By S.D. Henke
Publisher: Pen Name Publishing
Published: October 9, 2018
What if your only escape from death was to meet it half way?
If the voices called on YOU...
Brought YOU in between the Bends of time where all faith is lost to those who wait. Your etchings hold the secrets to guide them on their way. Yet, there will be no safe passage if evil finds you first and you have no toll to pay.
I began making my first connections to story in the early days of my childhood. Raised by my mother who ran an in-home daycare was where my imagination could run free and unencumbered. It was a safe zone and I learned from that experience the power of unconditional love. But my story wasn’t always filled with happy ever afters, and I came to understand that there are some sorrows and trauma that are part of all of us. As love and joy are universal, so is pain and suffering. Through the magic and alchemy of story, we can reach farther and heal our wounds.
I started my teaching career nearly 20 years ago and knew from the moment I began that this was my true calling. Teaching was in my bones and so, naturally was the little nip of my conscience for storytelling. I work to build strong, long-lasting relationships with my students. In fact, I began on this path toward a writing career because of the imprint they’ve had on my spirit. What I didn’t know was what the Muse had in store for me as the children I still come into contact with today continue to inspire the stories I write.
My greatest loves are exploring nature and spending time with family and friends. Whether I’m splashing it up on the local reservoirs, rafting down the Poudre River with my husband, two boys, and our dog Sophie, or shaping young minds in my classroom, I consider myself lucky to call Fort Collins, Colorado my home.
Why is research so important for writing?
I consider the research component to writing the structural engineering that binds my stories, particularly my science fiction stories to what readers can comprehend. Then, on another front, I see it as my job to take what I’ve learned and wrap it up into a nice little cozy package (i.e. a book) for my readers as I weave concepts in through dialogue and on scene/sensory details. I’m always surprised by the level of research I end up doing with each individual project, and I’m even more thrilled by the value it brings to my ideas. Research is more often than not, the spark to formulating my best ideas. I am fortunate to thoroughly enjoy the research aspect of writing, but what is equally unfortunate, is that I tend to get derailed from my word count with the inevitability of it taking me down the rabbit hole.
What is the craziest thing you’ve had to research?
What still astounds and amazes me about research are the never ending possibilities and probabilities it provides with reference to explaining inexplicable things in fiction. I’ve been recently working on a project with a character that I needed to explain with regards to her sincere aversion to people and her introverted nature on a high threshold of the spectrum. I came across something from a podcast that took my idea to the next level, and it fit perfectly with one of the key points of the story that entails her more intimate connection with a plant.
I learned about a unique form of synesthesia called Mirror Touch where the part of the brain that is activated normal levels in empathy receptors is overactive and over-stimulated. This scenario exhibits itself as a distinction of trauma in individuals who witness physical accounts of contact and share the experience due to the overactive pleasure or pain centers in their brain. People with this condition actually feel physically the sensation of pain or pleasure they are witnessing because their brain is registering it as their own.
Yikes! And quite brilliant! Even cooler is the fact that it’s real. It spurred a real domino effect for my project and helped me capture with real world terms for what was happening to this character and her experience through the story plot triggers.
How do you create the world you are writing in?
I like to think about the worlds I’m in as chambers. Like little glass spheres or snowballs that you shake and see. I spend time imagining life with the ‘What ifs’ in those realms inside the magic crystal ball. In all reality it feels more like it was already floating in the air, a part of me, or a part of something outside of me. I love how the author of The Courage to Create, Rollo May explains this. He mentions throughout the book how creation and imagination comes to exude its own power, like an energy, frequency, or vibration forming into something intangible made tangible through the act of creation. This ‘taking’ of an idea or image and inviting it into the world so it becomes a mental reality is one way I feel most connected to the universe of my stories.
What steps do you take in drafting an outline?
I have used variant forms of structuring an idea. Only once did I write like a total pantser and although it wasn’t an absolute disaster, I learned how effective a structure can be in saving so much of the revision that can be addressed up front with a plan. The Three Act Structure is one of the core elements I use and I also always refer back to my Plot Perfect reference. I love the use of color coded sticky notes in the early phases of drafting and outlining. I keep large presentation boards of old matting from my studio to chart a story. I formulate the structure in a visual way and that way I can rearticulate and address plot point issues by moving things around or working on elimination or filling plot holes.
What are your top five tips for aspiring authors?
Keep it real. Don’t try to be someone you’re not.
Take your work seriously. Write every day. A word, a sentence, and if you’re lucky, take it further.
Find other writers who love it like you do.
Share your work with others who you trust.
Keep a level head and remember, you are your worst critic and not everyone will appreciate your work. The key is, do you?
Which teacher was your biggest inspiration and why?
As a teacher I get to work with the most amazing human beings to walk this earth! They transcend what it means to give back. My best friend and mentor throughout my career is the teacher who is my biggest inspiration She’s been my own child’s teacher and she’s known me since I started my career twenty years ago. This year happens to be her transition year to retirement, and I don’t exaggerate when I say she is The Child Whisperer. She amazes me each and every day with the way she wields her magic. Children are truly altered for the better by her.
What genre do you most like to write in?
I love the crossover of middle grade and young adult fantasy or science fiction both as a writer and a reader. I love to conceptualize the escape into my imagination. With no barriers, the possibilities are endless. Fantasy always has a certain element of surprise when I’m writing it because it almost feels like it’s writing itself in ways I never dreamed possible. It’s open, it’s free and the moments are rich and they awaken my senses to see things in new ways. I also love writing stories bound by science. I’m a junkie for a scientific journal and essays about anything to do with Quantum realms because to me science is magic.
Is there another genre you are interested in trying out?
I’ve been dabbling with another young adult with a bit more snark and a lot more reality bites. I love writing from a voice of a young emblazoned teen. It’s a voice I held back at one time and when I unleash that voice in me, I have the most fun! It’s been a stretch for me to write in the confines of reality, but with these parameters I’ve been able to focus on the character development more and I think it’s turning out to be a great story.
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