Interview with Lyn Fairchild Hawks, author of How Wendy Redbird Dancing Survived the Dark Ages of Nought

Publisher: Lyn Hawks

Publication Date: March 29, 2013

Book Links:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: At sixteen, Wendy Redbird Dancing flies her freak flag high; she’s a scary-smart white girl with a hippie mom, a missing father, and a rarefied Michael Jackson obsession. It doesn’t help that her mother just uprooted them yet again, this time from California to North Carolina. Now Wendy has to survive a new school and fight bullies who rule this Southern roost.

But one black girl reaches out—Tanay—and she and Wendy forge a friendship to help her fight back. Her mother’s new boyfriend, Shaye, turns out to be decent—not the usual sleaze, but instead, a charming and attractive guy. As he gains her trust, Wendy’s crush ignites, and her hopes for a stable future soar. 

When Shaye starts flirting, Wendy is flattered but confused. When things take a terrible turn, she must go underground, waiting for the day she can escape to London for Jackson’s final tour. All seems lost when the King of Pop dies. But Wendy suddenly hears his ethereal voice, offering guidance and sending her west. Is St. Michael now the only one she can trust? 

Lyn Fairchild Hawks’s debut novel melds modern teen life with a parable of betrayal and trust, sharing the light and the dark of human relationships.

Interview: Q. Please tell us about the inspiration for your current release.

When Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009, I found myself trying to explain MJ and his legacy to a 12 year-old. That experience sparked a question: what if a modern teen became obsessed with MJ and started believing his spirit spoke to her—that he was a saint guiding her life?  This was one of the inspirations for ‘How Wendy Redbird Dancing Survived the Dark Ages of Nought’.

Q. How did writing this book affect you?

This book took three years of life, spurred some tears, and raised some tough questions for me. Wendy survives trauma. I know many survivors of abuse, and I wrote this for them.

Q. Is there anything you haven’t written about that you would like to in the future?

I would love to write a dystopian novel and a historical novel. I would also like to ghost write a couple friends’ memoirs because they have lived some serious life!

Q. Which of your characters would you want to be and why?

Not a one. Their lives are complicated and weird and grim; I put them in tough situations. But they’re wildly interesting, too.  I think my life is a breeze in comparison. Stability helps me routinize a writing life.

Q. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

I would get good at skiing, diving, fixing random things in the house when they break, hang gliding, wine selection, and wit. I would also become calm around spiders.

Q. What are you currently reading?

‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ by John Green & David Levithan and ‘Deception on His Mind’ by Elizabeth George.

Q. All of the books you’ve read, which book has impacted you the most?

‘The Robe’ by Lloyd C. Douglas.

Q. What gives you the most joy in life?

Singing and dancing, Haribo gummy bears, a rainy day with a good book and good tea, and my family.

Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for choosing my book when you could have read, watched, or done a million other things. In a time with so many choices, picking up my book means a lot.

Q. What does the title of your novel mean?

Wendy Redbird Dancing is not made for these times. She calls this era (the Oughts or the Two Thousands) the Dark Ages of Nought. It’s not only her retro obsessions but also the fact she can’t stand the rootless, chaotic life spent following her mother from state to state. When something terrible happens in their new home, Wendy must do everything she can to survive.

Q. What is YA for Adults? 

It’s my name for the genre I write. One of my first readers told me Wendy’s story was “YA for Gen X.” My novels feature old-soul young adult characters with preternatural smarts who face difficult circumstances. They see the world with ancient eyes and find adults better companions than peers. My adult readers see a lot of themselves in Wendy.

Q. What’s next in the Girls Outside: Gifted, Weird, Wise series? 

The next novel in the series is tentatively titled ‘How Minerva Mae Christopoulos Started the Chastity Club’. Get used to long titles and weird names. Though Wendy and Minerva have never met, they’re kindred spirits. Minerva’s tough and has her own Everest to climb.

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