Heather Manning was only sixteen years old when her first book was published—last year. So, besides studying the writing craft, she also studies… well, everything on her high school curriculum.

The winner of a number of writing competitions with “Nextgen Writers,” Heather has also placed first in writing contests with the “Go Teen Writers” blog. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Heather lives in Missouri where she attends high school, acts in community theatre, eats donuts, and reads every Inspirational Historical Romance she can get her hands on.

Who or what first sparked your interest in writing?

I have always written as a hobby, off and on, but I only seriously started writing during middle school, where I was influenced by an excellent English teacher who helped me realize just how much I enjoy writing. After that, I realized that I could try to make a career of my beloved hobby and began working towards that goal.

What part does faith play in your work?

It plays a large part sometimes. I always add in a spiritual arc for my characters to experience throughout the story, and thinking of these arcs makes me think about faith a lot more, and I incorporate it into my work.

Let’s talk about your debut novel, Swept to Sea (Astraea Press, November 2013). Congratulations! Please tell us about it.

Thank you! I’m so excited.

Swept to Sea is about a young woman, Lady Eden Trenton, who stows away on a pirate ship to escape an abusive fiancé. Eden ends up taking care of the child of the ship’s revenge-seeking pirate captain.

Detours in life are like plot twists in the stories we write. Often the outcome is more intriguing than our original plan. Can you tell us about a “detour” in your life that taught you something?

The first “detour” in my life that I can think of right off hand happened this spring at the RT Writer’s Convention. I went there planning to learn about the art and trade of writing—and maybe make a few connections. I didn’t think in a million years that I would get a book contract.

So, after a couple of days of indecision, I ended up going to the “Pitch-A-Palooza,” which was an event in which authors pitched to a large number of agents, editors, and publishing houses in a set amount of time.

I pitched to three different ladies and decided I wanted to leave and get some pizza. I glanced down at the list of names I wanted to pitch to and saw one last name. I figured nothing would come out of this and almost decided to just go and get some pizza, but I stuck in there and pitched to the final name.

It turned out that that pitch got me my book contract and changed my life.

This taught me that I should not decide to not try to achieve something just because I think it will never happen—because it could happen.

A few fun questions…

What is your favorite comfort food and why?

I love so many, but I would have to say donuts from Krispy Kreme are my favorites. They are so sweet and light and fluffy.

This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?

I don’t know if I would call it a talent, but I do enjoy singing. I have been in a few musicals locally and love singing along to show tunes at home.

If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?

I would be a show tune because they are almost the only type of songs I listen to usually. They can cover such a range of different emotions and styles.

What’s your go-to activity to fight writer’s block?

I usually go to Pinterest and scroll through my home page feed. I can usually find so many photos there that inspire me to write I don’t have writer’s block any more.

Please tell us about your pets, if any.

I have the absolute coolest rabbit ever, named Nibbles. He is the sweetest little guy in the world.

I also have a black lab named Cancun, who is hilarious and loves to (sometimes) cuddle with me.

Thank you, Heather! It’s nice to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.

Thanks so much for having me. I loved the questions you asked me!

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For more information about Heather, visit her on Facebook and/or read her recent USA Today interview feature.

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