Thursday, June 9, 2016

AuTHor Thursday: Heather Talma

Today's featured writer is Heather Talma, a recent high school graduate from Fargo North. She recently earned a gold medal for her flash fiction story "The Water Prince" in the 2016 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. 
Heather grew up in Fargo. She has lived in the same house on the same one-way street her entire life. She has had what she terms a basically typical life with her family--she is the older of two--and their cats. A few years ago, Heather published Out of the Silver Worldavailable as an ebook. She finished high school this year and does not plan to attend college.

Heather graciously answered some questions for the readers of the blog. 
Why do you write?
I write because I have stories. They start to form themselves in my head and I’m quick to get them put down in words. It’s been really nice these past few years because I’ve had my school tablet always with me, so I can write in spare moments in school, or at home when my sibling’s using the desktop computer, without having to worry about transferring it to type later. But mostly, it’s the stories. I write because I like to, because I always have. I write because it’s what I do. Because the stories are there and I want to put them down. 
Who encouraged you to be a writer?
My mother, Trina L. Talma. She’s an author herself of several books (the ones I’ve read are quite good), and growing up I looked up to her, so I started writing to be like her. And then I just kept writing. She also introduced me to the publishing service I’ve used for my book, and will use for others in the future. And she’s also the reason that my name on the cover reads “Heather R. Talma” in copy of hers. But she’s read a lot of my writing and helped me out a lot over the years, and that’s really nice.

What advice do you have for writing teachers?
Encourage creativity. Encourage deviation from the norm. Don’t put writing in a box. Don’t over-analyze. Don’t encourage people to write the way English teachers think people write. Encourage reading aloud. Encourage stories no matter what they’re about, whether they have dark themes or ones you may disapprove of. Everyone goes through so many phases of writing. For God’s sake don’t turn down a gay love story. And above all, recognize that everyone’s writing process is different. Some people write faster or slower. Some people plan everything, others plan nothing, and sometimes the latter come up with better results than the former. Don’t tie students up in pre-writing that they aren’t used to doing and don’t need. Teach them how to do it, but don’t force it.
What advice do you have for writers?
Look things up. There’s no law against using references for realism. Destroy your search history to finish your horror novel, if that’s what it takes. Go at your own pace. Keep your old writing. All of it. All your notebooks, put them in a box. All your documents, stick them in cloud storage. Go back to them one day and read them and realize you’ve improved. Try a new style of writing every now and then. You may like it. Imitate things sometimes. Do not be afraid to self-indulge. Some writers get so caught up in trying to please the imaginary “audience” that they freeze up and get scared. Your writing is primarily for you. Don’t be afraid to write garbage. Even the best writers write garbage every now and again. Get it out in a piece or two and acknowledge that it’s not very good, and move on. And remember, a normal cat cannot stand up on its hind legs and look in the front window of a pickup truck.

Thank you Heather for sharing part of your writing world!