Story Behind the Story: Kat Heckenbach


My writing journey has been less of a path and more of a circle, so starting at the beginning is hard to do. But there is a point on the circle that ties it all together.

In August of 2007, I was talking with my husband, Jeff. I’d been feeling a bit out of sorts, most likely a result of my birthday the previous month. Something about birthdays can make us think about our accomplishments, or in my case, lack of accomplishments. I’d spent most of my youth expecting to be an artist of some sort because I was very talented at drawing, only to end up majoring in biology in college. I got my B.S. in biology, but never put it to use except as a way to get a job teaching math. Then I quit that job after only a year and a half to stay home with my son when he was born, and never went back to work. We now homeschool.

When I see it in print like that, in some ways it feels like quite a lot of accomplishments, but on that day, talking with Jeff, I felt like I’d started a bunch of things that never got finished. I was voicing this to him when he interrupted and said, “If you want to write a book, I’ll be supportive.”

I said, “I never said that.”

He kind of huffed and said, “Yes, you did.”

A bizarre feeling settled in my stomach and I told him I needed to think things over, and headed to Barnes and Noble to browse around. Something stirred in me, something that I’d ignored for twenty years. That day in B&N, I remembered being maybe sixteen, sitting on my bed with a legal pad and a pen, trying to start a novel. I remembered time and time again running my hand down the spine of a book and wishing my name were on it. I remembered stifling all those memories because I didn’t think I had the creativity to write stories.

A few days later, I literally sat down in front of the computer and started typing. I had NO idea what I was going to write about, other than I knew I’d write fantasy because that is my favorite genre. As a kid I wanted so badly to be magic. I pretended all the time that my back yard was an enchanted forest, and that there was a secret passage in my closet. I often carried an old-fashioned candleholder around my house, pretending I was exploring a dark medieval castle. Wait—why did I think I wasn’t creative?

I picked the name Angel (first name that popped into my head) for my main character, a young teen girl who finds out she’s magic. I had no plan of how to get her to that point, but I started typing. To this day, I don’t know where the words came from. But before my eyes, a story started to take shape. Characters entered the set—brothers, foster parents—and a strange beetle that became the clue to Angel’s destiny.

I had five pages, single-spaced, when I finished typing that afternoon. I called my best friend and told her what I’d done. I asked her if I could read it to her.

I was, of course, terrified.

But I was also excited. She said yes, and I read her the whole five pages. When I was done she whispered, “Kat.”


“I have goose bumps.”

There was no turning back. I finished the first draft in three months. Of course, I worked on editing it off and on, well, from that point until just a few months ago. In between each edit, I’ve sent off queries to agents and publishers, but haven’t quite found a home for Finding Angel. A small press called Port Yonder Press did choose it as one of their top five favorites during their Fantasy Month in Oct. 2010, but told me they couldn’t take it on because—only because—it’s Middle Grade and their MG catalog is full.


Thank you, Kat! Visit her website here!

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Community Champion at Buffer ~ writer ~ reader ~ urban homesteader ~ former rodeo queen ~ @nmillerbooks