Lehigh Valley Writing Project Fellow (2004) Heather Harlen recently published her first novel, Hope You Guess My Name - A Thriller. Heather earned her B.A. in English from Muhlenberg College and her M.A. in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. She has been teaching English and ESL for the past fifteen years and currently teaches ELA at Raub Middle School in the Allentown district. Heather enjoys swimming, the beach, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and zombies.
Stephanie Bell: So what’s it about?
Heather Harlen: A 25 year-old hot mess of an event planner and her best friends compete with a mysterious client from Turkey in a deceivingly dangerous geocaching competition.
SB: When/how did you get the idea for this book?
HH: This actually came from a writing prompt that said Wanted: Dad. I just started writing and the idea grew from that and although not a lot from the initial draft made it into the book, the character concept came from that.
SB: What was the most difficult part of the writing?
HH: You have to be willing to sacrifice time from other things, learn to say no, prioritize and commit to a schedule, especially as a teacher. I worked a lot of Friday nights and weekends. It takes a lot of self-discipline.
SB: How did you find a publisher?
HH: After I shopped my first version around to agents and didn’t get any takers, that made me reconsider my options and this publisher came to me through a grad school connection. It wasn’t at all expected.
SB: What advice would you give to aspiring fiction writers?
HH: Trust yourself. Go with your idea and write what makes you happy and love it. Do social media. Twitter connected me to other writers all over the world.
SB: What was the best part of this experience?
HH: People have been asking for the sequel. It was a lot of hard work; I made major revisions last summer, but when people ask for a sequel, it makes it all worthwhile.
SB: Is there anything you’d like to add?
HH: This book was written because of writing project. LVWP opened my eyes and developed my confidence as a writer; it really inspired me.
Follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/HeatherHarlenAuthor
Or Twitter: @harlenwrites Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read an excerpt here.