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February 10, 2016

Badass Ladies You Should Know: Heidi Heilig

Kate Hart
My book originally sold as a 2016 release, and naturally one of the first things I did was join The Sweet Sixteens, a group of debut authors writing middle grade and young adult. Though my title has been bumped a year, I'm still a member of the 16er forums, and I couldn't help but notice that author Heidi Heilig was an exceptionally kind and supportive member. From sharing her experiences as a bipolar hapa woman, to creating cover-inspired outfits for each debut, to making book ornaments for every member, Heidi is a person who subscribes to my favorite marketing philosophy: that the best promotion is supporting others.

Of course she's also accomplished some pretty amazing things unrelated to being a fantastic cheerleader. She's a mom with an MFA in Musical Theater Writing from New York University, travels all over the world, owns a pet snake -- and of course, wrote The Girl From Everywhere, which Kirkus called "a nonstop time-travel romp." Be sure to grab your copy when it releases next week, but first, find out more about this badass lady.


Kate: Describe your career(s) and/or current projects. What path(s) and passions led you there?

Heidi: Well, right now my two major projects are my YA series, which launches with THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE on February 16th, and my son, who launched just over a year and a half ago and is still going strong. The path to both of them was long and rocky-although I've always loved writing, this is the first novel I'd ever written. I come from a theatre background, so it took me a while to find my way from playwriting to novel writing. And the baby took a while too-I have endometriosis and infertility, and so modern medicine was heavily involved. I count myself extremely lucky to have achieved both!

Heidi at Occupy Sandy
Kate: Do you have any creative outlets? How do they influence/affect your main work (if at all)?

Heidi: My major outlet (though it's more emotional than creative) is activism, though between day jobs, book, and baby, I don't have as much time to devote to it as I'd like. But being a part of protests and volunteer efforts, both online and in real life, are such valuable learning and listening opportunities to me, and for me, learning and listening is about 90% of the creative process.

Heidi at a protest in NYC

Kate: What's your biggest challenge?

Heidi: I'm definitely my own worst enemy. With all the excitement of the book and the baby has come a lot of upheaval and my brain chemistry is responding by throwing tantrums. The things I used to do to help control my bipolar disorder-like get enough sleep, or have a regular schedule-are elusive now, and I'm still trying to find new strategies to deal, or to get back to a place where I can use the old strategies again. I don't have all the answers for how to tackle this particular challenge. But that's okay.

Kate: What's the best compliment you've ever gotten?

Heidi: There have been three times in my life when someone called me an ally, and each time, it was the most amazing kindness. I want so much to be the kind of person who makes the world better-who make others feel safer and supported-and so those fleeting moments
when I've been trustworthy enough to be referred to as an ally mean that I'm moving in the right direction.

Heidi's gifts for fellow Sweet Sixteens Dee Romito, Kathy MacMillan, and Melanie Conklin

Kate: What are the best ways to support other women?

Heidi: Oh there are so many ways! Some that I like are to buy their work, signal boost their posts, congratulate them on their accomplishments, and support their choices wholeheartedly.

Kate: What is your advice to aspiring badasses?

Heidi: It's actually the same advice I'd give to aspiring writers: drop the "aspiring." Wanting to be a badass is actually already badass. Even more importantly, badassery isn't measured relative to others, but relative to where you started, so by taking that important first step of aspiring to badassery, you've set foot onto Badass Road. Just keep going.

Heidi is giving one reader a swag pack that includes a letter from her main character, 
a map, and a signed bookmark -- and it's open internationally!


Heidi Heilig grew up in Hawaii where she rode horses and raised peacocks, and then she moved to New York City and grew up even more, as one tends to do. Her favorite thing, outside of writing, is travel. Her debut novel, THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE (Greenwillow and Hot Key, 2016) features a mixed-race main character, her bipolar father, and time travel. (Hey, write what you know, right?) She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, their son, and a pet snake.

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