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Exclusive Interview with Maggie Lyons, Author of “Vin and the Dorky Duet”!

Posted Jun 11 2012 1:15pm
What is this book about?
What would you do if you played the trumpet and your sister threatened to make you play her dorky duet with her at the student concert? And what if the only way you can get out of it is to make friends with a nerd you don’t like so you can ask his trumpet-playing brother if he’ll play the duet instead of you?

That was the challenge Vin’s sister, Meg, tossed at him. He refused to take it up until she promised him a David Beckham soccer jersey. That changed everything. Vin came up with a brilliant plan, but things didn’t turn out exactly as he had expected.

Well, how would you deal with exploding fish tanks, magnetic compost heaps, and man-eating bubble baths? And that’s just the beginning.

That’s the story. It’s a light-hearted romp for children aged eight to ten. I don’t deal with serious issues. There are many books out there that do that already. I wanted to write something that would encourage children to turn a few pages and -- cross my fingers -- give them a reason to smile, laugh, and relax for a few moments. Many children don’t realize that reading can be great fun, and many parents don’t understand how critical it is to encourage their children to become enthusiastic readers. Finding time to relax is also important because many children’s lives are now heavily organized with after-school and weekend activities.

How did you get the idea for this book?
Sometimes, asking writers how they come up with their book ideas is like asking people how they got their big toes. They don’t know. The toes just sprouted. I can’t pinpoint the source of every idea in my books. Some ideas fly in from outer space. Some pop up if I ask the what-if questions: What if he did that? What if she said that? What I can tell you with some certainty is that I wanted to write a quest story, that very old genre describing the exploits of an optimistic adventurer who sets out on a mission. Vin, my twelve-year-old main character, was inspired by fond memories of my son when he was a boy, and I chose to make him a musician because playing and listening to music has given me enormous enjoyment in my life. Those basic ideas formed the entrance I skipped through to the maze where I met my characters and we figured out together how to reach the center and find the exit.

Is this your first book? If not, what else have you written?
The first book I wrote is about a national symbol of Wales, the red dragon, or “y ddraig goch” in Welsh. Dewi, the Red Dragon is a story for six- to nine-year-olds about a young Welsh dragon who can’t breathe fire until his doctor prescribes a very unusual -- and smelly -- remedy. At that point, Dewi discovers that as a symbol of national pride he can’t go around toasting everything in sight, and he learns to use his firepower for good and have lots of fun doing it. The book was -- very generously -- published in its entirety in the October 2009 issue of the online children’s magazine knowonder! The sequel to that book, Dewi and the Seeds of Doom, is to be published as an e-book by MuseItUp Publishing in October this year. In this story, Dewi’s nosy personality lands him in the middle of a mystery he is determined to solve no matter the danger he encounters. You can learn more at my website: http://www.maggielyons.yolasite.com . Parents may be interested to know that an underlying theme is the proliferation of genetically modified food, which is one of my real-life concerns. I’ve also written a few picture books, one of which I’m hoping will find a publisher soon.

When did you start writing? Do you have any advice for writers?
My business career began in fundraising, marketing, and public relations, which meant a lot of writing for newsletters, magazines, op-eds, brochures, press releases, and so on. I also wrote program notes for orchestral concerts for many years. So I came to writing via nonfiction articles, but I’ve discovered that writing for children is even more fun. My advice for beginning writers is to join writers’ groups, read as much as possible about the art of writing, take courses, if you can afford them, but most important, practice writing. I need to find time to develop my blog site ( maggie-lyons.blogspot.com ) with articles for parents and writers and will publish resources for writers there.

Why did you decide to write a book in this genre?
I’m enchanted by the wonderful mix of innocence, escapism, imagination, and humor that will bubble out of a children’s story if you let it.

Do you plan a sequel or future books?
I’m working on a sequel to Vin and the Dorky Duet. Stay tuned, as they say.

Do you have a website? How can we order this book?
The website for my books is: http://www.maggielyons.yolasite.com . The e-books Vin and the Dorky Duet and Dewi and the Seeds of Doom can be ordered from the MuseItYoung section at the publisher’s bookstore at www.museituppublishing.com . They will also be available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other sites listed on the MuseItUp Publishing website. Vin and the Dorky Duet is now available for a pre-order discount on the MuseItUp website ().

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