Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Serious and Smiling Writer

It’s not possible to talk for long with Heidi Willis without realizing she is a serious woman: serious about her life, about her faith and about her art. That seriousness underlies a ready smile and a sparkling wit. Heidi is devoted to her family of husband Todd and their three children and practices a deep and quiet faith that is evident in her writing and in her conversation.  On her Facebook information page, she quoted a sentence from Esther,

Maybe you were put here in this place for such a time as this. (Esther 4:13)

Heidi is passionate about writing. But she keeps it in perspective. Again from Facebook:
A writer. A photographer. A multi-media business owner and creator. And, unbelievably, I've been able to make money at all of them. But mostly, a mom. Which, while I won't earn a cent doing it, is the most important thing I will ever do.

Her Facebook site is a treasure trove of observations, insights, up to the minute reports on the happenings of the day and exchanges with friends. Her blog ( and website ( offer the same depth and sense of energy. She writes about not wanting to write, but write she does and the results are worth anyone’s time and effort to read.

Tempering all that seriousness is a wry sense of humor, evident from the opening sentences of her first book, Some Kind of Normal,  a book with the serious theme of a family struggling with the sudden onset of type I diabetes in their daughter. The narrator opens the book by worrying that she is slowly killing her family with breakfast:

I ain’t one to bash being healthy, but it sure takes the fun out of living. My motivation to be the perfect mom starts about six a.m. when I swing my legs over the bed and ends fifteen minutes later when I stumble into the kitchen to make coffee and figure out what I can cook for breakfast that won’t kill no one. 

That’s the voice of Babs Babcock, central character of the novel and mother to the stricken girl. Heidi has the character and her voice and tone pitch perfect. To my mind, Babs is a ready successor to Huckleberry Finn, a distinctive character a who engages our sympathy and trust.  We grow to love her and her family in the course of the novel. I hope sincerely there will be more stories about Babs and her friends and neighbors
My advice is to get the book, read it, read Heidi’s website and blog and wait with anticipation more stories and writing from this serious and smiling woman.

Heidi  Willis (nee VanBrokehoven)  graduated from Penn State with degrees in Education and Communications. She is currently  an MFA candidate at Pacific University in Oregon.

Her poetry has been published in Ignite Your Faith (formerly Campus Life Magazine) and her debut novel,  Some Kind of Normal, was published by NorLights Press in 2009.

She also takes amazingly beautiful photographs. Indeed she has been put here in this place for a time such as this, and we are all better off for all that.


  1. I ADORE Heidi!!!!!

    One of my FAVORITE, FAVORITE people ever :D

    WHEN we finally get a chance to meet face to face, we're going to have to set aside a serious amount of time because I don't think her and I would be able to stop talking once we start.

  2. She is a total sweetheart, a devoted Christian, a loving mother and wife and an incredible writer. Her whole family is much like her, not surprisingly. Are you a writer, Jolene?