Interview with Sylvia Heidemann

When did you first start writing?
I'm sure I must have started writing at an early age, but my first passion was art. Whenever I had time on my hands, I drew horses, cats, you name it. I observed and tried to replicate in detail. I felt sure I was destined to be an artist, so much so that my first major at Illinois State University was art, with a minor in journalism. It only took about a year for me to realize I didn't have that distinctive style that would appeal to people, help me succeed and be able to eat from my earnings. I was working diligently on all my art projects, pulling all-nighters when necessary, but getting grades of "C" as a result. Meanwhile, in my English classes, I had some gifted professors who gave interesting writing assignments, and I was getting "A"s. I don't remember his name, but my 101 professor assigned me a term paper concerning how Edgar Allan Poe distinguished himself at West Point. The distinguishing factor turned out to be humorous to me, and I was hooked. When I transferred in to the University of Illinois as a junior, I had changed my major to English, with a minor in journalism.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My husband and I share a love for animals, and before we met and married, each of us had Labrador Retrievers in our lives. They are very special dogs. Shadow was a "bargain" dog from a shelter and well worth every dollar we paid for her. My husband David, a pastor, always said she had an emotional black hole. She loved unconditionally, and she was pretty insistent about getting love in return. Shadow was a people and kid magnet, a bridge to the most unreachable characters. Because I was the one who picked her out at the shelter, she bonded almost immediately to me. Although David was usually the one who took her out in the rain or snow when nature called, Shadow was Mama's dog; David was staff. Shadow loved David, but she was devoted to me. Her devotion often made me think of the bumper sticker: "I wish I were the person my dog thinks I am." Our book focuses on the 10 years we enjoyed Shadow's company, and spells out the unique aspects of her personality, as well as some of her antics.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've been an editor and writer for professional association magazines/journals all my life, and know that the route to print publishing can be very long and frustrating. At my age, I don't want to be subjected to a lot of rejection! A friend of mine who is a romance writer introduced me to Smashwords. Although with my husband's help I worked on the Shadow book for about nine months (writing, editing, proofing and beginning the cycle all over again), when we got to the actual publishing stage, things went pretty quickly. Although Smashwords' founder Mark Coker advises that we should take responsibility for promoting our book, I am pleased that I can spend the bulk of my time on writing the next eBook (which I am doing). Also, with the popularity of readers and other devices, the future of eBooks looks pretty strong.
What are you working on next?
I like writing about our pets, and we have no shortage of pets, past and present. Currently, I'm working on a short ebook about a particularly mettlesome cat. . . my husband's cat, in fact. Having her is having a constant reminder that we will continually encounter "difficult" people and pets in our lives, and that we have to be willing to give them grace and forgiveness. In my book, I will reveal how she has attempted twice to kill me, No joke.

I'm also doing some proofing/editing for a good friend, the romance writer. Quite a change from the non-fiction I'm used to!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Our cats inspire us to get out of bed at an early hour and feed them! They are quite insistent. By the time I've satisfied the little darlings and had my own coffee and breakfast, it's still early, and I have plenty of morning time to write. That's my best time, and I like to feel I have a sort of kinship with Ernest Hemingway. Visiting his home in Key West and seeing the current generation of six-toed cats (he loved cats) was very interesting. He had a perfect place to write, above the garage, only steps and a staircase away from his main house. It was like going to work for him. That's what I try to do every day: Go to my desk and write after the cats are in their morning stupor from their breakfast.
Published 2013-09-13.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Pastor's Calico
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 7,750. Language: English. Published: November 26, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Entertainment » Humor and satire
When Pastor Dave looks back on the time he saved a tiny calico kitten from certain death, he now surmises she was running away from home, bent on a life of feline crime. As she grew, Cameow bonded with her rescuer, but became antagonistic to his wife, and even plotted to kill her twice! This calico's inventive, devious behaviors are annoying and amusing, requiring forgiveness on a daily basis.
The Pastor's Shadow
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 16,270. Language: English. Published: September 12, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Personal memoir, Nonfiction » Entertainment » Humor and satire
Taking advantage of a shelter's Christmas special, Pastor Dave and his wife adopted a sad, thin chocolate Lab. They had to coach Shadow to be a dog—to swim, fetch and bark. She thrived, and became the loving, big-hearted dog Dave had longed for since he was a boy. Pastor Dave's humorous tale of his 10-year relationship with the sweet but stubborn Shadow will tug at your heart and make you smile.