Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Talking with Teen Author Heather Paye, "A Gift from Above"

Heather Paye is a 16-year-old author from Arizona. She wrote her first novel - A Gift From Above - during National Novel Writing Month in 2008, and published it in March of last year. Heather is currently working on a poetry anthology to be published for Mother's Day.

What first drew you to writing?
Boredom. The first thing I wrote was a short story. I was sitting in front of the computer absolutely bored with all of the computer games that I already finished and finished again, so I opened up Microsoft Word and wrote the first thing that came to mind. It turned out completely, and absolutely terrible, but thinking back it's the best thing I've ever written - because it's the first.

What was your process for writing A Gift From Above?
A Gift From Above was an idea that I had for quite a few months before beginning writing it down. But I wrote it for a writing challenge called "NaNoWriMo" (National Novel Writing Month) where you attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. So it was written quickly. I didn't write an outline, I simply started with an idea and went from there until finishing. Afterward, I set it aside for a couple weeks then went to work on editing.

How did you go about getting it published?
It was really a great opportunity from NaNoWriMo: to all who managed to write 50,000 words, they offered a free proof-copy to get it self-published. So, I went to the publisher's website, did some research, said "Why not?" Next thing I knew, I was putting all of my collected knowledge of book-publishing to the test. I did run into some issues in the process, though it was a huge learning-experience, and all came out well in the end.

What was your favorite part of writing it? The greatest challenge?
My favorite part was how naturally the story flowed while I was writing it. The characters felt really real to me and I knew exactly what I was going to write before I wrote it down. The greatest challenge was ending the story. I probably could have gone on with the story forever. Firstly, I probably would have bore my readers to death (all the action had already been written in previous chapters), and second I had no idea how it would turn out since this was the first story I wrote in first person.

You are also working on a poetry collection. How did that come about?
That was another idea that I had for quite awhile. Last December, I decided to put it into motion. I'm always looking for things to do for my wonderful mother, so I thought this poetry collection was a great idea for a gift for this Mother's Day. Originally it started out where I was only going to feature my poems and my siblings poems, but, observing the project from a different point of view, I thought it would be a great opportunity for other authors to also have a gift from their mother. That's where it was turned into a real anthology. I've also created a website for others to visit with loads of information and even polls to take which will help form nitpicky details about the poetry book. Local students have also submitted their poems, and I hope that this project will be able to help them out by not only boosting their self-esteem, but also their knowledge about the publishing industry.

How important is writing for tweens and teens? What skills does writing help you develop?
On a scale of 1to10 I would say writing for tweens and teens is an 8, it's very important. Not only does writing help skills such as English, Grammar, and Reading, but I think it also helps to keep a mind clear. When I first started writing, my skill level was like a 2nd grader's, the problem was, I was a 4th grader! Writing gave me an enjoyable crash course in so many different subjects. Now I find English is my favorite subject in school, because it is very helpful with what I do. Writing helps develop - like I said before - English, Grammar, and Reading, it also helps with time-management, and it develops great discipline. It takes a lot to write something, finish it, and edit it millions of times. If you want to punish a teen for a wrong-doing, give them a novel and tell them to edit it - or hand them paper and tell them to write a novel. It can be fun, but sometimes it is stressful, time-consuming, and simply hard.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
J.K.Rowling is the reason that I started writing. In one of her interviews she said, "Anyone can write a novel," and that is what inspired me. Nora Roberts is my role model, she has so many books available, it's just crazy. Christopher Paolini, M.J.Allaire, and L.J.Smith are more of my favorites. I should stop now... but the list goes on!

Advice for young writers?
Never, ever stop writing! Never stop learning, and never stop trying! You have something to learn from everyone - no matter how old you are. And most importantly, NEVER underestimate the power of EDITING! Just because publishers have editors, doesn't mean that you can send them error-filled words, if it's too bad, they'll reject you. I usually edit my work between 4 and 10 times before I even think about it being ready to send anywhere.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
Oh, that's a hard one! There is so much I know now that I didn’t know before. 1. I wish I took heed of the words "Edit". 2. I wish I knew what I was getting myself into... No, forget that last one. I would have done it anyway!


  1. Heather, congratulations on your first book, and I hope you have great success with your poetry book.

  2. Heather, I also wish you much success with your poetry book!

  3. Thanks for stopping by, Katie and Karen!

    And thanks, Heather, for a great interview. What an inspiration you are to young people! It is so awesome that you decide to do something and follow through with such zeal!

  4. Thank you both Katie and Karen for your wonderful comments, and for reading! And thank you Debra for being such a wonderful host!

    ~ Heather Paye

  5. Heather, good luck with your poetry book! My 15 year old granddaughter is going to be in two poetry anthologies too.

  6. Kathy, thank you for reading a commenting. Such great news about your granddaughter. Wonderful accomplishments for one so young!

    ~ Heather Paye

  7. Heather I think you are so inspiring! I also send good luck wishes for your poetry book. Very exciting! Keep up the great work.

    All best wishes,
    Dallas :)