1- If you could go back in time, where and in what year would you travel to and why?
Such a hard question, but I think I would go back to the 1920s, right before we had television. It occupies so much time and distracts us from our relationships and what really matters.
2- Your reviews are detailed with information that helps parents and conservative readers make an informed choice about a book. Do you feel all books should have content labels (warning: contains L, S, and V)? How did you come to feel this way? Do you worry it might be used to restrict access to books, lead to more book burnings, or result in censorship?
This is such an interesting question, and I'm glad you asked it. I do believe that all books should have content labels, just as movies do. I actually just signed a contract with a new publishing company (Endever Publishing Studios) who will be including ratings on all of their books which I couldn't be more thrilled about.
Several years ago I had heard amazing things about a bestselling book, but hadn't had time to read it myself yet. I wanted to send it to my sister for her birthday, but knew she didn't like vulgarity, sex, etc in her books. I did my best to read the reviews and see if there was any mention of it, but ultimately just ordered it for her. She called me when she got it and told me that there was so much vulgarity in it, she couldn't read it. Not everyone has those preferences, but there are many who do. Just like we use ratings on movies to help determine which ones we will see (there are some movies I will watch with my husband, but not with my parents because of content), or ratings on video games to help us know which ones are appropriate for our kids, books are in need for content advisory labels.
I don't believe this will lead to censorship or restrict access to books--that isn't the point of a rating system. It isn't to tell us what books we can publish, but just as a service to the reader so they can make a more informed decision. How great would it be if a parent could flip over a book their child is reading and see right away what kind of content they are being exposed to? Then the parent could determine if it is appropriate for that child, or maybe if they should have open discussions about what they are reading.
3- What are your biggest goals as a writer?
Sometimes my biggest goal as a writer is to write, ha ha. I have 2 young kids and a husband in graduate school, so finding time to write can be quite challenging. Of course, I would love to be a New York Times Bestseller and all that, but if you know anything about the system, that isn't always in the writer's control. Honestly, when I started writing, I wanted to find a way to create a ratings system for books, but knew that you have to have influence for anyone to listen to you. Hopefully I can obtain that kind of influence one day.
4- If you were stranded on "the island" from LOST, what 3 items would you want to have with you?
My first "item" would be Jack, he's pretty handy, ha ha. #2 would be sunscreen (without it I'd be dead in a week). #3 a canteen so I could take my water on the go
5- Have you ever been to Salem?
Unfortunately, I haven't been to Salem. My dream is to be able to do a book signing there one day for Devil's Playground. But sadly, I had to rely on the internet to determine what it was like over 300 years ago.
6- What is the most memorable trait or visual oddity of one of your characters?
My main character's distinguishing feature isn't necessarily odd by today's standards. But she has long, beautiful curly hair (everyone else in the village has straight hair), and she always has to hide it under her cap. She tries to sneak a few curly strands but gets reprimanded for it.
7- Is there any diversity we can look forward to in your book?
Although historically Salem was an all-white village (except for slaves/servants), there are many parallels to today. Elizabeth is a witch in a place where if she were to reveal her identity, she would be persecuted/killed. She hasn't done anything, she was just born that way. But judgments come from those who don't take the time to look past the label. Sound familiar? I have many readers who are able to relate to Elizabeth because of social judgments they deal with on a daily basis.
8- As a reader, what most motivates you to buy a new book to read?
I read a lot of fiction when I'm reviewing books, but when considering purchasing a book, I actually tend to lean toward non-fiction. I gravitate toward books that will help me be a better/happier/more balanced person. If it is a timely subject for me, I am very likely to buy it.
9- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?
I went through the route of looking for an agent, and met some amazing people along the way who helped shape Devil's Playground into what it is today. And I'd still consider seeking an agent in the future, but I felt that a small press might be a good starting place for me. Unlike with bigger publishers, I had a say in what I wanted/didn't want on my cover. My editors made suggestions for my manuscript, but didn't ever require me to make the changes (though I nearly always did because my editors were AMAZING). It is an all-together more personal experience. Though they certainly don't have the marketing power than the bigger publishers have, it has been a positive experience for me.
10- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?
A little about me: I currently live in Logan, Utah where I attempt to balance my love of writing with raising a husband and two kids. Devil's Playground is my debut novel, but it will not be my last. I am currently working on a sequel, as well as a YA contemporary comedy. I am also a book reviewer and you can find reviews for Middle-grade fiction through Adult novels on my website, www.heatheraeagar.com. If I had the time I would play racquetball everyday, as well as go hiking with my laptop on my back where I would then write my next novel on the mountaintop. Wishful thinking. :-)
As I mentioned before, my debut novel is DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND. It is YA Historical Fantasy and takes place during the Salem Witch Trials. It is currently available digitally, and will most likely be in print by the time this interview is posted (if not, very soon after)
Sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Winters may be a witch, but she doesn’t know the first thing about magic—unless you count accidental bouts of spontaneous combustion. Elizabeth’s father, a wizard himself, has forbidden the use of her powers for her own protection, but when accusations of witchcraft start flying through Salem Village, she wishes she was more prepared.
Despite her lack of magical knowledge, Elizabeth appoints herself to save innocent women from the demise the village has in store for them. Elizabeth finds, however, that she is not the hero Salem needs her to be.
She meant to save them. She cursed them instead.
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