Hello Bookworms, if you haven’t heard of the name Wendy Heard…WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? Just kidding! I had the pleasure of interviewing Wendy, and we conversed about her upcoming release; She’s Too Pretty to Burn, some of her writing quirks and most importantly, her favourite bread recipe(I cannot wait to try it out!). Now enough of me here’s WENDY!
Erin : Tell us about your upcoming release; She’s Too Pretty to Burn, how did your work on this book change you?
Wendy : This book went from a fun experiment to an impossible puzzle to a book that lives right next to my heart. It was difficult to write because I was trying very hard to put certain things into words that had always been wordless. I was trying to do justice to this story about art and immortality, and turning a person into an object, and the objectification of being someone’s muse. Being allowed to explore those thematic elements gave me so much joy, and I’m incredibly grateful to my editor for seeing that vision and helping me achieve it. I have a degree in studio art emphasizing painting, but my secondary focus was photography. Exploring art in this way was satisfying and fascinating, and I can’t believe they let me write it.
Erin : Describe a typical writing day.
Wendy : I have a day job and a daughter, so I wake up and write before everything else gets started. So I wake up at 5, make coffee, and do 2 hours of writing. This is when I do almost all my drafting, although when I’m on deadline, I’ll write during lunch, after my day job, in the car, in stairwells, in cafes (back when we were allowed to go places), at the park while my daughter is playing, literally anywhere that I find myself with a little free time. When I’m on super deadline, occasionally I’ll get a hotel room up the coast and lock myself up with my book for a few days. That’s how I wrote the last act of SHE’S TOO PRETTY TO BURN.
Erin : How do you develop your plot and characters?
Wendy : I tend to get characters intuitively, although I might work on certain characteristics, speech patterns, other things that didn’t come to me naturally. For plot, I do a lot of outlining, using a beat sheet I adapted from Save the Cat, Anatomy of Story, and some other sources. Here’s a link to that if anyone is interested.
For Pretty to Burn, Veronica was a very natural character for me to write. Nico was too, actually. Mick was more of a struggle. Perhaps she’s a little too close to home; her phobia of photos is an autobiographical one, and I felt a ton of anxiety about getting it right. She also tends toward avoidance, often not knowing what she’s feeling or why she’s doing what she’s doing. As a result, I wrestled through every draft, wanting to show the reader her motivations when she didn’t always know them!
Erin : What book is currently on your bedside table?
Wendy : Carmilla by J. Sheridan Lefanu, a 19th century lesbian vampire novella…I feel like this is hilariously on brand.
Erin : Do you read the reviews of your novels? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
Wendy : Sometimes I read them, especially in the early stages of a book’s release. When it goes up on Netgalley and the Goodreads reviews start coming in, I find that I’m dying to know what people think of it. The negative reviews can hurt, but they can also be helpful. Once a hundred or so reviews are up, I feel I’ve learned everything people love and hate about the book and can sort of release it.
Erin : What is the significance of the title; She’s Too Pretty to Burn?
Wendy : A reader will have a fun surprise related to this at the very end of the book. Apart from that, it points to the book’s theme of fire, which is part of analog photography (burning images on film), part of Nico’s installations, part of Mick’s journey, and in contrast to the other main image in the book, which is water. Most importantly, it speaks to Mick’s place in the book as the object of affection, the subject of photos, and thus a thing whose only value is physical. So it answers the question, Should we burn her? with No, because she’s too pretty. That’s the only reason to let her survive.
Erin : What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Wendy : During every first draft, I am convinced that this is the book that breaks me; it’s awful, it’s unsalvageable; it is a cat turd on Dumpster Island. I can’t explain to you how much I am certain that I should delete every word I have just written the entire way through the first draft. When I come back in to revise, I feel much more confident and am suddenly a beacon of productivity. Why am I like this? What good does it do? Unknown.
Erin : And here’s a final fun question, can you share a link to a recipe you love?
Wendy : Absolutely. I give you my favorite bread recipe. It uses the sponge method and was taught to me by my grandma Veta, to whom Pretty to Burn is dedicated. Tip: If using whole wheat flour only, it may need a little extra rise time, and I often throw in a little extra yeast.
About Wendy Heard :
Wendy Heard was born in San Francisco but has lived most of her life in Los Angeles, which is on fire more than she would honestly prefer. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art, emphasizing painting, and a Master’s degree in Education. When not writing, she can be found hiking the Griffith Park trails, taking the Metro and then questioning this decision, and haunting local bookstores.
Wendy is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America, is a contributor at Crimereads.com, and co-hosts the Unlikeable Female Characters podcast.
She’s Too Pretty to Burn :
An electric romance set against a rebel art scene sparks lethal danger for two girls in this expertly plotted YA thriller. For fans of E. Lockhart, Lauren Oliver and Kara Thomas.
The summer is winding down in San Diego. Veronica is bored, caustically charismatic, and uninspired in her photography. Nico is insatiable, subversive, and obsessed with chaotic performance art. They’re artists first, best friends second. But that was before Mick. Delicate, lonely, magnetic Mick: the perfect subject, and Veronica’s dream girl. The days are long and hot―full of adventure―and soon they are falling in love. Falling so hard, they never imagine what comes next. One fire. Two murders. Three drowning bodies. One suspect . . . one stalker. This is a summer they won’t survive.
Inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray, this sexy psychological thriller explores the intersections of love, art, danger, and power.