, and that effort landed me my publisher!
I’m proud of my poetry collections, but getting Strangely, Incredibly Good published in print, watching it hit #10 in Humorous Fiction on Kobo, and having people come up to me with great interest at Black Bond Books and Chapters, sometimes buying more than one copy – nothing else in my career has compared to how that feels.
Cat struggled with self-esteem all her life and that seemed to lead to the challenges she faced with her weight, in love, in her parenting, and even in her career. It’s only when Gene appears, and loves her for herself, that her self-esteem gets a much-needed boost and puts her life back on track. What is it that he provided that she couldn’t find for herself? Do we need love to define our self-worth?
HGS – Actually, that wasn’t the case at all. I don’t want to create a spoiler here, so I need to remain vague, but Cat had something happen in her past, a horrible tragedy for which she felt she was responsible. Her life went spiraling downward after that incident. She felt she was the cause of a lot of pain for a lot of people. That caused her to constantly overeat and it also made her lose self-respect, and one of the results of this was that she ended up with the wrong man. She didn’t think she deserved better than him because she felt she had been the cause of great pain for several families. She DID get started on trying to improve her self-esteem on her own, by trying to eat better, and by picking up the Wii machine. She took the first steps toward self-love on her own when she decided to finally go to the gym and then try the Wii.
When Gene popped out of the Wii machine, she was finally given a chance to remedy what she believed was her mistake (saying any more would be a Spoiler ) and once she did change a series of events, and finally forgave herself, her life got back on track, and she made better decisions, such as opening up the Cat Walk. Gene also loved her for herself, which helped her believe in herself more, but that was just the icing on the cake.
So no, I don’t think we need romantic love to define our self-worth, and Cat didn’t need it either. She just needed a do-over for parts of her life, and Gene had the magic that let her do that. Sometimes, we need a little shove from a good, strong love. She was wasting her wishes on vanity at first, and Gene helped her realize what she really needed to do to change the course of her life.
I’m glad you gave me a chance to clear that up for you though, because it’s a complicated plot with the time-travel and that affecting so much of Cat’s past and future life! The publisher, my editor and I were pulling our hair out at one point in the editing process, as we worked to assure that it was seamless! Most readers have said they have had to reread sections to get it all straight. It was so much fun to write but taxing work to make sure it was logical.
Let me say this on record: I enjoyed the challenge, once. 🙂 There will not be time travel in one of my books for a very long time! However, I really do love the whole concept of time travel, so, you never know 🙂
Do you have any other books in the works, poetry, fiction or otherwise? Will there be a sequel to ‘Strangely, Incredibly Good’; will Gene and Cat have a second chance at love?
HGS – There may be a sequel, yes. 🙂 I also have another book in the works, which is an entirely new topic but in the romantic comedy, contemporary fiction genre. The main character will be a feisty 27-year-old lawyer. I used to edit a law magazine, so I have lots of ideas.
That’s all I can say about both projects, for now! I’m excited to be writing again. I’m having lots of fun with the stories.
Thank you so much for sharing a bit about yourself, your experiences with writing and publishing, plus a little more insight into ‘Strangely, Incredibly Good’ Heather. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me and my readers, and wish you much success in your future endeavours.
You can find Heather Grace Stewart on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. I know she would love it if you stopped by to say hello, liked or followed her. You can purchase her books through her website, or via Morning Rain Publishers and Winter Goose Publishers.
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