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Tuesday, 21 January 2014

7 Questions With ... Heidi Hamburg

by Heidi Hamburg

Today we're getting to know a little more about historical author Heidi Hamburg.

1) What genre(s) do you write and what attracts you to that genre?
For the past few years I’ve been writing historical romance, set in the Regency period. This may have something to do with the way I came to romance.

Years ago I had a winter when the only thing I read for fun was British-set murder mysteries.
Author Heidi Hamburg
I gobbled all the usual suspects, Christie, Allingham, Marsh, Sayers, Heyer, etc. And then I ran out of books. I lived in a small Arctic town, Frobisher Bay, with a very small library. (Now Frob is a city, Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut. The resources are broader, and ebooks are very popular. But then book, orders came in once a year, on sealift. That library and my friends’ books were the only source- no ebooks yet. I soon discovered that Georgette Heyer had written another kind of book. Gorgeous books, set in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, an absolute delight to read. Romance!

Agatha Christie had been up to the same thing- half a dozen contemporary romances, that, like Jane Austen’s contemporary romances, read like historical romances now. I was hooked, and love them still, as I do so many of the writers of the past twenty years or so who have managed to emulate the originals so well. May I someday be one of them.


2) What’s your writing strength? What do you think separates you from other authors?
I think, and have been told quite often, that my world-building is very strong, that readers feel they are a part of the time and place where the story is set.

I don’t really subscribe to the advice that you must write very dark or very funny or very emotionally charged. I want it all. I like to have a chapter of absolute misery leavened by a good belly-laugh a few pages later. Hey, it worked for Shakespeare. And it works just fine for some of my favourite historical authors. Let’s hope it works for me.

3) What’s your writing kryptonite? What is always tough for you to tackle?
I hate hurting the characters I like. I always have to grit my teeth and just do it. I know perfectly well that if they don’t have obstacles to overcome they won’t grow, like pampered children who never hear “no”. I know that, I believe that, but I still hate it.

4) Do you work with critique partners?
My critique partner and I go in fits and starts, sometimes giving each other big chunks of work to deal with, and then having longish periods of nothing. I also have a couple of beta readers who only look at finished things. One of them never reads romance. She is very strong on story and style, with none of the expectations a romance reader might have. I like that separation.

5) Where are your favourite places to find inspiration for new ideas?
I have no idea- they just come, and flutter around until I do something about them. Often they come as I write, before I even know I need them. Sometimes they arrive in the shower, and I need to scribble fast, damp and towel-bedecked, or the best ones might escape.

6) What piece of advice has stuck with you most since joining RWAC?
Never give up!

7) Can you tell us what you’re working on now?
Oddly, it isn’t romance. A long time ago my grandfather’s friend was lost in the woods for two days during hunting season. I have thought about his experience often over the years. Before Christmas I wrote a short story about a man who is lost, but this is not my grandfather’s friend’s story. The central character has aspects of seven different men. Some are alive and some are gone, but all of them loved that patch of central Nova Scotia woods, no matter how cruel it can be.

Since I wrote it I’ve decided that I want to expand it, so that’s the next project. The camp in the story is based on the one below.



18 comments:

  1. I love British murder mysteries and the current crop of authors: Deborah Crombie, Elizabeth George, etc.

    I started writing when I ran out of stuff to read as well. I wasn't stuck up North, just a broke teenager with no money to feed the book habit.

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    1. Love the idea of writing as a way to get more books. That way they end the way you want them to end, with no wall-bangers.
      Creativity through frugality for me has resulted in quite a few curtains and dresses through the years.

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  2. Love the post Heidi ... always great to know what makes an author tick. I love the idea of a 'lost' story ... even if it isn't a romance :) ... and that camp looks cool!

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  3. That camp has been in the family since my grandmother inherited it in 1931.

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  4. Heidi, I loved learning more about you as a writer and smiled at the reminder that we both have the North in our blood. I had a brief stopover in Iqualuit, when it was still Frobisher Bay, while en route to Resolute and then an ecological field camp at Alexandra Fiord on Ellesmere Island. I've been planning a romantic novel set at that field camp. :)

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    1. I'd so love to read that novel, Magi. I haven't been back to Iqaluit for at least five years. My daughter lives there, and my son flies in and out doing contract work.

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  5. Heidi, I love your post, especially how ideas 'flutter' around until you do something about them. I think that story ideas as always simply waiting in the wings for someone to see them and their natural beauty.

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    1. The unfortunate part is that sometimes they flutter away beyond reach. Especially the middle of the night ones. I do the notebook thing, but hey- sometimes I just don't want to open my eyes.

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  6. Really enjoyed learning new things about you, Heidi -- I like how you show your work to a non-romance reader for story and style.

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    1. I love it that she doesn't care if there's a happy ending, only whether or not it holds her interest. And that's what I need.

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  7. Enjoyed hearing about your writing, Heidi. That cabin looks like a great setting for a story. It's beautiful but also looks like it holds several secrets.

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    1. The camp is pretty basic, toilet in a little outhouse down a path, carry the water. But I love it. And the lake is beautiful.
      But yes, I'm sure there are secrets. Likely some I don't even want to know.

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  8. Great post, Heidi! And I love the idea for the story in the woods!

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    1. That idea's been floating around for years. I'm glad I finally did something about it.

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  9. Thanks. I love those woods in September and October. They're another story in November when they're full of guys with rifles.

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  10. Great post Heidi! And the 'lost' story sounds really intriguing. And I hear ya - the woods in the fall, full of guys with rifles and probably liquor - gives you pause for thought.

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  11. I enjoyed your interview, Heidi! I love what you said about your ideas. Always fun when one hits you and won't let go, isn't it? :)

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    1. And sometimes you really want it to go away. But the thing settles in and nibbles and nips until you do something about it.

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