Monday, February 1, 2021

An Author Interview: Christopher Healy

    Hello! This week I'm thrilled to be posting an exclusive interview with Christopher Healy, the New York Times-recognized author of the Hero's Guide series and the A Perilous Journey of Danger and Mayhem books. Both are great stories that I highly recommend, and hope to review in separate posts on here soon. If you haven't heard of this author or any of his books, I strongly suggest you check him out...his work is bound to make you smile and think.

    This is my eleventh author interview here. To see all the author interviews I've done in the past, click HERE.

    This interview is spoiler-free.

Writing and Wonder: An Interview with Christopher Healy
January 19, 2021

What‌ ‌inspired‌ ‌you‌ ‌to‌ ‌start writing your first children’s book (The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom)?

It was a comment from my daughter, who was about five at the time, after she finished watching Disney’s “Snow White.” She had seemed to be enjoying the movie, but when it was over, she looked very upset, almost angry. When I asked her why, she said, “Because Snow White shouldn’t go with that prince! He’s boring! Snow White should stay by herself or with the dwarfs! The dwarfs are fun!” That was the first moment when I started thinking about writing a book that made Prince Charming less boring and more fun.   

In the Hero's Guide book series, you were able to use Todd Harris' art to bring your story world to life. What was it like collaborating on your writing with an illustrator?

Todd was awesome to work with. He sometimes changed his final drawings based on comments I made about his early sketches, and sometimes I changed the text based on details he put in the art that worked so well I simply had to include them. One example is Prince Duncan’s neck ruff, which I never mentioned in my first draft, but I thought it was so perfect when I saw it in Todd’s drawing that I made it a signature part of Duncan’s outfit. 

Have you always considered yourself a writer? If not, what prompted you to?

I was in second grade when I first started telling people I was going to be a writer when I grew up. I stuck to that dream goal until my early college years when I wrote a bunch of short stories that I tried to get published and struck out badly. I got discouraged, and gave up on the idea of being an author until I met the woman who would later become my wife.  She’s the one who inspired me to give writing another go, so I owe her a lot. 

Do‌ ‌you‌ ‌relate‌ ‌to‌ ‌any‌ ‌of‌ ‌your‌ ‌characters‌?‌ ‌If‌ ‌so,‌ ‌how?‌

I relate to so many of my characters! In order to make the characters feel real as I write them, I try to find at least one aspect of each of them that I can relate to my own life in some way (all the main characters, at least). Prince Duncan’s social awkwardness, Prince Frederic’s need to fight past his fears in order to fully experience life, Princess Lila’s desire to have adults see her as a peer, the way Molly Pepper feels like she’s been forced to be an adult too soon, the way Emmett Lee worries about doing anything without making a plan first—these are all things I’ve lived through (or am still living through). Among many others.

If you could pick any fictional setting from your books to live in, where would you choose to go?

The peaceful forests of Sylvaria would be nice. Pretty scenery and lots of adorable woodland critters—what’s not to love? 

If you could pick any fictional setting from a story you’ve read or watched to live in, where would you choose to go?

Maybe Narnia after all the battles were over. I think it would be fun to talk to a hedgehog. 

All of your works have a distinct, unique writing voice. How would you suggest others go about finding their own writing voice?

Well, first of all—thank you. Finding your unique voice is one of the most challenging parts of becoming a writer. But one piece of advice I would give is to read your writing aloud. If you find yourself “accidentally” using different wording than what you’ve got on the page, change it. That’s no accident; that’s your internal voice telling you how you really want to phrase that sentence. 

What’s the most surprising part about being an author, good or bad? ‌

Getting to talk to readers is the best by far! It’s something I never even realized would happen before my first book was published—and something authors probably didn’t really get to experience in the pre-Internet past—but getting to hear from fans, and even discuss my books with them, is one of my absolute favorite parts of this job. 

In your opinion what sort of stories need to be told more?

One of the most amazing things about books is that they can transport you—not just to new places, but into the heads of new people. Reading about characters from cultures, geographical areas, and walks of life that are different from your own can be so rewarding, energizing, eye-opening, and inspiring. So basically, I would say more stories that come from more different viewpoints. 

