Book Giveaway & Author Interview: Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley

Welcome to Author Gwendolyn Heasley.  Gwendolyn’s debut novel Where I Belong gets released tomorrow!


Gwendolyn Heasley is a graduate of Davidson College and the University of Missouri-Columbia where she earned her master’s degree in journalism. When she was a little girl, she desperately wanted to be the next Ann M. Martin- the author of the beloved The Baby-Sitter’s Club series. She’s incredibly grateful that the recession rendered her unemployed and made her chase her nearly forgotten dream. She lives in New York City, teaches college and eats entirely too much mac and cheese for an adult. She’s also currently at work on a second novel for Harper Collins.


What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
I spent a lot of time in the Midwest where Dairy Queens are cornerstones of many towns! My favorite ice cream is a Blizzard with chocolate ice cream and Reese’s cups. There are no Dairy Queens in Manhattan, and I must say that makes me sad. Isn’t New York supposed to everything?

In WHERE I BELONG, Sonic Drive-In plays a large role as a setting, so I’d say a Sonic Blast is another favorite too.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
WHERE I BELONG explores serious issues like what is truly valuable in life and what makes a family, but the novel does it in a light, comedic, and heartfelt way.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I am working on another book for HarperCollins, which is much more serious. And I am hoping that there will be a sequel (or spin-off) of WHERE I BELONG!

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
My first fan letter. An eighth grader had to write to an author as a school project, and she was in shock when I wrote her back. The part I loved most about her letter was that she related to Corrinne and her situation even though she lives in Ohio and initially didn’t like Corrinne. And she told me that her best friend is just like Kitsy and gets super excited. The letter read beautifully and had a lot of heart. It’s currently (and permanently) taped above my desk. I cherish it.

What is your dream cast for your book?
Newcomer Hailee Steinfeld who just starred in TRUE GRIT would make a fantastic Corrinne because she has a lot of spunk and is clearly an extremely talented actress. I love Taylor Swift and think she’d make a great Kitsy because she has the same enthusiasm as Kitsy. I think Britt Robertson from the fabulous CW show LIFE UNEXPECTED would make a great Waverly because I think she’s great in everything.

As for the boys, I think Zac Ephron would make a great Rider since he can sing and has the whole hipster look going. For Bubby, I would go with a total unknown because I love when movies try something new.

As for the adults, I love Laura Hutton and she is just about the age of Corrinne’s Grandma and Harrison Ford would be a great old and dashing Grandpa for Corrinne!

You said dream cast, right?

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Write for yourself and not the market. I know a lot of people give that advice, but I think it’s true. Your writing voice will shine through the best when you write what you want to write.

If you could choose only one time period and place to live, when and where would you live and why?
I love living now. The internet provides amazing access to information and communities beyond our own. Of course, technology has its ills too, but I think we live in a wonderful, exciting time even if it is a scary time too.

What is your favorite Quote?
This is my current favorite quote. “There are only four colors, ten digits, and seven notes; it’s what you do with them that’s important.” – Ruth Ross

When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
How did you know you should become an author?
As a kid, I knew that I wanted to be an author and I would tell anyone that asked. But as I got older, I thought saying “I want to be author” was a ridiculous, egotistical statement. Why me? Why should I get to be an author?

So I wrote WHERE I BELONG for myself with no intention of becoming “an author.” After I finished, I sent it off on a whim and I am very fortunate HarperCollins took it on and nurtured it. In retrospect, I should have always followed my dream and have been proud of it. No one should be ashamed to want to be something even if it’s a hard pursuit.

Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
I can’t say that there aren’t tiny threads of Corrinne in me, but there are also threads of Kitsy and other characters. I must say that the recession taught me to be more appreciative and focus on the nonmaterial. Corrinne also learned this as well, so we went on a similar journey but we started and ended at different points.

What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had?
I’d love to learn screenplays! That might not be crazy, but I would love to work as a writer in as many mediums as possible. I love books, but I also love TV and movies.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
I learned my best advice from a magnet. “Let go or be dragged.”

How do you react to a bad review?
I read every review that I can because I think that they’ll help me learn. I might not agree with 90% of what someone writes, but I try to look for the 10% that will help me learn.

My biggest issue with some reviews is that they don’t like Corrinne. Why should novels only be about people that are likeable? Aren’t we sometimes our own villains?

Which authors have influenced you most how?
Ann M. Martin of The Baby-Sitter’s Club series has most influenced my passion for reading and my desire to be a YA author. Her characters were some of my favorite childhood friends, and I owe her for inspiring me to read late into the night and wait at the bookstore for the next month’s book. She gave me not only a passion but also a career.

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
For the February 8th release, I have several friends coming from all over the country to support me. There is no better way to celebrate the book’s release than to be among my loved ones.

Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley:

Meet Corrinne. She’s living every girl’s dream in New York City—shopping sprees at Barneys, open access to the best clubs and parties, and her own horse at the country club. Her perfect life is perfectly on track. At least it was. . . .

When Corrinne’s father is laid off, her world suddenly falls apart. Instead of heading to boarding school, she’s stripped of her credit cards and shipped off to the boonies of Texas to live with her grandparents. On her own in a big public school and forced to take a job shoveling manure, Corrinne is determined to get back to the life she’s supposed to be living. She doesn’t care who she stomps on in the process. But when Corrinne makes an unlikely friend and discovers a total hottie at work, she begins to wonder if her life B.R.—before the recession—was as perfect as it seemed.

I’ve got a copy of Where I Belong for Giveaway. My review of the book is HERE.

Giveaway Details:
Open to US only
Ends 3/7/11