Fizzy Fangirling – An Interview with Heidi Schulz

Hello my loves!

Today I bring you an interview with amazing Middle Grade author and MWW faculty Heidi Schulz!

1. First up, tell us a little bit about yourself. Yes, I am asking for those bios that make us all go, “BUT WHO AM I!?”

  • WHO AM I? I’M JEAN VAL JEAAAAAAAAN! I often, quite randomly, burst into song because I like to pretend I am living in a musical. The only problem is I dance worse than I sing—and I don’t sing well. At all.
  • I live in Oregon with my best friend/husband of nearly twenty years and our fourteen-year-old daughter. They are my two favorite people on earth. We share our home with a dog, named Pepper Pots, and our yard with four chickens: Black Apple, Matilda, Fat Amy, and Liza Minnelli. (More about them later.)
  • I write books for children, or as my twitter bio and business cards state, “I lie to children for fun and profit.”
  • I think you’re cool. Yes you, reading this interview.
  • I like pie.

2. Your first book, HOOK’S REVENGE, is one of my most favorite Middle Grade books of all time. The sequel, HOOK’S REVENGE: THE PIRATE CODE, is coming out this Fall! What sort of adventures can we expect from Jocelyn Hook this time around?

You are so kind to say so. Thank you!

There are quite a few things in store for Jocelyn. She explores a lot more of the Neverland—places both wondrous and deadly. There is more of Mr. Smee and the Hook’s Revenge crew, more Peter Pan, and a lot more Roger. We also get to see how Jocelyn deals with a new character, Evie. She came to the Neverland as Peter Pan’s new mother only to be promptly kidnapped by pirates! (But don’t be too hard on Captain Jocelyn. She had a good reason.) It’s a bigger story than Hook’s Revenge, with more adventure and more emotion.

I cried every time I worked on Chapter 31.

But you probably really want to know: how piratey is it?

3. What books have you found particularly inspirational to you as a writer?

As far as books about writing, or creating art in general go, ON WRITING by Stephen King is a great one, as are ART AND FEAR by David Bayles and Ted Orlando, SECOND SIGHT by Cheryl B. Kein, and WRITING IRRESISTABLE KIDLIT by Mary Kole. But most of my inspiration comes from books that aren’t specifically about writing.

I find inspiration in of all kinds and genres. Novels, biographies, histories, cookbooks, or essays, written for kids or adults:

4. You have an absolutely magnificent menagerie of chickens. Take a moment to fawn over your cluckers so we may SQUEE?

Oh goodness, I do love those little ladies. I mean, what other pets can do most of the work of making your breakfast—and live to tell about it? Besides providing my family with delicious eggs (store bought has nothing on backyard fresh), chickens are a near endless source of amusement. I’ve often said if I could find a way to channel the hilarity of a chicken running on their short little legs into my writing, I’d be the greatest humor writer the world has ever known.

Plus, and perhaps most importantly, we all know that dinosaurs turned into birds so I basically have my own raptor pack in my backyard.

5. You are a well-documented giraffe suspicioner. Your first picture book, GIRAFFES RUIN EVERYTHING, is due in 2016. While we wait, what tips can you give our readers to avoid falling for giraffe shenanigans?

Important things to know:

First, though they are often considered vegetarians, giraffes do eat bones. No lie! They do it for the mineral content. I would suggest you keep your home and yard free of bones to avoid attracting them. If you must have them on your property, bury them deep.

Second, giraffes are really, really fast, and one kick from those powerful legs could probably knock your head right off. As such, don’t try to outrun them; outwit them. Put on a lion costume and frighten all them away with a mighty roar. You might want to start practicing now.

Lastly, giraffes are really quiet. If you don’t hear something sneaking up behind you, it’s probably a giraffe, and it’s definitely too late.

6. You’ll be sitting as faculty for the Midwest Writers Workshop in this week! Which, YAY. Tell us a little bit about what attendees can look forward to in your sessions?

I’m teaching two sessions: Percy Jackson or Katniss Everdeen: Key Differences between Middle Grade and Young Adult and Clearing the Air: Writing Middle Grade Humor that Goes Beyond Fart Jokes, as well as participating in an Author/Agent Relationships panel and a Buttonhole the Experts discussion on the dos and don’t of picture books.

I’m really looking forward to teaching my sessions. I find that figuring out if a manuscript should be MG or YA can be really tricky, sometimes even for more seasoned writers. We are going to talk about how they are different, how they overlap, hallmarks of each, and what kind of content either might contain.

In my humor session, we’ll explore how a humorous voice can benefit even a serious manuscript, I’ll share some techniques for getting laughs, and we’ll talk about how a well-seasoned fart joke can be hilarious, but that adding variety to your humor is even better. It’s like the difference between an orchestra, and a single, repeating toot.

I’m really looking forward to MWW.

7. What written work of brilliance are you working on now?

I’m currently plotting a new middle grade. I don’t want to say too much about it, but I will say it has another girl main character—though quite different than Jocelyn—and some familiar characters seen in a new way. Research has been so much fun! I even managed to get Harvard Library to send me a scanned copy of a two-hundred-year-old play.

8. You’ve wandered into the realm of my blog, and thus you are now required to share an embarrassing moment with the rest of the class. Bonus points if it’s industry related.

I don’t get embarrassed very easily, so I have no industry related mishaps to share. (Yet.) However, I do have something I can tell you.

I was fifteen years old and my mom would not stop bugging me. She woke me very early on a Saturday—like, before 10am— to tell me my niece was doing a great job learning to read. She interrupted me while I was reading the last chapter of a good book (you feel me on that one, don’t you?) to tell how many jars of raspberry jam she had just made. And when I escaped to the bathroom for a moment’s peace, she started knocking on the door and calling my name!

I’d had enough! I shouted at her, at the top of my lungs, “Geez woman! Can’t I even take a poop in peace? What do you want?” She meekly replied, “There are two young men here to see you.”

I walked out of the bathroom to find my crush and his equally crush-worthy friend cracking up in my living room.

Fizzy again.

I can’t top a lifelong pooping ban. I just can not.

That’s Heidi, folks! You definitely, DEFINITELY want to read her amazing books. Seriously. I can’t sell HOOK’S REVENGE enough. You’ll love it.

And! If you’re coming to MWW this week, you’ll have the treat of your life in Heidi’s sessions!

Follow Heidi on Twitter HERE, and her Instagram HERE, and her lovely blog HERE!

I hope you all are having magnificent weeks!

Until next time,

Peace, Love, and Pie!

PS: All these brilliant GIFs were created by @Quikchaos who is a master web designer, and also my favorite husband, ;D

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