Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Year the swallows came early blog book tour - Day Two

Good morning everyone. Today I will be interviewing Kathryn Fitmaurice, the author of The year the swallows came early. This gracious lady has a wonderful story about how this book came about.

Marya: Where did the idea for this story come from?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: First I’d like to thank you very much for interviewing me. I’ve read your blog for awhile now, so this is very exciting for me. The idea for the story came to me the year my youngest son was assigned his fourth grade Mission Project. Many students in the state of California complete an extensive Mission Project in fourth grade, in addition to learning about California’s history. Of course, we went to the San Juan Capistrano Mission the day the swallows returned, which is March 19. I knew then I wanted to write about the swallows because they always come back. No matter what else happens, there they are, year after year, like a promise.

Marya: You have put some of your own life experiences into this story. What does it feel like to see moments from your life on a printed page?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: This is very exciting, and I think many other writers also put their own experiences into their stories. But when my grandmother passed away, and left her entire collection of unfinished manuscripts to me, I was overwhelmed with joy and inspiration at the thought of having them. It was what pushed me to finally write my own novel after so many years. I suppose that’s why I included it in the story. It was such a force for me, and I wanted my main character to have that same special gift that would keep her going when she felt the obstacles of life that were in the path of where she wanted to go.

Marya: Do you see a lot of yourself in Groovy, your main character?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: The main character is a combination of two students I had when I last taught, and myself. Like my main character, I connect food to events and people. I make the same menus and dishes over and over because the food reminds me of certain things. For example, we always make crème brulee on Christmas. Using the kitchen torch is a lot of fun. Scrambled eggs are the first thing I’ll cook if there is some kind of small crisis, and so on. And then, also, I’m a little like Groovy in that I knew what I wanted to be someday when I got older.

Marya: The arrival of the swallows is an important moment in the story. What did you want it to signify?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: The swallows symbolize the love of one’s family and the security of knowing that no matter what happens between those we are related to, that there is always a bond between us. Even though we may have been hurt, or disappointed, many of us still come back eventually, and hopefully, try to make things right.

Marya: I understand that you are now writing a second book. Is the process different now from when you were writing the first book?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: I think the process of writing a new story is both the same and different. It’s the same because as a writer, you’re still trying to hear the main character’s story and get it right. But it’s different because you’re writing in a new voice, and sometimes, at least for me, it’s hard to perfect that new voice.

Marya: You have been a teacher for many years. Have your experiences in this job helped you to write this story?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: Well I wish I could’ve taught longer than I did. But I remember the week The Tale of Despereaux came out. Three of my third graders were reading it during silent reading time. I remember sitting with them and talking about what made the story so great. Sometimes I wish I could go back and ask them questions I didn’t think of, now that I’m actually really writing. I do know this, though; kids will read what they connect to.

Marya: Do you have ideas for other books that you hope to write? Do you think you might use some of the story ideas that you came up with when you were a teenager?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: I do have other ideas, and I’m looking forward to writing those soon. When I was a teenager, I wrote mostly poetry, but one short story I wrote might work for a full length novel. I think teens today are such better writers than I was at that age. They are learning so much more about grammar and developing their own individual style. They are assigned a lot more reading than I was, which also helps them to become better writers. I’m amazed at the clarity and pulled-togetherness of the essays and stories I read of my son’s high school friends.

Marya: You mention on your website that you love to organize things. Are you organized when you are writing?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: I’m pretty organized when I’m writing, but I don’t write from an outline. Instead, I have paragraphs or scenes jotted on a sheet of paper, places I know I want the story to go to, and then I fill in the parts in between. The story usually changes from my original vision. It has a way of almost writing itself. I’ll suddenly see places and events that I think should happen, that I hadn’t thought about in the beginning. Those are the best surprises, the ones I hadn’t planned on.

Marya: What was your favorite book when you were Groovy’s age?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: My favorite book was one of my grandmother’s, entitled Chrysalis of Death. It was a science fiction book for adults. I read it a few times, and just recently again But I also liked the Little House on the Prairie books. I have every one of them, and used them in my classroom for literature studies.

Marya The Year the Swallows Came Early has been very well received. What is your reaction to its success?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: Thank you for thinking that. Nothing could make me happier to think someone is reading the book, and likes it. I only wish I could give it to my grandmother, and ask her what she thought of it. And did she think my opening paragraph was enough of a hook, and were my characters developed enough. You know, things she would’ve pondered over for hours with me. I can see her in her chair, her typewriter in front of her, her serious look on her face. “Now, Kathy, “she’d say, “let’s talk about your character’s arc a little.”

Marya: Thank you so much Kathryn, for this warm and enlightening inteview. I have learned a lot about you, and have been given yet another interesting peek into the life of a writer.

Please visit the other sites participating in this blog book tour.

A Christian Worldview of Fiction, All About Children’s Books, Becky’s Book Reviews, Booking Mama, Cafe of Dreams, Dolce Bellezza, Fireside Musings, Homeschool Buzz, Hyperbole, KidzBookBuzz.com, Looking Glass Reviews, Maw Books Blog, Never Jam Today, Novel Teen, Reading is My Superpower


Join me tomorrow for a treat and for a discussion about food.

3 comments:

Becky said...

What a great interview! Scrambled eggs are one of my comfort foods too.

Sally Apokedak said...

What a great interview!

Marie DeVries said...

That was a wonderful interview. I always love reading interviews!