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Monday, June 14, 2010

Lifted INTERVIEW with Wendy Toliver

Ok everybody, I am JUMPING UP AND DOWN EXCITED right now, because I have an INTERVIEW with WENDY TOLIVER to share with all of you!!!!!!

Wendy has just released her third book LIFTED, and I LOVED it! 

For those of you who don’t want to scroll down to my review, I’ll recap.  (Seriously, you can just scroll down.)

Lifted is a story of Poppy Browne.  When Poppy’s mother gets a new job, Poppy is transplanted into a Texas Baptist High School, where she is drawn into the dark temptation of shoplifting.

And so, from the very beginning Wendy Toliver pulls the reader into a world of the unexpected.  Life is often unexpected and full of surprises, and so is Lifted.  While Poppy may have some preconceived notions about her new home and the people she meets, Wendy doesn’t rely on stereotypes to build her story.  Poppy’s mother struggles in their relationship just as much as Poppy does.  Poppy’s perfect friends with their enviable lives aren’t perfect, and neither are their lives.  Some boys are jerks; some will surprise you, and some are just boys.  And even the most innocent person isn’t always so innocent. 

Poppy’s shoplifting becomes an intricate story of relationships and trust.  Trust me; you need to read this book.


Good books and authors can be hard to find, so I can’t tell you all how thrilled and honored I was to get a chance to ask Wendy some questions about Lifted and about her experiences as a writer!

Here goes…

nymfaux:  Have you ever been tempted to shoplift? How tempted would you be to shoplift, if you knew you could get away with it?
Wendy Toliver:  I've definitely wanted something that I couldn't afford but I don't know if I ever wanted to actually steal it. I'm not sure I'd be able to enjoy whatever it is if I knew I'd stolen it. Then again, like Poppy, I do enjoy a good adrenaline rush, but I honestly think I'd rather get it doing something else.
nymfaux:  If you were in a “no-consequences” bubble, and could lift anything from your heart’s desire—what would you choose?
Wendy Toliver:  Oh fun! Probably jewelry. Or maybe this pair of Schwartzki crystal wine glasses I saw in Jackson Hole.

nymfaux:  Shoplifting is as addicting as a drug to Poppy; is there anything that you’ve ever felt you could become addicted to, or that has had that kind of effect on your life?
Wendy Toliver:  This might sound kind of cheesy, but I think I could be addicted to people. I really hate being totally alone for any length of time. 

nymfaux:  You are a mother—We hear all the time that parents need to talk to their children about sex and drugs, but shoplifting had just as powerful effect on Poppy’s life—Do you think that this is something you would bring up with your own children—Or do you think that this comes under the header of teaching kids “right from wrong”—Sorry this is a long question, but in the same vein—Poppy KNEW it was wrong, as did the other girls, so does that make it a “peer pressure” discussion, or does it become more about keeping family communication lines open, hoping each person doesn’t get too wrapped up in themselves to see what else is going on?
Wendy Toliver:  This is a very good, thought-provoking question. Poppy starts shoplifting because of peer pressure but then it escalates into something entirely different. It’s a lot like how some people cut themselves, do drugs, have sex with numerous partners, or do other things knowing it’s “wrong,” illegal or even dangerous; yet it yields satisfying (whether it dulls senses or heightens them) results, even if for just a few minutes. My kids are still very young and innocent, but I do have friends with teens or friends who are teens, and I think that having open communication lines between parents/guardians and teens is beneficial in helping teens keep true to themselves. The key, of course, is keeping those communication lines open on both ends, and truly listening. Of course, this is something to aim for, but it can’t always happen, and we will always have to do what we can with what we have. Hopefully parents and leaders will lead by example, and our young people will eventually learn from their mistakes and continue their life journeys as the types of people they want to be.

