Happy Sunday, booklovers!
We’re here today with a lovely debut author. Recently receiving recognition as one of the Top 10 New YA’s on Bookstr, When Elephants Fly is a novel you don’t want to pass up. We’re so grateful that Nancy accepted to being part of our Sunday Brunch. Also, check it out featured on One More Paige!
Our special author today is…
For the first part of her freelance writing career, she wrote sport autobiographies. It was a terrific job, but after ten years and tons of incredible experiences, she got tired of writing other peoples’ stories and not her own.
Her novel, When Elephants Fly, was released in September 2018.
Describe yourself with three adjectives.
Imaginative. Sporty. Stubborn
Choose three adjectives to describe When Elephants Fly.
This is what I hope … Creative. Powerful. Heart-rending (in the best possible way).
I love that Lily is a protagonist with a mental disability. What motivated you to create a character that has this struggle?
The inspiration for Lily was a dear friend, Quinn (not her real name), whose mom has a mental health condition. Quinn grew up with the fear that she, too, might have the same issues. Her chances were about 10%, which seems small, but when it’s your life it’s enormous. I wanted to create a character that reflected how heavily that 10% would weigh on a teen, and how tough it is to embrace life when you’re terrified, but also tell a universal story about how fear can stop us from living in the moment. Every single one of us has obstacles to face, whether physical, mental or emotional. The past can be haunting, the future potentially petrifying but the moment is all that’s promised. My hope is that Lily inspires readers to face the things that are stopping them from being present and, whenever possible, to push through fear to live their best life.
I love the similarities Swifty and Lily share in their lost relationships. Was this planned, or did it transpire naturally?
I started out knowing the story I wanted to tell about Lily, but I had this underlying desire to write about elephant conservation and protection, too. My first job was as a traveling writer for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. After I left that position, I promised myself that one day I’d do something to shine a light on wild animals in captivity. Once I realized that Lily needed someone to love that would drive her to act despite her fears, the elephant part of When Elephants Fly was a natural fit and Swifty was created.
If When Elephants Fly didn’t end where it did, what would have happened next?
Ha! I’m definitely not going to answer this, as the end of the novel is open to interpretation. BUT I’d love if readers want to write their own epilogue and I’ll post those on my website!!! Or maybe you can post them on our blog!!
Lily and her gang go on a “road trip” during the story. What is the most memorable road trip you’ve ever been on?
I once drove from Washington DC to Colorado with a friend. I thought she was going to do half the driving, but it turned out she didn’t know how to drive stick so I drove the whole way. There were surprisingly beautiful places to see and we went to some great diners, but I was relieved to get there!
Please describe your honest opinions about the circus.
Sure! But I want to preface this by saying that when I worked for Ringling Bros. I learned something really important. People would protest outside of the arenas where the show performed. They’d wave signs, yell, one time they even dumped a truckload of manure in the driveway so we couldn’t get by. I’m 100% behind animal protection, but those people yelled so loud and seemed so angry that I couldn’t hear their message. So in When Elephants Fly I do my best to tell a story without making overt judgments because overwhelming people with too many facts or yelling my message isn’t effective. I want readers to get swept up in the novel, develop empathy for Swifty and the rest of the animals and then decide what they think or want to do based on their own perceptions. I’m very grateful that I’ve gotten lots of emails from readers who have decided to support elephant sanctuaries and conservation work but have tried my best not to tell anyone what to do! But on to your question…I do not think that animals should perform for entertainment. Even in the best of conditions inherently circuses are cruel. The human performers, however, are incredible and pass their skills down generations. I support their artistry but would never attend a circus with animals.
Can you please share with us your background with elephants? Why was Swifty such an important character to write?
Elephants are the main reason I quit my writing job with Ringling Bros. They were chained by one leg for countless hours, day after day, in every arena the show visited. One day a guest asked me why the elephants were swaying and I said what I’d heard the performers say: Because they like the music. But the feeling in the pit of my stomach told me this was a lie. I quit my job two weeks later. I believe in karmaquences and hope that When Elephants Fly moves the needle a tiny bit in helping people love elephants and work to protect them. If nothing is done, elephants in the wild will be extinct in the next 20 years.
What does literary success look like to you?
Literary success is the chance to write another book!! I have so many stories percolating in my brain and the opportunity to tell them through a traditional publisher who is committed to my stories and works to reach a bigger audience is my dream come true.
What can we expect next from Nancy Richardson Fischer?
Thanks so much for asking!!! My next novel, The Speed of Falling Objects, will be published by HarperCollins/Inkyard Press October 2019.
From the author of When Elephants Fly comes an exceptional new novel about falling down, risking everything, and embracing what makes us unique.
Danielle “Danny” Warren lost her eye and her father when she was seven–the eye to an accident and her father to his TV survival show, COUGAR, which has kept him away for most of the past 10 years. Living with her single mom, and nicknamed Pigeon by bullies for the jerky head movements she used to make while adjusting to her altered depth perception, Danny is thrilled when her dad invites her to be on his wildly popular show alongside intimidatingly gorgeous teen movie idol Gus Price, even though the extreme situations her dad loves terrify her.
When their small plane crashes in the Amazon rainforest, Danny and the survivors must follow her father’s lead to stay alive. But after learning the terrible secret about her dad’s motive for bringing Danny on the show, she must face the truth about the father she worships, the lies she’s accepted, and her feelings for Gus. As everything around her falls apart, can Danny follow her own star to light the way home?
Could you share a happy photo and tell us more about that moment?
Of course! This photo is my family. Henry is my wonderful husband. The Vizsla is our dog, Boone. He’s wonderful but can also be very naughty. I think that makes us love him even more. In this photo, we’re at the top of our favorite hike. There’s nothing I love more than being with my two guys.
Thanks to Nancy, we have a copy of When Elephants Fly with some personal notes written about her favorite scenes to give away!
To enter, head over to our Instagram profile!