Today I’m welcoming Chynna Laird to Fridays Off the Wall. Chynna is a fellow Astraea Press author. Her most recent book is called Blackbird Flies, a young adult novel.
Joselyn: Tell us more about Blackbird Flies. Who would you cast as the villain/antagonist character?
I don’t really have a ‘villain’ in my book. The antagonist, though, is Lily Joplin—the girl Payton is attracted to but is fighting to get close to because of her issues. She has a strong resemblance to Alicia Silverstone but I’m not sure she’d be young-looking enough to play Lily. I guess my top choice would be Kristen Stewart. She has the sultry look I envision for Lily and from her other roles, I think she could handle this complex of a character brilliantly.
Joselyn: What do you listen to while you are writing?
My four kids running around screaming. LOL! My main ‘office’ is right in the living room so that’s what is around me most of the time. BUT in the quieter times when I’m working alone, I usually listen to the Beatles and Ringo Starr. They are what inspire me, calm me, get me going, and draw out my creativity.
Joselyn: I’m so impressed that you can work during that. I can barely concentrate when my kids are “sitting quietly” and watching TV. (and by “sitting quietly” I mean only bouncing on the couch instead of somersaulting.) What would you do if you lost an entire manuscript?
OMGosh! That’s actually happened to me! I freaked out at first, then cried. Then I just started from scratch. I still had my outline and the story all planned out in my head. What happened is the new version turned out even better than the one I’d finished! (Chynna’s advice: BACK. UP. DAILY!!!)
Josleyn: That reminds me. I need to do a big backup. That’s fantastic that the new one was even better. What draws you to a movie – actors, plot or genre – and why?
GREAT question! I’d have to say genre draws me first because even if an actor I LOVE is in a certain movie, it may not be enough to get me to watch it. For example, I adore Johnny Depp but not everything he does is up my alley. LOL!
Joselyn: What is your favorite thing about writing?
Being able to escape my world for a little while into one that I create.
Joselyn: What is your favorite story (that you’ve written)?
Wow…that’s a tough one. My favorite novel-length story I’ve written is definitely BLACKBIRD FLIES. My favorite short story is a toss up between THE GRAY FELT HAT and JUST SHUT UP AND DRIVE!
THE GRAY FELT HAT is about an experience I had when I was 15. Things were really tough during those days and I was desperately unhappy. I took the bus to school every day and this little old man got on one morning and sat beside me. What always stood out in my mind about him was he wore a beautiful gray felt hat, even in the warmest weather—something of his generation, I think. Anyway, he listened to me…that’s all he did. He never judged me or gave his opinion; he just listened, offering his pearls of wisdom. One day, he stopped getting on the bus. I feared the worst. I never knew his name but he gave me love during a time I didn’t have any. I think about him every day.
JUST SHUT UP AND DRIVE is a fiction story about a young man who travels across the Canadian Prairies to learn more about his family history. His parents were killed in a car accident when he was a young boy and the rest of the family thought his Granddad Wilf would be the person to raise him so he’d have a ‘tougher hand’ they felt he needed. I’m turning this into a novel so I won’t say too much but I think it’ll be a great story. =)
Joselyn: Those are great titles. What is the most challenging thing you’ve ever done?
As a writer? I’d probably say moving into Fiction from being almost exclusively a Nonfiction author. The premise is the same because you still have to capture the attention of your audience and hold it until the book is complete. But in Fiction, there’s an entirely different avenue of story telling that authors need to bare in mind.
I’ve published two memoirs, a children’s picture book, a YA novel and an adult suspense/thriller (and have a shelf full of projects on-the-go.) A similarity among all these different genres is the importance of ‘showing’ through dialogue and bodily responses. The difference is that Nonfiction is a ‘true account’ of something, whether a biography, memoir or reference book whereas Fiction is a story where you create places, characters and events. When I first attempted Fiction I wondered if I’d ever ‘get’ it because I’d have huge holes in the story line or wouldn’t go into as much character detail as I should…you know, all the regular ‘newbie’ author boo-boos. But it got easier when I realized that I just had to tell the story like a movie playing in my head that I wanted to share with someone else, having them see that movie the way I was. That helped! But I still find it challenging going back and forth. LOL!
Joselyn: Okay, last question. Have you ever written a hero or heroine that you didn’t like?
So far, no! I’ve even liked the villains I’ve created because, in my view, every one of us whether thought of as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ has a weakness…a vulnerability…that we can relate to in some way. Humans…all
humans…are flawed in some way. There’s not one of us who is perfect. And that’s how I create my characters.
Blurb for Blackbird Flies: Fifteen year-old Payton MacGregor is a musical prodigy. To him, though, his music is merely a way for him to escape from the chaos that surrounds him. All of his life, he’s had to care for his mother, who copes with her bipolar disorder with booze instead of turning to her own musical talents. He refuses to become a statistic. Then he’s thrown a curve ball.
His mother suddenly dies, leaving him to be cared for by his aging grandparents. As much as they love him, they decide to send him halfway across Canada to live with his father, Liam—the man Payton always believed abandoned him and his mother. Payton isn’t making the relocation easy on anyone until he finds out he’s going to attend the prestigious School of the Arts for musically gifted youth. Any second thoughts he has about his new life are erased when he meets Lily Joplin. Their connection is instantaneous.
Lily is a talented singer, but her struggles with drugs and bipolar disorder hit too close to home for Payton’s comfort. And when her issues become all-consuming for Payton, he wonders if his music will be enough to carry him through.
For more about Chynna: