Matthew Toffolo: What is your novel about?
Chynna Laird: The novel is about three generations of very strong women, each set in their ways, who are brought together in a time of tragedy. It was not an easy transition for any of them, to say the least. And on top of their personal hurdles they’re trying to overcome, they are thrown other unexpected curve balls to deal with. They teach one another that no one way is the ‘right’ way and through it all, despite how hopeless things may seem, together they are a force to be reckoned with.
2. What genres would you say this story is in?
This story is clean and can be read by anyone anywhere but the main genre it targets is NA/YA.
3. How would you describe this story in two words?
4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?
I really love old movies. I’d have to say the black and whites are some of my favorites. But the movie I’ve seen over and over without wanting to blow DVD up has to be ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’.
5. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)
Blackbird by the Beatles. This song has tremendous meaning for me for a multitude of reasons.
6. Do you have an all-time favorite novel?
That is such a hard question. I should really show a picture of my ever-growing, over-stuffed bookshelves. lol I am an avid reader, which is important in becoming a good writer. I’m not sure I could narrow all of the books I’ve read down to one specific all-time favorite. I do have a certain kind of book that draws my attention. I like a strong main character who is going through or facing tough times and dealing with it in the most positive way he or she can under their given circumstances. Books, like good movies, need to make you think, open a new door (or view an opened door in a new way), draw you in, surface emotions and have moments of laughter because that is what real life is made up of.
7. What motivated you to write this story?
You know, it’s funny because I am usually more comfortable showing a story through a male main character’s perspective than a female one. But this story not only has a very strong female main character, but also revolves around her mother and grandmother. What motivated me to write this novel were the words my own grandmother said to me many years ago, “Life is a passing loop with many trains going in different directions and with different end destinations. As fast as they go, it’s the sudden or unplanned stops made along the way to that end place that you learn from the most. Just always make sure to keep your back to where you’re leaving from, and face where you’re heading.”
There are sprinkles from my own experiences mixed in there but all in all, it’s my way of thanking my grandmother for all of her pearls of wisdom, even when she didn’t think I was listening to her.
8. If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would that be?
There are several people I’d love to have this opportunity with for different reasons. Not just for what they do, but to be enlightened by their unique view of the world. If I had to pick one person of all of those I highly respect (dead or alive, famous or not), I’d have to say Alan Alda. I have admired him and his work for many years. He’s not just a superior actor and director, he sees things with the most profound wisdom and undying curiosity. I love that!
9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about giving a voice to issues or causes that aren’t discussed or dealt with as strongly as they should be. Giving those a voice whose own aren’t always strong enough to be heard over what other people believe or think, is so inspiring. The most important things in my life are my four children. They are my reason to keep going, the daily reminder of why I’m still here and the motivation to trudge ahead through each day I wake up to.
10. What influenced you to enter your story to get performed?
I won’t speak for every other author, but I spend endless months hearing my stories in my head. I see the characters, hear their voices and experience the story right alongside them. But it’s a beautiful thing to hear your words being read by another person. It brings to mind a quote I came across recently by Maya Angelou who said, “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.”
After reading that, I considered it my sign to enter the story and see what happens.
11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
Keep writing. Even on days when you think you don’t have anything useful to put down, keep that writing craft active. There will be days where ideas may not come as easily and trust me, I know how frustrating that can be. But don’t stop. If you need to, get away from your writing space for a while and surround yourself with all that life has going on around you. It won’t be long before your inner idea jar will overflow again.
So, keep writing, don’t give up, hold strong to what you believe in and absorb the advice from those you aspire to be. That will always keep you motivated.
Watch the Novel Reading:
Performed by Kat Smiley