Q&A with Heidi McCrary, Author of Chasing North Star

by Heather Caliendo
heidi mccrary interview - book club chat
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Heidi McCrary is the author of Chasing North Star.

Heidi is the youngest of five children and lives with her husband, Jon in Kalamazoo, Michigan, just a short drive from Alamo where she grew up. She now owns the family woods that are depicted in the book, where her children have been known to use as a place to get away from their own mother and father. Her two sons, Tyler and Phillip, are doing great despite being raised by a mother with no formal training. 

Embracing all that West Michigan has to offer, Heidi can often be found hanging with her family in Kalamazoo and the many unique towns along the Lake Michigan shoreline or on the local golf course, working on her goal of becoming a mediocre golfer. Heidi has worked in the media world all her adult life—many years with the West Michigan CBS television affiliate, and currently in the advertising industry. She is also a contributing writer for a regional women’s magazine.

Chasing North Star is Heidi’s first novel.

Let’s get to know Heidi with the following Q&A!

What are some of your favorite novels?

This is like asking me to name my favorite child. OK, in no particular order…

Best Pick From Scholastic Flyer – (Remember the Scholastic Flyer? It was that monthly flyer that landed on your desk in elementary school and featured a selection of paperbacks. The Ghost of Dibble Hollow by Nickerson Wallace was the first book I ever purchased, and a delightful story that has stayed with me.

Adventure Series – A tie between The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I do like a tough-as-nails female protagonist. 

Graphic Novel – Stiches by David Small. A book of horror, but entertaining?

Young Adult – The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. She was 15 when she wrote this!

Classic – Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck. Flawed characters and a heartbreaking tale.  

All Time Favorite – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Only book she ever wrote, and I don’t blame her. I also would have stopped after that one. (And no, I do not consider Go Set a Watchmen a second novel. I believe it was an initial draft to what eventually became To Kill a Mockingbird.)

When did you know you wanted to become an author?

While I have wanted to write since the time I was checking out books at the Bookmobile (11 years old), I’m still not sure about this whole author thing. It’s stark, and presenting your words to the world is scary, daunting, and humbling.

What inspired you to write Chasing North Star?

After discussing The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls at a book club (Didn’t every book club cover that memoir?), my sister and I spent way too much time entertaining the book club attendees with stories of our own colorful childhood. Or perhaps the wine being poured that evening simply made me think I was funny. 

Can you expand upon the idea that the novel walks the line between fact and fiction?

Chasing North Star deals with the fallout of mental illness—featuring a band of free-range siblings trying to survive life in 1970 while also dealing with a mother suffering from a cocktail of illnesses. What started out as a memoir, shifted to a novel to allow me to expand on the memories I had, which were only snapshots of traumatic moments in my childhood. Shifting to a novel also allowed me to create a more entertaining ride for readers – a story with an arc. With a beginning and an end that I think readers will find satisfying. 

What do you hope are some of the key takeaways from the novel?

While growing up, I thought we were the only ‘weird’ family in town, but after sharing my story with the world, I have learned that we all had colorful childhoods. I have yet to find that ‘normal’ family.  And while Chasing North Star is a story that shines a spotlight on mental illness, it focusses on the children who suffer from the ramifications of having a mother who suffers from mental illness. 

What are you currently reading and what’s on your TBR (to be read) list?

I’ve been obnoxiously distracted with pushing my own book in the past few months, but I finally have my hands on Educated by Tara Westover. Based on her own life, Westover recounts dealing with her survivalist Mormon family in order to attend college. I can’t wait to give my review… 

Click here to order Chasing North Star on Amazon.

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1 comment

Annamaria Giurgola December 8, 2020 - 2:43 pm

Dear Madam,
I would like to join your book club on line.
Thank you so much.
Annamaria Giurgola

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