# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
Hi! I’m Heather Frese, and I live in North Carolina where I write, edit, and spend a lot of time wrangling three small kids. The Baddest Girl on the Planet is my debut novel; it won the Lee Smith Novel Prize and released in March 2021. Baddest Girl is a non-chronological coming-of-age novel set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. When Evie Austin meets Mike Tyson as a young girl, it sets her on a collision course with a bad reputation that follows her through her growing up years in her small island community. As Evie navigates her relationships—familial, platonic, and romantic—she comes to redefine and reclaim her sense of self and what it means to be “bad.”
# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
I grew up in Ohio but spent two weeks every summer camping on Hatteras Island with my family. The Outer Banks are a huge source of inspiration for my writing—such rich history, natural beauty, and metaphorical material. Where else can you literally see the daily changes life brings to a landscape? I also had a friend drop a little anecdote about how she met Mike Tyson when she was a young girl, which I thought was so bizarre and funny and ended up inspiring a whole lot of the themes in the book.
# How do you deal with creative block?
I think a little bit of creative block or fallow periods are fine and to be expected. I’m not a writer who sprints for word counts or sets a specific time each day to write. That said, sometimes I do need to get unstuck! I often come up with ideas while in the shower or driving, and somehow the ambient noise of a coffee shop gets me in a generative mode.
# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
I didn’t have any input in my cover, but I’m absolutely in love with it. It totally captures the mood and layers of the story and it’s so vibrant and beautiful. So, my tip there is hope you get a good designer! For titles, in this case I shot for something that captured the theme of the book and played off Mike Tyson’s nickname of The Baddest Man on the Planet.
# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
I just try to remind myself that there is no book in the entire world that’s going to appeal to everyone. A trick I found to make myself feel better was to look up a book I absolutely adored and read the reviews, because sure enough, even the books I think are sheer genius get negative reviews.
# What role do emotions play in creativity? Do you have any creativity tricks?
I think there’s definitely a connection between emotions and creativity. It’s difficult to find that creative spark when you’re in a bad place emotionally, or even to sit down and focus when emotions are running high. The trick for me is to find that state of flow, which usually happens for me when I have quiet, combined with some minor background noise or activity. Ideas tend to be their most accessible when I’m showering or driving or even folding laundry (as long as there aren’t kids in the background asking for snacks!). My trick for writing productivity is to go somewhere outside my house – a coffee shop or library is ideal. I find it a lot more challenging to write at home with all those never-ending chores staring at me.
# What are your plans for future books?
I’m planning a revision of a book that features some of the same characters as The Baddest Girl on the Planet. After that revision is complete, I have an idea for one more Outer Banks book, this one with multiple first-person points of view. And I have a memoir or two somewhere in there!