A Q&A with the Author of These Things Hidden


Heather Gudenkauf is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Weight of Silence. She graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages and is currently a Literacy Coach, an educator who provides curricular and professional development support to teachers.


1.  What led you to write These Things Hidden?  What was the inspiration for this story?

I came up for the idea for These Things Hidden after I heard a radio news story describing the Medieval “foundling wheel” — a rotating platform located in the walls of churches in Rome that allowed women to anonymously leave their newborns and how this idea has evolved into modern day Safe Haven laws. From this, I decided to write a story about an infant left at a Safe Haven site in Iowa and the four women who pass in and out of his life.

2.  You write eloquently about mothers and daughters in both The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden.  What draws you to write about the mother/child relationship? 

I think that more than any role in our society, the responsibility of motherhood is the one that is analyzed, criticized and revered the most. I am fascinated by the complex relationships between mothers and their children. In my writing I am continuously exploring motherhood’s intricacies, sometimes heartwarming, sometimes heartbreaking, but always filled with hope.

3.  How has your background as an educator influenced your depiction of the children in your books?  What are the challenges of writing about a young child or a teenager? 

Having worked in education for nearly twenty years, I can honestly say that kids are my heroes. I have spent day after day with young children who have readily shared with me their experiences, worries, and dreams. Despite their honesty, I have come to realize over time that no one can truly know what happens in the privacy of the home. While the story and characters in my books are completely fictional, the domestic drama found in many wealthy, middle class, or poverty stricken homes, is not.

I think the challenges in writing from the perspective of a child or a teenager is that it is so important to portray their thoughts, fears, and hopes in an authentic, honest way.

4.  In both These Things Hidden and your first novel, The Weight of Silence, you use alternating viewpoints to take us into the hearts and minds of your characters.  Tell us a bit about what it’s like to write from more than one viewpoint. 

I really try to create characters that are very different from one another and try to only write from one character’s point of view each day. It is so much fun to step into a different person’s perspective each day. I always have to ask myself, What would this character do in a particular situation?