Meet: Ann Heinrichs

When I think of people I have met through NFPW, one interesting person who comes to mind is Ann Heinrichs of Chicago. Ann is not only bright and interesting, she is also a warm, gracious, and an all-around nice person. She is a talented writer who is taking a break from writing after leaving a legacy of 240 plus published books. I hope you will take the time to learn a little about her.

Name: Ann Heinrichs

City and State: Chicago, Illinois

Ann Heinrichs at the Tuareg camel races in Agadez, Niger. The Tuareg are known as the “blue men of the desert” because the indigo dye in their turbans soaks into their skin.

Ann Heinrichs at the Tuareg camel races in Agadez, Niger. The Tuareg are known as the “blue men of the desert” because the indigo dye in their turbans soaks into their skin.

Affiliate and any leadership positions: Illinois Woman’s Press Association: Communicator of Achievement (2006); Board Member (2007–2009); Communications Contest Chair (2008–2009); Illinois’s FAN (First Amendment Network) Representative

Years a member of NFPW: I was a member from 1998 through 2014. If I ever again write anything besides emails and meeting minutes, I will happily join again!

Tell us a little about you.

I never meant to be a writer. I became one only when I was living in a $25-a-week hotel and needed some way, however wacky, to make checks come in the mail. First I was a music critic, then an advertising copywriter, then I began writing juvenile nonfiction books. In 2001 I finally quit my day job to write books full time. Then came the recession, and my book-writing career hit the wall. So I went back to school and got a library degree. Now I’m a cataloging librarian, though I still think of myself as a writer … masquerading. Happily, I have left a “legacy” of 240+ published books.

Ann in her element: On the Erg Chebbi, a massive dune in the Moroccan Sahara.

Ann in her element: On the Erg Chebbi, a massive dune in the Moroccan Sahara.

World travel is my pleasure. I’ve been … well … all over. The Middle East was my favorite destination until it became too dangerous. Now Africa is my favorite; I’ve been there eight times. Several places I visited, I was able to parlay into book contracts. Here at home, my current creative outlet is ebru, the Turkish art of paper marbling.

Any career advice you would give?

This will probably not appear on any Best Practices list, but my real-world-tested advice is: Push, hound, beg, grab, leap at openings, keep calling and emailing, until they cave and give you an assignment. That’s what I did at a time when I was low on experience but desperate for income. Pretty soon I was a seasoned, in-demand professional.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Fearlessness. Sure, I’m macro-fearless—scaling Kilimanjaro, trekking out into the Sahara, bouncing across the South China Sea in a rickety motorboat, climbing Mt. Sinai at 3 a.m. on a camel plodding along a narrow path with a sheer drop-off, and so on. But what I need is micro-fearlessness—to not be afraid of my own shadow, sounds in the night, cold weather, big black dogs …

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Morocco—in either Marrakech, with its fragrant souks full of fresh breads, veggies, mint, olives, and dates; or Merzouga, on the edge of the Sahara, where you can procure a camel and a Berber guide and just take off.

What book are you reading?

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts, by Joshua Hammer; and The Seven Storey Mountain, by Thomas Merton.

 

“Ebru Starry Night with Comet”— one of four of Ann’s ebru paintings selected by the Illinois Board of Higher Education to be displayed throughout 2017 in their Springfield offices.

“Ebru Starry Night with Comet”— one of four of Ann’s ebru paintings selected by the Illinois Board of Higher Education to be displayed throughout 2017 in their Springfield offices.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

(1) I have a bachelor’s and master’s in piano performance. (2) I am a desert freak (probably pretty obvious already!). Not the kind of desert that’s “teeming with wildlife,” but rather the empty, desolate type, the epitome of nothingness.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

Although I’m not an active member at the moment, the people I’ve met through IWPA/NFPW remain very precious to me. They continue to inspire me, delight me, and provide support for whatever I’m going through.

Way to follow you on a website, Twitter, Facebook, etc. 

You can find me on Facebook.

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One Comment on “Meet: Ann Heinrichs”


  1. I’m delighted to see Ann showcased so beautifully! She is a unique person – not only for her obvious talent, but also for her kind, interesting and adventurous nature.


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