September 8, 2015

Inspiration and Insight from a Children’s Author: An Interview with Kristen Heimerl

Every writer is different. From process to product, our journey within our craft is one-of-a-kind, but as a writer myself, I’ve always been curious as to how our journeys are similar and alike.

That’s why I’m excited to welcome Ms. Kristen Heimerl, author of Inspector Dewey.  She was gracious enough to share with us her inspiration and insight to writing, including her inspiration for her feline protagonist, her thoughts in seeing beauty every where, and her writing habits.
Read on to get a glimpse behind the author and her particular process. 

What inspired you to write Inspector Dewey
A real experience inspired me—in fact, the defining moment is captured in an illustration in Inspector Dewey. I was crawling on the maple floor of my creaky, old home to the telephone in the kitchen. It was 2:00 a.m., a bad guy was on the street outside, and I had left my lights on and my windows open. I needed to call the police—without being witnessed. Urgency and silence were imperative, but my cats, well . . . being cats, had other intentions. Dewey was charging ahead, head low and cantering on the prowl. Lily was on my left, thumping and squiggling, jumping and wriggling—delirious with delight. And Thumper was trotting behind—clip clop, clip clop—his great girth skimming the ground with every step, and doing his gentle, sweet part to keep the family together. I stopped halfway down the hall, took in the hilarity of the moment, and made a mental note to start writing a children’s book the next week. And so I did.

Is there a subject that you would never write about as an author? What is it?
I’ve learned through experience that even seemingly mundane subjects never are. I would not avoid a subject because it lacked appeal on the surface. I would dig and discover something tasty to reveal. I would, however, walk away from any topic that intentionally hurt or marginalized any person or group of persons. I write for joy. The joy business does not include harming others.

Do you have any strange writing habits?
One habit that my cats think is odd is that I read my work out loud. It helps me during the editing process. I ask myself: Is this the best word? Is the cadence strong? Is it fun to read aloud? I especially love the “fun test.” I know that if I start using silly voices, snicker out loud, or ask my cats questions, then I am on to something that makes my heart sing. I figure that if I can make my heart sing, then maybe I can make a child’s heart sing as well. 

Inspector Dewey’s illustrations include a fair amount of blues, but also plenty of yellows. Is there significance to including such a vibrant color to your story?
I love yellow. The most joyous things in life are yellow: sunshine, fuzzy ducklings, banana Popsicles, Busch Gardens’ lemonade in lemon-shaped sippy cups, my childhood bedroom with daffodil and tangerine shag carpeting, and the itty-bitty gold-flecked yellow bikini I wore as a teen. Yellow just plain makes me smile! One day I will have a butter-yellow home with a white wraparound porch and a matching stable nestled among giant jack pines overlooking a lake. It’s no coincidence that yellow is a dominant color in Inspector Dewey!
Aside from writing, what are some of your other passions/hobbies?
I have this problem: I see beauty pretty much everywhere. This has resulted in dozens of collections over the years—from bugs, rocks, stamps, postcards, and dolls to antiques, cookbooks, travel mementos, and picture books.

We live in a beautiful, beautiful world. I try not to miss anything. I’m thankful for Pinterest because now I can “collect” my pretties online. The only physical collection that remains active is my picture book collection. Unlike the rest of my beloved junk, this collection could be useful to others someday—at least, that is my hope.

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