When you start reading Kia Heavey’s books, Night Machines or Underlake, you will most likely be deceived. You’ll be reading along, enjoying precise descriptions and emotionally accurate characters—the qualities that are prized by fans of realistic fiction. But, then, without the courtesy of a bolt of lightning or a fall down a rabbit hole, you’ll find you’ve been lured into a dreamier place, where the characters interact with demonic forces, living legends, and mythic archetypes—and it all makes sense.
For example, in Night Machines, a freelance writer named Maggie has the misfortune of catching the eye of her boss, Cambien. Bad enough that he’s a wealthy, egotistical seducer. Gradually we learn that he is distantly projecting himself into Maggie’s dreams—a technique he learned in an ancient grotto on an island in Greece. Can she resist, and save her marriage, her family, and her life?
And Katie, the leading lady in Kia’s young adult novel, Underlake, is a teenager who inhabits an elite social milieu in New York City. Life changes dramatically when her mother brings her to the family cabin in upstate New York for the summer. There Katie meets and falls in love with a mysterious young man named John, who seems to have a special affinity for the lake. In fact, John has a guilty secret that dates back centuries. This explains his extraordinarily good manners but also poses a dilemma for Katie: Live “the life aquatic” with John—in spite of his otherworldliness—or return to the city with its nonstop status-and-party culture.
Having it all?
Kia’s a Supernova-hot Celebrity because, not only is she a fabulous storyteller, she also designs her own covers, and successfully publishes and promotes her work. This is in addition to her full-time job as a graphic designer—plus full-time relationships with her husband, Jim, and two teenage children.
Since the early 1980’s the media has addressed a slate of commitments such as Kia’s under the heading “Having it all.” Silly stuff, because who ever did or could have everything they wanted? But by setting such an unrealistic expectation, those in the professional-political women’s movement could claim the right to subsidies—not just for people struggling in poverty—but universally.
Kia’s novels are both refreshing and urgently needed because they don’t buy into this idea of socialized motherhood. Instead, she shows us how families trying to balance the demands of work and life are forced to calculate to the nth degree how they will parcel out their time and resources. Success or failure depends on individuals making good or poor decisions as they try to keep their commitments. That’s qualitatively different than calculating how to maximize welfare payments.
The artist at work
As a child, Kia explains that she always needed a creative outlet. At times this was music—she plays guitar and bagpipes and also writes songs. Otherwise, she and her mother both enjoyed writing. Kia started writing her first novel when she was in high school, but never finished.
In her twenties, she took up bagpipes on a lark, and played in a band that often accompanied parades honoring local firefighters. That’s how she met her husband—in the beer corral where the bagpipers and volunteer firemen mingle after the parades.
But when their children were born, Kia recalls that her creative time had to be after she put the kids to bed. Bagpiping would certainly have woken them. So she returned to writing. “Writing fiction is a labor of love and I enjoy it so much,” Kia says. “I committed myself to write an hour per day. After work I’d feed the kids and get them to bed by eight o’clock. Jim was working the evening shift then. So I had that time to myself before passing out.”
More recently, with her kids in high school and Jim working the day shift, Kia sets aside an hour every morning as her writing time, right before she clocks in for work. This sounds a little like a prison-break movie, doesn’t it, with the convict chipping away at stones or iron bars with a smuggled-in cocktail fork? In fact, Kia squeezes in a bit of extra time because she’s able to imagine scenes before she writes them, generally while she’s taking a shower or going for a walk.
Cool celebrity facts
Kia is a country girl, having grown up in Purchase, New York, when it was still a heavily wooded, rural area.
Her father’s side of the family is Greek, and she used to spend her summers with relatives in Athens and the Peloponnese, not that far from Sparta.
In her spare time, she loves to fish. In fact, she is a bona fide bassmaster and has access to secret spots in Westchester County where lunkers lurk. Says Kia, “I can’t see water without being pissed off if I don’t have a rod with me.”
Kia also co-founded a Facebook group that brings together more than 800 fiction lovers, writers, reviewers, editors, and publishers who share different versions of a vision for creating a new literary movement emphasizing individuality, liberty, and personal responsibility.
Most importantly, Kia has a new book in preparation for publication in January 2016. She’ll be breaking new ground with Domino, which she describes as follows:
Domino the barn cat only wants to keep his territory vermin-free, prowl with his housecat friends, and impress the mysterious black female who lives in the nearby woods. Then a brilliant new cat moves to the area and changes the beliefs and behavior of all the local pets. Before he knows what’s happening, Domino is faced with an existential struggle to protect his territory, his family, and a time-honored feline way of life.
Sounds like a brand new legend in the making.