Lit IT Girl: Debut Author Heather Poole

Our Latest Lit IT Girl: Heather Poole Why she’s fit to wear the Lit IT Girl crown: She is funny and we LOVE her insider gossip on the airline industry.  And her not--so-overnight success story (It took years to get her book deal- but her debut memoir hit the NYT bestseller list!) should be an inspiration to us all.

Her debut novel: Cruising Attitude:Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 feet

The dealio on it: In her more than fifteen years as an airline flight attendant, Heather Poole has seen it all. She's witnessed all manner of bad behavior at 35,000 feet and knows what it takes for a traveler to become the most hated passenger onboard. She's slept in flight attendant crashpads in "Crew Gardens," Queens—sharing small bedrooms crammed with bunk beds with a parade of attractive women who come and go at all hours, prompting suspicious neighbors to jump to the very worst conclusions. She's watched passengers and coworkers alike escorted off the planes by police. She can tell you why it's a bad idea to fall for a pilot but can be a very good one (in her case) to date a business-class passenger. Heather knows everything about flying in a post-9/11 world—and she knows what goes on behind the scenes, things the passengers would never dream.

Our thoughts: It's fun and we loved all the inside scoop on what it's really like to be a flight attendant! Perfect Spring Break reading!

Fun Fact: Heather's mom became a flight attendant for the same airline after being inspired by her daughter!

Giveaway: FIVE copies!  Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win.  We'll choose the winners on Sunday April 8th after 3pm PST.


1. How many agents did you query before you found "the one"?  I never found “the one.”  (Is there even such a thing as “the one?”) No joke, I sent queries to what seemed like HUNDREDS of agents AND publishing houses -- multiple times! -over many years.  HarperCollins, my publisher today, rejected one of my manuscripts not once, but twice!  I have a photo album filled with all the rejection letters I’ve received.  What's interesting is how those letters changed over time.  Quick generic responses printed on plain white postcards eventually turned into one page letters with my name and the title of my book inserted into what I’m sure was a standard form letter and those turned into the same letters with a personal note from the agent scribbled at the bottom of the page.  Eventually I scored an “agent.”  I use that term loosely, because a year later I had to hire a lawyer to get me out of the contract.  My second agent ended up passing away before she was able to sell my book.  In the end I got a book deal without an agent after an editor at a publishing house stumbled upon my blog.

2. What's a line from your "favorite" rejection letter?  An agent who’s famous for being snarky once scribbled a personal note at the bottom of one of those generic rejection form letters that after reading my book about flight attendants she hoped to never have me on one of her flights.  HA!  I should mention the book was about a serial killing flight attendant.  I called it Stewardeath.  Almost every agent who read the manuscript said they liked the voice, but wished I could make it more “fun.”  I stuck to my guns guessed it.  I never sold it. That’s when I started blogging.  The book business is a business after all, so I figured if I could get a following and be able to show just how many people come to my blog, maybe, just maybe, I could sell a book.  10 years and 7 million hits later an editor from HarperCollins read my blog and asked if I'd be willing to write a book for them about flight attendants. 

3. What was the hardest part about writing your debut novel? Finding the time.  I'm a flight attendant.  I'm also a wife and mother to a five year old.  There were times I thought I might have a nervous breakdown because I wasn't going to make my deadline.  When I was writing I'd feel guilty about not spending time with my family.  When I was spending time with my family I'd feel guilty about not writing.  I think the hardest thing for most writers is not giving up.  Being patient but also persistent.  Recently someone asked me for writing advice.  I told him to just sit down and start writing.  It can’t be that easy, he wrote back.  Certainly there’s more to it, he added.  That’s when I informed him that it took me 10 years of writing every single day to get where I am now.  He was shocked.  Another writer came up to me at a conference to let me know she’d been querying agents for six months.   She couldn’t believe she didn’t have a book deal yet.  I tried not to laugh.  Most people get discouraged if they don’t sell their book within a year - one year! It took me ten.

4. What is the best/worst advice you received while you were trying to break into the book biz?  A passenger who turned out to be a television show writer once told me there's no such thing as writers block, that writing is work and some days are just harder than others.  If writing were easy all those people who say they’re going to write a book someday would have already written it.  You have to put in the time.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Doesn’t matter if all you have is an hour each day and it takes 10 years to get to those oh-so-precious two little words, The End.  That time is going to go by anyway, so why not have a finished book to show in the end?

5. How did you celebrate your book deal? I didn't. In the beginning of my writing career I dreamed about  launch parties and celebrating at a special restaurant in Beverly Hills. I read about in People Magazine, which turned out to be right next door to my second agent’s office.  But when my book finally published, just spending time with my family without feeling guilty about not writing was celebration enough.   To be honest, writing a book is so much more than the final product.  People have no idea what it truly takes to not only write a book, but then also sell the book, and then market the book to readers I never dreamed my book would make the New York Times bestseller list, but it did, and I still didn’t celebrate.  I did, however, stare at the newspaper for a few hours in an effort to let it sink in.  It still doesn’t feel real.

6. Who is your writer crush?  Walter Kirn, the author of Up in the Air.  But we have very little in common.  I’d be afraid to actually meet him in real life.  Recently I’ve become fascinated with Marguerite Duras, author of The Lover.  If she were still alive today I’d reach out and try to contact her.  Her life story is so interesting.  Someone should make a movie about it.  The writer I’d most like to have lunch with is Helen Fielding, author of Bridget Jones’ Diary, which is the best chick lit book ever written!  I’d love nothing more than to channel some of her creative energy.

7. If you were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book, what would it be?  One of those worst case scenario books.  The one that focuses on deserted islands.  I’m practical like that.  If I could have two books, I’d add Madame Bovary to the list.  I love that book.

8. What's on your iPod right now?   I'd rather tune in to Pandora.  My favorite "writing" station is Everything But the Girl.

9. What's your #1 stress reliever?  Running or walking on the beach.  Just getting outside and breathing fresh air.  Listening to moody girly music also helps.  I like songs that feel raw, songs that are more about the lyrics than the music.

10. Who/what would you place in the center of the Entertainment Weekly bullseye?  What’s that? I’m Googling "Entertainment Weekly bullseye" now.

Thanks Heather!  xoxo, L&L

To read more about Heather, find her at her website or on Facebook and Twitter.