Today at the EasternPennPoints virtual café, the regional team of Eastern PA SCBWI has gathered to celebrate the release of Nemesis and the Swan, a young adult novel written by our co-Regional Advisor Lindsay Bandy. Joining Lindsay at the café are co-Regional Advisor Rona Shirdan, Illustrator Coordinator Berrie Torgan-Randall, and Assistant Regional Advisor Laura Parnum.
Laura: It’s great that we could all be here virtually today. Does everyone have something good to drink or snack on?
Berrie: A chai latte for me.
Rona: I’m having decaf English Breakfast tea with honey and an almond croissant.
Lindsay: I’m enjoying some coffee with a “few” sour cream donut holes. I know I should say I’m eating something French and fancy, but the heart wants what the heart wants.
Laura: And I’ve got my decaf lotus blossom green tea. So, Lindsay—congratulations on the release of your debut novel, Nemesis and the Swan! Besides chatting with us, how are you celebrating today?
Lindsay: Thank you! I’ll be celebrating virtually tonight at 7:00 p.m. EST on Facebook Live with my agent, Cate Hart, and her local Nashville bookstore, Parnassus Books. You’re all invited! It would make me so happy if you popped in to ask questions or say hello. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/parnassusbooks1/posts/3742478005776814
I’m also having a drop-in, socially distanced launch party at my favorite Parisian-style café in Lancaster, Rachel’s Café and Creperie, on Saturday, November 7 from 1:00-3:00 p.m. If you’re in the area, I’d love to see you. We could bump elbows! And I promise, the Nutella hot chocolate alone is worth the trip. https://www.facebook.com/events/1754337728075937/
Berrie: Nemesis and the Swan is set in Paris. Did you go to Paris to check out your setting? What sources do you find the most helpful when studying about a place and the culture? Any suggested sources to look for historical resources when you are writing historical fiction?
Lindsay: I visited Paris briefly in college and absorbed as much of the atmosphere and vibe as I could. By the time I started writing Nemesis and the Swan, I was home with two small children and had to rely on my old-school scrapbook, the library, and of course, the wonders of the Internet.
To be sure that I really understood the events leading to the Revolution, I read Simon Schama’s Citizens and Christopher Hibbert’s The Days of the French Revolution. To immerse myself in the culture and time, I watched History Channel specials, checked out art history books from the library, and scoured images for interior design and fashion details. I read first-person accounts from the period, as well as various works of fiction set during the time period.
I really believe that your best tool as a researcher is intense curiosity. Look everywhere. Fact check. Immerse yourself in your setting in every way possible – walk the streets (at least via Google Earth), eat the food, smell the perfume, touch the fabric, listen to the music, feel the feels! Then, you’ll never have to worry about paragraphs that read like an encyclopedic info dump.
Rona: While you were doing the historical research for your book, what did you find most difficult? Most interesting?
Lindsay: The most difficult thing for me was the language barrier. My French is pretty sketchy, so I had to rely on English translations and some patient fluent friends. The most interesting part was discovering the Lover’s Eye jewelry!
Laura: Can you give us a little teaser? Tell us something fascinating about your main character.
Lindsay: One of my favorite things about Helene is that she really finds herself while writing and illustrating for children. She has to change her name and pretend to be a man to do it, but the work and the children transform her in a special way that I think all of us here at SCBWI can relate to.
Berrie: What was the inspiration for your up-and-coming novel, Inevitable Fate? Were you inspired by a photograph like Ransome Riggs, author of the Miss Peregrine series?
Lindsay: Yes! I was searching the Internet for tattoo designs to cover a scar on my arm, and because I’m a vintage girl, I started researching tattoo history. I came across a portrait of Maude Wagner, the first female tattoo artist, and the defiant confidence in her gaze captivated me. In a time when women couldn’t even vote, female tattoo artists and the women they inked took ownership of their bodies.
This was meaningful to me as I chose to turn a scar I didn’t ask for into something beautiful, and it really got me thinking about the things we can and can’t change in life. That’s how the Three Sisters of Fate found their way into the story, and the rest developed from there!
Rona: Many of our members are new writers. What advice do you have for new novelists to stay organized during the writing process? What worked for you?
Lindsay: Umm, obsession? Ha! I’ve never had an organizational system, per se . . . I’m one of those people who has stuff everywhere, but I almost always remember where I put it. I create a new document for my WIP monthly, and scribble ideas, questions, and possibilities by hand in a journal. I also make a lot of flow charts on oversized construction paper. I like the pretty colors.
Lately, as I’ve been working on some more complex, multi-timeline projects, I’ve developed a more visual system of organization that works well for me. In our spare room, I have ribbons strung all over the walls. With mini clothespins, I clip plot cards, old photographs, maps, and other important info. This way, I can step back and visualize the story beats, the flow of the chapters, and the faces and places in my story world. I have a separate backstory timeline for things that happened before the story began. This way, it’s also easy to move things around when I realize something isn’t working.
Berrie: Congratulations on your WOOP (Work in Progress) grant from SCBWI. How do you plan on using the grant for your research?
Lindsay: Thank you so much! I was so surprised and excited to receive the grant for my work in progress, Doublethink. The story is set in post-war Germany and follows the teen years of two Polish orphans who were stolen by Nazis—one of whom has DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) due to trauma.
I’m planning to use some of the grant money to attend the EntitleDID to Life conference in San Francisco in 2021. This will allow me to learn from top-notch experts and spend time getting to know more individuals who live with the condition in person. It’s very important to me to honor the amazing people with DID who are sharing their personal experiences with me and reading my drafts, so I’m also using the grant money to compensate them for their help. Their stories have been so misrepresented and misunderstood, and I hope to make them proud and truly seen.
Laura: Happy book birthday, Lindsay! We can’t wait to read Nemesis and the Swan!
Lindsay: Thank YOU! I owe so much to this SCBWI community, and it means the world to me to celebrate with you. I couldn’t have done it without you, so please eat a donut (or two) with me today!
Lindsay Bandy writes historical and contemporary young adult fiction as well as poetry. She lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with her husband, two daughters, and two cats, and currently serves as the co–regional advisor of the Eastern Pennsylvania region of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. You can learn more about Lindsay and her books at www.LindsayBandyBooks.com, or say hi on social media:
On Instagram @LindsayFisherBandy https://www.instagram.com/lindsayfisherbandy/
On Twitter @Lindsay_Bandy https://twitter.com/Lindsay_Bandy
Facebook at Lindsay Bandy Books https://www.facebook.com/LindsayBandyBooks