Thursday, February 16, 2012

Heather Bouwman Interview

Remarkable & Very True Story of Lucy & Snowcap

Heather Bouwman is the author of the middle grade novel The Remarkable and Very True Story of Lucy and Snowcap. (Which  I reviewed here.) You can also check out her website here.

Now on to the interview!

 This is your first published novel. As aspiring authors we hear about writing 'practice novels' before reaching a point where we'll have one good enough to publish. Do you have any novels 'under the bed?' If so, do you think you'll ever go back to them with what you've learned along the way and revise them?

Lucy & Snowcap is my first published novel. It's also the first novel I wrote; I got really, really lucky with it. My second novel, which I've worked on off and on for years, will (I think) also be publication-worthy soon. But my third novel has been shoved "under the bed," as you put it (okay, not really; the dust bunnies have pretty much claimed that area as their territory). It's on my computer in its 120-page draft form, and it will likely never be printed out--or finished.

The difference between the second and third novels, I think, is that the second novel was REALLY BAD when I finished the rough draft, but there was a spark there, and I was interested in continuing to work on it. The third novel was REALLY BAD, and it bored me so much that the thought of working on it for a couple of years (at best) was coma-inducing. I think that "Puts the Author to Sleep" is a sign that one should set the novel aside. I guess there's the possibility that I'll pick it up again someday...but I don't think so.

Are you an outliner, or do you just sit down and start writing?

Both. Neither. It depends on the project. I do always have at least a vague idea of where the book is headed, plot-wise (not that that helped me with the third book!). I've tried writing detailed outlines, and I've tried seat-of-pantsing. I have no real opinions either way--I'm just willing to try whatever seems like it will keep me writing productively and happily.

The main characters have names from each other's cultures, was that part of the original spark of an idea or did that come later?

Originally there was only Lucy (no Snowcap), and her name was Lucy from the start, and I had no idea why. When Snowcap appeared, her name popped into my head before anything else--and again, I didn't know why. I pretty much go with my gut on names, and then I try to figure out later why the name is important. It makes for interesting and surprising backstory.

Adam and Rob were named after my two oldest nephews--and yet I think the names are really apt for the characters.

Who was your favorite character to write about? Why?

Philip--because, essentially, he's modeled on me. How awful, yes? But there it is. There was a LOT more of him in the novel originally, but my editor convinced me that no one would be interested.... SIGH. (She was right, of course.)

I loved writing Lucy and Snowcap too, of course. They're so ornery that they were a blast to have in scene. And when I was revising Adam (and making him speak flash-cant--18th-century thieves' dialect), he suddenly became a lot of fun to quote. Even my kids got into it, until they were regularly calling each other "kinchen-cove."

In the book Snowcap thinks, "somehow everything was better with a horse around.' Are you a horse person yourself?

If by "horse person" you mean "someone who actually knows a lot about horses and is around them a lot (or much at all)," then I am not a horse person. However, if by "horse person" you mean "someone who fantasized endlessly as a child about owning a horse, read all the books on horses that she could get her hands on (_Misty of Chincoteague_, anyone?), and still is, at heart, that child"--then yes, I am very much a horse person.

Is this the kind of book you would have read when you were ten or eleven?

YES! But to be fair, I would have read almost anything. :->

You're working on another book, can you tell us anything about it?
I'm working on a couple of things right now. One is novel #2 that I mentioned above, that I've been revising off and on for a while now. It's a historical novel--and it's the manuscript for which I received the McKnight fellowship this past year. YAY! The other novel is really new (I'm still drafting)--and it's historical fantasy again, more in the Lucy and Snowcap vein. I cannot even say how much fun it has been to draft; but it's far from being ready to send out. I will say this: it contains sea monsters. So every time I get stuck, I tell myself to "Get kraken." (Have I mentioned how much I like cheesy puns?)

Any advice for aspiring authors?

Oh, I have no idea.... I might say, "Write every day, no matter how busy you are"--because that's what works for me. But I know many successful writers who don't write every day. I do think, though, that in order to write you have to actually WRITE: that is, you have to persevere, whether that means writing every day or not. Endurance counts for a lot. And in order to keep writing, you need to keep finding the joy in it--which doesn't come from a publishing contract or an award. It comes from seeing your own words bead out across a page--and you think they're beautiful, and you recognize them as something you made.

Thank you so much, Heather!


  1. Ok, first of all, I can't wait to read this book--it sounds really fun. Also--I am exactly that same kind of horse person. (And I wonder if Ms. Bouwman has read The Scorpio Races, because as a strictly literary horse person, it was a fantastic read.) Thanks for posting such a fun interview!

    1. I'm so glad you commented about that book! I read a review about it (probably yours) but couldn't remember the name of the book! Thanks!

  2. i haven't read the Scorpio Races, but I will definitely check it out. Thanks for the suggestion! I still love horse stories. :->

  3. Great interview, I really enjoyed it!

  4. I wish I could write everyday! :( Ugh. But I agree about finding joy!! It's hard to persevere sometimes! I love the name Snowcap! Epic! Can't wait to check this book out!

    Great interview!

  5. Thanks for stopping by, you guys. And Ashley, do check it out! It's wonderful! :)

  6. Sounds like you had a huge amount of fun writing your book, Heather. All the best. :-)

  7. Great interview! I love the title and am already intrested in picking up a copy. :)