Five Minutes with HM Waugh #LoveAusAuthors

HM (Heather) Waugh is an author, educator and environmental scientist. Her debut book for middle readers, The Lost Stone of SkyCity, was shortlisted for an Aurealis Award, and her YA novel, Evacuation Road is a CBCA Book of the Year Awards 2022 Notable. She has signed a two-book deal with Allen & Unwin for a middle grade Sci-Fi duology and the first book, Mars Awakens, is OUT NOW.

Heather writes children’s fiction that is funny, dangerous, hopeful, wondrous, and spiced with science.

‘I want to inspire kids to love reading, embrace resilience and connect with their environment. Although the future can look bleak, we’ve got the science and the imaginations to come through this stronger than ever and I want kids to be able to believe that.’

Heather and a thing she loves – her dog Tui 

Five things about Heather’s history

  1. I was born in New Zealand and came to Australia when I was nine. I still wear jandals.
  2. As a teenager I was absolutely committed to a dream of being an astronaut, until my non-perfect eyesight killed it dead. I was heartbroken.
  3. Once I got over that, I became an environmental scientist and it’s led to an amazing life wandering winter streams through ancient forests, tracking dolphins across picturesque inlets, and investigating amazing places that are normally closed to the public.
  4. I currently work as a zoo educator and, yes, it’s as awesome at it sounds.
  5. I love hiking and getting outdoors, although I’m a very slow mountain biker and quite likely to scream all the way down hills.

Heather says that every manuscript she writes ends up with at least one goat reference in it somewhere. Her third book, Mars Awakens, came out in May 2022 and this is the first in a middlegrade sci-fi duology – think an abandoned planet, an unlikely friendship, and freaky shapes chasing you through the dust as you race to save the world. Not the sort of place you’d expect to find a goat, she says, but still …

Heather’s second book, YA novel Evacuation Road, is inspired by her own experiences in South America, including getting kidnapped…It was a CBCA Notable Book for Older Readers and, she says, she’s not convinced you’re going to spot the goat in that one!

‘My first book, The Lost Stone of SkyCity, is a magical middlegrade fantasy quest across the high mountains, and was shortlisted for an Aurealis Award. The goats are easy to find here.’

She is currently editing the second book in the Mars Duology and is enjoying the process very much.

Five things that help Heather to keep on writing

  1. Is love too corny an answer? Because I love creating my stories.
  2. Also, my brain won’t stop thinking up ideas, and if I don’t write them down they keep replaying in my head and I don’t sleep. That’s pretty motivating.
  3. I don’t like editing, but I love writing first drafts. So I try and make myself finish editing one manuscript before I start a new one. Sometimes this even works.
  4. My writing peeps are wonderfully motivating. We all support each other and bounce ideas around. Writer friends are awesome friends!
  5. And finally, books. Nothing helps me want to keep writing more than reading a great book!

In the future, Heather hopes every child in Australia can learn their local indigenous language at school. She would like to see lots of frogs in her new frog bog, which would make her incredibly happy. She wants Australia to commit to zero carbon (and super-quick, please!). She would also like commercial space travel to become affordable.

‘I know this absolutely clashes with the goal of a zero carbon future, but I’d really like to see the Earth from space. Someone’s going to invent some epic technology for that soon, and then I can fulfil my dream guilt-free.’

Finally, she asks for a vanilla slice and a large pot of tea – ‘black please. No sugar!’

You can find more about Heather and her books here. Her latest work, Mars Awakens here and grab a copy in all good book stores.


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