Wednesday, November 7, 2012

An Interview with Mary Lindsey

Q: Of which book are you the most proud? And why?

I love all of my projects, both published and soon to be published. I adore Shattered Souls because it was my first novel, but the project of which I am most proud is Ashes on the Waves. It is impossible to take a famous poem, such as "Annabel Lee" by Edgar Allan Poe and use it as the inspiration for a book without worrying about doing the original piece justice. I wrote the book not as a retelling, but as an homage to one of the most inventive and influential American writers. There are over three dozen shout outs to Edgar Allan poems, stories, essays and letters in the book. It was a true labor of love and I am thrilled with the outcome.

Q: Patty Campbell talks about the germ for a piece of writing being like the sand in the oyster.  What is your grain of sand?  Do you begin with character or setting or something else?

A: I’m a visual person, which affects how I learn and write. Sometimes an idea just pops into my head, but usually I’m inspired by a place, object or a photo.

In the case of Shattered Souls, it was an old photograph. I knew I wanted to write a ghost story and I wanted a disaster to be featured. I had already decided that I would probably use the Great Storm of 1900 in Galveston, but it was an old photograph that cemented the deal.

There’s something about this photo that really got to me. Perhaps it is because most of the pictures I’d seen were of men looking for dead bodies or cleaning up the debris, while this one is of children and women looking for something—anything they recognize as valuable, useful or familiar.

It also reached my heart because the child in the white hat and black dress is standing on a piece of a roof that most likely had served as a life raft the night before when the water was up over the housetops.

This photo crystallized for me the dismal truth that despite the largest loss of life from a natural disaster in this country’s history, people still had to pick up the pieces and survive.

Ashes on the Waves was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's poem, "Annabel Lee."

Q: Why do you write for Young Adults?

A: I started writing for young adults several years ago by accident. My daughter had just discovered teen literature and had burned through several popular series. She was lamenting the fact that most male heroes in paranormal books were demons, vampires or some type of inherently evil creature fighting their wicked impulses. She asked me why the hero couldn’t be a “normal” guy who has some kind of special/magical power, but wasn’t evil or didn’t believe himself evil.

I told her that for her birthday, I’d write her a book like that. (To this day, I have no idea why I would offer such a crazy thing. I’d never written fiction and had no desire to do so).

True to my word, I gave her a chapter a day for a month. The result was a 700-page young adult time-travel novel. It had a cool premise, but was awful—truly awful with respect to craft. Reading a book and knowing what works is one thing; writing one is entirely another.

After spending a month writing 8-12 hours a day, I decided I’d found the perfect job.

Q: Who is your favorite character you have written or read about?

A: I have four favorite characters: Scout (To Kill a Mockingbird), Snape and Harry (Harry Potter Series), and Huck (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn).

Q: Do you have a pet (pets)?  Tell us about it (them) and how they help/hinder your writing.

A: My Cairn Terrier, Annabel, is the newest addition to our family. She is a year old and has learned how to be as distracting as my three teenagers when I am writing.
Annabel Lee Lindsey

Before Annabel,  I had a Welsh Terrier named Cricket and a Wire Fox Terrier named Fig (Go Figure). Fig sat on my feet the entire time I wrote Shattered Souls and is a character in the book (Spook). She died at 17-years-old the week before it sold. The book is dedicated to her.

I also have a 255-gallon aquarium full of Blood Parrots I call my Happy Fish because they have perpetual smiles on their faces. They were a gift from a friend. When I get stuck or stressed out while writing, I go sit in front of my Happies and relax.

Thank you so much for the fun questions. I love to hear from readers and can be contacted through my website contact page:

Thank you so much for your time Mary! We look forward to seeing you at the festival!

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