Sequim woman’s short stories delve into ‘slices of life’

Sequim woman’s short stories delve into ‘slices of life’

  • By Patricia Morrison Coate Olympic Peninsula News Group
  • Sunday, November 27, 2016 1:30am
  • NewsClallam County

By Patricia Morrison Coate

Olympic Peninsula News Group

SEQUIM — More than a dozen years ago, Heidi Hansen was itching to move from California but didn’t know where to go. On the throw of a dart at a map and a whim, she landed in Sequim.

A successful real estate career with Windermere ensued from 2003, but on Nov. 25, Hansen, now 68, put away the tools of her trade for her abiding passion: writing.

“Words are very important to me, the sounds and alliteration of words,” Hansen said. “Words are jewels to me. If I write, ‘The woman hefted herself out of the car,’ you know she’s a big woman. The least amount of description that your brain takes from key words — that’s where I find my place.”

This year, she self-published “A Slice of Life,” 31 short stories that deal with various aspects of life including memory loss, autism, an obsession with shoes and relationships.

Most were conceived over the past three years through a number of writing groups she belongs to on the Peninsula, including one that focuses on spontaneity.

“We’re given off-the-wall things and your brain has to make them into believable stories that are fiction in a set amount of time,” Hansen said.

“Very often, when I share them aloud, people think they are true. I like characters that are facing a dilemma — they have two choices and they’re not always clear choices — and they’re imperfect people; they make mistakes.

“I like being in their heads, figuring out what they’re going to do.”

‘Different perspective’

Hansen said her characters are both genders and a range of ages because “I like to have that different perspective.”

When asked where she gets her inspiration, Hansen grins broadly and taps on her temple. “Imagination! I used to drive my mother crazy asking ‘What if’ questions. ‘What if the floor was the ceiling?’ She’d say, ‘Just stop it!’”

Hansen also isn’t afraid for her characters to be flawed and sometimes a little funky.

“We’re all human and we’re all flawed. I’d hope people who read one of my stories and are affected by it would rethink some things in their lives,” Hansen said.

“For example, one is about a mother of an autistic child, being in her life and understanding that. From an outsider’s view, you wouldn’t understand what’s in her head.

“We all look at how other people live and we think they have a sweet, dear life, but that’s not always the case.”

While she was working full time, Hansen wrote from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. daily and relishes the prospect of not being interrupted when she’s “on a roll.”

Describing her writing style, Hansen said, “I’m more of an on-the-tear writer. I get an idea and I go. It’s a satisfaction when my perspective is covered. I feel delighted — it makes me joyous — and do I make myself laugh sometimes, oh yes!”

She said the title of the book was hard to come by until she realized the stories all deal with dilemmas in people’s lives and the decisions that they make.

“It’s like peeking in, like seeing a slice of someone’s life,” she said, adding her characters always were with her while she went about the job of earning a living.

“I’m an energetic ‘people person’ and a crazy uber-volunteer. I’m the oldest of seven girls and that explains all of it: I can be anyone’s big sister,” Hansen admitted.

She’s on the board of Olympic Theatre Arts and is one of several hosts of Fourth Friday Readings. She also served as president of the Sequim Association of Realtors for three years and was Realtor of the Year from 2011-14.

It’s easy to see that Hansen lives a big brassy life and has a great sense of humor, often having told her clients that “old people live in Port Angeles … but their parents live in Sequim,” which always was good for a laugh.

Hansen also is working on two novels: one about a woman who has to deal with her husband’s transgender transition, the other about “a future time when the population of Earth is no longer able to procreate, so young girls’ eggs are sent to a distant planet for pregnancies. I do love science fiction, but most women don’t, for some reason.”

The 221-page book, “A Slice of Life,” is available from or


Patricia Morrison Coate is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach her at pcoate@sequim

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