Honey Due. Writer of stories. Self-proclaimed daughter of the dark and painter of the dream maps in our heads. Author of Grimmest Things. Subject of this interview.
What led you to using a pen name What would you recommend to others wanting to do the same?
I started using the name Honey Due on a blog because I was really shy about writing under my own name. It's actually a funny story, I have a habit of jotting down ideas and stray thoughts, you know, in case they might be useful to me later and I'd actually noted on my phone the phrase 'milksweet and honeydue' with that “wrong” spelling a few weeks before starting the blog and then, when the time came to choose a name, it just connected in my head – HoneyDue, that's why I thought it in the first place. And that's how it's been.
I think it really depends on the individual, I know a lot of people who write under their own name and sometimes feel foolish. Then again, I know a lot of them who enjoy it, so I guess it really depends on you. I believe you can be anyone, so why not be your pen name, whoever it is?
Is there anything you do to get in the zone to write? How do you find your flow?
I listen to music, always. I'm a big rock and roll fan and I'm always either with my headphones on or blaring some song on the speakers. I always listen to music when I write, it just helps me flow. Also, I try to keep away from my phone or checking stuff online too much, because writers are by nature greatprocrastinators so if there's something you wondered about in 2ndgrade, you'll remember it just as you're sitting down to write your big novel and it will become imperative. Also, I drink coffee or tea, or something, it doesn't really matter what, it just helps to sip something. As for the flow, it sometimes comes on its own, it sometimes hangs back, but I figure if I don't write, obviously it's not gonna come. So I write and if it wasn't there in the beginning, it usually shows up along the way.
In a Q&A you mentioned you designed your book cover yourself. How did you put it together? What appeals to you in a cover?
I think there are a lot of things that can appeal in a cover. I like pretty ones, magical looking ones, like the cover for 'The Night Circus' by Erin Morgenstern. Or the ones particularly dark and eerie, like 'The Tooth Fairy' by Graham Joyce. Both beautiful reads, also. But then, the book I'm reading now only has a tree branch on it. Really quite simple. Books usually call me out, I guess, 'cause I have books of very varying covers. As for my own cover of Grimmest Things, yes, I designed it myself. I'm very passionate about photography and the cover was a great chance to try something out, do something I hadn't done before, which I'm always looking to do. To be honest, the cover is really just a pond that's been meddled with.
We meet quite a few characters in Grimmest Things. What helps you manage a large cast?
Funny you should ask, I was just writing earlier about writing “the bad guys” and how the writer always gets into their heads, so that they're no longer the bad guys. I'd say some of them have common traits, some could even be a different faucet of the same character, although they're not. I just wrote the stories as they came to me, described the characters as they painted themselves in my head and the cast just got...big. So, to answer how I manage the many characters in GT, I'd say one at a time.
Your book is praised for being raw and allowing us to experience pretty much every emotion possible--to you, what's the most important thing about capturing emotion?
Emotion is what drives us, naturally. I'm a very emotional person myself and I really think people want to read something that speaks to them, that plays on their feelings. Books are often an escape into a different reality, but also a friend, and you really just want a friend who gets it, don't you? We're very affected by our emotions and most of us are very emphatic. Fear has an amazing hold over viewers, often even stronger than love, because as soon as you read the first sentence, you're seeing yourself on the page. I guess that's why I wrote so many dark stories, come to think of it, it's an emotion that fascinates me. As is grief, pain, all that bad stuff we're forced to deal with in life – that's the important thing about capturing emotion, it shows people they don't have to go it alone.
Many reviewers are blown away by your ability to keep us in suspense and deliver a twist. What helps you keep us guessing?
I almost never see the full story when I sit down to write. I just get a glimpse of a sentence, a word, something that gets me going and then I just follow it there. Often, I'm going 'no way' as I write, because I'm just as surprised as the reader. Then there are times when I start writing a story and I get bored. No, this is too normal, I've heard this story a million times before. Because at that phase, it's just me going along with the story and I get to wondering why, if I'm not interested. This makes me think, makes me ask 'if this happens, then what if that also happens', 'what can I make real?' - and the answer's usually anything.
What's one thing you think readers generally don't know about the fantasy genre?
I'm trying to think of an answer, but I think fantasy readers know quite a lot about it. I'd say it's the rest of them, the ones who don't “do” fantasy who have a whole lot to learn. I think fantasy often gets a bad rep because it's “childish”, or at least it's considered so. You know, what with all the dragons and goblins and all that...but it's not. I haven't yet found a single genre as deep and as compelling as fantasy. Fantasy is in our nature, as humans, to create, to wander off. I wish more people knew it's okay to go off into a fantasy, to leave your boring little brain at home for a few days.
What advice would you offer to your fellow writers?
To write for themselves. I often hear 'yes, but how do you know people are going to like that?' and I always find myself telling the same truth – I don't really care. I'm not writing for them. If people read my stories and like them, I'm honored. I'm truly very happy when I hear someone tell me how much they liked it, because then I know they understand a bit of my soul and I theirs and it's a wonderful connection. But I only write for myself. I'm telling myself the story and I think any writer should do that, at least at the very beginning of writing it. And stick to that. If you, the initial reader, find that at some point you no longer like it, then listen to that voice.
Where do you see yourself going next?
I've always enjoyed experimenting with genre and particularly with age groups. I'm working on a children's fantasy book at the moment which will come out in December, if all goes well. I enjoy writing for children as much as I enjoy writing for adults, because frankly, I don't see that much of a difference. Kids are these incredibly intelligent and perceptive creatures. They have a right to good, clever fiction.
After that, I don't honestly know what's next. But one thing I can tell you is I am writing. I will always write, so be prepared to hear from me again.
Is there anything else you'd like readers to know?
I already touched on this a bit earlier, but I'll say it again. If you've enjoyed what I've written, then I'm truly honored. It's a phenomenal feeling, for me, to see that other people spark at what I write, that they relate to it and enjoy it. It makes me very happy to hear from my readers, to hear someone liked a story of mine or was touched by a particular moment.
Find Honey Due on Instagram , Facebook, and Twitter. Check out her blog here.
Photo Credit: Honey Due