Interview with Chuck Wendig

wendigphotoChuck Wendig is the author of many books including the Heartland Trilogy, the Mookie Pearl series and the Miriam Black series. He’s also a screenwriter and game designer, as well as the Taco Pastor of the Holy Taco Church.  You can find him online at, where he writes fantastic advice for authors.

Shauna Kosoris: Your Heartland Trilogy is your first foray into young adult books.  What inspired you to write this series?

Chuck Wendig: A great many things conspired to create this book. When I found out my wife was pregnant, I thought, okay, I’d better write a book that my son can at least read before he’s 37 (my other books put the ‘adult’ in ‘adult fiction’). And I was also driven by all these ideas surrounding corn and GMOs and global warming and suddenly, I had this story bloom in my head — I wrote the first draft of the first book in the month before my son was born. (Though it took me almost a year to get the final draft just right.)

SK: Why mutant corn and hobos?

CW: The book is a far-flung future but takes some of its aesthetic from the dust bowl 1930s, so that’s where the hobo thing comes in. As for corn — well, have you driven across America lately? It’s corn, far as the eye can see. Actually, you don’t need to drive too far — a great many of our processed foods contain corn in a variety of guises.

SK: The second book of the trilogy, Blightborn, just came out in July.  What can you tell me about it?

CW: The second book has our characters heading out across the Heartland in search of a way to get onto one of the flotillas to find Cael’s sister, Merelda, and one of their crew-mates, Gwennie. But then we also get the POV of Gwennie and Merelda, who have gotten into quite a bit of trouble on their own. Blightborn opens up the skies and shows us more of the world — not just of the Heartland, but we also get a glimpse of what lurks beyond.

SK: Will Blightborn be split into multiple narratives (following say Cael, Gwennie, and Pop)?  

CW: Yes! It follows Cael and Gwennie, predominantly, but a lot of the characters get POV chapters (Lane, Rigo, Merelda). I will say that Pop is conspicuously absent from this one, but his actions remain felt just the same.

SK: Under the Empyrean Sky focused on the Heartland.  Will we get to see more of the world (outside of the Heartland) in Blightborn?

CW: We will! In the skies and beyond them. We spend a lot of time with the Empyrean, but we also learn what is outside the Heartland’s borders.

SK: How exciting!  So what was the hardest part of writing Blightborn?

CW: I might be cursing myself here, but this book was very easy to write. It flowed from the first word. That said, the one difficulty was just that it ended up a much bigger book than I thought it was going to be!

SK: Hopefully you’re not!  Especially since you’re such a prolific author.  Speaking of which, I see you’ve got several books coming out in 2015 (notably the second Mookie Pearl book The Hellsblood Bride, and Zeroes).  What are you most excited for?

CW: I think I’m supposed to say that I love all my books equally. But I am very excited that my YA anti-heroine, Atlanta Burns, is getting her first proper release!

SK: Can you tell me a little about her?

CW: Sure! Atlanta Burns is about the titular character — a sort of Nancy Drew on Adderall who investigates a friend’s murder by cutting open her town’s criminal underbelly to see what spills out. She’s a Southern girl transplanted to the middle of meth-addled Pennsyltucky, so she’s always something of a broken thumb. Lots of fun to write. A little bit Veronica Mars.

SK: She sounds like a lot of fun!  Other than novels, you’ve also worked on short fiction, games, comics, and film.  What’s it like working in all of these different media?

CW: Freeing in a lot of ways. Fun to explore different ways to tell stories — and that, ultimately, is the key. Despite different formats, you start to see that there’s a weird Matrix code behind it all: the programming language of story itself.

SK: Do you have a favourite medium to work in?

CW: Novels are my one true love.

SK: What are you working on now?

CW: I just finished up the first draft of the third Heartland book (The Harvest), and am now halfway through Zeroes.

SK: Your blog ( has some excellent advice for writers.  What made you start blogging all this advice?

CW: Mostly it was me yelling at me about me! Eventually, other writers started to listen in.

SK: I have to ask: how exactly did you become the “Taco Pastor, Priest of Pineapple Parish” of the Holy Taco Church?

CW: I was ordained, of course. I was made delicious in the grill-fires of the taco furnace by Tacopope Picante I, aka, Kevin Hearne, author of the Iron Druid series.

SK: What are the duties of a Taco Pastor?

CW: To make sure the world is delicious. Also, to write drunken, rambling recipes at the Holy Taco Church website.

SK: What’s your favourite taco recipe?

CW: Why, it’s Tacos al Pastor, of course. Get it? Taco Pastor? Pastor Tacos? *elbow elbow*

SK:  To finish up, I’d like to ask you a few questions about reading.  What book or author inspired you to write?

CW: No one book — we are a summation of all the books we’ve loved, as writers. But one book really pushed me over that line, and it was Boys Life, by Robert McCammon.

SK: Is there a book or author that you think everyone should read?


*insert sinister laugh*

Umm. I mean, what? I didn’t say anything.

I don’t think there’s any one book essential for everyone to read. The only essential is that we read something.

SK: That’s fair.  So what are you currently reading?

CW: I just finished Cherie Priest’s Lizzie Borden novel, Maplecroft. It is truly the dark fantastic. Sharp as the axe Lizzie Borden wields.


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