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.


Luanne G. Smith said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Tough Girl. And it kind of pisses me off that stories like hers are assumed to be unsellable by mainstream publishing, because it was fresh and unique and full of heart. A great read.

Patsy said...

It's reassuring to hear of other writers who create atrocious first drafts.

Libby said...

Thanks Linda for the interview!!!

Libby said...

@LG - I'm so glad you enjoyed Tough Girl.

@Patsy - Oh dear, mine are awful, just awful. And incredibly short.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Tough Girl is a fabulous read. I totally wanted to adopt Reggie. And I know she's not real, but there are too kids out there like her.

Peaches Ledwidge said...

I haven't read the book, however, there's a realistic side to this book. Getting lost in fantasies especially when something traumatic happens (losing a parent) is something many children would do.

Congrats, Libby.

Melissa Amateis said...

What an awesome premise that is! I wish you much success, Libby!

Unknown said...

Interesting interview - and thanks for posting the blurb for Tough Girl. It sounds intriguing.

Sherry Ellis said...

I enjoyed reading this interview. Tough Girl sounds like a great book. The biggest challenge with self-publishing is getting the word out. You seem to be off to a good start doing that! Best of luck!

Annalisa Crawford said...

Great interview - this book is on my TBR list! I'm impressed by the basketball spinning, Libby!

Tracy Jo said...

I need to check this one out! I love Libby and need to back to her blog too. Great interview!!

Misha Gerrick said...

I love how you chose to self publish because you knew that it was what your book needed. :-)