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Heather Webb. The Novelry's new writing coach
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Heather Webb: How I Started Writing

Heather Webb is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author and The Novelry Team Member
Heather Webb
November 19, 2023
November 19, 2023

Meet writing coach, Heather Webb.

Heather is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of ten historical novels, including her up-and-coming book, Queens of London, set to release in 2024.

Over her writing career, Heather has gone from strength to strength. In 2015, her novel Rodin’s Lover was a Goodreads Top Pick, and in 2018, Last Christmas in Paris won the Women’s Fiction Writers Association STAR Award. Meet Me in Monaco was selected as a finalist for the 2020 Goldsboro RNA award in the UK, as well as the 2019 Digital Book World’s Fiction prize. Three Words for Goodbye was Prima Magazine’s 2022 Book of the Year. To date, Heather’s books have been translated into seventeen languages.

In addition to writing, Heather has twenty-three years of teaching experience, including her current position as an adjunct for the MFA in Creative Writing program at Drexel University. She truly loves helping writers find their voice and hone their craft, and now she’s joining The Novelry’s team of writing coaches to share her wisdom.

By way of introduction, Heather tells us how her own writing journey began, where she finds inspiration, and what she’s most looking forward to about coaching The Novelry’s writers. Over to Heather!

When I considered myself a ‘writer’

It’s always fun to think about how and why I began writing. Like many writers, I had a full-time career that had nothing to do with writing for a decade. I taught high school French and coached track, something I really loved at the time.

In fact, I didn’t leave teaching for publishing. I left it to raise my kids. With no family nearby to help and the dread of enormous childcare fees, it made sense for me.

But the wheels of my future career in publishing were already turning and I didn’t yet know it. It was during the final semester as a high school teacher that I first realised I wanted to write a book.

It’s funny, looking back at my history. I’d never considered myself a writer and yet, I’d entered essay contests as a kid, I was the copy editor of my high school and my college newspapers, and most of all, I dragged around a diary and a load of books with me everywhere I went.

Still, writing as a passion – and as a career – had to find me. This may sound cliché, but like some other writers, it began with a dream... a literal dream.

Realizing my dreams

Josephine Bonaparte appeared to me one night and took me on a tour of a chateau, though I couldn’t make out precisely which one it was. I woke feeling unsettled by how vivid the dream was, but that wasn’t the creepiest part. The creepiest part was that the dream returned every night for a week, and to be honest, I didn’t know a lot about her life. I knew she was Napoleon’s first wife. I knew they’d divorced. That was it! But by the end of that week of seeing her face haunt my dreams, I decided it was time to learn more about her.

I headed over to my local library to check out a biography. About halfway through the book, I had a realization – almost like a lightning bolt (I’m not kidding) – that I had to write a novel about her.

The New Yorker is a great place to read short stories by Toni Morrison, Samantha Hunt or Ray Bradbury.

It was the strangest thing! When I told my husband I was going to write a book, he looked at me like I was from another planet. I’d never talked about writing before that moment. Not ever. And that was the moment, the moment that set something into motion for me.

Since then, I’ve written many solo novels and co-authored some with a beloved writing partner. I met my agent at a conference twelve years ago and the rest, as they say, is history.

When I told my husband I was going to write a book, he looked at me like I was from another planet. I’d never talked about writing before that moment. Not ever. And that was the moment, the moment that set something into motion for me.

What I love to write and what I love to read

As you might expect from the Josephine apparition, I write historical fiction; it’s my first love, with its worldbuilding, fascinating tidbits about events and people from the past, and the wide range of eras and subgenres.

But as a reader, teacher, and editor, I read nearly all genres from young adult to suspense to romance to literary. I love a little fantasy and sci-fi as well. What can I say, stories are great regardless of genre.

Where I get my ideas

In terms of finding ideas and developing them, I often discover a topic simply through reading and my life-long interests, but also through traveling. I’m a bit of an explorer at heart as well as a museum junkie, so taking in new sights and sounds is a big part of my inspiration. From there, I get busy researching and outlining! (I can hear your groans from here, but I’m one of the strange people who really enjoys it.)

Though writing is a ton of work – fun work where I often feel as if I’m playing, but work nonetheless – I find the act of writing liberating.

We are creators and as creators, we’re stepping into someone else’s shoes, into another world, where we can get lost and explore and experience.

Sometimes while I’m busy being ‘lost’, living inside a character’s mind, I learn things about myself. I learn a lot about others, too, how much they differ from me and yet, how much we are all so alike in our human experiences.

We are creators and as creators, we’re stepping into someone else’s shoes, into another world, where we can get lost and explore and experience.

The joys of writing and working with writers

Over the years I’ve found that writing invigorates me, too. Those moments when a plot point or character issue I’ve been mulling over suddenly clicks into place and comes together beautifully; the surprise elements I didn’t plan that flow from my subconscious on to the page; and, of course, the notes from happy readers.

But one of the most important ways I’m invigorated and inspired as a writer, is why I’m here at The Novelry: connecting with you all, my comrades and colleagues. Discussing our craft, working through a plot or character pickle, sharing the ways our storytelling enriches our lives. Aiming high and dreaming big together.

I’m so thrilled to get to know you, and to be a part of The Novelry team.

For one-one-one help writing your novel, join us on a creative writing course at The Novelry today. Sign up for courses, coaching and a community from the world’s top-rated writing school.

Someone writing in a notebook
Heather Webb is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author and The Novelry Team Member
Heather Webb

Heather Webb is the USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of ten novels with twenty-three years of coaching experience.

Members of The Novelry team