Sweet and Sassy Sixteeners: Day Nine- Heidi Heilig

Posted November 9, 2015 by Nori in Giveaway, Interviews, My Features / 21 Comments

It’s time to meet the 8th featured author of the SSS! Introducing…Heidi Heilig!

Heidi Heilig
The Girl From Everywhere
Release Date: 02/16/2016
Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Heidi Heilig’s debut teen fantasy sweeps from modern-day New York City to nineteenth-century Hawaii to places of myth and legend. Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. The Girl from Everywhere, the first of two books, will dazzle readers of Sabaa Tahir, Rae Carson, and Rachel Hartman.

Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own.

In The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility with witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, and enchanting romance.

Buy Links: Amazon ~ B&N ~ HarperCollins

Princess Sofia Regular


I noticed that just like Nix, you grew up in Hawaii and then moved to New York. Did you draw upon your childhood experiences while writing The Girl from Everywhere?

I did! There are many aspects of my childhood that appear in this book–from the time spent out on the water with my father, to learning how to haggle in Chinatown with my grandmother, to the stories my mother told us about the fall of the monarchy–she’d been a state house representative in the ‘70’s, and some of her constituents still remembered the lowering of the Hawaiian Flag. My own family stories make an appearance–for example, a great grandfather who lost a fortune due to his opium addiction, and my own struggles with bipolar disorder. And of course, when I left Hawaii to finish high school in New York, I left a boy behind–I regretted that for years. All of those things–lost love, the open sea, family, opium, Chinatown and old Hawaii–can be found in the book.

What was your favorite place/setting to write about that Nix visited?

While Nix visits 19th century Honolulu, modern-day New York, and some other places that I can’t give away just yet, my favorite setting is the Temptation, the black caravel. Not only is she a beautiful ship–based on the real life ship Notorious–with a sleek hull and a bronze rail and a mermaid on the prow, but she’s fitted out with all manner of mythological conveniences. It was great fun researching just exactly what sorts of legendary items would be useful aboard a pirate ship.

Tell me a little about the crew aboard the Temptation.

One of the things that drew me to a pirate story–and a pirate ship–is that for all their plundering, pirates were often diverse groups where people who were usually marginalized could rise to power on their own merits. Aside from Nix, who is half chinese and half white, and her father, who struggles with addiction and moodswings, the first mate Bee is a Nuer woman from Sudan. Her wife Ayen is also aboard the ship, though she isn’t technically crew. The cook, Rotgut, is a Chinese man from 19th century Hong Kong, and Kashmir of course is Persian, hailing from a mythical map. Diversity was important to me. In addition, everyone aboard is from a place that dealt with colonization. That was important to me, thematically, because the plot deals with machinations leading to the downfall of the Hawaiian monarchy, and also because the effects of the colonial era will reverberate through the world for a very long time.

If you had to describe The Girl from Everywhere in under 10 words, how would you describe it?

Myth, history, romance, and a time-travelling pirate ship.

Are there places you researched that didn’t make it into the book?

There was an entire scene set in the swamps of old Japan, where the crew sought the kitsune–a japanese fox spirit known for the ability to shapeshift. I was sad to lose the eerie atmosphere of a foggy green swamp, but I had a great time doing the research.

Did anything surprise you about the story?

One unexpected development was actually the romance. At first, the story was mostly about finding home, and the relationship between a daughter and her father. But Nix and Kashmir kept getting closer and closer as I went through drafts; finally I realized what they were telling me.

What’s your favorite food? (Curious minds want to know 😉 )

Hands down, Rainier white cherries in July, when they are perfectly ripe and so sweet. I measure my remaining lifespan not in potential years but in cherry seasons left to me.

In any time that isn’t cherry season, I do love a good doughnut. Doughnut Plant on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn is down the block from me; if you see me there say hi, but only if I don’t have a doughnut in my actual mouth at the time.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I’ve wanted to be many things! A doctor, an archaeologist, a horse trainer, an artist. Then an actor, for a while–that was odd. But eventually I realized that I could never be everything I wanted to be–so instead, I would write and pretend for a while that I could be anything at all.

Time travel is such an interesting concept- how did you decide that the method of time traveling would be through a ship?

It all started with old maps–the ones where the oceans are thick with dragons, and by going too far you could fall off the edge of the world. Looking at those maps, I started to wonder what would actually happen if you could sail far enough to leave everything you knew behind. If you’ve ever been out on a ship, you may know that very ancient fear that you may never see your shore again.

What are some of your favorite time travel stories?

Aside from the original–THE TIME MACHINE, by H.G. Wells–I’ve loved Terminator (the movie) and Braid (the video game.) Although not technically time travel, Arcadia (the play) by Tom Stoppard is another great piece that plays with time. Read/watch/play them all!


Heidi Heilig grew up in Hawaii where she rode horses and raised peacocks, and then she moved to New York City and grew up even more, as one tends to do. Her favorite thing, outside of writing, is travel, and she has haggled for rugs in Morocco, hiked the trails of the Ko’olau Valley, and huddled in a tent in Africa while lions roared in the dark. She holds an MFA from New York University in Musical Theatre Writing, of all things, and she’s written books and lyrics for shows including The Time Travelers Convention, Under Construction, and The Hole. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, her son, and their pet snake, whose wings will likely grow in any day now.

Author Links: Pinterest ~ Twitter 



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21 responses to “Sweet and Sassy Sixteeners: Day Nine- Heidi Heilig

  1. This was a lovely interview! I like the whole thing with Kash and Nix drawing closer together in the story. <3 Also, rainier white cherries sound yummy. Now we just need to make it into a jam + donuts and it'll be full of deliciousness!

  2. Danielle Cueco

    ‘The Girl from Everywhere’ keeps getiing more and more amazing every interview!
    Some Navigate me to 2016!!! Or Navigate from 2016 bringing TGFE with them.

  3. Danielle Cueco

    ‘The Girl from Everywhere’ keeps on getting more and more amazing the more I hear about itttttt!
    Someone Navigate me to 2016!!! Or Navigate from 2016 and bring me TGFE!

  4. Wow, her first answer was really amazing all on its own. I think that’s been my favorite part of this series of posts so far. A lot of these authors have really deep, personal backgrounds that are tied to their stories and its incredible to read them talking about it. Thanks for sharing!

  5. This is a great interview! Kash and Nix have a really complicated relationship and I just want them to figure it out already haha. I don’t know how Heidi and I haven’t run into each other at The Doughnut Plant yet.

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