Author Interview: Lena Roy, Edges
This is a guest interview by Marybeth Mulhall
Today meet, Léna Roy: author, blogger, mother and avid writing teacher. Read on to learn about her young adult contemporary novel EDGES, and what inspires her to write and what led her to write this story in particular. Be sure to stop by her webpages and follow her on Twitter (links located at the bottom of the review) as well!
EDGES is a powerful young adult story about addiction, recovery and forgiveness. It was a quick read, pulling me in right from the beginning. I loved that we got two different stories that came together at the end. While it’s just a story and obviously the author can manipulate things to work out, it reminded me how small the world really is and that it’s not so unlikely that the lives of the two characters could be more intertwined than they realized. I enjoyed the familiar city setting for Ava and was able to easily visualize the unfamiliar Moab setting, where Luke sorts out his feelings, through Roy’s vivid descriptions. I would definitely recommend this book to others who enjoy contemporary young adult novels and stories of self discovery and the journey to recovery.
Q. How long have you been writing?
All my life in some form or another! My grandmother gave me my first journal when I was nine, and I’ve been scribbling ever since! Poetry, short stories, plays . . . but I never attempted a novel until I started writing Edges eight years ago.
Q. Who or what inspires you to write?
My inspiration and touchstone is my grandmother, Madeleine L’Engle. However, I also have the fear of daring to follow in her footsteps! But I don’t have a choice: I must write, published or not. Writing is the way I think. I am also constantly inspired by teaching kids/ tweens and teens. Their creative energy is amazing, and I especially love to watch somebody who doesn’t consider him or herself a writer fall-in-love with writing. Watching these kids walk through their own fear blows my mind!
Q. Is Edges your first novel?
Yes! Although the first draft is an entirely different entity from the finished product! I rewrote it several times!
Q. Did you have to do a lot of research?
Not a lot, but some. I had to be very careful about referencing Hopi culture and kachinas. I had to bone up on my geography and cartography of the desert Southwest. I have many friends who are in recovery and went to a few open AA meetings.
Q. Edges dealt with some difficult issues. What made you choose to cover those specific topics?
I was a pretty wild teen myself and then in my early 20’s, saw two friends die of drug overdoses. I went to school to become a therapist, becoming very interested in healing and recovery. I lived in Moab for a year – the summer of 1996 through the summer of 1997, and I always wanted to write about my experience there. In Moab, I started a program for teens in trouble with the court system at Four Corners Mental Health Center. I found that the best I could do was to build trusting relationships with these teens and plant the seeds of recovery. At the end of 1999, my uncle died of cirrhosis of the liver due to alcoholism.
Q. What prompted you to write from a mostly male perspective and did you find it difficult as a woman to write a male main character?
Luke was based on a boy I had met briefly at the youth hostel in Moab, who was only sixteen, and “living” in a tent. He had been there for months before I met him. And then he disappeared. I always wondered about him. And then one day, about eight years ago, this character “Luke” figuratively tapped me on the shoulder and dictated the first scene of Edges to me. I was compelled to write his story, and had to write it over and over again to get it right!
Q. Will there be any kind of follow up on the characters (sequel perhaps)?
I have just finished several drafts of a companion novel to Edges. It is not technically a sequel, but follows two other characters two weeks later. One is Bruno, the ladies man from Edges, and the other is a newcomer to the hostel. Luke and the others become secondary characters.
Q. Does the Moon Flower really exist or was it based on a real place of a different name?
The Moonflower is loosely based on The Lazy Lizard Hostel in Moab! That is where I met my husband and the father of my children!
Q. Do you have any suggestions or advice for readers who may have similar problems as some of your characters?
If you are dealing with the death of a loved one, please seek family counseling or therapy. If you are feeling sad and depressed, that is appropriate, but it is important to talk about your feelings.
If you think you or someone you love may have a substance abuse problem, you don’t have to be alone anymore. Reach out to others. AA and Alanon are not filled with old men in raincoats! There are many, many young people out there with similar problems. If the “group” thing turns you off as it does many, try not drinking or using for a while. Observe your feelings and reactions. Try to replace your drug of choice with a positive action. (Ava goes on a walk) Many teens I have spoke with have told me that the most effective way to understand about addiction as a disease is when someone from AA or NA came to their school and told their “story”. AA is not for everybody, and people in AA can be annoying (just as they can be everywhere else!) but the statistics for recovery from addiction are grim, and from my years as a therapist and dealing with friends and family members, I believe it is a path that gives the most hope.
Q. If you had to recommend Edges to a non-reader, what would you say to entice them to pick it up?
It’s an easy, short read with a colorful cast of characters, full of intrigue, mystery and mess-ups.
Q. Do you have any works in progress we can keep an eye out for?
I have the companion to Edges ready to send out, and I am also working on a novel about a girl who gets roped into doing reality TV show (based on my own experience! I was on an episode of Into Character – it was a reality show about making movie dreams come true. Mine was Bring it On!)
Q. Where can fans follow or contact you?
I love meeting and interacting with people! I blog four times a week – so everything there is more current than my website. I also have a Facebook page for Edges, where I post music, pics and happenings. Check out my website, find me on my blogFollow me on twitter @lenaroyAnd . . . EDGES has its own Facebook page!
MaryBeth Mulhall is an educator, an author and a budding photographer. When she’s not pecking away at her keyboard or looking at the world up close through her lens, she’s got her nose stuck in a book. She blogs twice a week at http://keystrokesandwordcounts.blogspot.com. Should you be curious, you can follow along with her Young Adult Fantasy novel in progress: http://emberstoashes.tumblr.com. If she’s having a good week, it will update on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you’re a super fan and just can’t get enough, you can follow her on Twitter @queenbeetf and like her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/MBMulhall
Learn even more about MaryBeth by reading my interview with her as part of the Friends of Emlyn series, click here.