On Heather Morris and Her Success as a Best-Selling Author

James’s Word

May 10, 2020

Heather Morris is an author based in Autrailia, who also happens to be a New York Times aclaimed number one best selling author for her book The Tattooist of Auschwitz, with four million copies sold around the world! It is an amazing read that I have talked about in the past and loved

James: When did you start writing? Why did you start?

Heather: When my children stopped asking me to drive them somewhere, asking instead ‘can I borrow your car’ I decided I wanted to do something for me. I love movies, so thought I’d like to write one. I started studying the craft of screenwriting going to workshops, seminars, online tutorials etc. I would have been in my early 50’s.

James: What does it feel like to have one of the most best-selling books? 

Heather: That’s a tough question. I find it hard to process the success of the books so generally don’t try. I do know that last time I returned home from a long tour in the US and Europe, within a few hours of arriving home I went to see my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren, to be greeted as I walked in the door by my son-in-law, handing me a 3 month old baby and asking me to change his pooey nappy. From the Holocaust centre in New York speaking to 500 people to changing a nappy is my new norm.

James: Do you base characters off yourself and other personas you are familiar with? 

Heather: To date I have written about other people whose stories have come to me. My next book will have autobiographical elements. In developing characters to compliment my main players, I draw on my interaction with patients and their families who I was honoured to get to know working in a hospital for over two decades.

James: What is the process of publishing a book like? 

Heather: I did not follow a traditional path in getting a publisher. I did a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter broadcasting the story I had about the Tattooist of Auschwitz to anyone bothered to watch my video. My publisher came to me from seeing this campaign. I am so grateful that they were prepared to take a punt on an unpublished story-teller.

James: How do you stay motivated to write? 

Heather: Not wanting to sound arrogant, but I have never not been motivated to write. I think of myself as a story-teller and need to get the story told. If I was telling the story I wouldn’t want to stop until I was finished, it is the same with writing for me.

James: What inspires you to write? 

Heather: The courage of brave people who have lived through a traumatic and tragic experience, survived and reach out to share their story. I am truly humbled to be asked to tell these stories, and I have many to follow.

James: How often do you write and how do you find the time? 

Heather: Right now I am writing intensively to get a first draft of my next story finished, so every day is the short answer. When I am touring it is not possible to write every day. I will write on flights, sometimes grateful I live so far from Europe and the US gives me many hours to write undisturbed.

James: What is your main writing goal? 

Heather: To honour the stories given to me, not exalting the protagonist above their story, showing them to be vulnerable, scared, human. Readers have told me they didn’t particularly like Lale because of some of the things he did to survive. I’m okay with that. It means I was able to write him as the fallible person he was.

James: What is the most crucial part when writing a novel?

Heather: To want to tell the story you are writing. Believe in yourself, surround yourself with others who support and believe in you also. Do not believe anyone who tells you it can’t be done, that being published is too hard a road to go down. There are many ways to be published, if not traditional, self-publishing is a wonderful alternative and you never know what will come from that path. 

James: Can you share one editing tip? 

Heather: Not to play with your words or structure until you have written several chapters. If I attempted to edit short each chapter I know I would get bogged down in the detail instead of getting the big picture written.

Learn more about Heather and her work on her Instagram and website!

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