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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Interview with Skyler White author of "and Falling, Fly".

Just in time to coincide with St. Patrick's Day today VampirePhile has the pleasure of an interview with Skyler White, author of the provocative debut novel and Falling, Fly (which is set predominantly in Ireland).

VampirePhile: Hello Skyler, welcome. First off I must give kudos on a great read. As I mentioned in my review, I found your writing to be very lyrical, insightful and thought provoking. 

So my first question is then, for those reading who may not yet know about you, tell us a bit about yourself: such as how you got started? How long you've been writing?

Skyler White: I’ve used writing as a problem-solving tool for as long as I can remember. Somehow, I think more clearly when I’m writing than I do otherwise. But I’ve only been writing for publication for about five years, and this is my first published book. Before that, I’d been a ballet dancer and a stage director. I worked in advertising for a while and I had an Internet start-up venture, back in the day when those were fashionable. I had developed a line of dogma-free prayer candles, but I hated the production part of it. I felt really good about the way they looked and how every part of them was ethically and environmentally sourced, but I hated making and boxing and building them. The more I sold, the more I had to do that, so I was in the stupid place of being disappointed when new orders came in.

I kept trying to develop new products instead of selling the ideas I’d already had, and finally my husband and my best friend (both of whom I’d roped in to helping me with design and marketing) sat me down and pointed out that what I really loved was the thinking and the writing, and maybe I should find a different pursuit that allowed me to concentrate on those aspects more. It wasn’t easy to hear, but I’m so glad they helped me see it, because I’m much happier now.

VP: So you mentioned (re: and Falling, Fly) in your bio on your website, that: “I wrote it because I needed to meet Olivia. Because I was interested in the difference between wanting and being wanted.”
Were you able to reconcile these differences and how?

Skyler White: You’re the first person to ask me that. It’s a hard question. But yes, I think I did find reconciliation between the two impulses, although it’s something I have to remember. I revert back to old patterns very easily.

For me, it was about getting in touch with the un-lady-like hungers, with being able to say “I want” rather than “He wants me.” I still like feeling desirable, and a lot of times, my awareness of being attracted to someone shows up first in the thought “he likes me!” or “is she coming on to me?” But I’m learning to turn my attention from looking for clues about how the other person feels to looking at my own feelings. I try to focus directly on my wanting. Which is hard. Because wanting is a kind of pain. It’s an awareness of lack. You want what you don’t have.

Once you have something you wanted, you feel appreciation or enjoyment or boredom, but not wanting anymore. Not desire. That implies lack. And I find myself quick to transfer my longing towards things I can gratify. I’ll have a snack or go shopping rather than simply experience the feeling of wanting. But I’m trying to learn to be OK with just the wanting. It’s not something I’m good at yet.

VP: I love the new type of language you use, for example “psycast”, what method (if any) did you employ for creating your unique words? And what made you decide to use the word “quills” rather than “fangs”?

Skyler White: Thank you! I had tremendous amount of fun playing with language while writing.

Psycasting came out of “broadcasting” or “telecasting” put together with the character Psyche from Greek mythology, who is a close relative to the sisters.

I really didn’t want to use the word “fangs” at all because they have an animal connotation that I didn’t want to invoke. My vampires aren’t animalistic at all. They’re barely even humanistic. “Quill” comes out of animal terminology too, but it implies feathers, (or porcupines!) and wings. And because they’re angels and have (or had) wings, a feather-vocabulary seemed more appropriate. The fact that writers used quills was kind of a fun bonus, too!

VP: What do you find attractive about the world of the Paranormal?

