Nikki’s Note: Following is an “interview” with Pam Stucky, the author of the new YA novel The Universes Inside the Lighthouse.
I say “interview” because I’ve been so swamped with stuff that I made Pam come up with her own interview questions. And she did a smashing job. So without further ado, here’s Pam!
First, thank you so much to Nikki for letting me do a guest post/interview at her site! Nikki told me she was too busy to think up interview questions, so she let me think up my own, so here we go! Let’s see what happens …
Q: What do you think about the fact that Nikki didn’t think up interview questions for you?
A: Good question! I think it’s fantastic. I’m always delighted to see people setting boundaries in their lives. It’s far too easy to say “yes” when we want to say “no,” which can lead to too much saying “no” when we’d like to say “yes.” Brené Brown (whom I adore) once said something that really stuck with me: something along the lines of “The most boundaried people I have met are also the most compassionate.” When she said that, I had to write it down so I could stop and think about it later. It makes sense, when you think about it. If we know our boundaries, and we keep our boundaries, then we don’t end up putting our energy into being frustrated over people pushing us out of our boundaries. (And BTW if you don’t know Brené Brown, get thee over to her TED Talk about vulnerability—one of the best talks out there.) She also talks about the idea of ninety seconds of discomfort saving you hours of resentment—that is, if you can say “no” and sit with the discomfort of that moment, you’ll save yourself hours or days or years of resentment. Seriously, if you’re not familiar with Brené’s work, check her out. Amazing stuff.
Q: Tell us about your book?
A: My latest book is a YA sci-fi, The Universes Inside the Lighthouse. When I started writing it, obviously it didn’t have a title yet, and I saved the document as “mystery adventure.” It’s light sci-fi, not the hard-core stuff, not Star-Trekky. More of an exploration of the universe(s). It’s YA because the protagonists are teens, but I didn’t scale down the vocabulary or the themes just because it was for a younger audience. Personally I think it’s good for all ages! As far as content, if any parents or educators are wondering, the content is appropriate for all ages.
My influences on this book were stories like A Wrinkle in Time and Doctor Who—that sense of boundless adventure, a little social commentary, some time travel and a lot of space travel, and places where everything is possible. On a deeper level, for those looking for a deeper level, this story is about loneliness, connection, discovering the powers within oneself, and dancing with the enemy.
Q: Pam, what’s on your mind today?
A: I’ll tell you what’s on my mind today: perfectionism, and the ways it keeps us from making progress toward our dreams. Let me ask all you readers something: How many of you know someone who died unexpectedly in the past twelve months? All of us, right? If we didn’t know someone personally, we knew of someone. I’m willing to bet every single one of us knows someone who died suddenly in the last year. Life is short, and there’s so much we want to do, and we’re not guaranteed anything more than this moment. So what’s stopping us? For many of us, it’s the fear that we aren’t good enough, we don’t know how to do whatever it is we want to do, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum. But we also know this: This life is the only one we know we have for sure. What are we going to do with this one messy, gorgeous, imperfect, short, precious life? I spent a whole heck of a lot of years worrying about whether I was good enough—or, more accurately, knowing I wasn’t. Now I’m trying to focus on a new idea: Worry less about whether you’re doing something exactly right, and worry more about whether you’re doing it at all. Less perfection, more action. Let other people worry about whether you’re good enough. Put your energy into making sure you are living your life. Give yourself permission to fail. Redefine failure. Redefine success. Live now.
For more thoughts on this, here’s an article I read yesterday: 5 Signs You’re Living Too Small
Q: There are aliens in your book. Do you believe in aliens?
A: Honestly, it fascinates me that some people don’t believe aliens exist. Whether they’ve ever come to Earth, whether we’ll ever make contact—those things, I think, are up for debate. (For the record, my answers to those questions: probably not; hopefully.) But do they exist? I mean, the universe is HUGE. For us to be the only intelligent life, ever, anywhere, is so unlikely as to be almost absurd. So, if there’s other life out there, what is it like? That’s a fascinating question to me. When I die, if I get to ask any questions I want (and get the answers), one thing I’ll want to know about is life on other planets. The exciting thing, the fabulous and wonderful thing, is that as a writer, I get to speculate on these things all I want. I’m already planning some of the worlds that will be visited in the second book in this series, and it’s endlessly entertaining. Scientists posit that in infinite universes (Brian Greene, for example, is one who believes there are infinite universes), theoretically everything you can imagine is possible somewhere. Think about that. Seriously?? It’s mind-boggling, and I’m not even sure I agree with the idea, but if scientists are going to say that everything is possible somewhere, then for a writer, that’s a gold mine.
