Children: one son. Education: University of North Texas (M.L.I.S.).
Home—TX. E-mail—[email protected]
Novelist, reviewer, and other of short fiction. Instructor in writing on the college level; yoga teacher.
(With Brad Barkley) Teddy Award for middle-grade/young-adult fiction, Writers' League of Texas, 2006, for Scrambled Eggs at Midnight.
(With Brad Barkley) Scrambled Eggs at Midnight, Dutton (New York, NY), 2006.
(With Brad Barkley) Dream Factory, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor of reviews to periodicals, including Voice of Youth Advocates, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and New York Times Book Review. Contributor of short fiction to Southwest Review.
Heather Hepler shares the literary limelight with fellow author Brad Barkley as coauthor of the young-adult novels Scrambled Eggs at Midnight and Dream Factory. In addition to fiction-writing, the Texas-based writer also works as a book reviewer for several major periodicals, including the New York Times Book Review, and she teaches writing courses on the college level.
Hepler met Barkley, a fellow writer and writing instructor, while attending a writing workshop Barkley was teaching. As Barkley recalled to Cynthia Leitich Smith on Cynsations online, "Mostly it started as a kind of game … novel ping-pong, I guess, just bouncing the chapters back and forth." The novel started in Hepler's court, inspired by a road trip to her sister's home in Austin, Texas. "After writing about half of the first chapter … I called Brad and asked if he would help me a bit," she explained in the same interview. "I mean, a novel is a lot to take in. We started talking, and somehow the idea of co-writing was brought up. It started out as an experiment of sorts … just a game to keep both of us writing. It wasn't until we got about halfway in that we realized that we might just have a book. We actually finished writing it in six weeks. We ended up selling it to Dutton about a month after that."
In Scrambled Eggs at Midnight Hepler and Barkley introduce readers to fifteen-year-old Calliope—nicknamed Cal—who is frustrated by the peripatetic life dictated by her hippy mom's passion for Renaissance faires. Currently living in a tent pitched in Asheville, North Carolina, while her mom sells handmade jewelry and performs a costumed role at a faire, Cal meets up with Elliot, a local Ashville teen, at a local bookstore. Elliot has had a similarly unconventional upbringing due to his born-again Christian father's evangelical tendencies and his decision to open a summer camp for overweight Christian children. Although his day-to-day life is more stable, Elliot realizes that the romance that quickly develops between him and Cal will either grow or be quashed based on his father's unpredictable dictum. As the relationship grows stronger, Cal's mother grows restless and Elliot's dad waxes disapproving. Fortunately, other forces at work may help grant Cal her
wish: to stay near Elliot and also remain in Asheville where she can enjoy the day-to-day sameness of a typical American life.
Dubbing Scrambled Eggs at Midnight a "tender, quirky romance," a Publishers Weekly contributor went on to note that, despite the somewhat idealized storyline, "the intensity of the … emotions" of both Cal and Elliot seem "authentic." In Booklist Gillian Engberg praised Hepler and Barkley's use of alternating chapters, writing that, as "narrated in Cal and Elliot's hilarious, heart-tugging voices," their "potentially routine summer romance" is transformed "into a refreshing, poetic, memorable" tale. "YAs who enjoy love stories that are more than entertaining fluff will appreciate" Scrambled Eggs at Midnight, noted Claire Rosser in Kliatt, the critic adding that the coauthors imbue their fiction with a "sense of place in the mountains of North Carolina" that makes the region "vividly real." In Kirkus Reviews, a critic concluded that Scrambled Eggs at Midnight rewards teens with "better writing than that offered in most teen romances."
Discussing the inspiration for Scrambled Eggs at Midnight, Hepler noted on her home page: "I wanted to write a smart book about falling in love and by smart I don't mean ‘thinky.’ I mean a book that explores what love can be like when you just let yourself fall. When you just forget about getting hurt or being cool or acting aloof. When you stop trying to figure it all out in your head and you just let your heart take over and lead you. I wanted to write the book that I wanted to read when I was in junior high and high school."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, June 1, 2006, Gillian Engberg, review of Scrambled Eggs at Midnight, p. 56.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 2006, review of Scrambled Eggs at Midnight, p. 439.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2006, review of Scrambled Eggs at Midnight, p. 453.
Kliatt, May, 2006, Claire Rosser, review of Scrambled Eggs at Midnight, p. 347.
Publishers Weekly, June 19, 2006, review of Scrambled Eggs at Midnight, p. 64.
Cynsations Web site,http://cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com. (April 26, 2006), Cynthia Leitich Smith, interview with Hepler and Brad Barkley.
Heather Hepler and Brad Barkley Home Page,http://www.bradheather.com (March 15, 2007).