about Valerie Heidt
The secrets we keep, keep us.
I know this all too well.
Raised in a German-Irish Catholic household in the sloshy little city of Eugene, Oregon, my hometown is a culture of paradox, an emerald jewel webbed with running trails honoring the enterprising spirit of the legends who carved them while an active spirit of anarchy and radical underground eco-terrorism tears at its peaceful landscape.
It’s a place where the Olympic elite trained and died by the vices of alcoholism glorified in our Hollywood claim to fame film, Animal House.
The youngest of four girls, I was born into this cultural paradox and our home was another one entirely. In a time of free love, religious doctrine ruled.
God was always watching through the eyes of our Father, a humble German man with strong convictions and an iron will. If we weren’t in church we were working there as a family of landscapers every day after school and on weekends. God was everywhere and he demanded perfection.
Secrets were kept.
I didn’t actively rebel and run off with my drug dealer like my older sister. My escapism was through other worlds created by words, alcohol and travel.
From an early age, my writing efforts were commended and even held up as examples among peers but I denied its validity, afraid to own it.
RUNNING AWAY ISN’T JUST FOR KIDS
When I left a corporate career in public relations and joined the airlines as a flight attendant, I knew I was running away.
This was a period of deep pain for me, not necessarily brought on by others but in how I interpreted events. I lived that out with other lost souls carving paths easily abandoned—- All too easy to do when you’re in a different town every night.
A wise man once said, “It’s hard to hit a moving target, Valerie.”
I was more than okay with that. I knew if I stopped running long enough for everything to catch up with me, it was gonna hurt.
This is the experience I write about in Dysfunction Junction, a disturbing look into the dark secrets of addiction and modern rehab through the eyes of a fallen girl next door.
In Hotel California, surfer Neal Donnelly has a dark secret he can’t admit to anyone, least of all himself.
It drives him to the edge of his sanity at a mysterious hotel where nothing is as it seems and he is brought to his knees.
We could all use a little more time on our knees it seems and pain usually drives us there. Like me, my characters employ various methods of escapism until the day they can no longer run. That day marks the beginning of a second chance.
The question becomes: Are they strong enough to hold onto it? Are you?
It’s vital we ALL believe in second chances or we’ll get stuck living a life that sucks the very soul out of our existence.
It’s okay to declare your unhappiness and turn your face to the sun to dry your tears.
It’s okay to admit the friendship is over, the love has died, your job isn’t fulfilling, now what?
“Now what?” is the pain begins while you wander in the lost desert of yourself.
Now, you learn to turn tragedy into comedy, empathy, a purpose, a voice. Yours.
This is the truth I bring to my stories.
Hometown legend NIKE employs a credo I’ve adopted:
The stories you tell about your past shape your future.
Some of the stories I tell have waited a long time for in writing them, I relive them. People who don’t know any better say,
“Wow, that’s great. You must love writing.”
I laugh. Sometimes it hurts. A lot.
Writing offers no fine line between love and hate.
It robs me of summer days spent surfing and airline layovers cliff jumping Black Rock in Ka’anapali, Maui. I close the door to the outside world and retreat to a room with four walls that may as well be in Detroit.
This is discipline well-earned for writing is a jealous tyrant. Leave it alone too long and it holds a grudge, turning a cold shoulder. When this happens, every sentence sounds like something my 3rd grade teacher would red ink. After a few days of this torture, it might slide in next to me and remind me it’s a gift and I’m to honor it as such.
The ocean isn’t going anywhere. Write. Your world is waiting.
My husband agrees. He and Writing have some kind of secret pac. Arms folded he stands in front of the door as I’m trying to slip out, “Where ya going?”
Back to the office I go, grumbling about Delores Claiborne style management. Can you at least slip me some crushed Vicodin in my applesauce?
The door shuts. It was worth a shot.
BEHIND THE CURTAIN
Valerie Heidt studied graduate screenwriting at UCLA School of TFT and received her BA in Journalism at the University of Oregon, graduating with an honorable mention.
She worked as a senior creative executive at Gallagher Literary providing script coverage and story development.
Valerie has written several scripts, one of which has been optioned, before penning her novel, Hotel California.
Her experience extends to publication in various travel magazines and newspaper headlines, as well as screenwriting, ghost-writing, penning and editing technical and educational materials for corporations.
Valerie credits her ability to write “just about anything anywhere” with running off to join the airlines and flying a captive audience of characters coast to coast.
Throughout her travels, she stayed true to the hometown tradition of running and adopted the California lifestyle of surfing when she moved to Dana Point from L.A. in 2007. She lives there with husband, Glenn Bushmire, real estate financier and extreme snowboarder turned surfer who, she says, “knows a little too much about discipline.”
Among her writing mentors she credits: UCLA Tim Albaugh, Hal Ackerman and peer Dakota Aesquival; UO writer pal Jim Terry, George Mitrovich of the Boston Red Sox Fenway Park Writer Series, friend and mentor Lisa Neumann and hometown girl done good, Cynthia Whitcomb.
“They all believed in my talent before I did,” she says. “And of course, The Dead Chick, which is really where it all started. But that’s another story.”