🏞📸NOT THE ONLY SKY BLOG TOUR 📸🏞
TITLE: NOT THE ONLY SKY
AUTHOR: ALYSSA WARREN
PUBLISHERS: BLACK AND WHITE
PUBLICATION DATE: 28th APRIL,2017
Welcome to my stop on the fabulous #NotTheOnlySky blog tour! I am doing a ‘Meet the author’ mini interview followed by review . So without further ado I am thrilled to introduce Alyssa the author of Not The Only Sky, where she gives some fascinating insight into her life as a writer…
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself in your own words?
I grew up in South Dakota roaming the countryside. We did dangerous things and were outside regardless of the weather, completely free. I am so grateful for how that shaped my imagination. I met my husband while attending university in California. In ten years we moved to Australia, Ecuador, France and the UK with a few US cities thrown in for extra flavour. It taught me to write anywhere. As did my kids! For the past 12 years we have lived in East London and now have three boys. I am also a printmaker and budding pinhole photographer. I love books, art and travel.
How would you describe your writing style and was it easy to find your ‘ voice’ when writing?
My process is free flow. I don’t plan. I like to get started and see what happens. I probably waste a lot of time and could be helped by an outline but then it feels like a task and the motivation goes. I found the voice of Tiny Mite early on. She was originally in a short flashback—a younger version of a character now axed—but Tiny Mite was the most vivid and completely took over the book.
Can you name three of your favourite reads and what it was that you loved about them?
Can I cheat and go by theme?
Don DeLillo, Rachel Cusk, Elizabeth Strout and Alice Monroe have a deceptively simple, but powerful style. I always finish and think how did they do that?
Jonathan Franzen and David Vann create unforgettable dysfunctional families that keep chattering in my head for years.
Nell Zink and Karl Ove Knausgaard are fearless and inspire me to go for it.
Where do you find inspiration for your stories and characters?
I love hearing people’s stories about their lives. Any age, any place.
Do you have a favourite place to write?
I’ve never had one place to write. I loved the Athenaeum when I lived in Boston. Years ago I used the reading room at the British museum. I wrote half of Not the Only Sky in cafes and the other half in Shoreditch House. I now have a studio. It will be interesting to see if I can concentrate with all that quiet.
Sweet or savoury?
Savoury. I’m addicted to salt
Ice cold, dry white wine on a summer day
Fishhook Lake, Minnesota. Four generations of my family have gone there every summer
What are your top three tips for aspiring writers?
Don’t wait for inspiration or perfect writing conditions
Don’t overthink or force the story to be something it’s not
Don’t take the rejection personally
What is your favourite part of writing, and is their any aspect that you struggle with?
I love those rare days when it flows. The entire scene from when Velvet and Clea pull up in front of the trailer to when Clea splits with the can came out in one long sequence. It felt like I was watching TV horrified at the action unfolding before my eyes. I had no idea that any of those characters would act the way they did. The part I struggle with? I’m not fond of killing my darlings. I know it has to be done but when you cut 200 pages it took years to write, it hurts.
Can you describe your journey from concept to publication?
Ten years ago, I started writing a novel about a twenty-five-year-old artist struggling in New York. There was also a storyline that took place in Morocco. She was a bit odd, so I added some flashbacks to add context, and that’s where Tiny Mite came in. Eventually she and all of the characters that came with her took over and I ended up with a 550 page manuscript with too many elements that I couldn’t control. I told my husband I was officially giving up. Then I met my agent, Laura Williams. She tamed it line by line.
And finally, are you working on a new project? If so can you tell us anything about it?
I need a break from big skies and corn fields. My mind has been wandering toward the Andes lately. Alpacas, volcanoes, piranhas…
I would also like to thank the publishers for my advanced review copy …
Heres a little bit more about the book….
” Wait. Patient.Now.Not long.Good girl. Be back in a jiffy. Think of it as a vacation.”
Big bend population 500, South Dakota 1988.
Eight- year old Tiny Mite lives in a ramshackle farmhouse next to her grandfathers crashed airplane and the pine trees where she trains a spy. Goddamn is her favourite word. Taking pictures with a homemade camera is her new big thing. She lives with Bee, her apocalypse- obsessed grandmother and Bees twin, hard drinking and Luvie,her hard drinking great aunt. And then there’s her mother Velvet- beautiful, heartbroken, desperate, impulsive. One night Tiny Mite goes to the basement and hears a cry, but it’s not what she imagines and things will never be the same.
Six years later, Clea won’t let anyone call her Tiny Mite anymore. Luvie is sober and Bees health is failing. Velvet has been gone for years, and no one except Bee will mention her name. Alone, angry and dressed in her grandfathers old hunting clothes, Clea mopes through ditches and fields taking photographs until she hatches a plan with another loner, a boy with an unspeakable past.
This is the story of mothers and daughters. Of people tied by blood and home. Of moments captured and lifetimes lost. And of things not quite turning out as expected.’
Although this wouldn’t have been my usual kind of read, I absolutely loved Not The Only Sky. The moment Lina from Black and White sent me the information I fell in love with the title and the beautiful cover design, but the synopsis had me instantly intrigued. I could tell this book would be ‘quirky’ just by the characters unorthodox names and I was right!
Not the Only Sky has been described as containing ‘ a coming of age element’ and I would have to agree, it also delves into the lives and loves of a couple of generations of the females in a family living In a small town in the Deep South.
This book should come with a warning- it’s captivating, emotional and evocative! A powerful read that casts light and dark, and delves deep into a family. I hope I can do it justice with my own words. Alyssa finds that wonderful balance of beautifully written and yet easy to read, the words flow and the story unfolds seamlessly.
This novel is the story of Tiny Mites very unorthodox upbringing , the depictions of childhood ( her freedom to roam and explore and breath in the fresh air as she runs through the fields) and of her ability to imagine and daydream are beautiful as is the back drop of south Dakota, she seems content and happy surrounded by her family of likeable, odd ball characters, a flighty, impulsive mother who yearns for so much more than a small town of 500 can offer, a great aunt who drinks who lost her husband young and Bee her aging grandmother who is obsessed with impending doom and stockpiles accordingly!
Velvet finds the small town mentality claustrophobic and dull and she dreams of more and as we discover she wants to escape at any cost. I enjoyed a like/hate relationship with character but she was no less engaging than her daughter and I was intrigued and endeared to Bee wth her eccentricities and conspiracy theories obsession ( I could relate- I love good conspiracy theory!)
The story is set between two timeframes and we explore the Ever changing, evolving relationships between this colorful, quirky cast of characters. We see how decisions made by one can have deep and long lasting implications on others – Velvets sudden departure has a huge impact on her daughter , I fell in love with the character of Tiny Mite she has such a unique way at looking at the world, which I found really endearing, she doesn’t follow the pack, and is very much her own person and. I loved watching her character develop through the course of the story and how she changed as we journied through the years with her, how her mums departure and other events shape the teenage character she becomes and her emerging relationship with another teenager, a fellow loner called Jerod who is also troubled as troubled as she is, and its inevitable consequences.
The story is captivating and so are the characters, the backdrop and the authors wonderful style of weaving the story so it wraps around your heart and pull you in from opening to closing page.
I can’t recommend NOT THE ONLY SKY enough to to my fellow book lovers, it’s one of those stories to treasure and pass on, heartwarming, heartbreaking and bittersweet, it will stay with me as one of those books that made a big impression . My advice is simple…
Go.get.a.copy and enjoy 😊😊