I was lucky enough to be contacted by debut author Skyler White to review her newly released novel and Falling, Fly (March 2, 2010) which I really enjoyed! She was also kind enough to take the time out of her busy schedule to come and visit, which I very much appreciate =D
A little background info before we go on:
Skyler White crafts challenging fiction for a changing world. Populated with angels and rock stars, scientists, demons and revolutionaries, her dark stories explore the secret places where myth and modernity collide.
She is a sucker for paradox. The child of two college professors, Skyler grew up in an environment of scholarship and academic rigor, so naturally left high school to pursue a career in ballet. She’s been dancing around research and thinking through muscle cramps ever since. She has a master’s degree in theater and work experience in advertising, has won awards as a stage director and appeared on reality TV. She is mother to a tall red-headed athlete and a short blond Lego master, married to a Mohawk-wearing inventor, and lives in Texas.
“I wrote ‘and Falling, Fly‘ because I needed to tangle with Desire – with what it means to want and not get, with what turns desire into craving or addiction, and what takes it away. My research ranged from feminist accounts of female sexuality to scientific abstracts on the neurochemistry of attraction. Writing it changed the way I think about myself, my body, and my brain.
I wrote it because I needed to meet Olivia. Because I was interested in the difference between wanting and being wanted, Olivia can only feed on people who desire or fear her. Because I struggle with body image, she’s a shape-shifter. Because she let me wrestle with these things through her, she is an angel. And she’s still kicking my ass.”
You can visit her website here: http://www.skylerwhite.com/
Me: Thank you so much for taking the time out to answer a few questions about you and your debut novel ‘and Falling, Fly’.
Skye: Thanks so much for inviting me over!
Me: Please tell us a little bit about ‘and Falling, Fly’ and what sets it apart from other dark, urban paranormals on the scene.
Skye: ‘and Falling, Fly’ is a dark fable of desire between a fallen angel and a rule-breaking neuroscientist. Olivia, the angel of desire, has fallen so far from her pure state that she’s completely out of touch with what she wants for herself. Even though everyone who looks at her wants her, they never actually *see* her because her appearance alters to conform to each person’s ideals. After lifetimes of trying to be both seen *and* loved in the belief that might be a loophole to regaining her pre-fall state, she gives up even that slender hope and goes back to Hell, an underground hotel in Ireland.
There, she meets Dominic, a rigorous (if maverick) neuroscientist, who almost convinces her she’s not an angel or damned, but just a woman with bad neurobiology. Threatened with losing everything that makes her unique and immortal, Olivia points out that Dominic’s not as clear-sighted as he puts on. He has visions for which he’s secretly self-medicating with drugs of his own manufacture. But they’re attracted to each other, and end up pitting her mythology against his medicine in a dangerous attempt to either redeem (or cure) themselves, although for each to accept the other would invalidate the self. As for what sets it apart from other paranormals on the scene…. er… there aren’t a lot of heroic neuroscientists out there?
Me: The title is entirely unique (as is the title of your upcoming book). Can you tell us how you came up with it?
Skye: ‘and Falling, Fly’ was both a challenge to myself, and a pretty fair summary of the plot line. This wasn’t an easy book to write, and the title served as a reminder as I wrote that I was trying to hurl myself into the abyss and write my way out. No space for caution. And the same leap of faith I was demanding of myself was also what both Olivia and Dominic had to do. It’s what anyone has to do when they fall in love – abandon your fear and caution and commit. It’s also Olivia’s journey. She has fallen from grace, but without that fall, she would never be able to work her way up under her own power to the heights she ultimately achieves with Dominic.
Me: Did anything in your life or dreams influence the characters/plot/setting of your novel that you’d like to share?
Skye: As you can probably tell, it’s a very personal book. I started writing it because I was feeling a lot like Olivia is at the beginning – overly controlled by the wants of others, out-of-touch with my own wants and more attuned to being wanted than wanting. I wanted to explore the line between wanting and craving. Olivia, who can’t get what she wants, eats what she can get. And I felt kinda the same. And she’s denied. I’m a child of a privileged time and nation, and felt like I had things I needed to learn about not being so spoiled that you believe you can always get what you want, if you just want it hard enough, or work hard enough, or pray hard enough. Sometimes getting what you want is out of your own control, and then where are you? Powerless, or free?
Me: There are a number of unforgettable characters in ‘and Falling, Fly’…who was one of your favorites to work with and why?
Skye: I had a lot of fun with Alyx and Ophelia. They’re both so very deeply messed up, but (and maybe this should worry me) they just seemed to write themselves. I didn’t have to work so hard at them.
Me: If you could go back and change one thing about the book, would you? If so, what would that be?
Skye: I’d try very hard to read it again for the first time and clean it up where I could. I’m not a trained writer. I’ve never had a writing class. One of these days, I’m going to go back to school and study creative writing, because I know that there are techniques and points of craft that I could master that would improve my writing. I’d like to do that and then go back to ‘and Falling, Fly’ and tidy it up.
Me: You certainly have a gift for writing in my opinion. Say you had to choose an entirely new career though…what would you be doing?
Skye: Oh, ack! I’ve had so many. Can I go back to one I’ve done? I really enjoyed working in theater, so I’d return to being a stage director. The money is lousy and the hours are worse, but it’s wonderful to work collaboratively with other creative people, and great not to be tied to a chair and laptop for your creative expression.
Me: If you could write a book about absolutely anything with any other author, who would you choose and what would the book be about?
Skye: Oh, that’s an intriguing question! I’d want to write something really erotic and scary with Neil Gaiman. Or something really funny with Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi.
Me: Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books?
Skye: Certainly the two gentlemen above, but I like so many things, it’s almost impossible for me to pick favorites. I’m reading Rimbaud at the moment, and really enjoying him, but I’ve recently read Caitlín Kiernan and Charles de Lint, so they’re very much on my mind. And Yeats. Always.
Me: Can you tell us a little bit about the book you’re currently working on, ‘In Dreams Begin’ (December 2010)?
Skye: I’d love to!’ In Dreams Begin’ is the story of the Irish poet WB Yeats and a contemporary graphic artist from Portland who wakes up on her wedding night and channeled into the body of Maud Gonne, the six-foot tall, red-headed, possibly party-faerie political revolutionary everyone believes Yeats was in love with. In my story, it’s Laura that Yeats loves, and their connection, across time and countries, allows me to play with the Victorian occult, modern romance, body image, possession and the fae all in the context of a surprisingly cooperative actual history.
I did an enormous amount of research for this book and nowhere in writing it do I countermand real history. I make up things where there are blanks, but Yeats really was heavily involved in the occult. He and Maud Gonne really did have a marriage “on the spiritual plane,” and Maud was, at the time, widely considered in the Irish countryside to be of the Sidhe, a kind of faerie known for spiriting away the souls of wives on their wedding nights.
Me: Is there anything you’d like to add?
Skye: Only that I really love hearing from readers. For me, part of the fun of having created this complex, imaginary world is the ability to have others come play in it with me.
Again, thank you Skye for giving me the opportunity to read your fantastic novel and to swing by and chat with me during your busy release schedule. I’m so looking forward to reading your second book later on this year!
Thanks so much! And thanks for asking such interesting questions!
To read an excerpt from the book click here...
Thank you again Skyler!