Heidi Tankersley, Author and Speaker
Many people strive to find their dream jobs. For Heidi Tankersley, her job literally came about from a vivid dream she had while sleeping. She turned the details of that dream into a sci-fi book, The Mod Code, which is now a three-part series with a fourth on the way. She has also authored an autobiographical wellness book about her personal experience with natural therapy treatment of colitis, and she is currently working on a new young adult fantasy fiction series.
Tankersley has navigated the world of writing, editing and self-publishing her books by trial and error. She says that that finding this career path has taught her something important about herself. “I learned that writing is a really good fit for my personality,” she explains. Because she is motivated by goals and success, she thrives on being able to make decisions and determine how hard to push herself to succeed.
There are a lot of steps in between writing a book and it being ready for public consumption. Tankersley says there are many drafts of each book, and people who give her feedback on each version. Sometimes the feedback comes from editors, and sometimes Tankersley enlists the help of her most honest friends. “You have to have someone who is willing to say it stinks without being worried about hurt feelings,” she says. “It takes a special person for that,” she adds.
As an author, Tankersley knows that she must go through the tedious process of making each draft better than the last, even if that means hearing negative feedback. “I always have the end goal in mind,” she says. Once the book is finished and put out into the world, there is a sense of relief and release of anxiety for her. “Let it be what it is,” she says of the final book release.
Speaking about The Mod Code series, Tankersley explains that writing each book was a different experience for her. The first book took her five years to write, and definitely holds a special place in her heart because of what she learned in the process. The subsequent books came about a little easier due to her already understanding the publishing process. “I couldn’t necessarily say I have a favorite, but they definitely take me back to moments of my own journey,” she says.
Even when writing fiction novels, Tankersley says that it’s impossible to separate yourself from what you write. She says her own thoughts, feelings, and experiences can occasionally be part of the storyline. She has also found that readers can relate more to a very detailed and specific character, versus one that is vague and open to interpretation.
Tankersley’s The Mod Code series is in the sci-fi genre of books geared toward teen readers. The story focuses on a central theme of genetic modification with a conflict between the teen characters and a scientific corporation. While she reflects on the five-year process of writing that first book, she is glad that the experience is faster this time around. She is nearly finished with the first draft of book one of a new fantasy fiction series for teens that has a theme of interplanetary travel. “I’m so excited about it,” she says about working on the new series. “It has really taken me back to what it felt like to start the first series,” she notes.
Tankersley’s path into writing science fiction started with that dream. However, she deliberately chose her next series to fall into the fantasy genre. She describes herself as a deep thinker and quite philosophical. “I wanted to be able to create a way to have those larger discussions with the reader, almost subliminal,” she says.
Sticking with a teen audience was also intentional for Tankersley because she reads a lot of young adult fiction herself. She enjoys the flow and lighter content that young adult books provide. “I don’t like a ton of violence or racy material, so it fits,” she says.
Tankersley has always enjoyed public speaking at schools, events and other group settings because of her extrovert personality. However, she says that writing stories helps her connect with lots of people, too. Her plans for the immediate future include finishing her new book series, and see where her writing career takes her. “In general, when I picture what I want to do, this is it,” she says with a smile.
If she could give advice to someone who has similar career goals, it would be to do work that makes you excited and happy. “You have to write what’s in your heart,” she says.
Heidi Tankersley is an author and motivational speaker based in Northwest Arkansas. Find out more about her backstory at www.heiditankersley.com.