Heidi R. Kling is the debut author of SEA and knows her literature and creative writing - she has a degree in both! She's also a mom and a former costume shop employee. (Authors always have the strangest careers lurking in their backgrounds.) I first read SEA a few months ago and I'm happy I got the chance to speak with Heidi - thanks to Traveling to Teens tours - and share more about this book with ya'll. Come back later today for my review.
1. In SEA, you write quite compellingly about humanitarian work. Have you been involved with any yourself?
I do what I can, but I have two small kids at home so I haven't left the country to be involved in any aid. We support families in Africa and supported several of real-life tsunami survivors for a couple years after the tsunami and still remain in frequent touch with them. My husband is the awesome one who does the field work. He's been to Indonesia twice, Africa, Haiti, Cambodia--he's a cross-cultural expert in PTSD so I imagined Sienna's dad a lot like my husband would be in 14 years and if I was missing/dead (dreary I know, but it worked for the character!)
2. Your descriptions of Indonesia - the culture as well as the country - are also incredibly vivid. Have you ever been to Indonesia yourself or did you rely totally on research?
Thank you! No, I haven't had the pleasure yet. Like I said, my kids are small and when I wrote SEA I didn't feel comfortable leaving the country without him. I relied on picking my husband's brain and research.
3. SEA has received quite a bit of (deserved) pre-publication buzz. What has been the most exciting thing so far?
Oh, thank you! Well, I'm so happy people are liking it and are interested in the topic. To me, it's such an important and current topic that isn't explored enough. We see all these disasters on TV but hardly ever hear about any follow up--what happens after the news crews are gone? I wanted to explore that with SEA. The most exciting thing by far is talking with early readers who have loved SEA and have resonated with the story. I also love having an excuse to visit NYC and hang out with my author friends. :-)
4. You're a member of the Tenners, which is, of course, a brilliant group. What's the best part about belonging to a group of fellow debut authors? What Tenner releases are you most excited about? (Any 2011 books you're excited about too? It's never too early to start planning to add to Mt. TBR.)
LOL--well, I love debut groups-I think they are so important--it's like a club in high school or something, somewhere you can go and hang out or vent or rejoice or whatever--2011 has great titles too! There are a few I'm looking forward to especially, but I don't want to play favorites. :-)
5. What current authors do you look up too?
John Green who is amazing at both his prose and the way he connects to his audience. I don't think I'd ever try vlogging or will ever get 1 million plus Twitter followers but to see a YA author have this much positive influence in our world is heartwarming.
6. What do you think have been the most influential forces on your writing?
I would say my kids. I wrote SEA when my son was three and I thought about him the whole time I was writing it. Imagining him reading it when he was of age. I did my edits when I was pregnant with my daughter, then again, looked at it through what I imagined would be her eyes one day. I know it's sort of cheesy, but I want them to be impressed and perhaps even touched by my work.
I'm a dork, I know!
Thanks so much for having me!