Today I’m delighted to a part of the 2013 Debut Authors Bash hosted by YA Reads. I’m very excited to introduce you all to Liz Fichera – the author of Hooked (click to read my review). If you’ve not heard of Hooked, it’s the story of Fred Oday – a young Native American girl who loves to play golf. When the coach of the school team sees how talented she is he recruits her for the all male school team – only her new team mates aren’t too happy about it. Fred has to deal with social and racial injustices as well as sexism within a sport she loves to play.
Q&A with Liz Fichera, author of Hooked!
Hi Liz, I loved reading Hooked and am delighted that I have the opportunity to ask you some questions.
Thanks so much, Kate! I’m very honored to answer them.
· What inspired you to write Hooked?
True story. I was coming back from a desert hike near my home in Phoenix, Arizona, which is in the southwestern part of the United States. I was driving down a long stretch of mostly deserted road called Pecos Road. The Gila River Indian Community stretches south of Pecos Road as far as you can see. Anyway, for some reason I got this image of a young Native American girl in my head and she was waving a golf club at me. Fortunately I did not swerve off the road. But I went home and started to create this story.
· Fred is an American Indian who lives on a reservation. Is cultural diversity important for you in your writing?
Yes. That said, it doesn’t seem natural to me to not include a Native American character in a story set in the American Southwest. Native American culture is important to this part of the world. In my state of Arizona alone, there are over twenty tribes. It bothers me that there aren’t more Native American characters in young adult literature.
· Golf is an important part of Fred’s life. Is sport something that you’re passionate about?
I do enjoy the sport, although I am dangerous at best at it. Golf is a popular sport in the American Southwest too. In Phoenix, there’s a golf course on practically every street corner (perhaps a slight exaggeration, but not by much). I had a lot of help writing the golf parts, making sure that the technical aspects were correct. My father loved the sport and taught me a lot. My sister, husband, and brother-in-law all play and are much more skilled at it than I am.
· Fred and Ryan as such different people! Did you find it hard to switch between their point of views and which POV did you find harder to write?
I loved writing both POVs for different reasons. Fred’s life experiences were very different from my own. It was intriguing to me to get inside her head. Fortunately I had a number of Native American beta readers who helped me to understand her. With Ryan, it’s always fun to get inside a teen boy’s head and try to think how he thinks and understand the decisions he would make. Teen boys fascinate me.
· Are there any similarities between you and Fred?
While her life experiences may have been different than mine, I completely understood her shyness and determination. I was very shy and (mostly) quiet in high school but people should not mistake shyness for weakness, especially when it comes to Fred. She will surprise when you least expect it.
· Hooked was your first YA novel but you’ve published a couple of adult romance novels previously. Was it difficult for you to switch from writing adult novels to writing for a young adult audience?
My first published novel, CAPTIVE SPIRIT, was written as a YA, interestingly. The protagonists are sixteen years old. However, since it is historical fiction, the publisher Carina Press was able to market it as women’s commercial fiction. My second novel, CRAVING PERFECT, had a twenty-something protagonist and could now probably be considered New Adult before New Adult became The Next Big Shiny Thing. My writing voice is very comfortable in the young adult genre so making the switch was not difficult.
· Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you have other dream careers in mind?
I’ve known since I was ten years old that I wanted to write stories. Unfortunately life kind of got in the way for a while but I never lost sight of the dream or desire.
· I loved the photos you had on your blog of the spaces different authors write in (click here to see Liz’s blog post on writing places) . Apart from where you write, do you have any other writing rituals?
Thank you so much, Kate! Glad you enjoyed them. I write every day, usually in the afternoons and into the evenings. However, when I’m deep in a story, it can go pretty much 24/7 where I’ll lose all sense of time and other normal things, like eating and combing my hair. J I’m also an avid hiker, so I like to hike in the mornings (before it gets too hot) and think about what I want to write about that day.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Hiking, reading, spending time with my husband.
· What books do you think have influenced your life the most?
There have been so many. I probably read 2-3 books each week, mostly YA. I love contemporary realistic YA and wish there was more of it. As a kid, I devoured all of the Little House books as well as The Boxcar Children series. I’m pretty sure I checked those books out of my school library a thousand times.
· What are you currently reading?
I just finished Bennett Madison’s SEPTEMBER GIRLS which was quite edgy. I’m currently reading GONE GIRL, a thriller, which is usually not my cup of tea. However, I am unable to put it down!
· Are you working on anything now?
I’m always working on a story. Right now, I’m working on two more YA contemporary stories.
· Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?
I’ve been overwhelmed by the support of readers from all over the world. It’s always quite amazing to hear how a story can touch people. Words truly can’t express how grateful I am when someone takes the time to read my book.
Thanks so much for your time! I can’t wait to read Played (Riley and Sam’s story) when it’s released next year!
Thank you so much, Kate! I loved your questions and thank you so very much for your support and love of books.
I hope you all enjoyed having Liz stop by as much as I did! I have to admit – after reading Hooked and liking the characters and story so much – I was a little star struck. Thanks again Liz for stopping by!
***About Liz Fichera ***
I’m an American author living in the American Southwest by way of Chicago. Born and raised in Park Ridge, Illinois, I moved to Phoenix, Arizona, after college, never expecting to live more than one year among cactus and people who’d never seen snow. I was wrong. It certainly didn’t hurt that I met my future husband in Phoenix too.Most of my stories are set in the American Southwest because I think the desert is a cool place. Living in Phoenix, I’m surrounded by Native American culture and influences, not to mention intriguing Hohokam petroglyphs and centuries-old canals. There are over 20 tribes in Arizona and I’m lucky to be neighbors to the Gila River and the Salt River Indian Communities.When I’m not busy writing my next novel, I like to travel, visit museums, support local theater productions, hike, and pretend that I’m training for a triathlon. I post a lot of photos from my desert and mountain hikes on my Facebook and Twitter pages. In no particular order, I’ve been chased by javalinas, rattlesnakes, coyotes, and even one curious black bear. Would love to connect with you there too!