The DMS was lucky enough to interview Natalie Hyde. Lizzy recently reviewed her story Saving Armpit, and it was great to share our thoughts about it and hear yours. We are excited to learn a little bit more about the story behind the story. So, without further ado... take it away, Natalie!
What inspired you to write Saving Armpit?
Both my boys played baseball, and the oldest also umpired, so I spent a LOT of time at the ballpark. I noticed something watching all those games—often the coaches were really intent on winning, as if their lives depended on it, while the kids seemed to just want to have fun playing a sport with their friends. So I wondered, what if that were the other way around? What if, for the coach, this was just good fun but for the team it was really, really important to win? So important, that something in their lives would change. I began thinking of what could possibly change by winning a baseball game and that’s when the kids in Harmony Point came to life.
How long did it take you to write Saving Armpit?
The first draft took me about ten months to write. The next eight rewrites took 3 ½ years.
What was your inspiration for the characters Clay and Miss Apfelbaum?
Clay is a mixture of many people that I know, but he does have a little bit of my oldest son in him. My son played first base and would be the first to try and right a wrong if he saw it, just like Clay. As for Mrs. Apfelbaum, some of my writing buddies insist that she is modeled after me because of my love of baking, but I don’t see it myself!
What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?
The first book that really took a hold of me and wouldn’t let me go was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, which is odd, because I’m not really a sci-fi/fantasy fan. I think it’s because I could relate to Meg, who was a little geeky, wore glasses and had an odd family (sorry, family). I also loved the Little House on the Prairie series because of the incredible adventure it must have been to go to an unsettled area and start over from scratch. Anne of Green Gables was another favourite I think because the characters were so real that I felt I would recognize them if I were to bump into them somewhere. I also read and re-read My Side of the Mountain a hundred times.
I think that every author of a favourite book inspires me in some way by showing me what makes a great character, or how to expand my imagination or how to describe something so that it comes alive for the reader.
If you could live anyplace real or fictional, where would it be? Why?
I always wanted to run away and live in the forest like Sam in My Side of the Mountain. I loved how he hollowed out a tree for his house and made friends with a weasel he named The Baron. In fact after reading and re-reading the book many times, I was serious about running away to a forest. My mother tells me that she found things stashed in my closet that I started collecting that I would need for my new life. What did I have? A tarp, some rope, homemade firestarters, a backpack and dish soap. That’s right, I was apparently going to wash dishes in the woods. Which was amazing, seeing as I hated washing dishes at home.
If you could befriend a character from one of your books, who would you befriend? Why?
I think the character, Rachel, in Hockey Girl is someone I would love for a friend. She is feisty and stands up for herself, and her friends, which is exactly the kind of friend to have. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind or answer a dare, either, which of course lands her in all kinds of trouble. I am not at all like that; I’d rather avoid confrontations if I could, so I think we would compliment each other really well.
Baseball and mail help to bring the town together. The spirit of community is so strong and inspirational. Have you ever participated in a mail brigade? Are you a sports fan in general, and is baseball your favorite sport?
I’ve never participated in a mail brigade, but when I was younger chain letters were popular. I remember doing one where you sent a postcard to the name at the top of the list, crossed that name off and added your name to the bottom. You sent the new list to twenty friends and in a couple of weeks postcards would come flying in from all over the world. I sent mine, but never received a single postcard back. That was the end of my chain letter participation!
I do love sports, but I am a better spectator than player. My favourite sports are baseball, hockey, figure skating and horseback riding. I like that I can spend the summer watching baseball and the winter watching hockey. I used to figure skate myself and I owned my own horse for many years, so these sports are also dear to my heart.
Are you currently working on a book? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?
I am working on a new non-fiction book called Spotlight on Glow-in-the-dark Creatures. It’s all about creatures who can create light just with chemicals in their bodies. They are called bioluminescent, meaning they can make ‘living light’. It has been fascinating to learn how and why creatures have this amazing ability. Vomiting shrimp who spew out sparkling liquid to scare away predators and brittle stars who leave behind a severed glowing arm to distract their enemies are two of my favourites. This book will come out in the spring of 2014.