I adored this book and am excited to have Leslye Walton here for a guest post today...

     Most are surprised to learn that my favorite book as a child was a small paperback bought at a neighbor’s garage sale entitled The Best Baby Name Book in the World. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I spent hours pouring over the pages of this book, starring my favorite names, highlighting those I found unusual or memorable. It drove my sister crazy that I spent most of our playtime choosing our Barbies’ names and recording them in thick yellow notepads. But it was important to me that I found the right name for each of them. You can learn so much from a name. This was never more apparent to me than when I started writing The Strange & Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender where Marigold Pie was the self-righteous neighbor with a passion for sweets and Satin Lush the smooth-talking bootlegger. And Ava, the girl with wings? Her name means “bird.”
      For me, writing always starts with the characters. I can’t begin to formulate a story before I know the people who will be living it. Plus, more often than not, it’s the characters that tell me the plot and not the other way around. It takes a while for me to get to know them. They’re like small children always wanting my attention, intruding my thoughts at the most inconvenient times. This is the stage of the writing process where I can be found muttering to myself while walking my dog, when I’m at the gym or grocery shopping. This is when I lose my keys in my own pocket, when I manage to trap myself in my own bathroom and escape only by unscrewing the hinges.
     Check out Leslye's cool writing space with her view of Seattle. She says she's on the 3rd floor and that if she looks down she has a not-so-glamorous view of a parking lot and dumpsters. I say don't look down!

     It’s common—perhaps even acceptable—for children to get carried away with their imaginations. People find it delightful when my three-year-old niece launches into a tale about her make-believe friends. But adults, even creative ones, aren’t allowed this luxury. It’s not quite as adorable when I can’t pull myself away from these strange creations of mine. When ordinary tasks are overlooked; a heaping laundry pile neglected in the corner, social commitments and dentist appointments long forgotten.
      Perhaps this is why whenever someone asks my advice on being a writer, I always recommend that they do something else. Anything else. If they can find something to do other than write and still feel fulfilled in life, go do that other thing. It’s dreadfully difficult to muster up the self-motivation, determination, and, let’s face it, complete and utter delusion that such a job requires while still remembering to pay the rent on time. I wrote Ava Lavender not with dreams of success, not even with the idea that anyone else would ever read it, let alone enjoy it. I wrote it simply because I couldn’t not write it. These characters of mine weren’t going to let their story be untold, and they didn’t seem to care whether I had time for much else.
      I have to admit, I’m happy to be their vessel. It suits me quite well. And though these strange characters of mine will surely continue to distract me from the ordinary tasks of the day, I no longer feel embarrassed when I have to explain how I managed to lose my keys yet again, or why I can’t seem to remember the date regardless of how many times I ask. But, I am learning. If you peek just underneath the sink in my bathroom, you’ll see I’ve hidden a screwdriver. Just in case.

Candlewick has kindly agreed to give away one free copy of Leslye's THE STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL SORROWS OF AVA LAVENDER to one of my lucky commenters! Must live in the US or Canada to win. Enter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

Rosi said...

Well, I can certainly relate to what you go through, Leslye. Those nagging characters can really get in the way! I absolutely LOVE the cover of your book. It is gorgeous. Congratulations.