Meet Heather Ezell.
A Southern California native, Heather Ezell was evacuated for a fire at the age of three and subsequently grew up with an obsessive fear of wildfires. She has been chasing reprieve from California’s heat ever since–from the Rocky Mountains to Interior Alaska. Heather graduated from Colorado College with a degree in English literature and creative writing, and she currently lives in the Pacific Northwest where she writes, practices amateur ballet in the forest, and obsesses over the weather.
Social media links:
Twitter – https://twitter.com/heatherezell
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/heathermezell/
Website – heatherezell.com
Hi Heather! Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.
Hello! I was born and raised in Southern California, though I always amend that statement by insisting I spent a chunk of my teens in Colorado Springs. For some reason this always feels necessary to include in introductions. After dropping out of high school at sixteen and several years of being an accidental pseudo nomad, I ultimately earned my BA from Colorado College. I later spent some time as a grad student at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and discovered my love for -40 degrees and my terror of endless daylight. I now live in Washington State and spend my time freelance editing, copy writing, tutoring, reading college applications for a fancy school, book coaching, etc. and… of course writing. When I’m not at my desk I’m probably walking with my dog in the forest! Finally, Nothing Left to Burn is my debut and it released this past March with Razorbill-Penguin.
A fellow blogger! *cheers* How did those early, even sometimes darker, blogging rants shape you into who you today?
This is such an interesting question – not something I’ve ever given much thought! Plus, and this is bonkers to realize, I recently hit the ten-year mark of starting my blog (on that particular WordPress account that is…)! It’s hard to say how it shaped me, honestly. But I suspect it contributed to my being so pro-vulnerability and keeping it real; I’ve always been extremely open about my mental health and the like, even if it often was me blogging about something in retrospect.
On the flip side, blogging for so long and in often really exposing manners (the manic musings of 2011, my gosh!) also helped me learn the beauty of being a bit more reserved and forever conscious about what I put out there. When I was seventeen and eighteen and nineteen, I spilled it all. Obviously it’s a bit different when you’re twenty-seven and a published author with a job but even still! It was (and is) so easy to forget there are people actually reading and it’s always shocking when some random friend of a friend mentions it. I don’t at all regret sharing what I did but there are days where I consider taking down the old posts and saying a forever farewell to blogging, especially since I’m now a once every few months poster. We’ll see!
But, to circle back to your question, blogging like that (off and on) for ten years – it’s certainly shaped me into being something of an open book. Even if it’s at times to a fault, I’m grateful for it. Plus, I now have a catalogue of all my moves from 2008 to 2016. So many “surprise! I’m moving!” posts…
Tell us about being a part of Pitch Wars. How did you grow from the experience?
Oh gosh. I love Pitch Wars and feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to be both a mentee (2014) and a mentor (2016, 2017, and again this year!). PW really helped push me out of my comfort zones in terms of both finding and embracing the online writing community. Working as Rachel Lynn Solomon’s mentee gave me the tools and support to revise Nothing Left to Burn during an extremely tough time in my life (I ~blogged~ about it, for anyone who is curious) and her support not only helped shape my writing but also my ability to have perspective in this industry. And, of course, working as a mentor is being in a constant place of growing and learning from your mentee. I’m outrageously lucky to co-mentor with Rachel Griffin (who was my mentee in 2016) – it’s such a joy to collaborate and learn how to improve as a mentor alongside her. I’m honestly not sure what my writing life and community would look like without Pitch Wars! Probably quite bleak and quiet…
Does Nothing Left to Burn reflect any personal experiences in your own life? That you are comfortable sharing that is.
Oh, yes, very much so! Nothing Left to Burn is set in my hometown—every location referenced is real except for the ballet academy—and while I didn’t live in Coto de Caza, I grew up in the community on the other side of the trails Audrey and Brooks walk, as well as attended Tesoro High School. So on that simple level, the story reflects my experiences and perspective of growing up in “The OC”, which I did not enjoy at the time.
Then, of course, there’s the fire. Wildfires defined my adolescence. I’m so lucky in that I never faced a fire like the one Audrey’s evacuated from, and I’ve only been evacuated once when I was young. But, even still, writing Nothing Left to Burn was my chance to let loose my wildfire phobia and anxieties, and an ever so slight obsession.
And, finally, perhaps the most personal – Audrey and Brooks’ relationship, which is the core of NLTB, certainly reflects my romantic experiences as a teen. I was in an extremely fraught, co-dependent relationship that started as something quite sweet and tender. We were ultimately intense, obsessive, volatile, in love and painfully young, and we both seemingly built our identities around the idea of us. It definitely influenced the dynamic between Audrey and Brooks took years post-break up to truly cut the threads. My finally coming to terms with the realities of that relationship is what fed Brooks and Audrey’s story.
…So, ha, it seems Nothing Left to Burn is very much influenced by teen years. I swear it’s not autobiographical though!
What is your favorite part of writing YA contemporary with romance? On the flip side, what is your least favorite part too?
The obvious answer for me is that contemporary romance is fun! So much of what I write is heavy and sad. I veer toward the dark naturally and, because of that, the romances that pop up in my contemporaries allow relief and play, a balance to shine some light in. I guess that’s what I love about writing contemporary with romance: I love playing with opposites and the lushness of romance allows me to highlight the grisly stuff even further.
My least favorite part of writing YA contemporary (romance or not) is that, well, I’m always tempted to veer off into the speculative and supernatural. I’m working on three different projects at various stages and only one is contemporary…and it may ultimately have the potential to be construed as not entirely so. Also, if we’re talking romance specifically—as much as I love them, romance arcs are often tricky for me! Writing family relationships is much more intuitive… or lonely protagonists meandering alone in the forests! Sadly the meandering is usually not all that interesting to read about.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?
If you desire a signed and personalized copy of Nothing Left to Burn you can acquire one through my local indie Browsers Books: https://www.browsersolympia.com/nothing-left-burn-heather-ezell-signed-edition Always want to give them a shout out. J And thank you so much for having me, Rae!
What a great interview!
Nothing Left to Burn is available now!
Check out the buy links below to grab your copy.