Author Theresa Halvorsen describes herself as an overly-caffeinated author of nonfiction and speculative fiction works. She lives in San Diego and is a podcaster for Semi-Sages of the Pages. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.
Hi everyone! My name is Theresa Halvorsen and I’m the author of Warehouse Dreams and the Dad’s Playbook to Labor and Birth. In addition to my day job in healthcare, I’m also a podcaster for Semi-Sages of the Pages. Semi-Sages of the Pages is a podcast for writers, from four female speculative fiction writers who are just starting out in our writing journeys. I’m usually over caffeinated, and enjoy big glasses of wine in the evenings. A mother, a wife and a pet-parent, I live in Southern California, in Temecula wine country. I enjoy all things geeky and have attended comic-con for many years, 2020 would’ve been my tenth year. I can quote Princess Bride, Star Wars and Firefly like there’s no tomorrow (and heck, it’s 2020, there might not be a tomorrow). Finally, I enjoy reading spec fiction, helping other writers, and playing complex board games with my friends and family.
When and why did you begin writing?
I can’t remember not writing, or at least not making up stories in my head. My first story, when I was about six, was about a princess whose plane crashed. Luckily, she could talk to animals and after a few scary moments, she made it out of a forest alive. As you can tell, I watched a lot of Disney. About two years ago, I made a commitment to myself that if I wanted to be a writer, wanted to make a living at it, then I had to truly try. I couldn’t wait for “some day”. And so I now plan out my writing time and projects. I’ve had to give up a lot of my free-time but I’m much happier than I’ve been in a very long time.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I believe if you write, you can call yourself a writer. But if people ask me what I do, I rarely say writer. This is an interesting conundrum I probably should reflect on.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
Warehouse Dreams, which came out in July 2020, is a unique story about the faculty at a school for telepaths and psychokinetics. It follows Kendle, an admin assistant, holding the underfunded school together with her blood, sweat and tears. A flawed character, she will do anything, including risk getting fired from the job she adores, to protect her students from a world that doesn’t want them. The addition of a new telepathy teacher doesn’t make this year any easier for Kendle either. A soft sci-fi romance, the reviews have been phenomenal.
What inspired you to write this book?
Warehouse Dreams definitely has echoes of real societal problems within. When I was writing it, I looked around at many of the things we’re dealing with, put a sci-fi spin on it, and tucked it into the story.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I am a very direct and dialogue heavy writer. I always start with the dialogue and my beta readers always comment on how strong and unique my dialogue is. I have to go back and build in the little details that so many other writers start with. I write in the first person because I enjoy digging deeply into a character’s thoughts and emotions. I also love the challenge behind first person; I, as the author, know what my other characters are thinking and feeling, but my main character doesn’t, so I have to figure out how to share that. If you get a chance to read Warehouse Dreams, the fundraising scene is a perfect example of this. There’s a lot of subtexts going on in that scene, that Kendle really doesn’t pick up on because she’s too caught up in her own drama. To me, first person point of view is very real, because our lives are all in first person.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
Oh goodness, I’m terrible with titles. Warehouse Dreams is set at a school built into a series of abandoned Warehouses, hence the Warehouse part. And without giving away a spoiler, I’ll say that dreams play an important part of the story.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Oh wow, Warehouse Dreams has a lot of messages. Primarily it’s asking the question of what happens when society determines it doesn’t want to deal with and are ultimately afraid of certain members of that society. In addition, there’s themes around the ethics of genetic manipulation of our children, but only for the rich. The sequel explores the second theme more.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
That’s a good question–Kendle does have some challenges with anxiety and I drew on some of my own experiences with anxiety when writing. And while I hate to admit it, I’m not actually a telepath or psychokinetic, though sometimes it would be nice to be one.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
I have a great deal of affection for Stephen King; I loved his book On Writing and often quote it to other writers. For me personally, I agree with Stephen King’s thoughts on the necessity of writing every day and reading a lot. I also find my style of writing is similar to Jodi Taylor’s and try to inject the humor, sarcasm and character building that she does so well into my stories.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
I’m lucky to be published with a small press publisher, S&H Publishing, who used their own graphic designer. However, this cover went through a few drafts. I wanted the background to be dark, because Warehouse Dreams is a dark story. I wanted the Warehouse to be a part of the cover, but I also wanted the hummingbird on the cover. Throughout Warehouse Dreams, the hummingbird is a theme and a moment of hope when the future is often very bleak and heavy for my characters.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
If you write, you are a writer. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.
Read a lot. Read things you wouldn’t normally read and then pull the stories apart to find out what you like and don’t like about them.
It’s ok if your first, tenth or fiftieth drafts suck. Just keep switching out words until you’re happy. And it will take a lot of switching until you are, most of the time. That’s normal.
Learn what to take and what to leave behind when receiving constructive feedback. And yes, you do need constructive feedback on your writing for it to get better.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Ummmm…buy Warehouse Dreams? Listen to my podcast, Semi-Sages of the Pages? Connect with me on social media–I love talking books and writing to anyone who will listen to me and I LOVE meeting other people.
Publisher: S&H Publishing
3 thoughts on “Author Interview: Theresa Halvorsen”
Good interview. Interesting about the messages in Warehouse Dreams. I do wonder about genetic manipulation being abused by the nefarious rather than used for healing.
Totally agree that genetic manipulation might be abused. It also brings up the question of perfection and parental expectations. Imagine if we could choose our children’s genetic code, for the right price. Imagine those parental expectations–“I paid for you to be perfect! Why aren’t you perfect. What’s wrong with you?”
A great interview! Thank you to all involved. I’m wondering what your editorial process was like, both early on and with your publisher?