2K18 Member Spotlight: Heather Ezell
BOOK TITLE: Nothing Left to Burn
RELEASE DATE: March 13, 2018
About NOTHING LEFT TO BURN
The autumn morning after sixteen-year-old Audrey Harper loses her virginity, she wakes to a loud, persistent knocking at her front door. Waiting for her are two firemen, there to let her know that the moment she's been dreading has arrived: the enormous wildfire sweeping through Orange County, California, is now dangerously close to her idyllic gated community of Coto de Caza, and it's time to evacuate.
Over the course of the next twenty-four hours, as Audrey wrestles with the possibility of losing her family home, she also recalls her early, easy summer days with Brooks, the charming, passionate, but troubled volunteer firefighter who enchants Audrey--and who is just as enthralled by her. But as secrets from Brooks's dark past come to light, Audrey can't help but wonder if there's danger in the pull she feels--both toward this boy, and toward the fire burning in the distance.
A Southern California native, Heather Ezell was evacuated for a fire at the age of three and subsequently grew up with an obsessive fear of wildfires. She has been chasing reprieve from California's heat ever since—from the Rocky Mountains to Interior Alaska. Heather graduated from Colorado College with a degree in English literature and creative writing, and she currently lives in the Pacific Northwest where she writes, practices amateur ballet in the forest, and obsesses over the weather.
WHAT INSPIRED YOUR BOOK?
I was born and raised in Southern California, on the border of the Cleveland National Forest, where I grew up associating the first months of the school year with beastly wildfires and the Santa Ana winds. I spent my teens watching fires from my home’s balcony. Frequently braced with the reality that I could lose my home, I developed an obsession with fire and natural disasters. I was compelled to study place and how its atmosphere influences its residents, and how the possibility of losing your home—losing your physical place—transforms our perspectives of our settings, our homes. I recalled the times as a teenager when my home was in danger because of flash floods, wildfires, earthquakes, and how in those micro intense moments when my angst and resentment washed away. Additionally, as is the case in Nothing Left to Burn, often the external dangers rose when my personal life was in sudden upheaval, and that surely fed into the dynamics of the story: how the external and internal so frequently overlap.
Additionally, Audrey, Nothing Left to Burn’s protagonist, initial reliance on her boyfriend as her source of passion and identity (and his feeling the same) came from my own teenage relationship with a boy who postured me as the only thing that could keep him whole. My finally coming to terms with the realities of her relationship fed the core emotional exploration of Nothing Left to Burn.
Ultimately, Nothing Left to Burn became my love letter to Orange County: to the home I’d always resented and worked to escape, to the home that raised me, for better or worse. Perhaps it’s strange for a love letter to include burning the object of affection down, but my hope is that through Audrey’s growth and internalization the affection comes through.
SHOW US SOME PICS OF YOUR FURRY WRITING SIDEKICK, BELLATRIX!
BEST ADVICE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS?
Utilize your grit. Be stubborn. You are your best advocate, from the very first draft to post-publication. Keep writing. Remember why you started writing. Be kind to yourself but, all the while, never stop challenging your craft. Learn the necessity of breaks and stepping away but always stay close enough that you’ll come back. Keep writing. Keep reading. Fight for your time, your work, your dreams and goals.
WHAT DOES FEARLESS MEAN TO YOU?
It goes back to my advice for aspiring writers. Never giving up, advocating for your own work, and simply even writing requires a definite level of fearlessness.
HOW ABOUT SOME TEEN PHOTOS?
WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?
Earthquakes and tsunamis, and my childhood home burning in a wildfire (surely not a surprise)—all primal West Coast native fears, I imagine.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH FEAR IN THE WRITING PROCESS?
Remembering my thirteen-year-old self who started writing with absolutely no fear, with pure intrigue and joy, and a need for a release. Remembering how that first terrible draft slipped out with such ease and exploration—the naivety of what was ahead—the not caring about the potential of publishing (I feel lucky I started writing before Twitter came around!). It’s so key to remind myself of that first experience with writing, of the relief that comes when you allow the pressures of the industry to fall away while you draft. And, when I’m completely stuck on a plot, a character, and fear I’m doomed—after a brief break away—I push into that fear. I keep writing. It always comes back to that: simply write.