Diva Interview: Author Z. B. Heller
I thought a good interview series would be talking to different authors who write in a variety genres. Romance, mystery, coming of age, sci-fi, horror, etc. The Divas work primarily with independent authors, so there is a large pool to interview from. Today’s interview we’re talking to Z. B. Heller. She writes women’s fiction/literature but it’s largely humor bordering on slapstick. I haven’t laughed so hard reading a book in a long time. I wondered how she could come up with many of the things her character Moxie gets into. The mind of a humor/comedy writer astounds me, and I can’t wait to learn more about the writing process from Z. B. Heller.
Tell us a little bit about Moxie.
Moxie evolved over time. She started as a sweet girl who worked at a coffee shop. But then my personality got involved and she quickly developed into a version of me. Moxie is a sarcastic, size 16, redheaded whippersnapper. Do they still say that? She definitely walks to the beat of her own drummer. Actually, it’s more like a punk rock band than a drummer.
Before you wrote The Chronicles of Moxie, did you know going into the book that humor would be such a huge part or did it just come out as you wrote?
I didn’t think that humor would be part of it in the beginning. I knew it would be lighthearted and romantic, but humor plays such a big part of my own life that it’s almost impossible for it NOT to be there.
What elements of writing humor do you think are essential when writing?
Authors write humor in different ways. My sense of humor is more dry, sarcastic, and slapstick. I’m a grown woman, and I think that fart jokes are still funny. What other mothers do you know who have a fart app on their phone so my son and I can laugh for hours. But my brand of humor isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. You just can’t be afraid to write what feels good for you. You’re not going to please everyone. Trust me, I have thousands of dollars worth of therapy that has taught me that.
What inspires you? Books, movies, actors, people, family?
Many different things inspire me. Funny women inspire me, like Melissa McCarthy. I love her because she doesn’t need to try to be funny, she just is. One of my favorite scenes in the movie Bridesmaids was that Melissa’s character was wearing a random hand brace. They never explained why, but it was there, and I thought that was hysterical.
My family also inspires me in different ways. My husband was reading my book and was like, “Hey, this is my saying.” Well duh, I’ve been married to him for 10 years.
If you can compare your writing to anything, what would it be?
A really great poop (see fart humor). Seriously, it is. It might stinks sometimes. But when you’re done, you feel this amazement sense of accomplishment. Like, wow! I did that.
In The Chronicles of Moxie, there are some very farfetched scenes for the sake of the comedic vibe, which is a given in this genre. Have you found that your readers understand that or have a hard time reading over-the-top humor when it’s set against, say, a romance or women’s lit?
True, there are some crazy scenes, but it’s how it all plays out in my head. Sort of my interpretation of life. I’ve done a lot of reading and have read some really angsty books. Plus, there is a lot of crap that life throws at people and sometimes people just want to laugh, even if it’s over the top. Think of clowns…even though they are scary as hell, they still do crap that’s over the top for a laugh.
What do you have coming up next?
I’m currently writing Moxie 2 and a Moxie Halloween novella that will go into an anthology with some amazing other authors.
Lastly, I have asked some of fellow Divas this in other interviews: Moxie walks into a bar, what happens next?
Moxie walks into a bar and orders a cosmopolitan with her best friend Renee. After a few too many, Moxie calls her dad, puts him on speaker, and goes to the karaoke mic to sing Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach.
What does Z.B do do?
Leaves. I hate bars.
About The Author
As a little girl it was always a dream for Z. B. Heller to become She-Ra Princess of Power. Since this dream was unobtainable, she spent what was probably way to long in college trying to “find herself”. Becoming an artist scratched the creative itch until the stories in her head were getting to be to loud for her to get anything else accomplished. She lives in St. Louis with her husband, son, and Flemish giant rabbit Chloe. In her spare time she likes to read, stalk celebrities on Twitter, and create the type of art that people scratch their heads about.
The Chronicles of Moxie is Z. B. Heller’s debut novel.