Don’t miss your chance to grab a free signed copy of the book after the interview!
We’re very excited to announce our next VIPP Perk–a signed copy of “Yellow Bird” from indie author Linda Johnson.
Prime Parents Club founder and editor Jacqueline Wilson caught up with Linda and here’s what she had to say about her book, her inspiration and her daughter–our very own food contributor Liza Hawkins.
Your book “Yellow Bird” is an interesting intermingling of old south, traditions and unique connections. How did you come up with the idea?
The overarching themes of faith and mysticism in “Yellow Bird” needed to be well grounded in order to be, if not understood, than at least accepted. The culture along the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia evolved hundreds of years ago, mainly from the combined influences of the native tribes in that area and the Scots-Irish immigrants who arrived in the early eighteenth century. Both communities saw mysticism as a valued experience and even a component of everyday life, which is reflected in many Appalachian traditions today. Perhaps this was more so in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when this story takes place. A strong sense of place and culture, I thought, would better engage the reader.
I’m glad to hear that. Yes, I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback indicating that, for many readers, “Yellow Bird” immersed them in another place and time, and left them with a sense of wonder at the end. That was my goal. However, there are others who found the journeys to and from spiritual realms a distraction. I suppose it depends on what you’re looking for in a book.
I have a confession, my connection goes a little deeper. I grew up going to family farms in the hollows of Virginia and part of Appalachia. Why did you choose this area? Why do you think this area ingrains itself upon people?
That’s wonderful to know. I would love to hear if you think the characters, the bookstore, and the story ring true.
In an era of unprecedented transience, I believe people crave a strong sense of place as well as traditions that hold meaning. I’ve tried to illuminate that in “Yellow Bird” through complex characters and the stories they tell, hopefully peeling away the stereotypes that have beleaguered mountain culture for a long time. My 82-year-old father-in-law was born and raised in the mountains of east Tennessee. He certainly was a great resource.
What made you start writing?
To tell you the truth, my first preference of expression had always been painting. I’m a very visual learner, which I think shows in my writing style. I’ve been able to hone my writing skills over the years through work in public relations, copy writing, and editing.
I dabbled with a few other manuscripts, nothing ready for prime time, but a good exercise. “Yellow Bird” was an attempt to give voice to a concept not well represented in the modern novel. It was my attempt at balance; a counterweight to the prevalence of stories about “the dark side,” particularly fiction aimed at young adult readers. “Yellow Bird” is a good book for young adults as well as adult readers.
Are there plans for a follow-up to this book, or another book? What’s in “the works” for you?
“Yellow Bird” is an indie book, which means it’s self-published. I now am seeking a literary agent or publishing house to carry the novel the rest of the way. It’s become difficult to write stories and sell them too, which is the case with indie books. Even so, I am beginning to craft a second and third book – a trilogy that continues the story through to the next two generations of characters.
That’s fantastic to hear. I absolutely love serial novels where I can follow characters and plots through several books.
We have a great deal of parent bloggers and writers who follow our site. Many are interested in getting a book written and published. If you had one vital piece of advice to them, what would it be?
Allow a lot more time for everything than you ever expected. With so many great writers and amazing stories out there, I spent a lot of time making sure I had something to bring to the party. I asked myself: What experiences and inspirations can I write about that are not already well articulated by somebody else? I saw a niche for myself and went for it.
What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
As I said, for most people, the process of beginning a work of fiction and seeing it through to a published piece takes a long time. Having a story idea inspired enough to carry me from beginning to end was the hardest part.
Your daughter Liza is our food contributor so it’s only right that we get a piece of juicy gossip about her from you. Can you share something about her growing up that would surprise us? Of course, feel free to embarrass her…
Watching Liza grow up was a joy. She was a pretty focused kid, so as she brought that focus into adulthood, I knew she would succeed in anything she set her mind to. Even as a child, she had a gift for reporting because she also had (and still does) a keen sense for what makes people tick. I felt that this was a wonderful asset in a child, and in fact, it did lend a certain sophistication to her ability to befriend all types of people– kids as well as adults. Similarly she also was pretty astute at sizing up someone who was disingenuous, which was sometimes hilarious, especially when she was little.
Well that was a little disappointing. We were hoping for something about a time when Liza got kicked out of kindergarten or stole cooking utensils from the local dollar store thus starting her foodie career, but I guess we’ll just have to take the awesome stuff about her.
One last thing: as a “prime parent” what is your advice for younger moms and dads trying to raise a child in today’s difficult society? Anything you think they should embrace?
I’ve had the good fortune of raising two daughters and now I’m enjoying two small grandchildren. There’s no question that juggling the demands of modern life – work, school, media, society’s pressures – is hard on everyone in the family. But in the end, I think kids aren’t too concerned about having a perfect parent. More often, they just want to know that you love them – that you’re there for them, warts and all. Maybe that’s what a prime parent is.
Thanks for your time. It was an honor to interview you and we’re so excited to be giving away your book as part of our VIPP Perks program.
“Yellow Bird” by Linda Johnson
Contact the Author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores
Accolades: “Yellow Bird” was named to “Kirkus Reviews’ Best of 2011 for Indie Fiction.”
We are excited to give away copies of Linda Johnson’s “Yellow Bird” through our VIPP Perks program. To be part of our program (it’s free!) and apply to be eligible for this product and other free products to try, follow these steps:
1. Become a free member of our community. (If not already.)
2. Request to become a member of our exclusive VIPP Perks group. (Yep, free too!)
3. Go to the VIPP Perks group, SCROLL DOWN and then click on Forum.
4. Scroll down until you see the heading for the “Yellow Bird” Perk, click on that forum topic.
5. FOLLOW THE LINK WITHIN THE FORUM TOPIC to apply for this specific perk.
RESTRICTIONS FOR THIS PERK: None. Open to all domestic and international readers.
Application for this free VIPP Perk ends Sunday, February 12, 2012, midnight EST.
Let us know if you have any questions.