Friday, January 23, 2015

One Year Celebration: Happy 1st birthday to A Mad Wicked Folly!!

Welcome, welcome!

Come on over and have a cup of tea, grab a cupcake and make yourself comfy! Today I'm doing a small celebration in honour of the one year anniversary of one of my absolute favourite books from last year, the impressive debut YA novel of Sharon Biggs Waller, A Mad Wicked Folly!

I saw quite a few raging reviews for A Mad Wicked Folly from some trusted bloggers and when I decided to give it a try myself I was blown away and fell head over heels in love with the book! So much that whenever I've been asked about a book to recommend or to include in any sort of Top 10 list, it's quite probably the first one to pop into my mind, even if I read it in the first months of the year. You can check my review HERE.

I got to talk to the author, Sharon via Twitter and she was amazing and friendly and an absolute joy to talk to, and when I went on my "find myself alone" trip to the US, I met with her (and my dear Sarah!) for lunch and some historical sites visit in Chicago!

So when the idea of making a lil celebration for the book's first anniverasy of release day popped into my head, I asked her for an interview, and we had a wonderful Skype chat, with plenty of time rambling and talking not only about Folly, but about her upcoming book for 2016 and for the one that's asking to be written right after (which I'm DYING for now!!).

No celebration is complete without some sweet confections, and so I want to share again my Ink & Batter cupcakes inspired by A Mad Wicked Folly!

And now let's welcome Sharon Biggs Waller so she can tell us a bit more about her writing journey and her inspiration for A Mad Wicked Folly!

 A Mad Wicked Folly was your debut as a fiction writer, but you had written non-fiction before. How different is writing fiction vs non-fiction for you? 

Writing non-fiction is easier in a way, since you don't depend so much on inspiration to strike. You’re given someone to interview or a topic to write about, and you can jump right it. It’s important to find a good hook in order to draw people in—very much like you'd do with fiction. With non-fiction you can hit a deadline more easily as long as you have your information, but with fiction it depends on how well you know your characters and your story. That can take a lot of time.

When you moved into writing fiction, what made you choose historical fiction over other genres? 

When I was a park ranger I started out working at historical sites in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and I was responsible for writing and giving programs to the public and area schools. My specialty was the Voyageurs who had traveled through the area, trading with the Indians and settlers. I absolutely loved this part of my job. I was fascinated with the Voyageurs’ history and their personal stories.

So later when I started writing fiction, I wrote contemporary Judy Blume type stories and horse stories, which were popular and more marketable. But my imagination never really sparked to life until I returned to those stories from the past.

How did you choose the Edwardian era to start writing your first
story? What's your writing process like? 

I’d written two contemporary middle graders that didn't go anywhere. I had so much to learn so I started going to conferences, joining critique groups, reading lots of books on writing, and just learning the craft of writing fiction. When I moved to England my husband and I bought a beautiful Edwardian armoire and dressing table. I became fascinated by that era, and I started learning more about it.

As far as my writing process goes, once a story gets in my head it keeps on poking at me like "write me, write me now!" I start writing down ideas in notebooks—I usually end up with about three notebooks for each book. All the ideas, research, details, everything is in there. Every notebook has a key list for reference and also many colourful post-its! I'm not a “pantser” at all, but I don't write a formal outline either. Instead I write a list of short descriptions for important scenes that will tell the story. And then I imagine the entire story in my head before I start writing so I have a general idea of where it’s going to go. Until the story is at that point I don’t start writing, aside from bits of dialogue or description that I’m playing with, sort of how artists make informal sketches. It’s too easy for me to get sidetracked and I end up tearing out loads of stuff that doesn’t serve the story. (One time I dumped one hundred pages!) That kind of writing takes too much energy and it’s too painful to delete work.

Did Vicky as an artist arrive first or was the pledge & fight of the Suffragettes what solidify first in you mind once you chose the Edwardian era story? 

While I was living in England I’d often pass this statue of Emmeline Pankhurst and it inspired me to write about the suffragettes. At first Vicky came from a collection of stories I’d written that wasn’t really gelling as a book so I decided to work on her story only. I went through so many revisions with FOLLY. At first Vicky felt too sheltered and she lacked drive, so I thought I would give her a passion for something. I made her a jewelry maker but that wasn’t a good fit for her, so I passed to on to her friend Lucy. When I got to know her character better I realized she would make the perfect artist, especially one that refused to paint in the approved standards for women. Going for the forbidden art gave her the drive and motivation to fight for what she wanted out of life.

Given her fight, what do you think Vicky's opinion would be about all the girls that have been saying in social media that they're not feminists because those problems aren't theirs and don't concern them? 

First of all, Vicky would be fascinated by what's been achieved, and she'd want to wear jeans all the time! But she'd also be shocked about how sheltered some women can be given the fact that even if we've made a lot of progress, there's still a long way to go. In a place like the US there's problems with equal pay for equal work, no equality on political representation, and there’s still a limitation of reproductive rights for many women.

You posted a song on Facebook called Brave by Sara Bareilles and said that Vicky would have loved it. What part of the lyrics would have resonated the most with her? 

The song as a whole has a fantastic message to let yourself be heard and not to let other push you down, but these are the ones I'm sure Vicky will find most relatable to her situation:

Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is 

Vicky lives in a golden cage, and she tries to find her voice but she keeps getting pushed down. She finally discovers that the way to make herself be heard is through her art.

And here's the video for the song that Sharon shared, and I have to agree with her that it's a great song, and one that reminds us to be brave and not be afraid to speak up for ourselves!

Thank you so much Sharon for a wonderful chat and so much information on your process and the world of Vicky!

And guys, you need to check this book out if you haven't yet! A must if you love historical fiction and if you don't think it's your genre, it might even change your mind!!


  1. How incredibly awesome that you've gotten to not only meet Sharon in person but also Skype with her and talk books. Coolest thing ever:) You already know how much I love your cupcakes so I won't say too much about those other than YOU ARE AMAZING, and I really, really need to read this book now. Happy 1st Birthday A MAD, WICKED FOLLY!

    1. I know, it's so absolutely amazing!! And Sharon is fantastic!
      And yes Jenny, this is one book I'm absolutely SURE you'd LOVE this one!
      Thank youuuu!!

  2. I haven't read this book yet, but it's been on my list to read for a while! I've also talked to Sharon on Twitter, and she is really nice. Great interview!

    1. Nori!! You MUST read it ASAP! It's such a fantastic book!
      Thank you!

  3. I want a cupcake! And I've wanted to read this book for awhile. Thanks for reminding me about it!

    1. *hands cupcakes*
      Yes Lisa, Please do read it ASAP!

  4. I love Brave! And ahhh, I remember those cupcakes. I wonder if *I* was one of those trusted bloggers ;) So glad you enjoyed this book, Pili! And happy first birthday, AMWF and Sharon!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. You know you were, Alyssa! ;)
      Thank you! And I know you'd like the song too!

  5. Loved how the author described writing non-fiction vs fiction books, in some ways it can be harder to come up with original ideas, etc.! Great opportunity to interview the author, Pili.

    1. Thank you, Jeann! It was fantastic and Sharon was wonderful to talk to!

  6. Aw, yay :D Beautiful post Pili. <3 And yay for awesome chat with author :) I'm so glad you love this book so much. I still haven't decided if it is for me, lol, but hopefully one day. <3 Thank you for sharing about it sweetie :D

    1. I highly recommend it, Carina! I hope you'll give it a chance one day!


¡Muchas gracias por vuestros comentarios, leerlos me alegra el día!/ Thanks a lot for all your comments, reading them brightens my day!!