Here, I, Lisbeth Avery, interview author Libby Heily. I hope you enjoy the interview!
Lisbeth Avery: Hello guys, I have Libby Heily here with me. Say hi to the readers!
Libby: Why hello there!
Lisbeth Avery: What prompted you to write a novel?
Libby: I've been writing since I was a little kid. The moment I could make letters, I was writing. I got serious about writing fiction in college while studying acting. I started off with plays, then moved to screenplays. Writing a novel was always my goal, but I was incredibly intimidated. I had to work up to it. After writing a good amount of short stories and getting a few published, I figured it was time to attack my white whale, the novel.
Lisbeth Avery: Your book, Tough Girl, is very different from what I've read before - in a good way. What do you think inspired this idea?
Libby: I always knew I wanted to write a story about a young girl and her dream world. Alice in Wonderland was a huge influence on me. That was the basic idea and I held onto it for years trying to figure out what I wanted that dream world to be like.
The story morphed in time to include a second story I was interested in writing, the one of Tough Girl. That dream world worked well for Reggie and the challenges she was facing. I used a lot of things I had seen during my childhood, many in Dale City where the book is placed.
That's the long version, short version is that I held onto the idea of a young girl escaping into dream world and added and subtracted elements until they all came together to make Tough Girl.
Lisbeth Avery: Wow, thanks for the very in-depth answer! I thought I sensed a bit of Farscape in it as well but that may have been just me as I had been watching Farscape before reading.
Libby: Oh, you know it. I got into science fiction after getting married. It was actually in my vows to watch and read more sci fi. Farscape and Battlestar Galactica were big influences.
Lisbeth Avery: As an amateur writer myself, I've always found it hard to have multiple POVs in a single story. Did you ever have trouble keeping the two POVs apart in your story?
Libby: Not really. They were pretty unique. The hardest part I had with POV was deciding how to tell Reggie's part of the story. The advice I was given was 3rd closed which made sense. It would have put the reader right in Reggie's head without being 1st person
But, the problem was that Reggie is working hard to distance herself from her life and making her POV immediate would have undercut that (in my opinion). In the end I opted for more distance using 3rd person.
Lisbeth Avery: Have you found it hard to be a self published author? I know many reviewers are a bit biased against self pubbed.
Libby: Great question.
In some ways yes. It is more difficult to get reviews and I don't have the credibility of being signed to a publisher. However, the freedom is kind of worth it. I had the ability to do Tough Girl in the exact way I wanted to and I've had ultimate control over the story and the presentation. Since it's difficult to make money writing, I'm happy to have freedom. I will probably search for a traditional publisher for my next novel, but I was pretty psyched to go at it alone for my first.
Lisbeth Avery: What are some of your favourite books? Did they also influence your writing?
Libby: Gosh, talking about long answers!
A Dream Play, Iceman Cometh, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Zoo Story, The Goat or Who is Sylvia.
Anything by Virginia Woolf or Muriel Spark (in love with the Driver's Seat), the entire Thursday Next series, Absurdistan, Nothing's Fair in 5th Grade, Candide, On the Road, the Discworld series, The Color Purple, ect.
I owe a debt to so many writers and I just keep hoping to one day be as good as them.
Lisbeth Avery: What are a few of your favourite writing (and/or reading) moments?
Libby: Writing moment for Tough Girl: Ultimately, it took me 4 drafts to write Tough Girl (as well as tons of editing). The plot was intricate and it was difficult to tell how much to involve the dream world in her life and how all the characters affected her. Half way through draft two, I quit. I didn't quit delicately, but with a vengeance. I had erased an entire character, changed the flow of the story, but could not get it to work. It was the middle of the afternoon and I went to bed crying. I sobbed myself to sleep. I then woke up a few hours later and started working again. I started a new draft two weeks later.
Reading moment: The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark. I read it because a book group I joined on Goodreads picked it. I don't think I would have found it otherwise.
I recommend this book to everyone. It's quick, about 125 pages, and it pulls you along at a screaming pace through this insane lady's day. And then you get to the end, and you have no idea how you got there or why, but it makes sense. I've read 3 other books by her since then and am going to reread the Driver's Seat in January, for my birthday. I don't know the last time I was so incredibly blown away by a story. It wasn't really because of the twists, there can be good twists in bad stories, but it was the overall excellence of the book.
Lisbeth Avery: Thanks for the interview Libby! Is there anything you'd like to add?
Libby: No, I'm good, but thank you!