Monday, September 3, 2012

American Chronicle | Meet Author Maggie Lyons (authored by VS Grenier)

Author Maggie Lyons, born in Wales and brought up in England, zigzagged her way through a motley variety of careers from orchestral management to law-firm media relations to academic editing. Writing and editing nonfiction for adults brought plenty of satisfaction but nothing like the magic she discovered in writing fiction and nonfiction for children.

Sometimes, asking authors what inspires them is like asking how they got their big toes. They don´t know. The toes just sprouted. Some ideas fly in from outer space. Some pop up if they ask the what-if questions: What if he did that? What if she said that? Maggie Lyons can say with some certainty about her middle-grade adventure story Vin and the Dorky Duet is she wanted to write a quest story, that very old genre describing the exploits of an optimistic adventurer who sets out on an apparently impossible mission. "I´m addicted to challenges—which I admit I don´t always meet," said Lyons.

Challenges are something this author understands as she first started as a classically trained pianist. "I suspect the pterodactyls that landed in my stomach before public concerts had something to do with not taking up a career as a concert pianist. Instead, I found myself learning how to put rear ends on concert hall seats, otherwise known as orchestral management. My first job in that heady field entailed writing the program notes for the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC. Now, that was a job made in heaven," said Lyons. Even though she wallowed in the music, section of the Library of Congress and luxuriated in the incredible privilege of being allowed to take books home to read. The research was as much fun as writing the notes, if not more so. Lyons job was to write such compelling notes about the music on the concert program that audiences would actually want to read them before scanning the donor lists to see who may have donated more than they had. "I had to balance the light—what the composer liked to eat for breakfast, and so on—with the heavy—how the musical composition was constructed. The job was an extension of what I had enjoyed studying at college, but now I was being paid to do it. Try beating that," shared Lyons.

The writing continued as Lyons zigzagged her way through the marketing, public relations and fundraising bastions of a motley variety of business environments. This was all nonfiction, of course—or supposed to be. In the meantime, she rediscovered the fascination of children´s fiction when Lyons read bedtime stories to her son, just as her parents had read to her when she was small. As a single mom, Lyons didn´t have the time or the mindset to devote energy to writing her own children´s stories at the time. "I´m in awe of working mothers who can do that. It was only when I retired from full-time work the idea of writing articles for children´s magazines swooped in one day. I have no idea where it came from, but there it was, waving frantically at me. I wrote some articles, which miraculously appeared in Stories for Children Magazine, and then I thought of stringing a few more words together to make something longer, fictional, a little homage to the land of my birth—Wales. And so my first book came into being, an adventure story about a Welsh dragon who discovers an unorthodox and very smelly remedy for his inability to snort fire," said Lyons.

Read the full spotlight at
American Chronicle | Meet Author Maggie Lyons

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