Tough Girl by Libby Heily
"The moment I started reading "Tough Girl," I couldn't--and wouldn't!--put it down. In fact, I've been done with it for a few days but didn't know how to wrap my head around the novel enough to begin to review it." - Witchy Reviews
Danger lurks everywhere in eleven year old Reggie's world—from the bully next door to the unwanted attentions of a creep at school. Raised by her mentally ill mother, Reggie is left to fend for herself in a rough neighborhood. She escapes in daydreams, battling aliens with her alter ego, Tough Girl.
When Reggie's mother disappears, her fantasy life spirals out of control and starts to invade reality. She is hunted by a creature of her own design, and even Tough Girl is not strong enough to stop him.
Will Reggie survive long enough for her mother to return, or will her dream world take over?
*This book contains adult themes and adult language.
Hello there, Libby Heily. I'm excited to have you here to talk about yourself and this impressive debut. I read excerpts during the A-Z blog challenge and loved this journey to publication. I witnessed your decision on your blog to forgo several covers in favor of investing in a professional cover artist. You are my self-publishing idol. So, now for some questions...
Is there any scene in Tough Girl reminiscent of an event from your own childhood?
The story takes place in my hometown and the middle school is definitely modeled after the middle school I attended. There were no scenes directly lifted from my life, but I did use the book to explore the sense of powerlessness I felt as a child. I always felt as if I didn't quite understand what was going on around me and that I had little to no control over my life. It's not something that's much discussed, but I've often wondered if more children aren't creeped out by the lack of control they have over their day-to-day lives, not to mention how and where they are raised.
I remember reading the excerpts that you posted of Tough Girl. I was totally engaged. There are so many important themes touched on in this book--poverty, bullying, and neglect. At first, I thought this book was meant for middle-grade readers. Now, I see I was wrong. Can you recommend a target audience?
Ideally, this book is for adults and mature teens. I try to be as up front about that as I can. I could have and would have read this in middle school, but I know that's not the case for many kids. My hope is, by adding the bit about adult themes and adult language in the blurb, parents will check out the book before letting their kids read it.
What is the easiest and most difficult part of writing for you?
The easiest part of writing for me is the beginning. My first drafts are pretty terrible as a rule. Since I have low expectations, I feel a sense of freedom that isn't quite there in the later drafts.
The most difficult part is finding the story. I never have it right at the first draft, often times I don't have it right at the third or fourth. My plays take 12-15 drafts to get in good shape. I just need time with the characters to figure them out.
I'm fascinated that you're a filmmaker. What about making films bleeds over into your writing style?
When I first started writing, I had no grasp on visual thinking. I was writing plays and there were no visual cues to the audience as to what to think or feel. I really had no grasp of the visual until I attended film school. Film making really broadened my palette. I've learned to connect with readers on a whole new level.
I loved the line in your bio that you are a "foodie and a beer snob". Take me to your favorite restaurant and recommend a dish and beer, please.
I LOVE THIS QUESTION. You and I are going to Brasserie Beck in DC. Our meal will not begin until we've had at least one Belgian beer at the bar; the type will be your choice because they are all yummy. Then we'll move to the dining room where water will accompany our meal. The food here is too good to mix with alcohol. We will start with French onion soup, and it will be delightful. Then we'll move on to Roast Duck, which will make you want to cry it's so good (I almost did). For dessert, we will skip the ice cream and cake and go straight to Founders Breakfast Stout. It's an excellent blend of dark beer with a hint of coffee that is perfect for post-meal libations. I'm sure it is also more than adequate for breakfast, but there is no way I'm going to drink beer before 11 am. That's what mimosas are for.
Okay, Libby, I am showing up for Mimosas soon. So where do you live? You're not giving me the address? Okay. For now, I guess I'll follow you online. You can follow Libby or buy Tough Girl :
I'm a bookworm and a writer, a nerd that's seen every episode of Farscape and can't wait for the next Dr. Who Season to begin. I enjoy running and playing sports and am always hopeful the Baltimore Ravens will win a superbowl. I love movies but don't care about the Oscars.
I eat apples regularly but find apple juice bitter and don't like it. I'm a foodie and a beer snob. I eat babies. Okay, just baby carrots. I studied acting, video production and creative writing. I've had very few jobs that reflect any of those years of study. I am Libby Heily, and it's nice to meet you.