Utah author Heather Ostler has had a busy week. She's been cheerfully rounding the media circuit promoting her novel The Siren's Secret, a continuation of The Shapeshifter's Secret and second in the series, of which she is currently penning the third.
Ostler's young adult fantasy novels feature teenage heroine Princess Julia, a girl-to-white-tiger shapeshifter, on a fantastic journey of self-discovery: learning about love, loyalty and living dual lives. In the most recent installment, Julia's relationships continue to be challenged as she learns she is a siren, on top of her already complex life as werecat, royal heir and (the sometimes even more complicated role) girlfriend.
Ostler’s characters emerge from all different parts of her life, from dreams to imagination and even compilations of people she knows in her life. She jokes with her friends, “Be careful! You might be a villain in my next book.”
In writing, Ostler’s protagonist Julia has been a steadfast companion since the eighth grade, when she started featuring the Princess in short stories or sketched what she imagined to be her likeness.
Before junior high, Ostler didn't like to read at all. In fact, she wasn't even a good student. “But when I started reading, my grades improved immediately, and my imagination took to new heights, ” she says. She published her first poem while still in the ninth grade.
When she had fixed her mind on becoming a professional writer, she was afraid of what her father’s reaction would be, imagining he would want her to focus on something more practical, but he told her to go for it. He passed away soon after, but his belief in her inspires Ostler to always push forward when the composing gets tough.
She tells young aspiring writers to find their muse. Her muse? She says rainy days get her mind turning and the creative juices flowing. Also, while watching movies with constructs of different worlds, she will envision different outcomes to plotlines, or she will ask herself “What if you were rooting for the villain?”
These kinds of mind games really allow her to stretch the limits of her imagination.
"I love young adult and paranormal, that is my genre," Ostler says of her preferred reading, of which she does a lot. Ella Enchanted, the Newbery Honor-winning modern Cinderella story by Gail Carson Levine is a favorite read. Right now, she is reading City of Bones, the first of five in The Shadowhunter Chronicles by New York Times best selling author Cassandra Clare. “They are very well written and creative,” she says.