Read part one here.
Airship Ambassador: What elements did you specifically include so readers could feel the The Seven O’Clock Man history?
Kate Heartfield: When I think of this story, I get a clear image in my mind of the opening scene of the story, of Jacques carrying his lantern as people threw food at him from the windows above, of the hard packed earth of the town square beneath his feet. I wrote that scene before I had any other elements of the story firm in my head, and I hope it carries the reader right into Jacques’ world as it did for me.
AA: How long did it take to write, and rewrite, The Seven O’Clock Man? What were the deadlines and publishing schedule like for you?
KH: Some stories come more easily than others. This was one of the hard ones. I struggled and struggled to figure out how I wanted the plot to work. It went through several rewrites and a couple of rounds of feedback from critique partners, and then finally I had a version I was happy with. That coincided with the call for submissions to Clockwork Canada, which seemed like fate: I can’t imagine a more suitable home for this story.
AA: Every author I’ve talked with has a different journey to seeing their works in print. What have your publishing experiences been like?
KH: I’ve always written fiction. About 15 years ago, I started to publish a few non-speculative stories in literary journals, but I was most interested in writing novels – I have a trunk full of novels, most of which will never see the light of day. In 2007, I had the fortune to be mentored by the novelist Paul Quarrington, who died tragically young a few years later, through the Humber creative writing by correspondence program. A few years ago, I got serious about writing short speculative fiction, and have had more than 20 stories published in anthologies and in pro markets such as Strange Horizons and Escape Pod since 2013. In 2014, I signed with my agent, Jennie Goloboy. This year, I wrote a novella called “The Course of True Love”, part of the Monstrous Little Voices collection of Shakespearean fantasy from Abaddon Books.
AA: How are new readers finding you – conventions, website, word of mouth, etc?
KH: This year, I’m staying close to home, which is Ottawa, Canada. I’ll be at Ad Astra in Toronto for the launch of Clockwork Canada. I’ll be at Prose in the Park in Ottawa in June, and in Kingston, Ontario in July for the Limestone Genre Expo. Then I’ll be at Can-Con in Ottawa in September. I have a story coming in May in Lackington’s Magazine: that one is called “The Automatic Prime Ministers”, but it doesn’t have automata in it! My website is heartfieldfiction.com and I’m always on Twitter at @kateheartfield.
AA: Have you been on book tours and to conventions? What has that been like, and the fan reaction?
KH: I try to get to WorldCon at least once every few years, and to other bigger conventions such as World Fantasy. It’s a great help to me to meet other writers and fans.
AA: How is Ottawa for writing? Does location matter for resources, access, publicity, etc
KH: Ottawa has a great writing community, especially when it comes to science fiction and fantasy. I’m a member of a writers group called the East Block Irregulars, and have been a member of the board of the Ottawa International Writers Festival. In-person connections are important, but these days, I connect with the rest of fandom and with other writers online quite a bit. Ottawa also has several wonderful editors: Bundoran Press is here, for example, and I mentioned Lackington’s, above.
AA: You are one of the participating mentor editors of The Op Ed Project. What drew you to that organization and how has the experience been? What have the benefits been both for yourself and your mentees?
KH: As an editor, I was very concerned with addressing the gender gap in opinion writing: men write and submit far more often than women do. I saw it in the submissions that I received. I became involved with The Op Ed Project after writing about their programs, and I still mentor writers with them. It’s helped me learn how to give constructive feedback and to explain why something isn’t working, and to spot bad habits in my own writing.
AA: If you weren’t an author and editor, what else would you be doing now?
KH: I always wanted to be an archaeologist, and I regret that I didn’t pursue that. I seem to have planted the idea in my six-year-old’s head, so maybe one day I’ll get to live vicariously through him.
AA: Most of the authors I’ve talked with have some type of day job and that writing is their other job. What has that situation been for you and how has it helped/hindered begin a published writer?
KH: I recently quit my day job as a newspaper editor, so I’m spending more time on fiction than I used to – or at least, more time during daylight hours. But I still freelance as a writer and editor, so there are never enough hours in the day.
AA: There’s only so much time in a day – what interests don’t you have time for?
KH: I don’t watch a lot of TV. I am very lazy about exercise, so I recently invested in a treadmill desk, which helps.
AA: Three quick-fire random questions – what is your favorite artwork, food on a hot summer day, and radio show?
KH: My favorite artwork changes all the time. These days I am into anything by Elizabeth Vigée le Brun. There is an ice cream shop not far from our place that serves chocolate-cayenne-ginger ice cream. I don’t have a favorite radio show, but my favorite podcast these days is Tea and Jeopardy.
AA: Any final thoughts to share with our readers
KH: I’m really thrilled to be in this anthology with some of my favorite writers, and I admire the way the editor, Dominik Parisien, approached the steampunk aesthetic and themes and used them to examine Canadian culture and history in a new way. The list of titles alone is a work of art.
Thanks, Kate, for joining us for this interview and for sharing all of your thoughts. We look forward to hearing about your next projects!
Keep up to date with Kate’s latest news on her website.
You can support Kate and our community by getting your copy of Clockwork Canada here.