Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your writing background.
My name is Sarah Jane Heidelberg. I’ve been writing since the age of 8 years old when my mother gave me my first journal. By my teens, I was inspired to write poetry, prayers of sorts to God. I also wrote about my hopes and dreams. While in high school, I would research and then write about what I learned using fictional characters. In college, I wrote my first spoken word poem, “Premonition” which led to performance after performance of my poetry and that of those who I hoped to emulate.
You started your writing career with poetry, and then transitioned to writing full-length fiction. What was the catalyst for that? What inspired you to go from writing poetry to writing novels?
I have always written fiction short stories. I loved my characters yet I didn’t quite know where to take them. So, I had many unfinished stories lying around. Then, I studied fiction writing with Angela Ball an author and professor at The University of Southern Mississippi. Excelling in that classroom environment and with encouragement from my fellow classmates, I gained a new impetus towards writing. My dream would be to attend a writer’s fellowship workshop in the near future or get my graduates degree in Fiction writing.
Please tell our readers a little about your most recent book and why it is a must read.
My most recent book, All the Pretty Roses: A Tale of Bittersweet Love and Betrayal is a must-read due to its twisting plot, lovable characters, and unique form of storytelling. It has something special for the lovers of literature and Shakespeare. And is an adventure about a young woman seeking love. You will follow the curves and deep shoulders of her quest and hopefully land somewhere between triumph and happily ever after.
It’s so common for readers to believe that novelists pull material from their own lives. You've published a few novels that feature strong female characters. Can you talk about how much material you harvested from personal life experiences?
I must say, the female leads are very closely knitted from the same fabric as myself. In Camille Alexander, one of Cami’s habits is “deflecting” which is a sort of flaw I myself have. Also, Mercedes in All the Pretty Roses is close to me in that she is indecisive about her studies, career plans, and choice of man. Camille is the opposite, because she is quite forceful in getting her opinion across and makes it clear to Jackson, she doesn’t want to be just a possession but wants real trust and love along with honor. She doesn’t take any of his antics lightly and she always has a retort to shut him up. Kara in Redemption, which is a short story addened to Camille Alexander, has a lot going on in her mind and I used to be just like her in my younger years.
Each book is a hodgepodge of experiences, intersected with dreams. I attended a small music school in Houston, TX called Ken-Khort and flourished under Rodica Weber, Concert Master of the Houston Symphony Orchestra at that time. My time there was amazing and I grew as a violinist. I always had hopes to attend Juilliard School of Music in New York, but never had the courage to face rejection or acceptance. So, I did not apply, nor send in the materials I’d prepared. However, I did get a handsome scholarship to attend school and play in The University of Southern Mississippi Symphony. I am familiar with auditioning, dance improvisations, and private lessons with a hot teacher, lol. This book is a sort of outlet for me in that respect. In All the Pretty Roses, Mercedes is not happy because she is the one who “always seems to have a boyfriend”. She is seeking herself throughout the book. Seeking herself as undefined by her loves, undefined by her family, and undefined by obstacles. The most similar trait which I infused into all female leads is self-determination and resilience!
All the Pretty Roses was adapted from a screenplay, correct? In what way is your book “All the Pretty Roses” different from the screenplay?
This book is considered an adaptation because I removed lots of stage directions, parts were cut, and I completely neglected quotes in favor of mostly dialogue between a few characters which I thought may confuse, yet however, goes over smoothly. The screenplay has been completed and may have a marked difference in tone. There is more event-going in the screenplay and more poetry. I would love to see it fleshed out as a feature film one day. In the book, it is just a great read that you enjoy because you are in Mercedes head as she narrates and she is interesting in that she has flashbacks which are elaborate in both the screenplay and the novel.
Speaking of ‘screenplays’ you’re currently working on you're first, congrats on that! In your opinion what is the best part of screenwriting?
The best part of screenwriting is envisioning the finished product in my head while writing. I wrote what I wanted to see. Although the movie has not come into fruition yet; if it is to be made in the future, I know just what soundtrack, setting and characters I want.
Who are some of the writers who have influenced you?
I am influenced by Colleen Hoover’s book Slammed, Jessica Care Moore (a poet who won at the Apollo years back), Jill Scott (a singer who also writes poetry), Saul Williams (an actor and poet in the movie Slam). Jewel Kiltcher a singer-songwriter whose book of poetry “a Knight without Armour” enthralled me very much, Pablo Neruda (a poet whose love poetry was written in Spanish first, yet translates beautifully into English), Virginia Woolf’s story Mozart Season which I read as a youth (about a violinist). William Shakespeare. Love Jones, Brown Sugar and My Best Friend’s Wedding (urban-themed films which gave me an appetite for more similar plotlines and lovable characters). Of course, Prince who in my book is called the prophet.
Can you take one of those writers and talk specifically about how their work has impacted you and your work?
William Shakespeare. He is prominent in All the Pretty Roses because Mercedes’ mother once gave her a book of Shakespeare plays, (which is another similarity to real life). She cherished this book because it felt like a special treat to read a play-a-night. And, because it was a crutch for her when her mother died. I always wanted to write something as prolific as a Shakespeare Sonnet or a play that touches humanities heart strings and is timeless. Hamlet comes to the forefront in this story as Mercedes likens herself to Ophelia of whom she believes is a heroine in her own right. You will have to read the book to see her viewpoint on the muse and how she can help young girls choose the correct path. In relationship to the imprint Ophelia Brown Publishing… Ophelia Brown is a modern Ophelia from Hamlet and a heroine representing a woman who has been to the depths of despair and there reached a life affirming knowledge of self that saves her life, realizing that she is the author (creator, mother )- of Love. A lesson that teaches that women should pay it forward and share their gifts with others and to let them know they should celebrate the journey that got them to today and be ashamed of nothing.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors and or screen writers?
My advice is like I just mentioned, realize that you are the author (creator) of Love. It starts with a mission. When you discover your mission on Earth, nothing can stop your voice from being heard, with the exception of you yourself. I would say, save your funds, practice your art, and advertise, advertise, advertise! The pen is becoming one of the most important commodities out there. Your ability to create as a human is nearly infinite. We get to dream the movies and make them into reality, which brings satisfaction. Write, write, write, and read, read, read. Also, speak from within. Speak from experience. It is a great and humbling teacher.
What are you working on right now?
Right now, I am working on an Audible book of Camille Alexander and the Golden Period Violin and an Audible book of All the Pretty Roses! I have two talented individuals who will be producing the audio. In addition to that, I preparing a platform to help others Move Beyond Stagnancy to Dynamic Force, which is the subtitle of my blog “She who is a Free Spirit” and the title of my upcoming book which will highlight 5 points people can use to overcome what holds them back. I plan to spend a 90-day period living out the 5 points and applying them to my life through mindful awareness before its release.
About the author:
Sarah Jane graduated from The University of Southern Mississippi in 2005 with a BA in Language Arts and in 2010 with a Master’s in Library and Information Science. She enjoys digital art, violin, dance, singing, writing and performing poetry. She loves to tutor children in phonics and holds a teaching license with three endorsements.
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