Q&A with Heart of Mist Author: Helen Scheuerer

Hello everyone! Recently, I did a full review on the e-arc of Heart of Mist by Helen Scheuerer. Today I’ll be posting an interview that I had with Helen about her debut novel which releases on August 31! I really enjoyed the book and it’s characters. The ARC was so incredible that I can’t wait to order a physical copy to hold in my hands. The cover is absolutely stunning.

Before I go into the interview, here is the synopsis for the book and click on this {link} for my full review.

In a realm where toxic mist sweeps the lands and magic is forbidden, all Bleak wants is a cure for her power.

Still grieving the death of her guardian and dangerously self-medicating with alcohol, Bleak is snatched from her home by the Commander of the King’s Army, and summoned to the capital.

But the king isn’t the only one interested in Bleak’s powers.

The leader of an infamous society of warriors, the Valia Kindred, lays claim to her as well, and Bleak finds herself in the middle of a much bigger battle than she anticipated.

Heart of Mist is the gripping first book in The Oremere Chronicles, a fantasy series of epic proportions.

Alright guys! And here is the interview:

about Heart of Mist (1)

ABP: Why did you choose addiction as a theme?
HS: I always find themes a strange concept to wrap my head around in fiction writing… You see, I don’t think I consciously set out to explore particular themes when I was writing Heart of Mist… It’s something that just developed as Bleak, the protagonist developed…

However, once I realised that her characterisation would explore addiction, I was determined not to shy away from it. Often including darker themes in YA fiction is cause for debate, but I’ve always thought it vital to explore a range of issues and experiences in any type of fiction.

Addiction isn’t an issue that’s exclusive to adults, and in a lot of cases, it’s something that starts to affect people when they’re in their teens. Growing up, I knew plenty of people that sought escape and self-medication through alcohol and drugs, so I think it’s important that this fact is reflected in at least some of the novels young adults are reading.
ABP: I think that’s a characteristic that might help readers connect with. Bleak is going through a lot and it offers a view where you can see how she handles it while grieving along with the other plot points.

ABP: Did you have an idea of what you wanted your cover and book map to look like before the process was started?
HS: I definitely had some ideas in mind when I approached my designer, Alissa. Basically, I put together a moodboard of existing covers I liked, and then briefed Alissa on a few of the main aspects of the novel.

I was lucky that I had worked with Alissa before on the Writer’s Edit Kindling anthology covers and I knew how talented she was. From there we worked together to refine the mockups… I have to say – the cover is 100 times better than anything I had imagined!

My map designer was an extraordinary find! I had drawn a very rough map for myself while I was writing the book, but working with Bee was amazing. She created such vivid details, and asked so many insightful questions that I wished I had of had the map fully designed before writing the book!

Both the cover and the map inside are everything I could have wanted and more.
ABP: I cannot wait to see the map! The world inside Heart of Mist is so beautiful and descriptive that I can only imagine how it would translate in map form.

ABP: Which perspective was your favorite to write?
HS: It depends what day you ask me! I suppose Bleak came most naturally to me. When it came to writing Swinton and Henri – I had to really think about their discipline, their training and their strict, hardened natures. And as for Dash – it would often be a challenge to put myself in his shoes… After all, I’ve never been a ten-year-old boy!

ABP: What has been your favorite moment in the book?
HS: I always struggle to answer this question, I’m always paranoid I’ll accidentally spoil something! But on the other hand, I absolutely love talking about my favourite scenes…

Usually I’m inclined towards the more girl-power type scenes, however I’ve just recently re-read a scene during the final proof that’s actually quite a sweet moment between Commander Swinton and his bff Fiore. They’re on the road and their banter gives the reader a bit of insight into the softer side to their relationship 🙂
ABP: The dynamic between the two is so interesting and I’m curious where you’ll take it in book two. All the particular “sweet moments” are really great, but there’s so much more that I want to know about both of their pasts!

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ABP: Do you prefer third or first person? And is one easier to write than the other?HS: In the past, I’ve written from both perspectives, and while I do love reading a good first person novel, I find this perspective quite limiting as a writer. Though I think it must be different for every author.

Particularly as Heart of Mist has a big cast of characters (and a hell of a lot of secrets), it made sense to use third person in this series.

