Newly published author Faye Hicks is here today to chat with us about her newly released novel Defining Moments.
Kathy: Ms. Hicks, thank you for stopping by today. While you have published many technical works related to your career, Defining Moments is your first foray into the world of fiction. What prompted you to try your hand at fiction?
Ms. Hicks: Thanks Kathy – it’s wonderful to be here!
It’s true, I’ve focused a lot of time and effort on writing scientific articles over the past 25 years, but I’ve also been writing fiction most of that time, as well. It’s almost a compulsion; story ideas are constantly popping into my mind – especially in my dreams – and I’ve got scraps of paper stuffed in drawers and cupboards all over the house with these ‘idea seeds’ jotted down on them. About five years ago, I finally decided it was time to see if I could turn some of those ideas into a novel and so Defining Moments was born!
Kathy: How did you come up with the concept for Defining Moments? Imagination? Real life? Both?
Ms. Hicks: I’ve always been intrigued at how seemingly innocuous decisions can end up changing a person’s entire life and I’ve often wondered what my own life might be like now, had I made different choices at my ‘defining moments’. Also, I enjoy books that include just a tiny hint of the paranormal – especially time-travel – so I thought it might be fun to write a story that combined these two ideas.
Although most of Defining Moments sprang from my imagination, some aspects were born of real life situations. For example, the idea for the opening of the book came to me when I was in a small plane working in a remote part of Canada’s Northwest Territories. We flew much further than usual one day and when I suddenly realized that there were no longer any roads in sight, I started to worry about what we’d do if the engine died and we had to make an emergency landing. Like Ellie in Defining Moments, I kept my lip zipped instead of speaking out about it – but I’d bitten my nails down to the knuckles by the time we made it safely back to civilization. Luckily we didn’t crash; instead, I came away with a great ‘idea seed’.
Kathy: What types of books do you read? Do your choices as a reader influence the type of books you write?
Ms. Hicks: I enjoy all types of fiction but I especially enjoy reading British mysteries by Reginald Hill, Peter Robinson, Deborah Crombie and Elizabeth George. I’m also a big fan of social science fiction, especially the works of Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clark and Robert J. Sawyer.
Generally, I like a story that has a strong plot and includes a romantic component. I also like stories with a bit of adventure in them, especially if scientists are having the adventure (being one myself), but I find that most in that genre seem to be about male scientists and their adventures generally involve car chases and gun fights instead of a truly satisfying plotline. In Defining Moments, my aim was to develop an adventure story that women would like to read, specifically a plot driven story that features strong female protagonists experiencing interesting challenges, conflicts, tragedies and, of course, romance.
Post apocalyptic novels also fascinate me; two of my favorite books are Stephen King’s The Stand and George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides. I especially like stories that examine what the world might be like long after an apocalyptic event occurs. I’m currently working on a new novel that explores exactly that.
Kathy: What is the typical day for author Faye Hicks? Do you write every day?
Ms. Hicks: I tend to write episodically, primarily because I like to think things through in detail before I start putting words on paper. I will mull ideas over and over in my mind – exploring alternate plotlines and imagining different conversations between characters, until I have everything worked out in intricate detail. Then, at some point, it all seems to ripen and I’m reading to start typing. When I get to that stage, it’s almost like recounting a personal experience and the words flow quickly – I might write 25,000 words in a single week. Also, when it’s time, I have to start writing immediately – no matter where I am or what else I had planned. I actually tapped the first few chapters of Defining Moments into a Palm Pilot one night in bed – I just couldn’t get to sleep until I had it all down. I was afraid I’d forget it if I left it until the next morning.
Kathy: Could you please tell us a little bit about Defining Moments?
Ms. Hicks: Defining Moments blends adventure, romance and tragedy, with a dash of time-travel just for fun. Here’s the blurb:
Defining Moments is the story of Ellie Ward, a woman with a knack for making bad decisions at life’s crossroads, often with tragic consequences. At the age of nine, Ellie accidentally discovers a time portal near her childhood home, one that opens to her whenever she is faced with extreme trauma and emotion. Passing through it takes Ellie back in time to the key decision points that cause her life’s tragedies, allowing her to change those decisions and prevent each disaster. Unfortunately, she never has any idea what the specific ‘defining moments’ were and so she never knows how much of her life she is going to have to repeat in order to undo a bad situation.
