Interview with Author Heather Quinto

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I grew up in a Catholic household, but being Native American, my Catholic upbringing was much different. We were more open-minded about communicating with spirit and feeling energy. We had a unique combination of both spirituality and religion. However, I never entirely agreed with the Catholic faith. I used to pick and choose what I believed in and put my own unique spin on things. For me, writing was something I enjoyed even at a small age, which I know is clichéd. Almost every writer will say they started writing stories the second they could pick up a pencil, but I had a harder time learning to read and write. I stuck to making picture stories because I barely knew how to formulate a simple sentence or how to write my name even at six-years-old. I got a grasp on my writing at eight, but my reading skills were much to be desired. However, writing helped with my reading because I’d read my own short stories to my uncle. I wrote my first novel at twelve, which was an awful time traveling story about ninjas (haha!). However, the novel I wrote at fifteen, I ended up publishing at twenty. Writing was something I always knew I was meant to do with my life.


2) What inspired you to write your book?

For The Doctor’s Estate, it was actually the publisher and friend of mine, Jesus Martinez, who approached me about the plot. He was the original creator of the entire thing, and he wanted me to write the novel for him. I like to spin it as I was the ghost writer for a horror novel. We worked together before on a documentary about a local haunted house called the Wolfe Manor that was unfortunately demolished, so he was familiar with my writing. I added on to his original plot a bit because he allowed me to have complete creative control, but I needed to keep the essential theme the same. It was a collaborative effort, and none of this would have happened without him. 

Without giving too much away, my inspiration for the mental illness aspect of the book was that I wanted the reader to sympathize with Ted, and I wanted to add that struggling with any kind of mental illness is always far more gut-wrenching than a ghost in your house. At least in my experience. For myself, I found the fear of possibly losing your sanity to be far more horrifying, and I know there would be other readers who would feel the same. Struggling with your inner thoughts is no joke, and I wanted to stress the back-and-forth that some people go through. I wanted to leave the reader guessing if it was all real in the first place in order to open a discussion about reality and how bendable it is. Also, someone who is going through a neurodegenerative condition like Alzheimer’s or a mental illness like depression, anxiety, or anything else isn’t something to be fearful of. Like you said, they are far more likely to be the victim than the perpetrator. 

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

The creator of the story, Jesus, wanted to stress the theme of the fight between the light and the dark. You can’t have one without the other, and I too agree with that. You cannot know happiness without sadness. We need contrast in order to learn and grow, which is how Humans are. We live in a world of polarity. We are such creative creatures, but at the same time we can destructive. I wanted the readers to see the polarity we live with on a daily basis, and you decide which reality you want to live in. Like I said before, realities are entirely bendable depending on your perspective and how you choose to see life. Ted’s struggle with his thoughts was one of my favorite parts of this story because it is something we can all relate to. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Horror has always been a favorite of mine growing up. In fact, my favorite movie of all time when I was a kid was The Ring, and I would reenact all the scenes. I was a morbid child growing up since all I ever watched were horror movies. I never actually sat down to read the genre. I find that I don’t write the genre that I read, and I’m not sure why that is. I read a few horror stories and thrillers as research for The Doctor’s Estate because I needed to educate myself on the style. How do you write a scary scene with a ghost anyway? At the same time, I found what I wanted to change about the genre to make it more unique. I tend to combine genres into one, and each one of my works has a bit of a philosophical twist to it. At least, I try to implement that. 

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

That’s a tough one! I thought about Ted for a second, but honestly, I would talk to Monica. She jumped on board from the start about the possibility of the paranormal, and I would love to ask her how she could do that without second-guessing her sanity or thinking if it was at all real or not. For myself, I doubt so much. I second-guess every little thing in my life, and I have had bizarre experiences that I cannot explain. I get “knowings” about things or people that I couldn’t possibly know, and I struggle with knowing if it is a serious mental illness or if I am truly doing what I am doing. I am a lot like Ted in that I have to compartmentalize and explain everything logically, and sometimes that isn’t possible. That’s when I am shaken to the core. What advice can Monica give me for that?

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Aside from my own blog, I would say Facebook has helped me greatly. Mostly, because I spend the bulk of my time on there, so I am always plugging my novels. Being an author is a full-time gig, and you have to be prepared to market and promote not only your books, but yourself. Knowing your audience is key because maybe you write young adult contemporary novels, so your readership is on Instagram more than Facebook. Therefore, you would have better luck there.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Honestly, I consider myself barely starting out despite my three publications. Only because I have yet to sign with a literary agent. That is my goal, but that takes time and a lot of hard work. My advice would be: be open to learning new unique ways to break into the industry. It can be unforgiving and harsh just like any other industry out there. You will develop a thick skin, trust me. You are going to have to, so never give up. Confide in other writers because they are going to be your lifeline, and connections are everything. Most writers have social anxiety like myself, but put yourself out there no matter how frightening it is. You never know what will happen, and I would know because that is how I was able to publish The Doctor’s Estate. Building a writing career you can live off of is like building an empire. It takes time, so be patient. Acquire as much knowledge as you can, and when you feel you know everything, acquire more. There is always more to be learned and always room for growth in your writing. Writing is a form of art, and it is entirely subjective, so be patient with your work because the energy you put into it is worth it. No matter whether your go the traditional route or the self-publishing route, your art is always worth it. 


8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I am currently in search of a literary agent for a dystopian novel I wrote. When I say dystopian, most think of the young adult novels like Hunger Games, but this is more of a literary piece with some commercialism in it called Upmarket fiction. Like The Doctor’s Estate, it has a philosophical twist to it. It is an allegorical novel based off of the United States’ political climate. Other than that, I am outlining a new novel, which is a sci-fi romance, and I am also applying to the MFA program at Fresno State. Fingers crossed I get in! 

About the Author

Heather Quinto is a Pascua Yaqui Native, and she resides in Fresno, California. She has a BA in Creative Writing/English with a minor in Marketing from Southern New Hampshire University. She is a self-published author of the paranormal/fantasy novel, Inhuman, and a spiritual/romance short story titled In Love and Death. Recently, she published a horror novel with TruRealm Media titled The Doctor’s Estate. Currently, she is seeking representation for her unpublished novel, Eleutheria, which is an adult allegorical novel on today’s society that has universal truths deeply rooted within its themes.

Heather always had a strong urge to write and create imaginative stories ever since she could pick up a pencil. She started off by drawing picture books when she was four before transitioning to writing short stories when she was eight years old. Heather’s main inspiration behind writing is to be able to leave the greatest impact on whomever picks up one of her books by influencing a more positive and spiritual outlook on life. She strives to create fresh and original stories that grasps a reader’s attention, and hooks them with her strong and compassionate characters. Heather brings in unique storylines that no one has ever read before, and this is what caters to her originality. Her writing uses humor to teach self-confidence by encouraging her readers to laugh at themselves every once in a while. She writes of relatable hardships that help her readers feel less alone, and makes them feel more accepted.

Although, Heather’s current target audience are teens, she doesn’t stick to one given genre or age group. Her genre varies from book to book. She is currently working on a new science fiction novel, and has a mystery/romance novel sitting in her documents waiting to be edited. Heather’s ultimate goal is to be a major impact on the world for the better while teaching the morals and values passed down in her tribe. She hopes that her books challenge others to think both philosophically and spiritually like her tribal elders push her to do. She also strives to eventually make a comfortable living off of being a full time writer.

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