ABP: How do you choose which perspective to write and was it difficult to juggle them?
HS: Originally, all my POV characters got the same amount of “screen time”… It wasn’t until after the first draft that I realised there needed to be one main POV character, and it was obvious to me that character was Bleak.

Although there is a bit of a method to the madness in terms of patterning the change between points of view, I do what feels natural to me. If it feels like a chapter should be from a certain character’s POV, I just go with it.
ABP: That sounds like really great advice for anyone who wants to write a multi-perspective book. Did you have to outline some of the key character points or “secrets” like you mentioned in the previous answer? To get a better feel for where the story was going or how you would unravel all the secrets that we’ve yet to find out?
If you’re going to write a multiple perspective novel, you have to make sure that all your characters are distinctive from one another. Their voices should come through to the reader and be instantly recognisable.

I’ve recently started using spreadsheets to keep track of the different perspectives in my book, it honestly makes things so much easier when you plot out chapters and can see on one page who’s chapter should be next.
As for the different secrets the characters are keeping close to their chests… It wasn’t so much a matter of outlining their secrets, but rather when certain things occurred, and making sure all these aligned in terms of timelines 🙂
ABP:  That is really smart, especially the spreadsheets to help details in line. I feel like that could apply in any kind of writing people are doing whether it’s a manuscript or otherwise. And I can’t wait to see how it all the secrets will unravel and the ones that will pop up first. It seems like we’ve only scratched the surface!

ABP: What is the publishing process like?
HS: For Heart of Mist the publishing process has been a dream. I’m in a fortunate position that I’ve had years of experience in the industry, and run an online publication and small press, so it wasn’t a massive learning curve for me.

Of course, publishing independently has its drawbacks. I don’t think I’ve ever worked this hard in my life, and as an indie author, you have to take on numerous roles, not just that of the author.

However, I’ve found the creative freedom completely liberating. I also love having control over my own publication and production schedule.

For me, at the moment the biggest challenge is working on the marketing and promotion of Heart of Mist, while trying to finish writing the second book!
ABP: That sounds like so much work! But it does sound very rewarding since you saw everything every step of the way.

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ABP: Any advice to anyone wanting to write a fantasy book?
HS: I think it’s easy to get caught up in worrying what people will think, and worrying about what’s been done before… Try to set those concerns aside and write your story for you.

ABP: What are you working on now?
HS: I’m working on about a million things at once right now, but the main thing is the second book in The Oremere Chronicles.

I’m about two thirds of the way through the first draft, and really need to get a move on. I’ve set myself a very demanding publishing schedule, so I need to make some more time for actual writing.

Apart from that, the marketing and promotional work for Heart of Mist’s impending release is taking up a lot of my time right now!

ABP: What is your most anticipated read right now?
HS: I’m currently experiencing a major Outlander book hangover! I’ve just finished Voyager (Book III) and can’t bring myself to start anything else. I’ve read the first chapter of Six of Crows which I’ve been meaning to read forever, but I’m probably not in the right mindset for it.

So in answer to your question, I’d have to say Drums of Autumn, which is the 4th book in the Outlander series…

Though I am looking forward to the release of Tower of Dawn by SJM as well… Should be an interesting departure from the Aelin story arc!
ABP: Oh my gosh, I absolutely love the Outlander series! Well, I just finished The Fiery Cross (book 5) and I need to get back to that world before the next season on TV. I’m also excited for Tower of Dawn. I’m interested in seeing what Chaol has been up to and exploring more of the world in that series. 

ABP: Who is your literary crush at the moment?
HS: Jamie Fraser from the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Hands down. The king of all fictional men!
ABP: I’m right there with you! Isn’t he dreamy? I may have an entire shelf dedicated to Outlander and a season two poster with him on it.

ABP: What do you like to do on your time off?
HS: Ahhhh it feels like a long time since I’ve had some time off… But generally, I love having a quiet night in with a tea or a wine and a good book.

Having cheese and wine nights with my girlfriends is always high up on the list as well 🙂

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Make sure you guys check out this amazing book! It has been such an honor and pleasure to work with Helen and talk about Heart of Mist. She is so incredibly sweet and lovely to talk with. There were so many things that we discussed and I hope I can get to Sydney one day to meet her. Make sure you check out her website and Goodreads page. This is a book you’ll love to have on your shelf!


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