RKB Writes Presents:
An Author Interview with Heather Rigney
Rhode Island fiction writer, blogger, journalist, and art teacher, Heather Rigney has written The Merrow Trilogy–a Rhode Island-based, dark, historical fantasy series about homicidal mermaids, the colonial suppression of women, and a present-day alcoholic funeral director trying to make sense of it all. In 2016, Waking the Merrow, Heather’s debut novel, won the United Kingdom’s Wishing Shelf Gold Award. In 2017, Waking made the top 5% in The Launchpad Manuscript Competition. Her writing has been featured in Motif Magazine, Stone Crowns Magazine, and Avenue Concept Magazine. Until Summer 2020, Heather was a weekly contributor to The Writer’s Blog by Inkitt.
Are your books available wide or only on Kindle Unlimited?
Waking the Merrow is Kindle Unlimited, but the other two are not. Both Waking the Merrow and Hunting the Merrow are Audible audiobooks and Caging the Merrow will be available as an audiobook in early 2022. All of my paperbacks are available in many fine indie bookstores throughout Rhode Island. Twice Told Tales is one of my favorite local bookstores and they’ve carried my books since 2014.
Do you have a new book coming out? If so, what’s the title and when?
Unfortunately, I don’t have anything new coming out soon. Instead, I’m opening a school for writing and art called The Orange Anchor Art School! I plan on teaching students ages 5 – 105 one mile outside Pawtuxet Village in Cranston, RI. To find out more, click here: www.orangeanchorartschool.com
You can follow Heather on her social channels:
- Tell me about yourself. What inspired you to write?
I have always admired and been in love with the works of both Margaret Atwood and Angela Carter. Ms. Atwood writes about women in a raw, intimate way. She tackles science fiction/speculative fiction with a frighteningly thought-provoking, historically-accurate feminist edge. As for Angela Carter, she was so far ahead of her time. Her dark, erotic fairy tales explored radical libertarian feminism which really appealed to me in my late teens. These fearless women inspired me to explore the many sides of the female POV. I strive to shine a light on what it means to be a woman, to leave nothing out, to include all the beauty, shame, fear, honesty, and brutality.
2. Describe your desk/writing space.
My writing takes place in many places. Coffee shops, airplanes, trains, my car, the couch. I either write on a MacBook using Google Docs or Scrivener or I handwrite in a Moleskin journal.
3. Do you have a writing routine, or do you write when inspired?
When I started writing seriously, I would get up early and write from 5:15-6:30 AM most weekdays. Then, when I stopped teaching to raise my child, I would write while my little one was in school. I would write between 8:30 AM-noon most weekdays and my daily word counts were anywhere from 2,000-5,000 words. These days, I’ve been focusing on opening my school. Once that’s established, I look forward to blocking out an hour a two a day and re-establishing my writing routine.
4. How do you come up with the title to your books?
Waking the Merrow was a double entendre. ‘Waking’ is a reference to both a state of being (as in the awakening of the merrow) and funerals since my main character is a funeral director. The other two books follow suit–Hunting and Caging. A verb before the word Merrow, which is Gaelic for mermaid, indicates what is happening to the fishy characters in each book.
5. What was the hardest scene for you to write? Which scene was your favorite to write?
Since this was my first book series, the whole process felt arduous because I often felt like a charlatan. I mean, I have a BFA in graphic design! What the hell do I know about writing? However, it seems that I did something right. I wrote the first book in 2014 and it’s still selling!
My favorite scene to write was the very last one in the series. I remember where I was sitting, Dave’s Coffee on South Main Street in Providence. It was raining and I had just signed a new teaching contract that morning. It was a very bittersweet moment.
6. What inspired your book/series?
I was invited to collaborate on a now-retired, anthology called DIVE. It was a collection of short stories about mermaids or merfolk. Four authors were involved and I wrote a story called Mermaids are Not Nice. That was the birth of both my antagonist, Nomia, and protagonist, Evie McFagan. The short story received a lot of praise and more than one person stated that I needed to expand the world I had created. From there, I thought, I should make a trilogy out of this! I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
7. What are you working on next?
I’ve started writing about my dad, Ray. He’s quite the character and there are a lot of strange, outrageous, and hilarious incidents that have shaped my life. For example, Ray recently hit me across the face with a walking stick. I think most people would be horrified if their parents assaulted them, but, for me, it’s just another day with Ray. He didn’t mean it, and it really was an accident, but it happened because he was harassing me–and this is Ray’s love language. I’ve got a lot of material to work with.
8. What authors or books have influenced your writing?
9. If you could live anywhere, in this world or fantasy, where would you live?
Italy. Every morning, I would walk into a little village and chat up some old adorable men while sipping a perfect cappuccino. Next, I would go home and paint or write until the sun started its descent. Then, I would walk back into the village and drink my evening wine with the same little old men. This is how I plan on spending my twilight years.
10. What is your favorite meal?
In order, I would love a dirty gin martini. Oysters on the half-shell. Caprese salad. A glass of El Oso Y La Alemana Toro Red. Spicy squid ink pasta with lots of garlic and seafood. All followed by a perfect chocolate chip cookie sprinkled with sea salt.
11. Coffee or tea? Wine or beer?
I do love tea but I’m a total coffee snob. I’m always hunting for the perfect cup of coffee. As for wine vs beer, wine. I used to love beer but then I was diagnosed with a severe yeast allergy. Unfortunately, beer (and even more tragically, good bread!) has become an unworthy risk.
12. Describe yourself in three words.
Quirky. Neurotic. Extrovert.