My turn to interview Libby Heily who recently released her debut novel, Tough Girl.
As it’s also Libby’s birthday month (she will be twenty-one for the 14th time), I’ll start with:
You’re thirty-five this month. Happy Birthday and what, if any non-writing goals do you look to achieve?
Thank you!!!! Also, good question. Thirty-five is my goal age. I gave myself to thirty-five to learn the basic things in life: where I want to live, who I want to be, how to file my taxes, rent an apartment, buy a car, travel, etc. Most of those things are what people just know or they figure it out at an early age, but I'm a slow learner. More or less, I gave myself to 35 to learn to be comfortable in my own skin, my own life. I'm happy to say that I'm just about there.
How did the character of Tough Girl come about? Is she an alter ego?
I thought of Tough Girl while I was training for a marathon. I was obsessed with the idea of siblings in a crime family and I kept anchoring all my ideas on the eldest child, a girl. Stories about gangs or the mob tend to be very male focused. I just could not get over the idea of a strong, young female living as a criminal in a gritty world. Developing a tenacious character while completing ten to twenty mile runs just seemed the most pertinent thing to do.
You describe yourself as a beer snob. So, Belgian or English ale?
Belgian. Always go Belgian. Unless you're talking brown ales, then English.
You mention being a sometime filmmaker; that you’ve studied acting, video producing and writing. Have you always been creative?
I don't know if I've always been creative, but I've definitely always been a dreamer. Even as a kid, I tended to live half in this world and half in my imagination. I would sometimes adopt characters and pretend to be them. When I was in elementary school, I created a role for myself on The Golden Girls as Dorothy's granddaughter. I spent hours pretending I was on that show.
A friend inherits $10,000 and gives you $5,000. You’re not allowed to donate or give it away directly to a charity, but you must use it to benefit others. How would you disperse the funds?
I'd go to a hospital, find a family who has a member that needs an operation but they have no idea how to pay for it. I'd pay what I could of their hospital bills with that money.
How long did Tough Girl take from conception to holding a copy in your grubby, little hands?
I should wash my hands more. And they are quite small. Wow, I can't believe you're telling people how ugly my hands are. They're like Frodo's feet. Tough Girl took two years to write. I rewrote the entire novel four times. Four complete rewrites and many, many, many rounds of editing.
What’s next? Do you have a WIP or are you planning a break after the current blog tour?
I'm working on Bizarlington. It's structured like Trainspotting and takes place in Arlington, Virginia. And that's all I'm prepared to say at this time. :)
Cooking seems to be a fun distraction. If a few bluddies (blog buddies) came for an informal dinner, what’s on the menu?
Mexican Chicken Lasagna because it can feed an army and is quite tasty. I would also make chocolate pecan pie. Both of which are recipes I borrowed from an old roommate. She was a terrific cook and never ate leftovers. Best. Roommate. Ever.
I love stories. Writing is the most pure form of storytelling. I liked filmmaking but the story is processed through the writer, director, producer, and technicians. Same thing with playwriting and theater. Writing is just me and the reader. There are also no budgetary concerns. Producing a play or film can be very expensive.
Any advice to someone with a new blog or a first WIP?
Blog advice - make friends. Visit other blogs and leave comments. Learn. Participate in blog hops. The blogging community is amazing, but you have to participate.
WIP - Keep writing and grow a thick skin. You need to get critiqued and you need to learn how to accept critiques without allowing them to destroy you. This is a skill in and of itself.
Thanks Mark!!!!! That was fun.
Thanks Libby for being a sport and congrats on your birthday. All the best with Tough Girl.