Q: Tell us something about you that is relevant to this very moment.
A: I’m almost always cold, and right now, my toes are really really cold. But let me tell you, if any of you are always cold at night, try out fleece sheets. Oh my gosh! They are amazing! Sunbeam makes them, and I think JCPenney has a store brand. It’s like sleeping in a cloud. A warm, fuzzy, cozy cloud. On another note, I’m not a doctor, and this is not a prescription, but I’m convinced that when the tip of my nose gets really cold (which happens a lot) it’s because my blood calcium is low. I have not done any laboratory experiments to confirm this hypothesis, but when my nose gets cold I take some calcium and it seems to help. (If you’re going to do the same you should talk with your doctor first blah blah blah.)
Q: That’s not really about writing, Pam.
A: Well, it is and it isn’t. I once went to hear Barbara Kingsolver speak—actually, that’s a lie; I’ve heard her speak twice. The first time I went to hear Barbara Kingsolver speak, she talked about the importance of writers having hobbies and lives and even jobs outside of writing. Her point was that your characters can’t just sit around and think about stuff; they have to do things. Having a rich, active life as a human being helps a writer create rich, interesting characters. So, if I have characters who, for example, have cold toes, they could have fleece sheets and that would be endlessly interesting. (Well, maybe not.)
And, for the other writers or aspiring writers in the crowd, here’s another tidbit from Barbara Kingsolver. She talked about being in the New York Times top ten bestsellers list, and about how diverse the list was when she was in it. She said she envisioned a giant football field with all the fans of each of the top ten books, and it occurred to her that there was probably very little overlap. Her point was that not everyone is going to like your book—but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. It means, find your audience and write to them. You can be in the top ten and still have people who couldn’t give a rat’s behind about what you have to say. So write for the people who do, and don’t worry about the rest.
Q: You just mentioned “aspiring writers.” Do you have more thoughts on that phrase?
A: Funny you should ask. Yes, yes I do. If you’re calling yourself an aspiring writer, stop. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. If you’re not writing, and you think of yourself as an aspiring writer, stop thinking and start writing, and call yourself a writer. Claim it. Do it. Write. Own it. This, as they say, is not a dress rehearsal. Be a writer.
Q: Pam, Nikki said not to make your interview pages and pages. Maybe you should wrap this up?
A: Good point. She did say that. Okay, well, for all who have made it this far, thanks for reading. If you like a great book of adventure and fun, with a deeper but hopefully not in-your-face message, if you liked A Wrinkle in Time and/or Doctor Who, then check out The Universes Inside the Lighthouse! If you love it, tell all your friends! If you hate it, well, let’s just keep that between us friends.
Q: Where can people find you and your books?
A: Info below. Come by Twitter or Facebook and say hi! Thanks, everyone! Thanks, Nikki!
Buy links: The Universes Inside the Lighthouse
Amazon UK (print)
Amazon UK (Kindle)
More information on and purchasing information for Pam’s other books at www.pamstucky.com
Connect with Pam Stucky
Pam Stucky, a native of the Pacific Northwest, is the author of the Wishing Rock series (novels with recipes), starting with Letters from Wishing Rock, and the Pam on the Map travelogue series, books that take readers along on Pam’s journeys and adventures around the world. The Universes Inside the Lighthouse, Pam’s eighth book, is Pam’s first foray into both YA and sci-fi. The Universes Inside the Lighthouse is available in print at Amazon, and in ebook on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo.
Book description: The Universes Inside the Lighthouse
Introducing the Balky Point Adventures!
An exciting new series, reminiscent of A Wrinkle in Time with just a dash of Doctor Who, that will take readers on adventures throughout space and time.
The Universes Inside the Lighthouse:
Seventeen-year-old Emma and her twin brother Charlie think they’re in for a boring summer vacation. That is, until Emma notices something unusual in the lighthouse lobby. Unraveling this mystery proves to be just the beginning of an adventure that will take Emma, Charlie, and their unlikely new friends to distant planets, throughout the multiverse, and to a place where everything is possible … and will ultimately lead Emma to discover the unfathomable powers that reside within her own mind.