Gwendolyn Heasley is making a repeat visit to the Cafe. When we chatted with her last, her debut novel Where I Belong had just hit store shelves. Today, Gwen is back with us to discuss her latest release, A Long Way From You.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Gwendolyn Heasley] I’m a native Midwestern with New Yorker parents. I love a story more than anything in the world. My greatest career ambition is to have readers relate to my characters and be moved by their stories.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about A Long Way From You?
[Gwendolyn Heasley] On the plot level, it’s the story of Kitsy Kidd’s summer trip to Manhattan to attend art classes.
On the inner level, it’s the story of Kitsy exploring who she is when she’s away from everything she’s ever known.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Kitsy?
[Gwendolyn Heasley] Peppy. Caring. Brave.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Kitsy would never have in her purse?
[Gwendolyn Heasley] Anything designer or frivolous. Kitsy doesn’t have many physical possessions, so her purse would be very bare. She might carry a lip gloss, but that’s the only make-up she’d ever have on her. She would have something to remind her of her brother Kiki, her most important baggage.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Kitsy’s single most prized possession?
[Gwendolyn Heasley] A poster of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Which of your characters are you more like: Corrinne or Kitsy?
[Gwendolyn Heasley] I’m a little bit of each. I’ve lived in cities and small towns although none as small as Kitsy’s hometown of Broken Spoke. Both Kitsy and Corrinne possess contradictions (which is the basis of a good character in my mind) and I also possess many contradictions. Depending on the situation, I can be shy or loud, timid or brave. I think situation dictates character. We are all capable of acting in many different ways. Throughout my life, I’ve vacillated between being a Kitsy and a Corrinne.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Gwendolyn Heasley] My life. I mine my own emotional experiences for ideas…but after that, I try to let the characters take their own journeys. (My characters are often more grown-up and mature than I was at that age.)
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Gwendolyn Heasley] Coffee. Diet coke. Silence although I’m always hoping that I can turn into a writer who listens to music while working.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Gwendolyn Heasley] I recently read Sara Pennypacker’s Summer of the Gypsy Moths and I loved it. It has amazing Gothic elements but is written at a very accessible level.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Gwendolyn Heasley] The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin made me into a fanatic reader. I think series can be extremely inspirational for young readers. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the BSC.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Gwendolyn Heasley] I love TV and movies (nearly) as much as I love books. I’m also a big fan of exploring my wonderful city (Manhattan), traveling, skiing, running, interneting, and attempting to cook. I’m also planning my wedding, which is a mammoth but wonderful undertaking.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Gwendolyn Heasley] Hearing from my readers is my favorite part of this job. (And I take readers thoughts very seriously and often incorporate suggestions into my next work) I promise to respond to every email I receive, so please write me at Gwendolyn.firstname.lastname@example.org
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
You can purchase A Long Way From You, as well as Where I Belong, from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below. Available in print and digital