nymfaux:  Also, as a mother, do you think you’d have a similar reaction as the mother in the book? What kind of reaction do you think you might have if Poppy were one of your children? What kind of approach do you think you’d take to resolve the issue? 
Wendy Toliver:  Like many parents, Poppy’s mom wants the best for her daughter, and she might very well be going about this all wrong, or at least too heavy-handedly. So many times, in an attempt to keep their children close and protected, parents end up pushing their children away. She knows things aren’t perfect between her and her daughter, and she wants to fix the relationship, but she’s not sure how. If Poppy were my daughter, I’d hopefully figure out that I was pushing her too hard, and help her see that I love her for everything she is, even the imperfect parts, and hopefully that would pave the way for a more solid relationship and we’d deal with the repercussions of Poppy’s addiction together. 

nymfaux:  While you were doing your research and writing Lifted, was there anything you found that really surprised you?
Wendy Toliver:  I was shocked how many people go online and chat so openly and unremorsefully about their personal shoplifting escapades. Many shoplifters actually believe they “deserve” the merchandise they lift, like retailers are the enemy. 

nymfaux:  This is your third book, and a little bit of a break from the first two—Has it gotten easier?
Wendy Toliver:  Easier to write a book? Yes ,and no. Getting the words down has become easier. If I know what I want to say, I can write it pretty quickly. The subject matter of Lifted was a lot harder to write about than the first two, though. It took me about 4 times as long to write it!

nymfaux:  Is there anything you’ve learned since you’ve become an author that you wish you’d have known when you started writing?
Wendy Toliver:  Yes, many things! I wish I would have joined writing organizations from the get-go. They are invaluable, especially to a beginning writer. I wish I would’ve paid more attention to the “how to write a novel” books and classes out there. I definitely believe it’s best to know the rules before you decide if you want to break them. One thing I did right was find a great literary agent. Again, invaluable.

nymfaux:  How much do you write before you share your idea with anyone else—husband, critique partner, agent, editor?
Wendy Toliver:  I write an outline/synopsis and about 3 chapters before sharing with those you’ve listed except for my editor. My agent will send this (proposal) to my editor and then if it sells, I will typically write the remainder of the book before showing it to my editor.

nymfaux:  As a previously published author, do you pitch an idea to your agent before you start writing, or does your agent support you in whatever direction you want to go?
Wendy Toliver:  I do share my ideas with my agent, sometimes 4 or 5 ideas at a time. Then she tells me which idea(s) she thinks is strongest and I file away the other ideas and go forward with the one(s) she likes best.

nymfaux:  How excited and thrilled are you, by your success?  What are you doing to celebrate?
Wendy Toliver:  Ha! I love to celebrate and I sometimes go a little overboard. I like to go to dinner with my family to celebrate book sales or any other good news. When my first book sold in 2007, we took our boys to Disney to celebrate. My husband threw me a lovely book launch party in a lovely old house, with caterers, a pianist, and everything. When my second book came out, we had a party at the house (and I hope to have a BBQ at home to celebrate Lifted sometime this summer). And when Lifted sold, we happened to be in the market for a wakeboarding boat, so we tell the boys the boat is because they were good and let me write. 

nymfaux:  Now that you are a fabulously successful author, would you ever want to do anything else?
Wendy Toliver:  I don’t know about being fabulously successful, but I am very happy to be whatever I am!

nymfaux:  What's your next project!??!!? Have you been working on something? Do you have a release date ;)
Wendy Toliver:  I have been working on something but I haven't turned it in to my agent yet so it's still early days as to whether it will sell. Fingers crossed! (If you're curious, it's a paranormal series!)

I would really like to thank Wendy so much for her time, and congratulate her on her success!  I am definitely crossing my fingers for the next book!

Also, Wendy has recently informed me that she’ll be sending a signed copy of Lifted my way, so that I can share with one of you!  Stay tuned for more info!


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2 comments:

Karla said...

:)

Anna R said...

This is an excellent interview, one of the best I have ever read. The questions were thought provoking and permitted Wendy to go further than in most of her interviews. Great job.