Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
My name is Blaise van Hecke and I am a publisher and writer. I am essentially a storyteller because I either help people to tell their story or I tell my own. My latest book is a memoir of short stories from my childhood, called The Road to Tralfamadore is Bathed in River Water. Next month I’ll be launching, 50 Days for Fifty Years: A Solo Walk on the Camino de Santiago.
What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
I grew up on a commune in New South Wales in the 1970s, so you could say my childhood was unconventional. This unusual childhood gave me a creative foundation that has continued through my whole life and lead to me founding Busybird Publishing. Aside from my two memoirs, much of my fiction is also grounded in my life experience. My themes tend to be about nature, spirituality and relationships.
What inspires/inspired your creativity?
Nature, people, travel. I’m especially interested in people’s stories, what makes them tick.
How do you deal with creative block?
I don’t believe in writers block. Being blocked either means that you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to create or you don’t know what your story is. Sometimes taking the dog for a walk or doing something ‘mindless’ can free your brain to be more creative.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
Not taking the time to do it properly. Many people write the first draft and consider it done. This is just the foundation stage. Now it’s time to add the layers. I’ve been guilty of this because I want the satisfaction of finishing something but have come to learn that putting out something that is half-baked is a disservice to the reader.
Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
Make sure the imagery fits the book and who you think is your readership. Knowing who the reader is, is vital to the promotion of the book and promotion starts with the cover. You really should use a designer who has book design experience. The title should encapsulate what the book is about and fit the genre. Long titles tend to be more for literary fiction and shorter, snappy titles for commercial fiction. For non-fiction it must be very specific and include words that might be searchable.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
As writers, we all want to have our ego stroked and for people to love our work. This isn’t realistic. Art is subjective and you can get ten people to read your book and get ten totally different opinions about it. I haven’t had a bad review so far (unless I missed it) but if I got one, that’s what I would remind myself.
How has your creation process improved over time?
I’m not sure it has! Creation only happens if we make time for it and many people are guilty of not doing this. I would say that as I mature I realise that I have a lot more to say than I realised and that I need to make the time for my creativity.
What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
Best: The exhilaration of completing the project and holding the printed book in my hands.
Worst: When I think something is finished and get some others to look at it and I realise it is still a long way off!
Surprising: The process is fun and satisfying no matter how many times I do it.
Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
This is something I tell my students: write the story YOU want to tell, not what you think people want to read. There will always be a reader that connects with it because you are being real.
What role do emotions play in creativity?
Good question. In the music industry you could say that the best songs are created from bad relationship breakups! It’s not actually something that I have taken note of but being full of energy would make it easier to sit down at the computer.
Do you have any creativity tricks?
Make regular time for it. Every day if possible. Create lots of space that give you thinking time by going for long walks or doing something that you like but doesn’t need a lot of brain power, this will get the creative juices flowing.
What are your plans for future books?
So many ideas! Writing and publishing books is addictive. The trick is to focus on one thing at a time. I have a plan for a short story collection for 2020. The theme is heat.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I didn’t go to a regular school for more than a few months at a time until I went to boarding school at age 11. I then had to wear shoes and brush my hair! I’m learning the ukulele and once I feel that I’ve mastered that, I plan on learning sign language.
Latest books: http://thebookchick.com.au/bookshop/