Featured Author: Joachim Heijndermans writes, draws, and paints nearly every waking hour. Originally from the Netherlands, he’s been all over the world, boring people by spouting random trivia about toys, comics and film. His work has been featured in a number of publications, such as Mad Scientist Journal, Asymmetry Fiction, Metaphorosis, Econoclash Review and Gathering Storm Magazine, and he’s currently in the midst of completing his first children’s book.
Featured Author: Joachim Heijndermans Interview
- How long have you been writing?
- What/who inspired you to be a writer?
- What genre do you prefer to write in?
- Describe your writing process. What comes first–character or plot? Do you “pants” it or outline?
- What is your daily routine as a writer?
- What are some of your biggest challenges you feel like you have to overcome in your writing career?
- Do you have a set number of words each day or a goal?
- How much time is spent on “the business of writing” – queries, seeking an agent or publisher, marketing/sales?
- Do you prefer short stories or full-length novels in your writing?
- Can you give some us some insight into your story?
- What advice can you give other writers?
LHP: How long have you been writing?
Joachim Heijndermans: I used to write short fables as a child, which I would also illustrate. For years, I only wrote on the side, never seriously pursuing it outside of drafts or ideas for a story, with one unfinished screenplay made during high school still gathering dust somewhere. I began to write seriously when I attended the Kubert School in New Jersey. Among my writing there included scripts for comic books and pitches, as well as a few short stories that were eventually published. It was after my graduation that I began to pursue writing as a full on craft, both in script form and short narratives.
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LHP: What genre do you prefer to write in?
Joachim Heijndermans: I tend to lean towards science-fiction. I am fascinated by robots and artificial intelligence, which are both recurring subjects in my writing, if sometimes completely involuntary. One instance, upon hearing a story about how George R.R. Martin jumpstarted his ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ series when he had a dream of dire wolves in the snow, I tried to imagine that same scene, and it took less than a minute for a robot to pop into the setting, walking with the pack. This became the plot to my comic series ‘Ice Pack’, which I hope to find a publisher for at some point.
I also enjoy writing about extraterrestrial life, mostly to explore how ludicrous or fascinating humanity might seem in their eyes. My stories ‘The Udon at Tashihara’s’ (which is no longer in print) and ‘My Book Report on Starlight’, published by Metaphorosis, deal with this theme. I also love Kaiju stories in any format. I have written two Kaiju stories, ‘Blessed He Be, Shinokaze’ for Econoclash Review and ‘The Red Wind’, a comic script I illustrated for Aniway magazine, and I have several others planned. I dabble in horror, but I need to ad some humorous twist to it if I am going to finish it, as in the case of my story ‘The End of All of Time, Reality, the Infinite and the Unimagined’ (published with Mad Scientist Journal), which started out as cosmic horror before becoming a more comedic farce about boredom.
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LHP: What/who inspired you to be a writer?
Joachim Heijndermans: I have always been telling stories in any format, be it in film, comic book or short story. While I can’t pinpoint what particular event inspired me to write, I do know that several works and authors have inspired me to sit down and jolt out work. Haruki Murakami and Neil Gaiman’s work has inspired me to try a different approach, while films by Hayao Miyazaki and Quentin Tarantino have pushed me to work on memorable characters. I suppose my largest inspiration has been Osamu Tezuka, who’s work has taught me to be fearless and try anything.
LHP: Describe your writing process. What comes first–character or plot? Do you “pants” it or outline?
Joachim Heijndermans: It all depends on the story I want to tell. Sometimes there’s a plot, for which I create characters to follow and participate in it. Other times there are characters, for whom I have to make a plot so they don’t stand around doing nothing (although in one story of mine, ‘Waiting on the Circle’ from Gathering Storm Magazine #1, the three main characters did just that). For my novel (which has a extremely large cast of characters), and my comic book scripts, I’ll set up an outline to keep track of it all (in the latter’s case, this is a must if I plan to draw it as well). But some of my flash fiction and shorts tend to be written on the fly, sometimes with no planned ending when I start. I usually go with an approach that just feels natural.
LHP: What is your daily/weekly routine as a writer?
Joachim Heijndermans: I’m somewhat embarrassed to say I don’t really adhere to a routine. I try to write daily, but I don’t really set a designated time for when I write. This is not because I don’t want to, but my schedule has been very hectic the last few years that I usually steal moments to write here and there, wherever I can find them.
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LHP: Are there any software tools, resources, or websites you use often while writing?
Joachim Heijndermans: I’ve used a number of grammar aides over the years, as my not being a native English speaker can sometimes cause me to overlook simple mistakes. But the one tool that has saved several stories from dead sentences and sloppy grammar is the TTS reader, which will read any text aloud back to me. It’s been a lifesaver and has really opened my eyes/ears to my little writing quirks, such as repetitive dialogue.
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LHP: What are some of your biggest challenges you feel like you have to overcome in your writing career?
Joachim Heijndermans: Concentration. Like many writers can probably attest to, it is often more fun to start a new story than to finish and old one.
LHP: Do you have a set number of words per day you target? or do you set other goals to meet?
Joachim Heijndermans: I try to hit at minimum 400 words a day. Doesn’t matter which story or what part of the story (my approach is very chaotic, which might not be the best approach), as long as I hit my 400 word minimum. I’m hoping to push this to a 1000 words in the near future, as I have been able to hit this mark in the past.
LHP: Do you prefer short stories or full length novels in your writing?
Joachim Heijndermans: While I do have a novel or two planned down the pipeline, I enjoy writing shorts as they allow me to jump from topic to topic (like an absurd form of commitment issues towards the longer stories). In recent times, even my shorts have gotten longer, but I love the restrictions brought on by word limits. In fact, one of the novels I have planned is really more a collection of short stories, tied together by one returning character.
LHP: How much time is spent on “the business of writing” – queries, seeking an agent or publisher, marketing/sales?
Joachim Heijndermans: Most likely, not enough. For the last few years I have been very busy with a number of personal avenues, which included a move across the Atlantic, my marriage, my graphic design work and many other factors. I am always on the lookout for markets and publishing venues for whom I might have just the right story, but it has happened more than once that life has prevented me from finishing a story before the set deadline of an anthology came around.
LHP: Can you give some us some insight into your story?
Joachim Heijndermans: “Last Sub” is a deviation of my regular writing, as its cast is very unlikable and lacking in many redeeming qualities. The story mostly deals with desperation. How far we would go for our self preservation. I also wanted to explore our capacity to be both cruel and tender simultaneously. That, and I wanted to play with my uneasiness toward deep sea creatures.
LHP: What advice can you give other writers?
Joachim Heijndermans: Other than writing every day and not being afraid to make mistakes, my biggest advice would be to listen to editors. Some of my better stories are only so because an editor wasn’t afraid to make comments and give the story a good look over with the red pen. They need to be blunt and unafraid of voicing their opinions. Nothing has made me happier than when an editor who previously accepted a story rejects another, as that lets me know they really read the stories I’ve sent them.
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Joachim Heijndermans recently authored “Last Sub to Tel-K” for A World Unimagined on sale now.