Today I have a wonderful interview with debut author Kathryn Fitzmaurice, author of The Year the Swallows Came Early. Check out my review. Kathryn will also be giving away signed copies of the book to two lucky commentors. You have a week to enter-drawing will be held March 13.
-Where did you get the idea for The Year the Swallows Came Early?
Kathryn Fitzmaurice: When I sat down to write the book, I had two ideas in my mind. The first one was that I wanted to include the swallows and their annual migration to San Juan Capistrano each year. And the second one was that I wanted to write about my grandmother and her unfinished manuscripts which she left to me when she passed away. I am not really the type of writer who uses an outline. I had a general idea of where I wanted the story to go, but really, the story fell into place as I wrote it.
-Groovy's great-grandmother was a sci-fi writer as well as your grandmother. I know that you gave Groovy your grandmother's name-did any other characteristics you gave her come from your grandmother? How much did her writing influence you?
Kathryn Fitzmaurice: Mostly, the grandmother in the story is the same as my own grandmother. My grandmother collected owls, and wrote only late at night. She talked about strange phenomenon, and noticed things most people don’t. I did this because I wanted to honor what my grandmother had done for me, and all the encouragement and support she gave me over the years.
-Groovy's mom reads her horoscope every morning. Are you an avid fan of horoscopes as well? Have you ever had any of them come true?
Kathryn Fitzmaurice: I don’t read my horoscope. But for the story, I read a lot about the different personality traits that are associated with each sign, and I picked the ones that fit my characters. I wanted Mama, in the beginning of the story, to believe in something other than just superstition. She changed quite a bit, though, in the end.
-Since Groovy wants to be a chef, she has to try all sorts of recipes. If you could have Groovy come to your house and make you any meal, which would it be? Do you like to cook too or is that just Groovy?
Kathryn Fitzmaurice: I love this question! I actually don’t really love to cook. I do cook because I have a family, but I usually make the same nine things. Every once in a while, though, I find something new to make. My newest recipe in the biweekly cycle is breaded pork chops from Giada DeLaurentiis. I saw her make them on the Food Network one day.
If Groovy came over to my house to make us something, I’d ask her to bake us a chocolate cake, and then make her sloppy Joes with sweet onions (page 171 in the book). I’d pick these recipes because I know my two boys would eat them!
-What can you tell us about your next book?
Kathryn Fitzmaurice: I am working on a companion book to Swallows, and I am writing an historical fiction book.
-Swallows play an important part of your book. Are you a bird watcher? Do you have a favorite bird?
Kathryn Fitzmaurice: I have watched the swallows return to the San Juan Capistrano mission/area for many years. They come back every spring on March 19, which is St. Joseph’s day. Since The Year the Swallows Came Early has been released, friends have given me drawings of swallows, gold charms of swallows, swallow postcards, etc. So probably, my favorite bird is a swallow. They’re actually kind of messy birds, but the way they always return to the same spot is such an amazing occurrence that I’ve fallen in love the romantic idea of them symbolizing a promise that will never be broken.
-If you could live inside any book, which would it be and why?
Kathryn Fitzmaurice: I’d either live inside The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson because you could jump around to whichever poem you wanted depending on what kind of mood you were in, and you’d probably be wearing some pretty fancy clothes most days. Or To Kill a Mockingbird because I’d love to have a big brother like Jem.
-What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Kathryn Fitzmaurice: I would tell new writers to join a critique group, and take writing classes. There is no better feedback than a room full of peers who are also trying to write. They can hear what you’re trying to say, and help pull out of you the parts you may have trouble explaining. I would also suggest that they attend writing conferences. I do these same things myself, as I am still an aspiring writer with a lot to learn.