Heather Macht is the author of THE ANT FARM ESCAPE! (Pelican, 2019), REX THE…WE-DON’T-KNOW (Pelican, 2019) and YOU MAY JUST BE A DINOSAUR (Pelican, 2015). Macht has a degree in Fine Arts, is an active member of the SCBWI, and is the Assistant Administrator, the Newsletter Coordinator, and a volunteer judge for Rate Your Story. She loves spending her Saturday’s in bookstores or in libraries with friends. Macht’s happily married and currently resides in Florida next door to a quiet beach. When she’s not writing, Macht enjoys painting, reading poetry, and watching scary movies with her husband and children.
For what age audience do you write?
Thanks so much for having me! I mainly write picture books for children, ages 3-8. Two of my picture books, YOU MAY JUST BE A DINOSAUR and THE ANT FARM ESCAPE! are also STEM book with fun science facts woven in. The best part about that is I’ve even had some adults come up to me and tell me how they learned something new from reading my books. Mission accomplished!
Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book, THE ANT FARM ESCAPE!, follows a group of worker ants who, unbeknownst to them at first, are trapped inside a young girl’s ant farm. After digging tunnels and setting up a home, these tough ants soon devise a new plan to break free and head outdoors! Also, a lot of people don’t know that worker ants (the ants that do all the tough work, food-finding, and heavy lifting in an ant colony) are ALL female! The Ant Farm Escape! is filled with STEM facts about ants and shines a positive light on that fact, showing young readers just how tough girl power truly is.
Henry: Do the male ants just hang out and eat snacks?
What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?
I hope readers have a lot of fun reading it – that’s always the most important thing to me, and what I always take to mind first, when writing a new book. The book has a lot of humor and fun scenes throughout, so it should bring giggles and smiles to the faces of its readers! Also, I hope everyone reading learns a lot more about this amazing matriarchal species – I’ve learned a lot myself when researching about ants and writing this book.
Henry: I’m filled with ANTicipation!
What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?
For my STEM books, it’s most challenging finding a completely original and clever way to “trick” my readers into having fun. I first want to make sure I’m telling an interesting story that would stand alone without STEM facts. Once I have that down, then I start adding the STEM facts that tie in with the story. While it’s definitely challenging making sure everything is original and matches up appropriately, it’s definitely rewarding.
Henry: YES! Fiction is the melted cheese to nonfiction’s broccoli.
What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?
Not giving up. I’ve had tons of rejections (hundreds) that span across the course of 18 years! It takes a lot to dust yourself off an keep going after being told “NO” that many times. Here’s something to keep in mind: if you get a rejection it doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer, it doesn’t mean your idea is lousy, a lot of times it just means you may not have found the right agent, publisher, or market for your story. Keep trying!
What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?
I will never forget this moment: I was at an event, selling books, and a young girl stood in line waiting patiently for me to get done talking with the adult in front of her. When he finished and left, I started talking to the young girl. To my surprise she told me she already had my book, YOU MAY JUST BE A DINOSAUR – it was her favorite, in fact! She said she went to my book launch party, wanted to tell me how much she loves my book, and how she wants to be a paleontologist when she grows up.
Feedback like that means the world to me. I may not be on the “bestsellers” list, but that’s just as good in my book!
Henry: Exactly. It’s not like we’re doing it for fame and fortune.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
I wish I would have known about critique groups when first starting out. If you’re an aspiring author, and don’t have a critique group, GET ONE! I’m currently a part of two amazing critique groups, and they are so beneficial in helping me get my manuscripts in perfect shape before submitting.
Do you have any favorite quotes?
Yes, I live in poems! One of my favorite quotes is the ENTIRE poem: Listen to the MUSTN’TS by Shel Silverstein:
Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WONT’S
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me-
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be
And, since I’m an art major, I’ll quote my favorite artist while I’m at it:
For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.
-Vincent Van Gogh
Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you work?
Does shoosh-ing my kids and husband count? 😉
Henry: The judges rule yes, yes it does.
In all seriousness, before I start a new book I like to spend an hour or so reading books. They could be my favorite picture books or new ones in the bookstore, but I look for inspiration first in the existing…then new inspiration usually flows.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
My superpower would be to NOT be afraid of dangerous sea creatures. Seriously, I love the idea of swimming in the ocean…but I loathe the idea of being surrounded by creatures that could bite me. So, yeah, swimming in the ocean is sadly a NO from me.
Henry: I can’t imagine why.
If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?
I would love to have Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson, and Shel Silverstein over for dinner. Could you imagine the poetry they’d recite?
What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?
I’d have to say Maurice Sendak’s Wild Things. How amazing would it be to spend a night causing a ruckus with them?
Henry: Best. Answer. Ever.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I really enjoy cooking super-spicy pad thai, baking rum cakes, watching scary movies with my husband and kids, and looking for seashells on the beach.
Henry: Do you like drinking pina coladas and getting caught in the rain?
What would you like it to say on your tombstone?
Ha, I’d love it to read: “Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me.” I mean, of course I’d want an Emily Dickinson poem on my tombstone!
Where can readers find your work?
My books are available in brick and mortar stores, libraries, on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com, and on my website at http://www.heathermacht.com. Thanks so much for having me!
Henry: Thanks for visiting with us, Heather.
January 27, 2019 at 1:50 pm
I didn’t know that all the worker ants are FEMALE! No wonder the work gets done! 🙂
January 28, 2019 at 5:01 pm
Ha, I absolutely love this comment! Thanks for reading and stopping by, Virginia! 🙂
January 29, 2019 at 7:59 am
Great interview. Thanks for sharing!