Defining Moments opens in the present when Ellie, “on the wrong side of both 50 and 150 pounds”, is a professor and scientist studying river ice floods in northern Canada. Ellie heads out with three other people in a tiny, single engine plane to scout for ice jams and her decision not to insist that they turn back before they venture too far from town becomes yet another defining moment in her life when their engine fails and they crash land in the bush. As the only able-bodied survivor Ellie’s graduate student, Brenda, takes on the burden of keeping the others safe as they wait for help to arrive. Fearing that Brenda is crumbling under the emotional strain, Ellie shares her personal journal as a diversion. Brenda immerses herself in Ellie’s autobiography and we join with her in reading about Ellie’s multiple lives, loves, careers and tragedies. As Ellie’s story unfolds against the backdrop of the crisis at the crash scene, Brenda is first skeptical about her professor’s claims to have gone back in time to reverse decisions that resulted in tragic outcomes. However, as the hours of waiting turn into days and Ellie’s condition deteriorates, Brenda can’t help but wonder: if it is possible, and Ellie has found a way to rewind the clock to each defining moment in her life, will she live to get the chance to do it this time?
Kathy: There are some similarities between you and Ellie. How much of yourself do you see in her character?
Ms. Hicks: Well, we both definitely spend way too much time flying around in small planes and neither of us really enjoys it very much! However, the young Ellie was much thinner and better looking than me. As a result, she’s led a far more interesting life. I’m much nicer that her though.
Kathy: What projects are you currently working on? What can readers look forward to from you in the upcoming year?
Ms. Hicks: Actually, I’ve got several projects on the go right now. I am just finishing up a couple of short story collections that will be available as eBooks within the next couple of months. One, called, Who Says You Can’t Herd Cats?, is about the many quirky and comical pets my husband and I have rescued over the past few decades. The second, called A Day in the Life of a Professor, is a collection of humorous stories about my experiences at work and some of the funny people I have encountered. I’m also working on my second novel. Set in the future, nearly 200 years after an apocalyptic collapse of present day society, it’s the story of Souren Burstik, an archeology student studying the pre-apocalyptic society, who is accused of academic fraud. I guess since I am venturing into the social science fiction genre, I’ll have to start using ‘Faye E. Hicks’ as my penname!
Kathy: I have thoroughly enjoyed our visit today. Is there anything else you would like to share with us before you go?
Ms. Hicks: Thanks Kathy, for reviewing Defining Moments and for interviewing me today! As a special thank-you, I’d like to offer your readers a Smashwords discount coupon for Defining Moments. They can enter the coupon code KD78C at the checkout to get the eBook for just $0.99 (that’s 80% off the regular price) until May 31, 2012. Here’s the LINK for the Smashwords eBook. Defining Moments is also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Kobo. Fans of humorous non-fiction might also want to check out my BLOG. Thanks again for letting me visit with you today!
Kathy: Ms. Hicks, congratulations on the release of Defining Moments. Feel free to drop by anytime you happen to be in the neighborhood.
Title: Defining Moments by Faye Hicks
Genre: Fiction, Time Travel, Paranormal, Romance
Length: ~96,000 words/~236 pages
Review Copy Obtained from Author
Defining Moments is a novel about the decisions we make at life’s crossroads, and what it might be like to have the ability to go back in time and change those decisions that lead to tragedy. Spanning the period from 1966 to the present, this is the story of Ellie Ward, a woman who can do just that. At nine years of age, Ellie accidentally discovers a time portal near her childhood home, one that opens to her whenever she is faced with extreme trauma and emotion. Passing through the portal takes Ellie back in time to the key decision points that precipitate her life’s tragedies, thus enabling her to avert each disaster. Unfortunately, she never has any idea what the specific ‘defining moments’ were, and so she never knows how much of her life she is going to have to repeat in order to undo a bad situation.
Defining Moments opens in the present when Ellie, “on the wrong side of both 50 and 150 pounds”, is a professor and scientist studying river ice floods in northern Canada. Ellie heads out with three other people in a tiny, single engine plane to scout for ice jams and her decision not to insist that they turn back before they venture too far from town becomes another defining moment in her life when their engine fails and they crash land in the bush. As the only able-bodied survivor, Ellie’s graduate student, Brenda, must take on the burden of keeping the others safe as they wait for help to arrive. Fearing that Brenda will crumble under the emotional strain, Ellie shares her personal journal as a diversion. As the hours of waiting turn into days, Brenda immerses herself in Ellie’s autobiography and we join with her in reading of Ellie’s multiple lives, loves, passions and losses. Brenda is astonished to read that her professor has managed to go back in time and reverse those bad decisions that resulted in tragic outcomes. Is this actually possible, or is Ellie’s journal just a work of fiction? And if it is possible, and Ellie has found a way to rewind the clock to each defining moment in her life, will she live to get the chance to do it this time?
Read my review of Defining Moments HERE
Don’t forget: Purchase Defining Moments for $.99 at Smashwords with Coupon Code KD78C. Coupon code expires May 31st, 2012.