Friday, March 24, 2017

Book Interview - A Sister To Honor by Lucy Ferriss

We are back with another author for the event. This time with an international author. Lucy Ferriss writer of 10 books. Her last book "A Sister to Honor" is about to published by Finger Print Publisher this year. Let's listen to what Lucy has to tell us.

Before diving into Lucy's interview we would like to point out her impressive bio first
Lucy Ferriss has lived on both coasts, in the middle, and abroad. She is the author of ten books, mostly fiction. Her new novel, A Sister to Honor, has four main sources of inspiration: Lucy’s day job teaching at a college with the world’s #1 squash team, her research in northern Pakistan, her parenting of an elite athlete, and her history as a rebellious daughter. Lucy’s previous novel, The Lost Daughter (Berkley, 2012), was a Book-of-the-Month Club alternate pick, appeared on the Barnes & Noble bestseller list, and was translated into Polish and Chinese. Her memoir, Unveiling the Prophet: The Misadventures of a Reluctant Debutante, was called Best Book of the Year by the Riverfront Times. Her novel Nerves of the Heart was a finalist in the Peter Taylor Prize competition. Leaving the Neighborhood and Other Stories, her collection of short fiction, was the 2000 winner of the Mid-List First Series Award. Other short fiction and essays have appeared most recently in the New York Times, Missouri Review, Shenandoah, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Georgia Review, and have been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Faulkner Society, the International Society for Narrative, the Fulbright Commission, and the George Bennett Fund, among others.
Lucy received her Ph.D. from Tufts University and lives with Don Moon in the Berkshires and in Connecticut, where she is Writer-in-Residence at Trinity College. She has two strong sons and abiding passions for music, politics, travel, tennis, and wilderness. She is working on a novel set during the St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904.
As an expert in Literature, we assume you must be reading a lot. Can you tell us about your reading habit?
I read constantly. Some of my favorite authors currently are David Mitchell, Kate Atkinson, Mohsin Hamid, Michael Chabon, Edna O’Brien. I was inspired to write early in life by reading the novels of Thomas Hardy and the books for girls by Louisa May Alcott and Laura Ingalls Wilder.
When did you start writing?
I started writing in first grade. But my first published story appeared in the Southern Review when I was 29. I remember feeling over the moon with joy.
Have you decided to become a writer or did it happen eventually with you?
I didn’t know what “becoming a writer” meant until I received a fellowship to be “writer in residence” at an elite boarding school, when I was 25. Suddenly it occurred to me that people there would think of me as a writer, that I could fake it until I made it. 
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I don’t know that I have ambitions for my career. I have ambition for my writing, for it to be at some point “the axe that shatters the frozen sea within us,” in Kafka’s words.
Do you have a special time to write?
If I am not teaching or traveling, I write in my bathrobe all morning while my coffee slowly grows cold. If I am teaching or traveling, I make odd notes or tinker with a manuscript that’s already in process.
As an acclaimed author, can you tell us how many books you have written?
This is my 10th book, my 7th novel. So I have been at this for a little while!
What genre are your books?
I suppose you would call them “literary fiction.” I prefer to think of them as “edgy,” that is, as stories that bring to life people and situations that can be uncomfortable to talk about in other venues.

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Can you describe your current book in few lines? What’s it about?
It’s about a brother and sister who comes from northern Pakistan to America, he to play squash and she to study medicine. She makes the mistake of falling in love, with a Jew no less, and given her brother’s responsibility to maintain the honor of the family, the story erupts from that dilemma.
Give us an insight into your main characters.
Afia, the sister, is serious and devoted to her family, but her sense of her own emotional self awakens in the course of the story. Shahid, her brother, loves her warmly and feels a deep conflict between his desire to support her and his obligations to his family and his own moral compass. Lissy, the American coach who becomes embroiled in the story, has her own sense of honor, which becomes compromised as the story unfolds.
Where did you get idea for this book?
Trinity College, where I teach, has an exceptional men’s squash team, and their inner dynamics interested me. I also wondered how the entry to America would be different for one of their sisters. I researched where the best squash players have traditionally grown up, and learned it was the Pashtun area of Pakistan, and the story began to come together.
How much research did you do for this book?
I read at least three dozen books—history, anthropology, religion, sociology, fiction, poetry on Pashtun and Pakistani cultures, and I traveled to northern Pakistan to stay with families and get to know people.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
This is like asking who is your favorite member of your family! I love them all, I feel for them all; the book in many ways is written for them.
Who is your least favorite character and why?
Something of the same answer as above. But the character that was most difficult to write was surely Khalid, Afia’s step-brother, who is in most ways the villain of the story but who is also a deeply troubled young man.
What was the toughest thing about writing your latest book?
Finding my own way in to the story and overcoming my fear of writing about people whose background is so different from mine. I wanted to thread the needle such that readers could see what emotions and values are shared across cultures while also appreciating how very different Afia’s world might be to theirs, and how valuable on its own terms.
Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
I did not make a trailer for this book. I do have one for the book just prior, The Lost Daughter. 

Can you tell us release date of your book?
Release in India was, I think, November 2016. Originally released in the U.S. in January 2015.
What are you working on at the minute?
I am writing a mystery set in the same locale as A Sister to Honor.
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
I’m not much of a series writer – though perhaps that’s what I’ve begun, now, setting this forthcoming book in the same place and with some of the same characters. It’s interesting to return to a place; I don’t think I’d want to write a sequel per se to any of the stories I’ve published, though. They are complete unto themselves.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write every day. Write even when you are uninspired, even when you write badly. And give it everything you’ve got before you launch it into the world; a bird must have its wings in their best shape in order to fly.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
These were good questions! The only thing I might add is that reading novels has been shown to make us all more moral, ethical, and socially aware people than we would be otherwise. No other form of reading, and no movie-watching, does that. Let’s keep the flame alive.
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