Book Related

A ‘Smoke’-y Interview: Chatting with Roxanne Heath

So a few weeks ago, this little spotlight went up. Since then, I’ve had the chance to chat with the author, Roxanne Heath, a bit more about her book and her tastes in both literature and music, and I’m so excited to share them with you folks today!

Let’s do this!

Let’s get to know you a bit better: What are three interesting things about you?

My first “official” publication was in the form of a top ten list, in which I rambled on for about 1500 words talking about Norse myths. It was the first time I ever got to see my name listed under any sort of publication, and it was pretty cool.

When I know I need to write a fight scene, I do a one-person freestyle choreography of it first and then only write down the parts that are interesting to watch / imagine.

I started writing when I was seven, and completed my first (albeit completely awful) novel-length story at sixteen.

What sort of books do you prefer to read?

I’m a big fan of realistic sci-fi and fantasy. I love stories that effortlessly ride the line between the feasible and the fantastic, the stories that not only blur that line but then perfectly weave the two together. For me, it’s such a thrill to read a story that can bury itself in the mystical, surface for air to present the real-life horrors and fears and struggles of the every day, and then dive back down into a fantasy all its own.

Because music is a big part of this blog, I also have to ask: Favourite artists/groups?

The Moody Blues, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Kaleo, Ghost, Bastille, The Oh Hellos and The Paper Kites for artists/groups, and for modern composers I often find myself listening to the works of Patrick Doyle, Brian Tyler, Gustavo Santaolalla, and Roque Baños.

Have you always been a writer? Or was it something you came into later on?

I’ve always been interested in the concept of being a writer, and I always knew that one day I would be, but I didn’t start considering myself an actual “writer” until after college. Creative writing was an outlet for me from a young age and I was always naturally drawn to it, but in the early years it was flash fiction and starting (then quickly abandoning) so many stories I couldn’t keep track of them all. In short, I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but I definitely had to come into it later on.

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Tell us about your book! What’s it about?

Smoke is primarily a ghost story, though it relies somewhat heavily on self-created psychological horror and the questions of where our imaginations end and the real world begins. The plot of the book is perhaps most concisely described by its official blurb, which is as follows: “Finding a dead man in the woods seems, at first, like any other routine tragedy. Burdened by a lack of scientific evidence, the investigation takes a much darker turn when a series of interviews uncover sordid details from this dead man’s past including a history of magic and violence. This story takes the four main characters on a journey trying to determine the cause of death, leading each to question his or her own motivations for wanting the truth, and quickly revealing the consequences of betraying the trust of the dead.​”

What inspired you to write this particular book?

The inspiration to write Smoke came primarily from the long-term goals I set for my writing “career,” so to speak, back in 2014 when I first started. Since the beginning of all this I’ve been working towards the goal of dabbling in each of my favourite topics, the first being ghost stories, the second being zombie stories, and the third being the topic of mental health albeit within the context of fiction. Smoke wound up being the first to get checked off the list simply because I’ve always been comfortable writing about the central topics within the book.

Was there any music in particular you listened to while writing it?

I listened to a lot of music which could be described as having the “indie” vibe, and more specifically falling within the folk rock genre. It’s rather cliché to say that I listened to indie music while writing my debut novel, but I wrote Smoke at a time in my life where I was exploring a lot of new music. I grew up on oldies – everything from Dion, to Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, to Van Halen – and that was the music that I studied to in school when math and science were pretty much my whole world. As such when I started exploring this new avenue of creative writing I wanted to find new music to go along with that, which led me to the likes of Peter Bradley Adams, Bastille, The Oh Hellos, and similar sounding bands.

What has the experience been like, now that your book is out there in the world?

It’s always a bit nerve-wracking. As someone who will reread a given work anywhere from thirty to fifty times (sadly, that’s not an exaggeration) before publication, I’m always nervous to finally “let go,” so to speak, and put the book out there in the world. There’s a certain kind of resignation to be felt when you know that now it’s in the public eye, and there’s no more polishing to be done, but there’s also a kind of excitement because now you get to show off this thing you’ve worked so hard on for the last couple of years.

Any future writing plans?

Always! Since I’ve now managed to cross two of the three genres off my list, it’s time to get working on my next project. Containing exactly zero fantastic elements, the project will focus instead of the ideas of love, loss, relative levels of grief found in everyday life, and how any of these elements can work together or apart to tear someone down over time.

Where can we find you online?

Just about everywhere! I’m on way too many social media platforms, though it’s worth noting that I’m most active on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve let Tumblr and Instagram go dormant for a bit, but the accounts are still active.

Base website: www.roxanneheath.com

Facebook: facebook.com/rheathwrites

Twitter: twitter.com/rheathwrites

Tumblr: rheathwrites.tumblr.com

Instagram: instagram.com/rheathwrites

Any last thoughts you’d like to share with the readers?

Yes, and it’s more than a little cliché but it’s heartfelt nevertheless. Readers make an author’s job way more fun. It’s satisfying in and of itself to see the last few years of your life in the pages of your newest book, but having readers to talk to and interact with makes the whole experience a lot more enjoyable. So for any of you reading this who interact with your favourite authors, I can almost guarantee they appreciate your presence far more than you know.

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