Thrilled to welcome Wendy Heard to the Deb Ball this week!
Wendy Heard is an author of psychological thrillers. She was born in San Francisco but has spent most of her life in Los Angeles, which is on fire more than she would honestly prefer. When not writing, she can be found haunting local bookstores, hiking the Griffith Park trails, and (apparently) writing about herself in the third person. You can find Wendy on Twitter @wendydheard or on her website WendyHeard.com.
Wendy is also my critique partner, my co-host on the podcast Unlikeable Female Characters, and honestly one of my favorite people in the whole world.
Her debut novel Hunting Annabelle comes out next Tuesday, December 18th, and trust me: if you’re a psychological thriller fan, you do not want to miss this dark, twisted, and utterly engrossing book. Keep reading to find out how you can win a copy!
Which talent do you wish you had?
I wish I could write a first draft quickly. I know people who can blow through a first draft during NaNoWriMo, getting a whole book-length thing down in a month or less. I have a successful, self-published friend who can be in and out of an entire book (ready to go to her editor) in three months. Ray Bradbury and Stephen King talk about the importance of being prolific in their books Zen and the Art of Writing and On Writing, respectively. I’ve always felt shamed by these prolific gods and goddesses. I’m lucky to get a working draft out in six months; it takes an agonizingly long time, and I get stuck over and over again. At some point in my life, I hope to either get faster or to let go of the idea that I should be faster.
What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
I started working at thirteen as an under-the-table busser, and between then and now, I’ve worked every food service job, from scrubbing floors to washing dishes to waiting tables to managing cafés. I’ve worked in grocery stores (holla Trader Joe’s crew, Store 31 forever) and retail stores, and I even sold insurance and did telemarketing. My favorite moment was the weird boss who made me scrub the grout with an actual toothbrush. I was a teenager, and I was making (wait for it) four-fifty an hour!
Tell us about one of your writing disappointments or failures.
The biggest disappointment I’ve had to get over on this path to publication has been how long it took. I wrote my first book right out of high school, and I was convinced it was Great. The book, however, was not Great. I was not the voice of a generation, and the concept of plot was far away from me. I was so butt hurt about not getting that book published that I put writing aside for eight years. When I picked it up again, I did so knowing I needed to learn how to do the thing, so that was the true start of my journey. It was another eight years and seven books later that I sold Hunting Annabelle.
If you could tell your younger writer self anything, what would it be?
Dear Young Wendy,
Innate talent is not a thing. The only thing that will help you achieve your goals is hard work and the willingness to learn from others. Fall out of love with your own words and start reading craft books, taking classes and workshops, and asking questions. Don’t poo-poo what more experienced writers have said. Learn from them.
Your words are not precious. Don’t be afraid to throw them away. Imagine the sketch studies a painter does before the final painting. Those studies don’t make it into the museum.
Lastly, don’t be discouraged. If you work hard and treat writing like a trade, things will indeed work out the way you want them to.
And don’t be afraid to write your truth.
What does literary success look like to you?
I know we’re all infatuated with that splashy deal that makes it into the pub news. Who doesn’t want that kind of validation? Honestly, when I dream about success, though, I think about something more long-term and wide-reaching. I’d love a sustainable, lifelong career that allows me to write in different genres for different audiences as I grow and change. I’d like to collaborate with other authors; I have a dream of writing a dual POV project with someone drastically different from me. At the end of my life, I’d love to feel like I left behind a sizable body of work that is diverse, entertaining, provocative, and meaningful.
Retweet this post (make sure you follow @DebutanteBall too!) or share it on Facebook for a chance to win an Advanced Reader Copy of Hunting Annabelle, plus some fun bonus swag from Wendy! We will contact the lucky winners on Friday, December 21st (US Only).
Sean Suh is done with killing. After serving three years in a psychiatric prison, he’s determined to stay away from temptation. But he can’t resist Annabelle—beautiful, confident, incandescent Annabelle—who alone can see past the monster to the man inside. The man he’s desperately trying to be.
Then Annabelle disappears.
Sean is sure she’s been kidnapped—he witnessed her being taken firsthand—but the police are convinced that Sean himself is at the center of this crime. And he must admit, his illness has caused him to “lose time” before. What if there’s more to what happened than he’s able to remember?
Though haunted by the fear that it might be better for Annabelle if he never finds her, Sean can’t bring himself to let go of her without a fight. To save her, he’ll have to do more than confront his own demons… He’ll have to let them loose.
A chilling, deeply suspenseful page-turner set in the 1980s, Hunting Annabelle is a stunning debut that will leave you breathless to the very end.