Heather Siegel is the author of the award-winning memoir, Out From the Underworld (Greenpoint Press, 2015). Her creative nonfiction and personal essays have appeared on Salon.com and in literary magazines such as The Flexible Persona and Thread, as well as on popular parenting and relationship websites such as ScaryMommy and Motherly. Most recently, her speculative YA novel-in-progress was given an honorable mention in The 2017 Leapfrog Press Fiction Award, and her newest memoir about love, marriage, domesticity and feminism, The King & The Quirky, to be published by Regal House Publishing, was named a Semifinalist in the Kore Press 2018 Memoir Award, judged by Cheryl Strayed. She holds an MFA from The New School University, and teaches creative and academic writing at local colleges and in continuing-education programs on Long Island, where she lives with her family.
Heather’s passion for creative nonfiction began at the library in her early teens when she stumbled upon texts that would light a pathway out from her dark and absurd childhood. Richard Wright, James Baldwin and Elie Weisel were some of the earliest voices that spoke to her, offering perspective about her own struggles, which didn’t seem so bad by comparison.
“George Orwell taught me that with the right distance, you can recount even horrific experiences with brio. Mary McCarthy exemplified a wit, authority—and vocabulary– I could only hope to attain one day. I might go so far as to say that many of these authors became my guides and therapists, if not my deities, urging me to get an education and to keep learning and growing. The problem, of course, with having authors for mentors, is that they don’t help pay your rent. So, it would take a few decades of living and working before I could consider picking up my own pen to write about my own experiences. When I was finally ready, these authors, and many others, would morph into my craft teachers.”
Eventually “living and working” would also serve as source material for Heather to write creative nonfiction, as would her ability find high drama in the mundane. “Maybe because in so many situations, I have felt like an outsider looking in, I tend to observe– and to see us all as play actors in this shared movie. I see myself, too, as a character. And I like to listen– to dialogue, subtext, accents, to the tics that make us who we are. I’m also curious and ask lots of questions—which, for me, has always been at the core of creative nonfiction.”
Do our childhood selves always inform who we are as adults? Can you be a stay-at-home mother and still be a feminist? Does the word “soulmate” actually have many meanings? Should we believe in the “true love” narrative? These are just some of the questions Heather asks in her new memoir, The King & The Quirky, being published by Regal House Publishing in 2020.
Stay tuned for the answers.