Bridget Heos is the author of Mustache Baby and more than 70 nonfiction books for kids. She has three books coming out in 2015: Mustache Baby Meets His Match; I, Fly: The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are; and It’s Getting Hot in Here: the Past Present and Future of Global Warming. She lives in Kansas City with her husband and their four children, who were all born with mustaches (good guy ones of course.) For more info, visit her website and Facebook.
If you were able to change your first name, what would you pick?
Probably a boyish girl name, like Johnnie or Frankie. I think those are cute names. In fact, even after having three boys, my husband and I named our first baby girl Sami.
What one rule do you frequently disregard?
Serving size, alas.
What concept or product has surprisingly never been invented?
A photo album/scrapbook generated by your Facebook account.
Why would somebody choose not to date you?
I work too hard; I care too much; I cook too good of meals. (I’m reading this as a “What is your greatest weakness?” job interview question.)
What is the most revolutionary TV show of all time?
I wish I knew my T.V. history better because I love T.V. and would like to be able to answer this. I would like to hear T.V. people argue about this. I’ll just say Lost because I love it so.
What is the most interesting piece of trivia you can think of?
At least 42 people have survived falls of greater than 10,000 ft.
When do you know someone is exceptionally smart?
Their mom usually tells you.
What movie character freaks you out?
As a kid, the Wicked Witch of the West did. My aunt told me she was really the lady in a soup commercial that aired during the movie. In hindsight, I don’t think that was true, but it did help!
What unhealthy habit will you never give up?
I would have said coffee, but I recently gave it up. So who knows what unhealthy habit I’ll give up next!
What one thing is unfortunately true?
The Earth really is getting warmer.
What movie deserves a sequel?
What expression or cliché do you find yourself saying a lot?
“Oh, yeah? Well, it takes one to know one!” Just kidding. I don’t think I have one, but a few I like that my dad says are: “What do you want, eggs in your beer?” “You’re smarter than you look, kid,” and “Cheer up, cheer up, the worst is yet to come.”
Have you ever felt that your personal expectations have limited your creativity? If so, how have you dealt with this?
I haven’t really felt that way. I know that my writing isn’t as beautiful as a lot of people’s. When I taught creative writing in junior high, one of the girls had a beautiful writing style that made some of the other students want to throw the towel in. I played for them Kermit the Frog singing “The Rainbow Connection,” and Pavarotti singing “Ave Maria.” They had never heard of Pavarotti and kept calling Kermit the Frog “Hermit the Frog,” but I think they got the point that just because your voice isn’t as beautiful as someone else’s doesn’t mean that, if you have a song to sing, you shouldn’t sing it. That’s something I’ve always felt deep down.
Do you do anything special to get your creative juices flowing?
Spending time with my kids in a non-bossy way makes me think of story ideas. I don’t get ideas when I’m telling them to brush their teeth, but I do during quieter times like when we’re on a walk or at the zoo.
When did you know for certain that you wanted to pursue a career in writing? Have you ever questioned that decision?
I knew at least by junior high that I wanted to be a writer. But for a long time, I couldn’t think of anything to write. So I did jobs like social work and waitressing. Then I realized that if I wanted to be a writer, I needed to write. So I started writing for newspapers and magazines. Then books for kids. I have questioned the decision from a business perspective, but it’s not like I had a job as an accountant waiting in the wings. Now, writing is all there is for me, and I’m thankful for that. If I had the opportunity to run away from writing, maybe I would, but I wouldn’t be happy doing it.
What traits, if any, do you think that creative people have compared to people who are not creative?
I think we see art as work that takes time, and we see at least a faint roadmap for doing that work.
What life experiences have inspired your work?
I think being a mom taught me how to be a writer. It’s always scary at first. You’re responsible for a baby. That’s big! But then you keep busy feeding and cooking and cleaning and teaching and hugging and walking and talking and before you know it, the baby is raised, and you see that you can do something big by doing small things.
How do you know when a book is finished?
When you’re finished writing it? Or when you’re at the end of the story? I’m finished writing a book when I can’t think of any other way to make it better (even with the help of my critique group, agent, and editor.) It may not be perfect, but time is up, little story! Time to fly! Flap flap! As for endings, I’m not real good at them. I usually need to rewrite them for my editor or agent. So I put something out there, knowing I can change it later. If I couldn’t think of a beginning, I would be more worried!
What are your words of wisdom for someone starting out in the field of writing?
To quote Say Anything, “Go back!” Ha! Seriously, if you love it, it’s something you won’t be able to stop yourself from doing. Just like if you love someone, you suddenly have all the time in the world. If you don’t love it, don’t worry about it. Just do something else instead.
Why were you drawn to a career in writing instead of to a job that might offer more stability and security?
I don’t know. Maybe I don’t give off the stable vibe? But I actually am very stable. I’m on the PTA! I will say I don’t mind not having stability. My sons have mentioned wanting to do things like sports reporting or comedy, and I tell them that’s good. But just be sure that you are okay with risk. Because in these types of jobs, you may work really hard and do everything right, but it still might not work out, and you have to be okay with that.
Who do you consider a literary genius?
Ellen Raskin. I think The Westing Game is the perfect book.
What obstacles have you had to deal with in your career?
Well, I said I don’t mind not having stability, but it’s hard sometimes.