Inkwell Guest: Heather Hummel
Hi, everyone! I’m pleased to host author, Heather Hummel today. I connected with Heather on Facebook and am really excited to have her here today.
You recently posted on Facebook that you gave up your full-time job to become a writer full-time. There are so many writers who aspire to that! Can you talk a little about the journey?
I went through three different careers before becoming a full-time writer at the age of forty. In my early to mid-twenties I was very much into photography and spent a lot of time doing destination photography and working in labs. It was an exciting time in my life. After that I became an office manager for more years than I’m afraid to count. As an office manager for small companies, I did everything from bookkeeping to tech support. I was not the best bookkeeper and was a far better at tech support, but it wasn’t my passion, I was just intuitively good at it (a skill that continues to come in very handy, however). My last gig before writing full-time was as a high school English teacher. I LOVED teaching the kids and bonded with students throughout the school. However, I didn’t love the politics that went with it. So, for my fortieth birthday, which happened to be in the middle of the summer, I walked away from teaching and into the local coffee shop where I penned two books within the first year. Both have been best sellers and award winners and I’m now on my fifth book (that doesn’t count my client’s books as an editor and ghostwriter).
I’ve never known anyone who was a ghostwriter. How cool is that? Can you tell us what led you to becoming one? Any tips for someone who wants to break into ghostwriting?
The ghostwriting project that landed me an agent and a book deal, essentially launching my career, was Gracefully: Looking and Being Your Best at Any Age (McGraw-Hill, 2008), co-written with Valerie Ramsey (my mother), who became a model at the age of 63. It’s often assumed that it was easy for me to write from my mother’s voice. But it’s not that simple, especially when penning a self-help book. As I wrote Gracefully, I constantly thought about the reader and what they would get out of the message, which is to seek new challenges at any age while staying healthy in body, mind and spirit. As the ghostwriter, I interviewed nutritionists, healthy aging experts and a Pilates instructor. After manuscript submission to McGraw-Hill, I continued to collaborate on edits with John Aherne, our editor. Susan Lucci of ABC’s All My Children and I wrote the Foreword and the Introduction respectively.
The trick to ghostwriting is to leave my agenda and voice at home, and gain access to my client’s vision and voice in order to best present their book in their light. It’s a challenge that gives balance to writing my own fiction.
Your photography is amazing. How did you first get interested in that?
I picked up a camera as a young teen and it seems like I never put it down. My three favorite classes throughout high school were English, Photography and Oceanography. I had a Canon AE1 from high school and into my twenties. I set up a darkroom in my bathroom that I spent hours upon hours in processing black and white images (I can’t even imagine what sniffing all those chemicals have done to me!). With all the traveling I did in my twenties, I photographed a lot of destination places ranging from New York City to the Grand Canyon, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and up and down the California coast.
When I became a writer, I took a break from photography, but eventually invested in a Canon T3i, which is a DSLR. It’s always within reach and I’m loving photography now more than I ever did. When I bought the camera, I was living in Carmel, California and now I’m in the Colorado Rocky Mountains (this picture is of Mt. Sopris near Carbondale, CO). Endless lens candy!
What do you have in store for readers in the future?
I’m working on the third in the Journals from the Heart series. WISDOM FROM THE HEART follows WHISPERS FROM THE HEART (a New York Book Festival award winner) and WRITE FROM THE HEART. The theme throughout the novels is the positive influence of journal writing. Only one character makes a repeat appearance, and that’s Phil from WHISPERS FROM THE HEART. He was such a hit with the ladies—and even drew a lot of male fans—that I brought him back in WISDOM FROM THE HEART where he plays a leading and powerful role.
I’m also working on a novel titled $1 AND $100 that’s not part of the series. It’s about a $1 bill and a $100 bill and all the different hands, generations, and demographics that they pass through. It’s on hold right now until I finish WISDOM FROM THE HEART, but I’m excited to dive back into it. It will be much more of a gender-neutral, literary novel.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Since I’m not a fan of free falling from airplanes, I have to rule out a skydiving instructor. However, I love photographing extreme sports. It should come as no surprise to most that I’d be a photographer. But, that part of my life is actually transitioning from hobby to career quite rapidly. I’d love to open a gallery in the Rocky Mountains that showcases my work and to teach workshops that people can either take in person or via the internet. The landscape her begs photographers to bring their gear and capture its beauty. These mountains are very seductive that way.
What’s your favorite genre to read?
I don’t have a favorite genre per se, but I avoid a lot of genres! I don’t read fantasy, sci-fi, horror, thriller, or anything that would give me nightmares. In my experience, after writing my first two novels, many of the events came true in my life (which is why people think they’re autobiographical). And I believe that what we focus on we attract in our lives, so I don’t read or watch movies that have events I don’t want to attract.
However, I did just read MY TEMPORARY LIFE by Martin Crosbie and that book touched me in ways that no other has in a very long time. I’m very excited about Crosbie’s sequel.
Where can we find you online?
My website is www.HeatherHummel.net and www.PulseImages.net. Along with that, I’m in all the usual hangouts.
I follow back on Twitter unless it’s someone telling me about a video I’m in or doesn’t have a profile picture. Fair is fair.
Hope to meet your readers online!
Heather Hummel is a “PhotoNovelist” who blends her love for photography with her award-winning career as an author. Heather has ghostwritten for politicians, corporations, and public figures. Her books have appeared in newspapers such as: Publishers Weekly, USA Today and the Washington Post; and in magazines that include: Health, Body & Soul, First, and Spry Living, a combined circulation of nearly 15 million. A graduate with High Distinction from the University of Virginia, Heather holds a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies degree with concentrations in English and Secondary Education. She is currently earning a Ph.D. in Metaphysical Sciences.
Her published works include:
In the Iris of the Beholder (2012)
Signs from the Universe (2011)
Gracefully: Looking and Being Your Best at Any Age (McGraw-Hill, 2008)
Messages of Hope and Healing ( Sunpiper Media, 2006)
Blue Ridge Anthology (Cedar Creek, 2007) with David Baldacci and Rita Mae Brown
2009 Mature Media Awards, Merit Award for Gracefully
2009 New York Book Festival, Honorable Mention for Whispers from the Heart