Author Spotlight: Nanette Heffernan
Jan. 10, 2020
We are excited to feature picture book author Nanette Heffernan and her forthcoming picture book, EARTH HOUR: A LIGHTS-OUT EVENT FOR OUR PLANET illustrated by Bao Luu (Charlesbridge January 21, 2020). Enter to win a copy!
I love stories! I love telling stories. Reading stories. Children’s stories. Adult memoirs. Historical fiction. But my favorite is humor. I spent over 20 years in the business world working in sales and marketing where I wrote every day. It was always about dry topics: grant applications, industry white papers, sales proposals, web content, marketing brochures, etc. In spite of the monotony, it was still one of the favorite parts of my job. So can you imagine my delight when I finally got to marry stories with writing? I fell in love, became a full-time children’s author, and never looked back.
Congrats on your forthcoming picture book, EARTH HOUR: A LIGHTS-OUT EVENT FOR OUR PLANET. Tell us about this story and what inspired you.
Earth Hour is a worldwide movement in support of energy conservation and sustainability. The annual event is sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) on a Saturday night near the equinox in March. During Earth Hour, individuals, communities, businesses, and monuments in more than 7,000 cities turn off nonessential electric lights for one hour as a pledge to our planet. Across each continent—from the Eiffel Tower to the Great Wall of China to the Statue of Liberty—one small act reminds all of us of our enormous impact on Earth. The book is an around the world exploration, highlighting the many uses of energy in our daily lives from lights to cooking to bubble baths. A STEM filled backmatter section discusses the long-term impact of energy use and opportunities for conservation.
I first learned about Earth Hour several years ago while driving home at night across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. Suddenly the lights on the bridge went out. I was an instant fan and supporter of this movement to recognize the energy we use and knew I would write a book about it.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
My road to publication we definitely long and windy with a few dead ends and construction stops peppered in. From concept to submission, EARTH HOUR took four years to perfect. I wrote many versions of the story, editing, polishing, and tossing each one until I finally got it right. I’ve closed million-dollar deals in my career that were easier than writing this book. Then after my editor, Julie Bliven, at Charlesbridge made an offer we realized there was a legal snag with the title. World Wildlife Fund owned the trademark to Earth Hour. It took a year of emails and phone calls to wrap it up, but I’d do it all again!
What projects are you working on now?
My sweet spots are picture books with an environmental theme and middle-grade boy humor. I’m hoping to polish a middle grade in 2020 about perseverance.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Persevere... as long as you are enjoying the ride. Nobody becomes an author to make a million dollars. We write because we are writers. It’s what we do. It’s what we love. If you love what you are doing, then carry on, but give yourself permission to take a break if you’re feeling defeated. Writing is an art form and therefore subjective. Not everyone is going to love your art but if you persevere eventually someone will. It’s not a race. You have to enjoy the ride.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
Growing up my mom always made us a hot breakfast. We never had cereal. The first time I tried sugar cereal was in college. I bought a box of Cap’n Crunch and ate the entire thing. Then I couldn’t eat anything for almost two days because the inside of my mouth was raw. But, wow, was it good!
Where can people find you online?
Nanette Heffernan is a children’s author, sustainability consultant, and founder of Authors Posse, a “forever” marketing group for authors. Her lifelong goal is to make Earth a better home for children whether by making them laugh or addressing environmental issues that will affect their generation. Although she loves her leadership roles in the community, she is most fulfilled while dressed in school-lunch trash and visiting schools and festivals to talk to thousands of kids about the importance of protecting our environment. She is pleased to share her efforts have earned her three Environmental Awards of Excellence. She lives near San Francisco, CA with her family, Koda the dog, George the cat, and eight chickens, all named Companion.