Author Spotlight with Lee Libro
K.S. Hello and welcome to the blog. I am very excited to have you here. Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell us a little about yourself.
L.L. I’m both a visual artist and a writer. I think visually and paint in acrylics and watercolors and I have been writing from the time I first was able to form letters and words with that big fat green pencil they give you in first grade. Later I majored in English, even though I had started out as an art major, and all of my working career has had me writing in one capacity or another, from exhibit copy for an Art Museum to advertising copy in marketing communications to medical text editing in foreign language translations to promotional media in real estate. Writing and painting are my fuel for living.
I’m the mother of five children, with just my last two still living at home. I currently live in Florida with my husband, children and two dogs.
K.S. Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?
L.L. My most interesting writing quirk is that I usually write the ending first. The rest is the journey I create to get there.
K.S. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?
L.L. I received a very exciting beginning to writing when in second grade I won second place, a beautiful gold watch, in a county-wide writing contest on fire prevention. That meek beginning was the type of encouragement, which can be life-altering for children, and in my case, it certainly was. My desire to pen my first novel came from a short story I wrote over twenty years ago. The “Resurrection of Marcia Mueller” would nagged at me too many times to be ignored. She wanted to grow up and become a big girl and so the main character of Swimming with Wings appeared and the novel was born.
K.S. What genre do you write?
L.L. I’d classify it mainly as literary fiction, but it might include an element of romance, history or mystery.
K.S. What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?
L.L. My favorite author is Flannery O’Connor. She has this incredible ability to point the reader to the most enigmatic elements of ordinary life, to make one see the extraordinary in the simplest of characters. Her stories create the type of real inner tension that leave you with the feeling you’ve peered into one of life’s greatest mysteries and somehow vanquished it.
K.S. What does your family think of your writing?
L.L. My family thinks anything I create is great. No disrespect, but unfortunately, they don’t count. They are apt to gush too much, so I have a hard time taking their critiques objectively. I’d much rather know what my fellow writers in my writing group think or what the general reading public think about it.
K.S. What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book?
L.L. The most surprising thing that I learned while writing Swimming With Wings, was a synchrony I discovered about myself and Benjamin Paul Akers, the true life sculptor of the Dead Pearl Diver, a statue that takes center stage for Lark, the female character, and her outlook on life. In addition to being a sculptor, he was an art critic for The Atlantic Monthly in the 1860’s and his critical theory was very much in alignment with my own musings about the role of art to the artist, namely that expression is a form of communion with the universe, or what many call God. I found this to be a very progressive, even New Age-like idea for someone in the 1860’s. And I discovered this after I had already written many parts of the story that address this idea.
K.S. What inspired you to write your novel?
L.L. Swimming With Wings was written partially in response to my observation of a lack of fiction that addresses new age spirituality, but also because it’s a story I’ve carried around inside of me for a long time. It was spun off of a short story I wrote over twenty years ago and it always would nag at me to be written in novel length. It expresses much of what I myself went through while growing up. Faced with ever increasing conflicts in a world of religious diversity, I’ve always been a soul searcher. So this novel tells that story of finding spiritual connection in a world constrained by religious dogmas.
K.S. Can you tell us a little about your novel?
L.L. Here’s the jacket copy for Swimming With Wings:
What do a light healer who can raise the dead, an eccentric, would-be dubutant teen and a fanatic cult follower have in common? A story of human brotherhood released only through the colliding dogmas surrounding their shared tragedy from long ago.
Lark Jennison is a free thinker and imagines she has wings! Set in the 1970's in a small southern town laced with folk mysticism, faith healings and the evangelistic zeal of the era, Swimming with Wings is her coming of age story. Orphaned, seventeen-year-old Lark and her brother are the last generation of the illustrious Jennison lumber family, and her uncanny ability to read a person, along with her eccentric ways as a budding artist, shine a spotlight of scrutiny upon her. When she falls for Peter Roma, a river gypsy from Summerville, she finds in him an equal, but is soon disturbingly set on a collision course with his fanaticism.
The drowning accident that had killed their father remains a mystery, a harbinger of ill feelings between the Romas and the Jennisons. Is Peter Roma, a scammer, a real gypsy or Lark's personal savior? To protect her, Lark’s older brother sends her to art school in Maine, the home state of their mother’s family. Uninvited, Peter follows but eventually considers their relationship a danger to the beatification of both their souls. His grandfather had been a mystical light healer and heralded the rising tide of a new age; however, Peter's “being saved” interpretation of this leads him into cult and a world of corruption. Through it all Lark and Peter remain in love, but in the end who will save who?
An arresting blend of literary fiction, mystery and romance, this is a story about searching for direction, the hidden influences of ancestral roots and the forces that shape belief.
K.S. Where can we find your novel?
L.L. You can find my novel at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, or my website www.swimmingwithwings.com . It can also be requested from virtually any brick and mortar bookstore or library, as it is distributed wholesale through their suppliers on the Ingram and Baker & Taylor databases.
K.S. Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit?
L.L. You can read more about me and my latest novel at www.swimmingwithwings.com. I also run a blog on writing and reading entitled www.literary-magic.com
K.S. Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?
L.L. The only thing standing between you and being published is the words you haven’t written, edited and perfected, so write, write, write!
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