Today’s featured artist is author Georgia Lyon, a.k.a. Florida Frenz. I read a post she wrote on Facebook and it was one of the most inspiring messages I’d read in a very long time. Right away, I asked if she would visit my blog and share her writing journey with my fans, friends, and family.
INTRODUCING, GEORGIA LYON!
ENGLE: Thank you very much, Georgia, for stopping by for an interview. Tell me about your most recent book. What’s it about? Where did the story idea come from?
LYON: Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity! How to Be Human, my most recent book, is about the challenges that I have faced and the insights I have gained because of my autism. Many of the illustrations in the book were never originally intended to be published. I drew them to process my feelings and make sense of the world. All that changed when I was fourteen. Marissa Moss, the sister of my former autism therapist, decided to start a publishing company called Creston Books. Moss believed that if I wrote paragraphs explaining the personal stories behind some of the illustrations I had done, I could have a book to publish. It had always been my dream to publish a book, so I enthusiastically agreed.
ENGLE: One of the challenges faced by authors is visibility in the market. What have you done to bring your book in front of the consumer? How has your publisher helped?
LYON: I have done interviews for various websites (such as this beautiful one). Various other websites such as Fox News have written pieces about me. Kirkus Reviews wrote a good review of my book in May of 2013. I autographed books at the American Library Association’s annual conference in 2013. My publisher arranged all these events, for which I am very grateful.
ENGLE: What is an interesting or bizarre fact we don’t know about you?
LYON: I wrote one of my college essays about the Harry Potter series. I said that while most teens anticipate their Hogwarts Acceptance Letter, I was most eager for this college’s acceptance letter. I said that going to the particular college would be even more magical than going to Hogwarts.
Actually, I did not say the last two sentences. Maybe I should have to charm the admission’s committee.
ENGLE: How do you come up with your ideas and what’s a typical writing day like for you?
LYON: The process by which I generate ideas depends on what type of writing I am doing. Generally, I do not like to make outlines, but I do tend to brainstorm a lot. If I am writing an essay for school, I try to include arguments that I know the teacher will like and demonstrate an impeccable understanding of the material. I tend to recycle what the teacher says in class and put it in my own words. If I am writing an autobiographical piece like I did for How to Be Human, I try to remember the details of my life as accurately as possible and tell the story like it is. If I am writing fictional stories, I try to formulate plots and characters that are unique.
No matter what type of writing I am engaged in, I always hold myself to a high standard. Even before I sit down to write, I have probably thought of five different ways to write the same sentence. As I am writing the sentence, I will probably think of five more ways I can say it, and my perfectionism will not allow me to move on until I can word the sentence in the most compelling manner possible. Needless to say, sometimes a writing day can be long and exhausting, but putting that extra effort into my writing is worth the extra time it takes.
ENGLE: If you were trapped on a deserted island with one book, one drink, one friend from literature, and one song what would that look like?
LYON: I think that my friend—Frankie from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn–and I would spend many hours reading Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved. We would discuss what it felt like to be an outsider in American society. I am sure we could both tie our own experiences into the discussion as well. When we were not doing that, we would be relaxing on the beach, drinking ice water and listening to souring harmonies of Peponi by ThePianoGuys and Alex Boye.
In short, it would be a combination of your typical, laid-back island, vacation with frequent Socratic discussions and spiritual connection as part of the mix.
ENGLE: Now that you’ve wet our whistles, where can we find your book? Do you have a website/facebook/twitter you’d like to share.
LYON: I am on facebook. My page still has my former pen name, Florida Frenz, as its name. So if you wish to search for my facebook page, do not search for Georgia Lyon.
ENGLE: If you could be a Muppet who would you be and why? Please feel free to include pictures, bio, head shot, and book blurb. I will link to Amazon and your website. Any other social media sites you wish to include, please let me know.
LYON: I would be Big Bird because he also has a passion for writing and drawing. Honestly, having a bunch of yellow feathers and bright orange feet would still be less weird than having rainbow-colored tentacles. I would recommend buying my book if you do not understand that reference.
Due to a glitch in the time-space continuum, Georgia Lyon wound up on the wrong planet. On the planet she should have lived on, everyone is autistic. Nonetheless, Earth has become a home to Georgia, and she has discovered that many earthlings can be fun and nice. She enjoys spending time with friends, who like her, may be from other planets, but are adapting fabulously to their lives on earth. When she is not with her friends, you can probably find Georgia studying, reading, swimming, or mastering Karate.
How to Be Human is a great book for anyone who has ever wondered why autistics behave the way they do. It describes the challenges Lyon faces every day as an autistic person. It then chronicles Lyon’s journey of learning to communicate her emotions and understand what others are telling her about their emotions. She comes to the realization that she will always be autistic, but she knows that she can still be a happy, productive person. This enables her to become an empowered autistic and share her message with the world!