Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Interviewing Libby Heily

In my last post, I listed some books I've really enjoyed recently, one of which was Tough Girl by Libby Heily.
Tough Girl

Tough Girl - as I've said - isn't really like anything I've read before and I couldn't put it down. I was also intrigued and wanted to know more about the author. So,without more ado, here's what I asked Libby...

Was the idea for Tough Girl one you nurtured for a long time before writing the book or was it one of those ideas that springs on you from nowhere and demands to be written NOW?  Did anything or anyone in particular inspire the story?
The idea for Tough Girl was slow to form.  I read Alice in Wonderland as a kid and then did a play based on the book in high school.  I loved the idea of a girl getting lost in her own dream world.  It took a few years to fully develop the idea.  I was also working on a screenplay about four siblings that helped their mob-boss father run a neighborhood.  During a ten mile run, I realized the two stories were parts of a whole and the idea for Tough Girl was born.
You self-published Tough Girl. What made you choose the self-publication route and would you self-publish again?

I did not shop Tough Girl around.  I did, however, get advice from fellow writers who had been published.  The consensus was that the market for Tough Girl was going to be limited.  The main character was 11 making her too young for most YA audiences.  The story was demanding but the telling was simple making the book not quite right for the average contemporary fiction reader.  The thought was, if I had sold Tough Girl I would be asked to change the story to fit a market.  Self-publishing meant that I got to keep control of the story, which was very important to me.  Also, as a writer of plays and screenplays and short stories, I have spent an incredible amount of time submitting my work for production and publication.  At the time Tough Girl was completed, I just could not rally myself for yet another round of queries.
I would definitely self-publish again.  I studied film and theater and both art forms stress a DIY attitude.  I'm thrilled that I'm writing novels at a time where this self-reliant streak has hit publishing.  Don't get me wrong though, I would love to go the traditional route if possible.

How do you write? A complete first draft, warts and all, or do you edit as you go along?

I've developed my own process over the years.  I write sketches of scenes, bits of dialogue, and develop the idea by hand in a notebook.  I then do a plot outline and write character journals for the main characters.  I then redo the plot outline and start the first draft.  I edit a bit as I go along but I have come to accept that my first drafts are going to be atrocious.  The second draft is where I begin to concentrate on editing.

If I'm writing a play or screenplay, I usually do 10+ drafts.  Tough Girl took 4 full drafts, several rounds of editing, and 2.5 years to finish.
What are you working on now?

Right now I am working on two novels.  One is soft science fiction, the other is contemporary fiction set in a non-realistic reality.  I am also developing an idea for a screenplay that I'm pretty excited about. 
 I love the sound of a non-realistic reality!
Have you published any other books/been published elsewhere?
I have had several short stories published including one that was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  I also released a collection of short stories called "Fourth Degree Freedom".  My new collection of short stories will be published in September.  This one is called "The Victory Rule".

Because I'm very nosey, what is your workspace like?  

My workspace is teeny, just how I like it.  I have a small computer nook in our apartment which I have filled with art, notebooks, and pens.   I would supply a photo, but I would be a touch embarrassed for the world to know how messy my workspace gets.

Do you write full-time or juggle it with a day-job?

I go back and forth.  I have worked full-time, part-time and no-time in the past 5 years.  I love not having a day-job so I can focus on writing, reading and life, but sometimes the bills require employment.

What jobs have you had in the past and which was your favourite?
I have kind of bounced around employment wise.  I have been a waitress, a barista, a videographer, a call center customer service representative, and a customer care support person for academic publishing.  Being a videographer was fun because I got to be somewhat creative and the CSR position in academic publishing was wonderful because I could listen to audiobooks all day while I worked.

And finally, three things about yourself?

Three Things:

One - I can spin a basketball on every finger of my right hand including my thumb and pinky
Two - I love rainy days, especially if I have the day off and can curl up on the couch with a book or a movie
Three - I love to buy stickers, but I'm never quite sure where to stick them!
I can identify the stickers thing - I've walked wistfully past pretty stickers so many times!
Thanks so much, Libby, for the interview. That's satiated my curiosity! Links for Tough Girl are below and you can find Libby's blog here.
And here's the blurb:
Danger lurks everywhere in eleven year old Reggie's world—from the bully next door to the unwanted attentions of a creep at school. Raised by her mentally ill mother, Reggie is left to fend for herself in a rough neighbourhood. She escapes in daydreams, battling aliens with her alter ego, Tough Girl. When Reggie's mother disappears, her fantasy life spirals out of control and starts to invade reality. She is hunted by a creature of her own design, and even Tough Girl is not strong enough to stop him. Will Reggie survive long enough for her mother to return, or will her dream world take over? Contains adult themes and adult language.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Falling back in love with reading

If you read my IWSG post this month, you might remember that I have returned from holiday exhausted from all the relaxation and don't feel at all like writing...

This situation has an upside which is that I have got back into reading, for which I never seem to have enough time, and have even been managing to read without the persistently wandering mind that usually afflicts me!

I don't like picking books apart and analysing them, but I do know what I've enjoyed and I thought I'd just share a few with you now.  These are all books I have not wanted to put down and was sorry to finish (sob).

So Much For That by Lionel Shriver
 Product Details

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
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Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos
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Tough Girl  by Libby Heily
Product Details

I'm not going to give you the low-down on them because you can find them in your bookshop or on Amazon and read the blurb. All I want to say is that I really enjoyed them for various reasons. Each is unusual in its style and content and to me were like a breath of fresh air. They also stopped my mind from wandering - and that says a lot!

If you've already read any of them, I'd love to know what you thought!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

IWSG August - Taking a Break

It's the summer, it's August, no work for me and plenty of time to sit and write...

The trouble is I don't really want to!

Before school finished (I'm a teaching assistant) I planned to come back from an idyllic two weeks on Zakynthos and keep my calendar clear so that I could spend whole days of the remaining four weeks doing what I wanted - writing.


My brain won't work. I spent my holiday feeling jittery as though I should be doing something else (writing?!) and I'm not sure that I like that feeling.

I have so many friends and family trying to catch up with me while I'm off work that even the thought of juggling serious writing and socialising makes me hyperventilate.

I am feeling trapped by my hopes, dreams and ambitions - and a little voice inside me is saying make the most of people while they are still around to enjoy (especially aging parents). I'm sick of feeling pulled in so many directions, the main pull being towards the laptop.

Will I write something this holiday? Maybe. Maybe not. The novel is there, in my head, but to be honest it could stay there ripening for another couple of years. I'm not sure the time is right. Maybe I'll go back to writing the occasional short story when the inspiration strikes, and give myself a break.

It's not good to be laying on a sunbed jangling because you've forgotten how to relax. I can't even read without my mind wandering. Time for something to change, I think.

Thanks for listening to my inner turmoil.

Hope you're not feeling too insecure - I'll be hopping around to find out!

Thanks as always to Alex J Cavanaugh for starting this group. You can find the full list on his blog but I'm not pasting it here because it gets longer all the time!