Un Momento with L.M. (Lucy) Falcone
16 Oct 2014 08:01 am | Domenico Capilongo
L.M. Falcone is a wonderful and energetic writer. After being an educator and living and writing for several years in Los Angeles, Falcone went on to write some of the most exciting, thrilling and award winning children’s novels and chapter books in Canada. She masterfully captures the voice of young characters who find themselves in spooky and mysterious situations.
Is it hard to write from a child’s perspective?
I’m not sure that I ever completely grew up, so writing from a child’s perspective comes fairly easy to me. It’s the adult stuff that I find challenging! Children’s verbal level of sophistication can vary greatly but, for the most part, their thoughts and their dialogue are fairly straight forward. I teach in the primary grades so I hear ‘real’ kid-language every day. What I love most about writing from a child’s perspective, is that they find joy in common things.
How do you do it?
When I write for children, I inhabit my characters – become them so to speak. In my mind I shrink down to their size, physically, mentally and emotionally – and then tell the story from that place. When I finish writing a manuscript, I go through it very carefully to ensure that the voice isn’t my voice, but the voice of the character. My adult voice does seep in at times, of course, but I correct that during the numerous re-writes that accompany any creation.
What is your writing process like?
I sooo believe in doing research before I start writing any manuscript. It blows my mind how often I come across something really interesting that I can then use in the particular story I’m working on. Before I wrote my first novel, The Mysterious Mummer, I researched mummers by living in Newfoundland for a while. That way I could talk with people who had actually gone mummering and could tell me, first hand, about their experiences. I also found a ton of research at the local university – research that wasn’t available to me anywhere else. Greek mythology was the theme for my second novel, Walking with the Dead. I researched for nine months before I wrote a word of the plot. It paid off big time. The book was amazingly well received, became a best seller, and got lots of nominations and even some awards. I still get emails from young readers raving about how much they love it!
Many children spend hours on devices and video games, do you think about this when writing for them?
When I see, or hear, of children spending too many hours in front of a computer, my heart aches. I want to go house to house and yank the plug right out of the wall. However, when I write for these same children, I don’t give devices or video games a second thought. I make my stories as spooky or funny as I possibly can. I give each book everything I’ve got and pack it full of entertainment. My work runs more to the commercial rather than the literary, and that’s just fine with me. I know it’s what kids love, and I’m thrilled to be able to offer it to them.
Where did the idea for your newest chapter book series, The Ghost and Max Monroe, come from?
Whether you’re five or sixty-five, everybody loves a good mystery. I loved them so much growing up that I became a Private Investigator. It was one of many jobs I had while pursuing my writing career. When I was young, my favourite mystery series was Nancy Drew. I read every book. As I got older I fell in love with adult mysteries like Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, and Murder She Wrote. Detectives have always fascinated me. Since I write for the younger reader, I decided to create a ‘kid’ detective named Max Monroe. Every detective needs a side-kick, so I gave Max one – a bumbling ghost. His name is Larry, and he’s a former detective who never solved one measly case in his entire career. Things start to look up when Max enters the picture and they become a team. Mysteries are like puzzles, and young readers love to solve puzzles. Nothing is more satisfying than the feeling they get when pieces finally start to fit and a picture begins to form.
Have you ever seen a ghost?
I write about ghosts, but sadly I’ve never seen one. That said, I have seen a UFO (I think). I was camping out in the mountains in California, and in the middle of the night I saw lights in the sky. They were moving unbelievably slow. I assumed it was a plane, but as I kept watching, the lights suddenly zig-zagged like crazy and then shot off and disappeared. It was thrilling to me to have witnessed this.
Why do most of your books have spooky situations in them?
Every writer is drawn to a genre of writing – for example, mysteries, humour, romance, science fiction. I’m drawn to spooky stories. I personally love them. It’s such a great feeling to be on the edge of my seat when I’m watching a movie or reading a book. If I know one thing for sure, it’s that kids love spooky stories and they love mysteries. This is great, because these are the two genres I love to write.
Do you think that your Italian Canadian background influences your writing in any way?
I wouldn’t say that my Italian Canadian background influences what or how I write, however, I would say it has influenced why I write. Like many children of immigrants, I was taught to ‘Respect your elders – Don’t date until you’re married – Don’t get into cars with anyone unless they’re your cousin’. I wasn’t encouraged to have fun or be bold in any way. From a young age, I escaped into my writing. It allowed me to live a far more exciting life than I was actually living at home.
What advice do you have for young writers who are trying to write for children?
Like a good detective, I think young writers need to be observant around children. They need to pay attention to what makes them laugh – what makes them cry – what annoys the heck out of them. Good writing makes the reader feel things, so be as authentic in your writing as you possibly can. Reading tons of good books about children is an excellent way to raise the bar of your own writing. Find out what books today’s kids are buying and enjoying. Absorb them, but don’t try and copy them. You must find your own voice and your own story to tell. Be open to ideas coming to you, and when they do – write them down fast or they will surely fly away. Lastly, I say write, write and write some more! Practice is the only way to become good at anything.
What are you working on now?
I have a project I’m crazy about called Frankie & The Hooties. It chronicles the madcap adventures of mild-mannered fourth-grader, Frankie Fazulli, his brilliant side-kick, Julia-Simone, and two sarcastic aliens, Hootie #1 and Hootie #2, as they travel through time and space annoying each other and righting wrongs. It’s a chapter book/graphic novel hybrid. I love comics, and so do kids, so I thought I’d combine chapter book text with graphic novel pictures. It’s the happiest marriage I can think of!www.lmfalcone.com