Skyler White: Its readership! There are simply no more generous, open-minded readers out there. As a writer, if you want to experiment with genre, with form, with language, with worlds or ideas, there really is no other space you can mix and match with so much freedom.
VPand Falling, Fly is a beautiful title, especially for the image it evokes. How did you come to choose it? And what does it mean to you?
Skyler White: Thanks! It ended up giving me fits, what with the lower case “a” and the comma, but it really did mean a lot to me, so I’m glad we stuck with it. There are a couple of levels to the title for me. The first is the simple idea of commitment. It’s the “you can’t learn to dive in the shallow end” lesson of courage and reward. If you want to fall in love – hell, if you want to write a book – you have to hurl yourself off the parapet not just once, but every day. You have to take risks.
But it’s also a metaphysical thing. When we fall from grace, when we toss ourselves out of heaven, out of safety and supplied answers, only then to we have the possibility of reaching a paradise of our own creation under our own strength. Only once you’ve had your heart broken can you love. It takes experience, good and bad, to grow into our full selves.
VP: and Falling, Fly touches on a few particular, poignant issues, especially as it relates to women: desire (being desired) and love. Do you feel that as women today (esp. in this media driven time), that we have it harder, than say our fore-mothers?

Skyler White: I don’t know. I think it’s hard to be a woman today, but it’s a different kind of hard than it was a hundred years ago, but I’m not sure which is harder. I know I wouldn’t switch places with my foremothers if for no other reason than the child-mortality numbers, but I don’t think we’re living in the golden age of freedom that the revolutionaries in the sixties were hoping to create for us.

VP: Who are some (other) women you may admire, be they authors or not, and why?

Skyler White: What a cool question! I’m going to restrict myself to public women, although I’m lucky to know many really admirable women personally. Marion Zimmmer Bradley: for her (early) sexual and religious boldness and for her (early) fandom. Margaret Atwood: for (later) embracing of genre fiction, her feminism, consummate craftsmanship, and politics. Antonia Fraser: for her scholarship, feminism and marriage. Barbara Kingsolver: for her honesty, skill, diversity, and the way she talks about parenting. Wow. There are so many more before I even branch out from writers, but they were the first four who came to mind.

VPand Falling, Fly and your other upcoming release In Dreams Begin both feature Ireland. Why Ireland? And could you divulge a bit more about In Dreams Begin?

Skyler White: “Why Ireland” actually has a lot to do with the story of In Dreams Begin. Ireland is where I’m from genetically, but because I was adopted at birth in the late 60’s, that’s about all I know about my biological history. When I wanted a “back home” for Olivia, Ireland seemed resonate on a personal level, appropriate on a story level, and since I’d been in 2005, I’d already done the research!

In Dreams Begin (and the title is the first piece of Yeats’ quote “in dreams begin responsibilities”) is the story of a contemporary graphic artist who falls asleep on her wedding night and wakes up in the body of Maud Gonne, a famously beautiful, six-foot tall, red-headed Irish revolutionary who may have been part faerie. The amateur occultist who channeled Laura into Maud then introduces her to WB Yeats, and the two – Victorian romantic poet and time-shifted, modern cynic – fall rather helplessly in love.

It was a very research-intensive project, but real history was remarkably cooperative. Yeats was heavily involved in the occult, and experimented with all kinds of things including astral projection and a “spiritual marriage” with Maud who, traveling the Irish countryside, was widely referred to as the “lady of the Sidhe,” a kind of faerie famous for the theft of brides.

VP: A just for fun question to finish - With the current “undead” trend in film and TV being ever so popular with True BloodTwilightVampire Diaries etc – seems like the fans want more fangs! What are some vampiric works you’d like to see adapted for the big or small screen? And, if you haven’t already, would you try your hand at penning a script?
Skyler White: I haven’t tried screenwriting. I’d like to, and I’m curious, but I feel like I’d need to learn a lot before I gave it a shot. It’s very different from writing a novel.

I think Julie Kenner’s “Good Ghouls” vampires are ripe for TV or film, though.

VP: Well thank you very much Skyler for stopping by and giving VampirePhile and its readers the opportunity to discover this world of yours. We would like to wish you continued success with the new release. It’s been a pleasure having here and definitely looking forward to more from you in the future.

Skyler White: Thank you so much for inviting me, and for such really difficult, interesting questions.

Skyler White is author of dark fantasy novels ‘and Falling, Fly’ (Berkley, March 2010) and ‘In Dreams Begin’ (Berkley, March 2010). She lives in Austin, TX. Read more about Skyler on her website:

and Falling, Fly is now available at: Amazon.comBarnes & NobleBordersPowell's / IndieBound .

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