Author Interview: Heather Grace Stewart

What is unique about main character Cat from your debut novel, Strangely, Incredibly Good?

Cat has a lot of qualities many people - not just women - can relate to. She’s had to deal with traumatic events, and bullying as a child and teen, and that’s affected her path in adulthood and some of the choices she’s made. What I love about her is that despite her struggles, she still has a great sense of humor, and she’s still willing to take chances.

In terms of personality, is the genie in Strangely, Incredibly Good more like the genie from Aladdin or the genie from I Dream of Jeannie?

Well, he’s yummier than either of those genies. I mean he has a Celtic tattoo, piercing green eyes and bulging calf muscles! But he’s probably more like the one in I Dream of Jeannie, despite that she’s female. He makes mistakes like her, however, he’s not ditsy!

In three sentences or less, tell readers why they should read Strangely, Incredibly Good?

It’s a great escape. It’s based in reality, complete with pop culture references, but explores fantasy and even time-travel. It’s been called a page-turner by early reviewers, who say they cried and laughed out loud.

Who are your favorite authors?

Michael Ende (The Neverending Story), Sue Monk Kidd, Helen Fielding, Nicholas Sparks, Jennifer Weiner, Sophie Kinsella, Elisa Lorello, and the poets Sara Teasdale, Emily Dickinson, and Robert Frost.

Are you an early bird or a night owl when you’re writing?

Absolutely the early bird. I’ve never written a poem, an essay, or a book past, oh, 8 p.m.  I don’t like to write when I’m tired. I have written ‘useable stuff’ as early as 4 a.m. - I love when it’s absolutely quiet like that - but lately it’s been a 7:30 a.m start for me, right after I kiss our daughter goodbye and send her off on the school bus.

If you could visit any place in the world, where would you choose to go and why?

I want to see Venice. I can’t believe I haven’t seen Italy yet, because I fall in love with it every time it’s featured in a movie. I am sure I’ll take a romantic Gondola ride with hubby and we’ll have an argument and I’ll fall out of the boat, or he’ll fall out, or both of us will fall out - it is never quite like the movies - but I still want to go with him. Or, maybe I’ll have Gene take Cat…

Which punctuation mark best describes your personality? Why?

Ha! I’m pretty sure my friends and family would say I’m an exclamation mark, but I do have my semi colon moments. I’m zen when I’m having a bubble bath, or writing, or just relaxing on a beach - that’s when I can be the pause that is the semi colon. Never a full stop though, after 30 minutes of relaxing, I’ll be on a boogie board, body surfing with my little girl, no matter how cold the water is.

What's your favorite TV show of all time and why?

I loved it then, and I still love it 30 years later: Family Ties. Sure, the laugh track is outdated, the clothes are outdated, but the show revolves around a nuclear family and their ups and downs, and those family issues rarely change with the times. I first watched it because I had a crush on Michael J. Fox, but then I fell in love with the story lines, writing, and the other actors. Michael Gross was fantastic as the often frustrated but always loving Dad. I think I learned a lot about how to build characters by watching that show.

What's your motto in life? 

I say ‘Never say never,’ a lot of the time. I also say ‘Life is short, seize the day,’ my modern variation on Carpe Diem. Then I vary it a lot. I’ll say to a girlfriend, “Life is short, buy the shoes.” :)

What is your favorite quote?

My favorite quote is actually a poem my Mum introduced to me. It’s by Emily Dickinson, called Life. "If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; If I can ease one life the aching, Or cool one pain, Or help one fainting robin, Unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain."

Tell us about signing with the publisher of Strangely, Incredibly Good, Morning Rain Publishing, and what it’s been like working on your novel with them.

Morning Rain Publishing is a small and new Canadian publisher with a growing and impressive list of publications. They sent me notice that they wanted to publish my novel on December 23rd, 2013: what a fantastic early Christmas present! The women behind this publishing house are talented, funny, smart, and professional. I love working with them.

What are you working on now?

I’ll be reading & signing books at various bookstores and festivals in the coming months, so that will keep me busy, and I’m looking forward to spending some time with our nine-year-old daughter this summer (school is out in less than two weeks!). I’m working on another novel, but I’m only in the beginning stages, which means I have sticky notes all over our house and piles of half-folded laundry on the floor. Please don’t just drop-in for a visit. :)

Thanks, Heather!

Heather Grace Stewart is a Canadian magazine writer, author, and poet. Her first poem was published in her school newsletter when she was five, and she's been hooked on writing ever since. Heather's debut novel, Strangely, Incredibly Good, was released by Morning Rain Publishing on June 5, 2014. Heather's screenplay The Friends I’ve Never Met is her bestselling Kindle book to date, reaching #28 in Action & Adventure in Women's Fiction in November 2013. Her third poetry collection, Carry On Dancing (Winter Goose Publishing, March 2012) charted on print and Kindle bestseller lists in Poetry and Canadian Poetry in Canada, the US, and the UK. Heather is also the author of the Kindle bestselling poetry collections Leap and Where the Butterflies Go, two non-fiction books for youth, and a book of children's poetry,The Groovy Granny. Born in Ottawa, she lives with her husband and daughter near Montreal. In her free time, she loves to take photos, scrapbook, cartoon, inline skate, dance like nobody's watching, and eat Swedish Berries -- usually not at the same time. For more information, visit Heather’s blog and her official website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.