Heather Tomlinson grew up in California and New Hampshire, graduating from Wellesley College with a degree in French literature. After teaching English in Paris, and French in the U.S., she worked at a book wholesaler. Now she writes the kinds of novels she likes to read.
In November 2006, Heather moved onto the 48-foot sailboat Adventure, with her engineer husband and cats X, Y, and Z.
When not writing, she can be spotted reading on deck, catching up on the (endless) list of boat chores, or exploring foreign ports.
Isn't the cover gorgeous?
1. What is it about fairy tales that makes you like to write retellings?
For me, coming up with a decent plot is the hardest part of writing a novel. I love developing characters and imagining settings. But what exactly are those characters going to do in those settings? Um….(doodles on empty page) Fairy tales offer a time-tested structure that I’m confident will hold up no matter how hard it’s twisted. Then I get to have fun figuring out who these characters are, and how to account for the very, very strange things that happen in fairy tales.
2. Did you take a trip out to India when you wrote Toads and Diamonds? If so, how was it? If not, what did you do to learn about the Indian culture?
I didn’t go specifically to research Toads and Diamonds, but I had visited northern India as a teenager, so I drew on memories of that trip. Otherwise, books, movies, web sites and many cups of chai were my research aids. I also grew up on an American ashram (religious retreat center), so was familiar with one “flavor” of Eastern thought. India is way too big and diverse to fit into any one novel, so I took the parts that inspired me as a starting point for my imaginary world.
3. Why was Toads and Diamonds so dark? (I found it to be dark anyway)
I think the darkness reflects the roots of the tale. In the French original, the girl who speaks snakes and toads dies a lonely death in the wilderness. While my characters go in different directions, any story that deals with actions and consequences has to address the bad as well as the good. Hopefully there’s enough balance between the two to satisfy readers.
4. What do you love the most about being an author and why?
I love the variety of the work itself. Part the first—researching the historical period; initial setting, character, and plot development; early drafts—is a solitary, inward-looking stage. Revising based on my smart critique partners’ and editor’s suggestions is more of a team effort, along with watching the physical book come together with cover and layout. Finally, reaching out to readers calls on my extrovert side. Every phase brings something different to do!
5. In 2006, you packed up with your husband for a year-long journey on a sailboat what was it like and were there moments of panic where you weren't sure it was a good idea?
Our shakedown cruise, approximately 1500 miles from the town in Mexico where we bought the boat, around the Baja peninsula and up to San Diego, definitely offered some “what were we thinking?” moments. One night off Cabo San Lucas we hit the remnants of a south-bound storm, and were having trouble getting the sails down fast enough to keep the boat from heeling way over (rails in the water time!). Clouds covered the moon, so it was intensely dark, and we were plowing into 15-plus-foot waves. I remember crying as I hauled on snapping lines with wet, cold hands. Yikes!
But when we sold our house and bought the boat, my husband and I made a deal: we’d try it for a year, and after that, as soon as one of us wasn’t having fun, we’d move back to dry land. So far, the benefits have outweighed the drawbacks. Even docked at a marina, I love being so close to the water, and having birds and sea lions for neighbors. We’ve had the good fortune to spend quite a bit of time cruising around Catalina Island, and I’m sure those experiences will make their way into a book, too.
Thanks for inviting me to your blog!
Sniffly Kitty: Wow! So the cruise is still going, that's a pretty awesome and different lifestyle ^.^ hope you don't have to weather too many storms~~
In the quiet hour before dawn, anything can happen. A third daughter can dream of being a creature of flight and magic, of wearing a swan-skin like her sisters. But Doucette must run the castle household while her older sisters learn to weave spells. Her dream of flying is exactly that—until the day she discovers her own hidden birthright.
Sudden, soaring freedom—it is a wish come true. Yet it comes with a price. As Doucette struggles to find her own way in the world, she risks losing the one she loves most of all.
An age-old fairy tale told in a refreshingly original voice, Heather Tomlinson's stunning debut is fantasy at its most eloquent and richly imagined.
A Big Thank You to Heather for taking the time to answer my questions! You can visit her website where you can learn more about her books, get news and updates, and contact her directly.
You should also take a gander at my reviews of Toads and Diamonds.
Remember: if you review one of her books, you get 2 extra entries per review ^.^