Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Heather Cumiskey, 50
Fiona: Where are you from?
Garden City, Long Island, New York.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I received my Bachelor of Arts in English at the State University of New York at Albany where I also studied dance and choreography. For more than two decades, I’ve worked as an advertising and marketing copywriter. I live in Maryland with my husband and three sons.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I just re-signed with She Writes Press for my second book and sequeltitledI Love You Like That. It publishes Fall 2019.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
As a teen I always kept a journal. Writing provided a therapeuticoutlet to express myself and unload what I was feeling in the moment.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I guess my professional writing career began as a copywriter for ad agencies in my later 20s. I couldn’t believe that I was getting paid to write!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
In 2014, I enrolled in an online Gotham Writers class based in NYC. One week our teacher assigned the writing prompt: I began to question the wisdom of this trip. While my classmates ventured to write travel stories, I decided to compose a short piece about a teen drug trip. It turned into my first book.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The title came from the scene when Deacon sees Hannah for the first time without makeup and tells her, “I like you like this.” It sums up a major theme in the duology about acceptance and loving who you are without hiding behind a mask.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
For first drafts, I never start with an outline. Instead, I like to throw down a story, write scenes out of order, and make notes in the manuscript about what I want to happen when I don’t have the words yet. I try not to edit before I have the bulk of the story. Editing slows me down and things tend to change as new ideas pop through. Making it sound pretty too early in the process is a waste of time.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
It’s not my childhood story and none of the characters are based on anyone I know.But the feelings that these characters go through are real. I Like You Like This is a raw, realistic portrayal of teens coming of age in 1984. Though it takes place in the 80s, some of what happens to these characters is very relevant today. As I conduct teen writing workshops and meet students, parents, and teachers, there are a lot of Hannahs, Deacons, and Gillianswalking around high schools carrying crushing secrets. And their voices need to be heard.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
For these first two books I didn’t need to travel.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
She Writes Press has a phenomenal design team. It’s a very collaborate effort between the author and publisher.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Your parents’ baggage is not meant to be yours. Your family’s dysfunction will probably never change, but you can in how you let it affect you.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I’m a big fan of Rainbow Rowell, Angie Thomas, and Becky Albertalli, and so many other great YA contemporary fiction authors who are fearless in their writing and genuine in how they draw their characters.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My girlfriends growing up to those in states where I’ve called home have been my biggest, brightest cheerleaders. I could not have done any of this without their love and support.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, one that I feel very fortunate to do.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I don’t think so. At the time it was what I could do as a writer. I hope to get better with every book.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes, that I absolutely loved the process and that this is what I should be doing. It was lifechanging.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I wrote a blog on this!In a nutshell, Odeya Rush as Hannah and Douglas Booth as Deacon.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Don’t show up to write, show up to play. Telling yourself that you’re just playing removes much of the stress and quiets that pesky inner critic. It’s also a way to not take those early first drafts too seriously as evidence of what you can do as a writer or what your final piece will look like. Instead treat them like playgrounds of exploration. When we play, we open the doors to spontaneity. Hmm, I wonder what would happen if . . .
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I’m 100% thrilled to be on this journey with you. I hope you stick around and tell your friends and family!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I just finishedReady Player One by Ernest Cline. I liked it even though I’m not a gamer, especially the 80s nostalgia. Now I need to stream the movie.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
My first book?Probably not. But I can tell you that I read every Judy Blume book, even Forever and Wifey, when I hadn’t a clue what was really going on. Judy Blume is the bomb and has helped so many kids and teens with her words. It’s something I strive to do with my books.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My kids. I have three boys and they keep me on my toes and opening my mind.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’d love to timetravel to see what it was like for my grandparents and parents growing up. I’ve lost my father and my mother has dementia now at 90. Part of me wishes I new them better and learned their stories.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I race with Athletes Serving Athletes, a non-profit organization that helps special needs athletes compete in mainstream road races: 5K, 10K and triathlons. It’s been a life changer.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Queer Eye because they are all so great and caring (not to mention adorable!) as they help people find their best self. It’s what the world needs now: happier people who feel good about themselves. I also love the documentary, Believer, so moving. And I’m hooked on Abstract: The Art of Design. I love learning from other artists and hearing about their craft and process. So inspiring!
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I’ve been a vegan for a year and I highly recommend it. I’ve never felt better and more connected to what I’m putting in my body.
I LOVE color! I choose to live and create in a very colorful space with lots of art originated by my kids, friends, and a few famous peeps.
As far as music, I love The Killers, Panic at the Disco, David Gray, The Bodeans, and of course the 80s likeThe Cure, Depeche Mode, New Order, X, Kate Bush . . . I could go on and on.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Paint! I hope one day I just do it and surprise myself.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Being surrounded by my husband and three sons. There’s no better place.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
She did it write.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
You can check my blog and upcoming book events and teen writing workshops at HeatherCumiskey.com.
You can also find me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ILikeYouLikeThisNovel/
and Twitter and Instagram@heathercumiskey.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Heather-Cumiskey/e/B06XVZ1M5M/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0