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Interview with Heather Fitzgerald

Heather L.L. FitzGerald writes from her home in Texas. Her YA fantasy trilogy is available through Amazon. Books include The Tethered World, The Flaming Sword, (winner of the OCW 2017 Cascade Award for Speculative Fiction) and The Genesis Tree.

Hi, Heather. Where did the idea for The Genesis Tree come from?
The Genesis Tree is the third and final book of The Tethered World Chronicles. All three books tie in elements of scripture, from the Garden of Eden, to the flood of Noah, to the flaming sword held by the cherubim after Adam and Eve were removed from the garden. The Genesis Tree brings in a couple of more biblical components (spoilers!) and ties up loose ends from the other two books. It was a creative challenge that God used to increase my faith as I trusted Him to bring it all together in a meaningful and satisfying way.

What message do you hope your readers take away from this book?

I hope readers will see how their own unique gifts and purposes are part of God’s epic story that He is telling through history. We may not always grasp what part we are playing, but my fantasy stories attempt to show the bigger picture—through the eyes of a couple of regular teenagers—that we don’t always get to see when we are the character in our own journey.

Do you create sketches to paint pictures of the worlds you create?
Although I admire the authors I know that make a Pinterest board, sketch, or put together a playlist for their current WIP, I’m not one of them. Because I’m a pantser and not a plotter, I have a barebones idea of the plot and setting which fleshes itself out as I write.

What led you to choosing the genre of speculative fiction? What do you love about it? What challenges you about it?

Reading through the Chronicles of Narnia with my kids when we homeschooled years ago, left me yearning for more of the type of magical story that Lewis masterfully crafted. The kind of adventure that seems quite possible, if we could only discover our own version of the wardrobe in our corner of the world. I wanted to create that kind of tale. The kind that stays with you long after you’ve closed the cover.

Furthermore, as a busy mom, fantasy allowed me to let those creative juices flow without relying heavily on the research which many other genres require. I love that I can incorporate bizarre ideas, even my crazy dreams, into my books. Fantasy allows for limitless possibilities!

This can also be a challenge in that you can’t slap random, disconnected ideas into a story for the sake of being unique or sensational. They must make sense in the scheme of things. And fantasy readers place high standards on realistic world building and won’t let a writer get away with merely propping it up with some cool magic or copycat ideas.

How did you start writing?
I loved writing as a student and excelled in English and creative writing. When I was about nine I attempted a book on an electric typewriter. I didn’t get far without White Out and couldn’t type a page perfectly, so the dream had to be placed on hold, LOL. As a mother, I loved to read to my kids and found myself working on my own stories. I also have the lifelong habit of making up stories about things I come across through the day—and was surprised to find out other people don’t have the same instinctive habit. Storytelling seems to be a part of who I am, even if most of it never makes it into a book.

Where do you prefer to write? Do you have any musts while you’re in your writing zone?
My favorite place is one of (several) local coffee shops. I love the buzz of people and music, even though I’m introverted and won’t go out of my way to interact. There’s a creative vibe about such white noise. Of course, I can’t afford to support my coffee and writing habit like this on a daily basis, so I try to make it a weekly date with my computer. At home, I am propped on the couch with a homemade iced latte and, if it’s cool enough (rarely in Texas!) I’ll have a fire crackling for ultimate inspiration.

What is your favorite Book of the Bible? Why?
Probably Genesis and Job. The creation story is important to know Whose I am and why I am. It’s beautiful and tragic and hopeful. I suppose Job could be described in much the same way (with an emphasis on tragic). My very favorite chapter in scripture is Job 26, particularly when Job says in verse 7, “He stretches out the north over empty space; He hangs the earth on nothing”. And then Job goes on to describe more of the amazing ways God works in creation, finishing with, “Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him!” in verse 14. Such powerful imagery.

On your website, you mention that you’re a fan of C.S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia. Do you have a favorite character? Why?

Hmm. That’s a difficult one. My favorite book is The Magician’s Nephew because *ahem* we have the creation story of Narnia. Yeah, you might notice a pattern. As far as a favorite character…that’s more difficult. Jadis, the queen, is the ultimate antagonist who is fun to hate. But I love Lucy’s optimism and faith, Tumnus’s friendship, Puddleglum’s gloomy yet often logical outlook, and Reepicheep’s courage among many other characters in the series.

What advice do you have to share for aspiring authors?

Aspiring authors need to start networking with other authors and making connections in the writing world. Whether you’re Indie, or with a small publisher like myself, or with one of the bigger houses, you’re expected to market yourself and have a presence on social media. It’s tough! Introverts make great writers but we don’t like to self promote. Start now. Help other authors promote and learn from them! When your time comes, you’ll have a loyal group of supporters to help you.

Any parting words?
I hope Christian readers will keep an open mind when it comes to fantasy. Speaking as one who shunned fantasy growing up, because it might involve elements of magic, I understand the hesitation. But that comes from a huge misconception about the genre, and there are many great Christian stories to explore. As I explained in a recent blog post, “Christian fantasy is not an oxymoron.” Consider it a platform to showcase good vs. evil, as well as an opportunity for allegory or—one of Jesus’s favorites—a parable on a grand scale.


CJ Myerly is a graduate from Clearwater Christian College. She resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband and two children. She’s always loved reading and writing and is currently working on a contemporary romance series. She hates clutter, loves organization, and has a love/hate relationship with all electronics. CJ blogs about books, writing, motherhood, and homeschooling at

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