Saturday, September 15, 2018

0 Christian McKay Heidicker, author of ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WALLFLOWER, on allowing yourself to screw it up the first time

We're thrilled to have Christian McKay Heidicker stop by to tell us more about his latest novel, ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WALLFLOWER.

Christian, what was your inspiration for writing ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WALLFLOWER?

Ummmumumum . . . I wanted to write about a world where vampires and giant insects and flying saucers are everyday occurrences. I wrote an absolutely bonkers novel called World War Whatever, and my agent told me to dial it back a bit. I just happened to be reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (which is spectacular, btw), and I realized that a bonkers backdrop would be a lot more intriguing if there were a more heartfelt mother/daughter story in the forefront. Aaaaaaaaaaand here we are.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

There’s a movie montage-esque chapter where it bounces between three different sequences, interspersed with lyrics from Rockin’ Robin. It was a tough balance to strike (there are no dialogue tags or anything), but once I had it, it really leapt off the page. (That’s what my girlfriend said, at least.) I’m a little sad because the original lyrics were from Doris Day’s A Guy Is a Guy (the creepiest song of all time), but I couldn’t secure the rights. 😟

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

Ooh! Um . . . Grasshopper Jungle maybe? I read that shortly after I’d written the first draft of Wallflower and adored it. Andrew Smith masterfully captures a real experience within a bonkers sci-fi story. My instinct is to also recommend the movies that inspired my book, like THEM! and THE BAD SEED, the main character of which I boosted straight from the text and put in Wallflower.

What do you hope readers will take away from ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WALLFLOWER?

A beginning understanding of the male gaze and how it affects our society. Also how to best fight an army of a thousand bus-sized ants.

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

There have been many aha moments, but one of my favorites is realizing that I can allow myself to really screw it up the first time around. There’s a lot of pressure to get the words exactly right, as if the reader is going to read the first thing you type. And they’re not! You’re going to be able to go over the work dozens more times. You can cut anything (or everything) and punch up the scenes that are dragging. I’ll probably do a couple drafts of these interview questions too.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc.?

I’m all over the bloody map. Sometimes I write at home. Sometimes at Noir Coffee around the corner. I almost always listen to music (Animal Collective, Dan Deacon, Andrew Bird, Joanna Newsom, 50s music, etc.), unless I’m really in it and don’t realize the album has ended.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Familiar words in a familiar order are boring. Unfamiliar words in an unfamiliar order are tiresome. But familiar words in an unfamiliar order are exciting.

What are you working on now?

I just turned in my final draft of Scary Stories for Young Foxes, which is a retelling of classic horror tales through the eyes of two very real fox kits. A rabies outbreak is a zombie story. A woman who taxidermies foxes is a witch story. And a white-furred thing that is camouflaged by snowdrifts and kidnaps fox kits out of their den is a ghost story. The book is out next summer, and in my humble opinion, it’s the best thing I’ve written.


Attack of the 50 Foot Wallflower
by Christian McKay Heidicker
Simon & Schuster Books for You
Released 9/11/2018

Phoebe Lane is a lightning rod for monsters.

She and her mom are forced to flee flesh-eating plants, blobs from outer space, and radioactive ants. They survive thanks to Phoebe’s dad—an invisible titan, whose giant eyes warn them where the next monster attack will take place.

All Phoebe wants is to stop running from motel to motel and start living a monster-free life in New York or Paris. But when her mom mysteriously vanishes, Phoebe is left to fend for herself in small-town Pennybrooke.

That's when Phoebe starts to transform…

Purchase Attack of the 50 Foot Wallflower at Amazon
Purchase Attack of the 50 Foot Wallflower at IndieBound
View Attack of the 50 Foot Wallflower on Goodreads


Christian McKay Heidicker watched a lot of TV as a kid. (Probably too much.) It disturbs/enthralls him to think that the characters he was watching were sentient. (They probably were.) Attack of the 50 Foot Wallflower is his second novel. His first novel, Cure for the Common Universe, was about how he plays too many video games. Learn more at


Have you had a chance to read ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WALLFLOWER yet? Are you able to let go of the pressure to get the words right the first time? Have you tried writing familiar words in an unfamiliar order? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Jocelyn, Halli, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann

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