Interview with an Artist: Novelist Erin Healy

bio_picI am very excited this week to introduce you to one of my favorite fiction writers, Erin Healy. Please take the time to visit her website here and check out her incredible novels. I have always admired Erin’s way with words and the uniqueness of her stories. Her plots, characters, and themes captivate readers and embody beautiful storytelling. I like this very fitting description on her site:


“Erin writes supernatural suspense novels with a curiosity about what it means to be a spiritual creation in a physical world. Her books invite readers into the thin places where God’s mysteries touch human realities and change us forever.”


Erin also co-authored books with Ted Dekker and worked as an editor before writing and publishing eight novels of her own. She has a lot to offer to the creative community. Read on to learn more and be inspired!


What are you currently working on?

I’m working one-on-one with students of Ted Dekker’s Creative Way course, giving them editorial input on their works-in-progress. I’m working with William Paul Young on a nonfiction companion to his novel Eve. And I’m thinking about writing another novel of my own—perhaps the sequel (finally) to House of Mercy.


When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I don’t know if I ever knew. Writing is something I’ve always done, and I received a lot affirmation about it from different sources over the years.


What are your near and future goals for your writing?

Right now I’m re-evaluating what kinds of stories I want to tell. I’m proud of the books I’ve written but a change is coming. I’m just not sure what that is yet or exactly how long it will take to emerge.


What other types of art inspire your writing? Any specific examples?

My mother is a mixed-media artist who has always drawn my attention to beauty and nuance. She helped me understand the techniques that Chase uses in his negative drawings (white pencil on black paper) in The Promises She Keeps. I was fascinated with the idea of drawing light rather than shadows.


How do you usually get past creativity blocks?

I set aside the stuck project and write poetry about something unrelated. For my eyes only!


What do you wish you knew before you dove into the novel writing world?

The authors of Art and Fear recount an eye-opening study of potters who were asked to make a “perfect” clay pot. One group of potters had a number of hours to perfect just one pot. The other group had the same number of hours to form as many pots as they could. Those in the second group, who threw pot after pot after pot without trying to perfect each one, consistently had better results by the end of their time. I wish I’d been less anxious about writing a “perfect” novel and understood the value of just writing, writing, and writing some more.


What does your creative process look like?

My creative process has been different for each book I’ve written. I thought I would discover “my system” three or four books into my career. But it seems the book dictates the process. I don’t fight that any more.


What is your favorite part of coming up with a new story?

Trying to answer the question, “Why would readers care about this?” I can’t write the story until I know the answer.


What is one of the most important things you’ve learned or discovered after having several novels published?

Don’t get stuck in the flypaper of what other authors do or say you “should” do. To the extent that you can learn from your colleagues, do it. We are all students of the craft and should take responsibility for that. But at the point where another author’s success, instruction, or critical opinion drives a wedge between you and your work, it’s better for you to cut yourself off from that input.


What nugget of advice can you give to beginning writers and/or other kinds of aspiring artists?

Learn the craft. Learn the craft. Learn the craft. You have something all your own to contribute to the world. Don’t shortchange your creativity by robbing it of an education.


How do you balance home life/other responsibilities with your “creative time?”

In my case, my creative time is the same as my working time. I contribute financially to the family as an editor and author. So I try to treat my creative space like the job that it is, with a disciplined attitude toward showing up and doing the work—then quitting at quitting time. My husband and children are extremely supportive.


What would your superpower be and why?

I wish I could speed read and have perfect recall. So many books—so little time!


Have any comments or questions about Erin, writing, or creativity? Join the discussion below!

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