Do you listen to music while you write or not? Why?

I almost always write with headphones on. The music is good for blocking out distractions. But it also affects me emotionally and can put me in the right mood for a specific scene. And my mind is constantly open and scanning for bits of inspiration, so there have even been times when my brain will pick up on a song lyric and convert it to an idea for a line or a scene in the book. 

You worked a number of jobs before you became a full time author. Which one of these jobs was your favorite? Least favorite?

The one I miss the most is acting. The years I spent as an actor often come in handy as a writer, though, since both jobs require you to get into the head of a character. I also look at every school visit and live presentation I do as a performance, so that helps me miss acting a little bit less. My least favorite job was telemarketer—I quit after one day. 

Would you want any of your books turned into movies or TV shows? If not, why? If so, which one would you want adapted?

It would be a huge thrill to see any of my stories on screen. But The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is currently in development as an animated film, so I’m gonna say that one!

How do you combat writer’s block?

I do anything other than continue trying to work on the book. I might do chores, walk the dog, get some exercise—maybe even answer interview questions—until the solution to my writer’s block suddenly pops into my head, which it pretty much always does.

What is your favorite show to binge-watch? Why?

I binge-watch a lot. Really, I just love stories, so I love being able to just plow through an entire story and move onto the next. I just finished binging The Mandalorian. I binge a lot of international TV shows, too, which I love that we’re able to do now. In the past month I’ve watched cool shows from South Korea, Belgium, India, Germany, Egypt, Japan, and Jordan.  

What are some of your future projects?

I am currently working on a mystery that takes place in the Thirteen Kingdoms world of Hero’s Guide. It might even feature some familiar characters. 

What advice would you give to other writers?

Everything we put out as writers is the result of everything we take in—all the stories we hear, the books we read, the movies we watch, the songs we hear, the people we see and talk to, the experiences we have—after it’s been processed through our brains and turned into something new. So never stop taking it all in. Be open to the world around you and be ready for inspiration at any moment. And when it hits, write it down quickly, so you don’t forget it!

    Thank you so much for joining me today. It was such an honor to feature this author on my blog, and I personally can't wait to read more of his future reads (and watch the upcoming movie, of course)!

    Have you read any of Christopher Healy's books? If so, what did you think about them? If not, would you be interested in checking them out?

    As always, review requests (for books and author interviews) are open! If you have a suggestion for a series or novel you'd love a content summary or my opinion on, just click on my newly revised Review Policy page, make sure your suggestion fits and then ask away! I have not gotten a lot of requests through my readers and would love to get more.

    Another announcement I'd like to make in this post is that the Turning Point Short Story Contest (open to all 9-13 year olds) has extended its deadline to February 28, 2021. So if you know of any young writers who would be interested in entering, send them this way! Even if you're too old to be a contestant, you can still get in on the fun by entering in a free giveaway to receive four of S.D. Smith's Green Ember books in audiobook format AND a $15 Amazon gift card. Click here to enter the giveaway, and click here to check out the contest guidelines and how to enter.

    Next week join me for a fascinating take on Russian history...


  1. Good for you! Your mother is very proud!!!

    1. Yes, she is :) Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  2. Replies
    1. I'm so glad you think so!

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. *slipping in here really late* AWESOME INTERVIEW, GIRL!!!!!!! *jumps up and down* THIS WAS EPIC!!!! I've heard of this author before I think. Anyway, I checked out his book and it sounds like one that'd be super fun and genius!!!! I'm also currently addicted to fairytale retellings, so that makes it even more AWESOME!!! XD Aaannndd this Russian history thing sounds really cool!!! CAN'T WAIT!!!!!! <33

    1. XD It's fine! Yay, I'm so happy you enjoyed it, and got you interested in his Hero's Guide books! I'd love to know what you think. Yes, I'm excited too! I'm also planning to do a Week of Book Memes as well, just so I can do a Valentine's themed TTT list, so stay tuned for that! :D

      Thanks, as always, for reading and commenting. You're awesome!

    2. Of course!! I'll totally let you know what I think!!! It might be a while though until I can get to it. I may be planning on tackling Lord of the Rings. If I disappear for the next year you'll know where I am. XD Wish me luck!