Let's celebrate with this week's author interview with the talented Lyn Fairchild Hawks:
|Photo provided by: Lyn Fairchild Hawks|
Writing Desk Blog: Hi Lyn! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview with me as part of The Writing Desk Blog's Christmas Countdown series! How Wendy Redbird Dancing Survived the Dark Ages of Nought was your first fiction novel, correct?
Lyn Fairchild Hawks: How Wendy Redbird Dancing Survived the Dark Ages of Nought is my debut YA novel.
WDB: For those who aren’t already familiar with your work, if you could describe How Wendy Redbird Dancing Survived the Dark Ages of Nought in one sentence what would it be?
LFH: The death of Michael Jackson spurs a young outcast struggling to survive an assault to follow what she thinks is his voice so she can find her own.
WDB: Wendy's love of Michael Jackson's music seems to be a driving force for her throughout the book. I have to ask, what brought on this aspect of her personality? Was it something that developed naturally as you created the character, or a specific trait you had in mind?
LFH: The death of Michael Jackson on June 25, 2009, did inspire this book. I found myself trying to explain who he was to a twelve year old. How do you describe a legend? After that, one morning this question just hit me… what if someone was sure, like 100% sure, that MJ was a saint? And what if she, having nothing else to believe in, was sure as the sun coming up that she could hear St. Michael’s voice? Celebrities aren’t far from the iconic saints I worshipped growing up in Catholic church. Suddenly I started hearing Wendy’s voice—her stony, caustic tone, covering a cauldron of rage. I pictured her passion for his music. An obsessive fan, teetering on the edges of reality…Then more questions followed. Why all these walls for Wendy? What trauma got her there? The story flowed from all those questions.
WDB: I've noticed you have provided discussion questions on your website for How Wendy Redbird Dancing Survived the Dark Ages of Nought. Has your book been picked up by many classrooms?
LFH: I’ve heard from parents who feel the book’s themes of bullying and sexual assault are important for teens of a certain age to explore. I’d love to hear from high school teachers who use Wendy in their classes—that would warm my teacher heart!
WDB: You've also published a series of non-fiction books centered on teaching. Was it difficult to transition from writing non-fiction to fiction, or do you enjoy both equally?
LFH: I’ve always adored both. I’ve written stories since I was six (truth be told, Mr. Hagen, my first grade teacher, did the typing while I dictated!). I was a student and college journalist, and I’m also a huge lesson geek. Designing activities for students is a passion. Right now, that’s manifesting at www.teachersworkshop.org, Duke TIP’s site for free lessons and advice for teachers of gifted youth. And because I write fiction about gifted, weird, wise youth, all these passions connect!
WDB: Are you primarily a traditionally published author, or do you also have some self-publishing experience as well? If so, what was the biggest difference for you between the two routes?
LFH: I’m a hybrid author. My nonfiction is traditionally published, and my fiction is indie published. With traditional publishing, you’ve got a team to share all the hard work but less control of the final product, especially cover design, length, and certain aspects of marketing. With indie publishing you’re your own CEO. If you have a great business sense, and you enjoy sales and promotion, indie publishing is a great fit. Both paths require tons of persistence. I shared my thoughts on the differences at Tara Lynne Groth’s blog, Write Naked, in this post, Indie or Traditional? Five Questions to Ask.
WDB: These next questions are ones I like to ask in each Writing Desk Blog interview, it’s so interesting to see the range of responses I get!
Where do you typically work from? (Home, office, coffee shop, etc.) Is there anywhere you find you're more productive than other places?
LFH: I love my writer’s studio. Though I have to compete with my cat (who thinks it’s his) I usually get a lot done there. I’ve got a view of the woods and wildlife outside this Hawks Nest, and I’m surrounded by bamboo, pine, sage green, and soft orange. I’ve got my writer’s shrine with Mary and Ganesha and Lakshmi icons—plus a ton of orange tabbies. That said, I have to get out of the house sometimes, and places I’m most productive are Johnny’s Gone Fishing café in Carrboro, NC, and Bean Traders Coffee in Durham, NC. They are homey, warm spaces with tons of art and great people.
WDB: If you are able to tell us, what’s coming up next? Will you be going back into the YA fiction world, or something new?
LFH: Lots more YA in the forecast. My literary agent, the amazing Amy Tipton of Signature Literary Agency, has subbed out my YA novel @NervesofSteel to several publishers this past year, and I’m also working on a new YA novel, No Small Thing, one we hope to sub out in 2018. Both are about intrepid teen journalists who face all kinds of odds to get the true story.
WDB: Best piece(s) of writing advice?
LFH: This Buddhist saying: Fall 8 times. Stand up 9.
WDB: Something about you that people may be surprised to know?
LFH: I played the character of Annelle in Steel Magnolias in a local theater production. I’m no Darryl Hannah, but it was a blast!
[Also] I am obsessed with the Food Network show Chopped and watch it just about every day. I even put a character in a novel who’s likewise obsessed, but she got chopped from the manuscript, in a nice ironic twist.
I hope everyone has enjoyed this interview! You can find links to Lyn's official website and more in this week's What Am I Reading Wednesday post.
And now I'll leave you with a peek at the book trailer for How Wendy Redbird Dancing Survived the Dark Ages of Nought!