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Interview with Heather Wardell, author of “Planning to Live”

About the Author

Heather Wardell has been writing full-time since 2005, after careers in software development and elementary school teaching. In her spare time, she reads, runs, crochets, swims, and plays drums andclarinet. While it would be entertaining, she hasn’t managed to do more than two of these things at once. She has four novels available now, including one for free download, which can be found at

Could you please tell us a little about your book?

 Absolutely. “Planning to Live” is women’s fiction. It’s darker and deeper than my previous three books, but still has their lighter tone. Thirty-something Rhiannon is an obsessive planner and goal-setter, but somehow nothing she achieves ever seems good enough to her. Determined to lose forty pounds for her best friend’s August wedding, Rhiannon flees her parents’ house in a Christmas-day blizzard to avoid the temptation of all her favorite foods, but her car skids off the deserted road into a tree. Unable to escape the car, with her leg trapped and bleeding and her cell phone out of reach, Rhiannon is at first certain she’ll be rescued and writes notes to her friends and family to pass the time. As the weather cools and her condition deteriorates, though, she recognizes the possibility that her life might be over. Interspersed with increasingly desperate escape attempts, her letters become deeper and more heart-felt as she comes to see what really matters in life.

Did something specific happen to prompt you to write this book?

 I was driving on a deserted road and thought, “If I slid off this, I’d be in trouble.” My mind then jumped to how that could become a book,but it wasn’t until I realized that Rhiannon couldn’t reach her cell phone to call for help that the idea really began to work for me.

Who is your biggest supporter?

It’s a tie, I think. My husband agreed to my quitting my job to write full-time, and is unfailingly certain that I can succeed, and my sister reads every draft of everything I write and gives exactly the right kind of feedback when I need it and pure encouragement when Ineed that more. I’m deeply lucky that everyone in my life supports me but these two are incredible at it!

Your biggest critic?

That would be me, unfortunately. One of the many things I love about”Planning to Live” is that it has made me recognize that life is far too short and uncertain to be constantly berating yourself for tiny(and often irrelevant) errors or shortcomings. I am working on being less critical of myself while still making sure that my writing is of the best quality I can manage, and I’m slowly making progress.

In the last year have you learned or improved on any skills?

 In April I began taking drum lessons. I’ve played clarinet for many years but my concert band needed a drummer and I felt the need for a challenge so I decided to give it a try. It worked, and I’m now the band’s drummer! I have a long way to go to reach the level I’d like to attain but I am competent now and that’s a good start.

Do you have any rituals you follow when finishing a piece of work?

First, I cry. If I don’t, I know I haven’t yet finished it to my satisfaction! After that, I print out a cover page and thumb-tack it to my office wall. I started that back in 2005 when I finished my first-ever draft, and now the wall has nine novels’ worth of cover pages. Even though they won’t all end up being polished and released,I love looking at them and seeing such a tangible reminder of what I’ve accomplished.

 Do you have any advice for writers or readers?

For writers: write what you love, what makes you wake up in the middle of the night with ideas. I think it’s almost impossible to put in the necessary effort and energy without that passion.

For readers: read what you love. Don’t be worried about what you”should read”. If you’re reading at all, that’s great, so read what makes your heart sing and don’t worry about anything else.

 Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

First, thanks so much to Tracee for this opportunity! Second, I’d liketo let you all know that my first novel, “Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo”, is a free download from my web site. My other three books are only $0.99 each to download, and two are also available in paperback. Each has an excerpt on my web site, so check them out and let me know what you think!

About the Book

Determined to lose weight for her best friend’s wedding, goal-obsessed Rhiannon flees her parents’ Christmas Day feast to avoid overeating but her car skids off the deserted road into a tree. Trapped and bleeding, with her cell phone out of reach, she struggles to escape, and to accept that she’s spent her whole life planning but hasn’t ever really lived. Will she get the chance to change that?

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