Hannah Heath is punny, sarcastic, nerdy, kind, and the author of incredible short fantasy stories. I’ve been blessed to get to know her through social media and Phoenix Fiction, and she’s also one of the few authors whom I’ve had the pleasure to meet in person.
Hannah amazing and has a beautiful short story, “Flames of Courage,” coming out this month, so she is August’s featured author! I was able to interview her, so you can learn more about Hannah directly from her words :)
Hannah Heath “Flames of Courage” Interview
- Can you list your top five fandoms and give a quick explanation about why you love them?
*gasps* I get to talk about fandoms? I love this interview already. 1) Harry Potter for the sheer magic of it, but also the quirkiness and the beautiful, thoughtful messages. 2) Batman. His determination and depth of character has hugely inspired me as a writer (and a person, which sounds cheesy, but there it is). 3) LOTR because of the world-building and gorgeous, inspiring themes and quotes. 4) Marvel because nobody can mix humor and great plots like they can. 4) Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. It’s sarcastic, funny, and oddly thought-provoking. What more could I want?
It’s no wonder I like your stories–we have so many fandoms in common!
- If you could meet any one fictional character (aside from your own) in real life, who would you meet? What would you do together?
I’d meet with Luna Lovegood and we’d go for a walk through a forest, drink some tea, and talk about magical creatures and thinking outside of the box.
That sounds lovely!
- What are some of your favorite things to do outside of writing?
Honestly, anything that has to do with food. I prefer eating it, but cooking it is fun, too. I also enjoy reading a good book, watching movies, or romping around Disneyland.
- What indie authors do you recommend?
So many. I highly recommend all of my fellow Phoenix Fiction Writers: E.B. Dawson, K.L.+Pierce, Nate Philbrick, J.E. Purrazzi, Kyle Robert Shultz, and you, my awesome host. (Aw, thank you.) I also think Rae Elliott and S. Alex Martin are two incredible indie authors who are worth reading.
- What six words would best capture why “Flames of Courage” is amazing (because it is)?
I can do it in four: Jayel, the passionate character.
(As a side note, Jayel is completely amazing. You all are going to love her so much!!)
- You’ve previously published two short stories, “Skies of Dripping Gold” and “Colors of Fear.” Can you give a brief synopsis of these stories? How does “Flames of Courage” fit with them?
For sure! Skies of Dripping Gold is a YA Christian dystopian set in a world where the air is poison and mysterious elevators are rumored to carry the faithful to Paradise. With his sister dying, a young, bitter man decides to climb one of these elevator shafts to find out where exactly it leads. This climb challenges his anger towards God and his skeptical view of Paradise.
Colors of Fear is a YA Christian Fantasy and the first story in the Terebinth Tree Chronicles. It tells the origin story of Wanderer, a fearful desert elf who will one day lead a band of warriors to assassinate the most powerful being in his world. Flames of Courage is the second story in the Terebinth Tree Chronicles and connects to Colors of Fear in that it tells the story of Jayel, a halfblooded she-elf who will join Wanderer’s band of assassins and lead a revolt to bring justice for all people. The Terebinth Tree Chronicles are prequels to my currently unpublished novel, The Stump of the Terebinth Tree, which is about four warriors (which includes Wanderer and Jayel) who band together to assassinate a sorcerer and learn to have faith in something beyond their own swords.
Flame of Courage is not directly connected to Skies of Dripping Gold, but it is part of the same expanded universe, which is a fact that I’m pretty sure I’ve never publicly mentioned before. *excited grin* They also both contain some similar themes, such as fear and misplaced confidence, though these themes are explored in very different ways.
Yay, we’re the first people to publicly know this! I look forward to learning more about how your expanded universe connects!
- Wanderer, the main character of “Colors of Fear,” and Jayel, from “Flames of Courage,” are both incredible and complex characters. How do you approach character creation and development?
I always try to connect the characters to the themes of the story. To do this, I think about what they’re afraid of, what they believe in, what they wrestle with, and how all of this would affect how they would view the main point of the story. I also make sure that my characters hold inconsistent ideas (both about themselves and the world around them) because, even though this makes them more difficult to write, it gives them more realism. However, I’m always careful to keep many of the character’s fears, inconsistencies, and beliefs from the readers until very specific points in the story. Pacing and information flow can make or break character development.
- I’ve had the privilege of reading “Flames of Courage.” One of the things I love about this story is that you create an incredibly rich world from the unique setting to cultural practices to different religious beliefs. Where did you find inspiration for these things?
Thank you! I really enjoy world-building, so I’m glad that came through. My inspiration came from a lot of places. I camped in various deserts with my family years ago, which gave me a love for the harsh heat and beauty found in those landscapes. The intensity of the desert environment inspired parts of the desert elf world, as did parts of different Native American cultures. I love things that are different and often overlooked, so I went out of my way incorporate an element of uniqueness and strangeness to my world.
As for the religious beliefs: I’ve noticed that many Christian fiction stories only ever have two religions: The Christian one and the demonic one. This has always made me sad because it ignore the complexities of religion and faith: There is beauty and pain in all of them, and even the non-Christian ones hold slivers of truth. Because of this, I wanted my world-building to reflect how culture, personality, and circumstances influence faith and religion.
- If all other things were not an issue, what other medium would you love to see “Flames of Courage” adapted into (e.g. picture book, film, Netflix original series, manga, etc.)?
Ooooo. A comic book. Hands down. I love comic books and would be so pleased to see my stories in that format. Especially my desert elf stories, since I think the visuals would be stunning. But I would also love to see it as a Netflix original series, preferably in anime-form.
- What is your writing process like? How do you bring a story from the first idea to completion?
I start with a theme or a message that I want to get across, and then I build my character, plot, and world around it. I find visuals and music that help me sink into the character’s POV and world. For Flames of Courage, there was a lot of me visualizing fire, harsh deserts, and listening to alternative/indie music with rock and dubstep influences (just…don’t ask). The first draft is always incredibly messy, and usually the theme (and several other aspects of the story) morph into something slightly different than I had intended. Once I finish the rough draft, I macro edit with paper and pen, then again on my computer, trying to focus on bringing the characters to the forefront with the themes supporting from behind. The whole process is very chaotic and nonlinear, but it matches my personality, so I guess it works out okay.
- You’ve said many times that you don’t believe in writer’s block. Can you talk a little bit about why that is and what you think writers should do when they feel “blocked”?
Ha. Yes! Writer’s block is a sham. I think so-called writer’s block often stems from writers being afraid to move forward with a story. It’s not this massive force that controls us, but rather is something we create for ourselves and thus is something we can get rid of. If you’re ever feeling blocked, a good rule of thumb is to try and write anyway, even if what you write completely sucks. You can always go back and edit later. If that doesn’t seem to work, try to figure out what it is that’s messing with you. It’s usually an inconsistent character, plot hole, or crooked theme. Backtrack, fix those issues up, then move forward. But never stop writing or puzzling over the story. That way lies insanity.
Thank you, Hannah!
I’m sure you’re dying to read “Flames of Courage” now. Good news: You can preorder it on Amazon through this link.
Get to know Hannah better on her social media:
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that her website and her Youtube channel are incredible resources for my fellow authors.
Have a great week :)