Kat Heckenbach spent her childhood with pencil and sketchbook in hand, knowing she wanted to be an artist when she grew up—so naturally she graduated college with a degree in biology, went on to teach math, and now homeschools her two children while writing. Her fiction ranges from light-hearted fantasy to dark and disturbing, with multiple stories published online and in print. Her debut novel, MG fantasy Finding Angel, is available in print and ebook. Enter her world here.
1) What will readers enjoy most about your book?
I think the story world is something that will draw in readers, especially young ones. Lots of magical plants, cool creatures like dragons, and other creatures totally unique to the world in Finding Angel.
One of my young readers really loved the magical Talents the individual characters have. My magic system is a bit different than most. It’s rather science-based, more of a natural ability that allows the characters to manipulate things within the laws of physics.
And of course, at its heart, the book is a mystery as well as fantasy. So mystery and puzzle lovers will enjoy it. (One of my endorsers called it a “living jigsaw puzzle.”)
2) Most writers leave the nuts and bolts of magic a mystery. Why did you take a different route?
I suppose the obvious answer is that I'm a science geek (I have a B.S in Biology), so I like scientific explanations for things. However, it's never bothered me that most fantasy novels don't include that stuff. Magic is fun, and it doesn't have to follow rules. I wanted mine to be different, though. I wanted magic to be an innate ability which could truly be extrapolated from what humans are capable of. And each of my characters has a Talent that is a magic power stronger than the rest, with each person's being unique to them. I wanted it obviously representative of our unique talents here in the real world, so I wanted magic in general to be "realistic."
3) Do you think reading about magic can give people the wrong idea?
That is a touchy subject, isn't it? I was really shocked at how many parents prohibited their kids from reading Harry Potter because of magic. I had never given it a second thought. I'd grown up reading books with magic in them. I pretended to be able to do magic all the time as a kid, and fantasized endlessly about other worlds where magic is normal. But I never thought of it as being evil. I never thought of it as something un-Christian. To me, it was an ability. THAT it where the difference lies. There is a HUGE difference between having an ability to make an object fly across a room and summoning evil spirits with Ouija boards and such. I make that VERY clear in my books. The problem is when that line gets confused, and someone steps into the occult thinking it is the same as fairytale magic. They are not the same at all.
4) Have you ever thought, even for a minute, that you were something besides human?
Not honestly believed it, but oh, I wanted to! I was the kid running around crossing my arms and blinking like Jeannie from “I Dream of Jeannie” and trying to crinkle my nose like Samantha on “Bewitched.” (I have so just dated myself with that comment.) I’ve always been drawn to books and movies and TV shows about other worlds. My days as a kid were filled with enchanted forests (my back yard) and secret passages (in my closet) and musty old castles (the hallway of my house when the power was out).
5) Are any characters in your books based on your family?
That is an even touchier subject :). Just kidding. Actually, most of my characters are based on people I've known, but it's only bits and pieces of them, often mixed in together with other people and other characteristics that are completely made up. Angel's little brother, Zack, for instance, has a lot of the traits of my son. But, he's also very different. I have a character that has a lot of my dad in him, but also bits of other people. I think all writers draw on people they know for inspiration, but you can't just make a character wholly derived from someone you know. I let my characters develop on their own.
6) Who is your favorite character that you've created? That you've read about?
In Finding Angel, I’d have to say Kalek. I love the idea of an Elven rocker. He’s mysterious, and rebellious and regal at the same time. And his Talent (his strongest magic skill) is quite unique. (Do I tell what it is here, or keep ‘em guessing? Hehe….how about a hint? All of Creation sings, but only one guy can make you literally hear it….)
A character I’ve read about—that’s harder. I have so many favorite books and they all come with a favorite character. Hermione in the Harry Potter series and Dustfinger in the Inkheart series are two I can name off the top of my head.
7) Tell us about your relationship with your publisher Splashdown Books. Any surprises as you’ve worked with them?
The whole experience has been one surprise after another! I had no idea what to expect from working with a small publisher. But it’s been awesome. Grace Bridges is wonderful, and the whole group of authors work really well together as a team. We brainstorm back cover blurbs and such for each other, and everyone is respectful of each other’s suggestions. I will admit, I love the creative pow-wows Grace and I have when it comes to cover art. We seem to totally connect most of the time and it’s ridiculously fun. Those moments of, “What if we….?” followed by, “Oh, yes, that’s brilliant!” happen a lot—in both directions. There have been far too many for me to doubt I’m in the right place.
For more information about Kat, or to purchase her work, you can go to:
Amazon (print and Kindle)
Barnes & Noble (print and Nook)
Smashwords (all ebook formats)
Finding Angel website