Featured Interview With H.R. Young-Lira
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
A Texas girl through and through, I was born in San Antonio, raised in the Dallas area, moved to Central Texas for college, and lived in Austin proper for many years before settling just east of Austin among the loblollies of Lost Pines Forest.
I’ve always loved to travel, but even more, I love coming home. We try and set out at least once or twice a year, and we do have a dog, but our old girl Daisy – downtown Dallas street rescue, and traveler from the start – she’s is getting up there so she prefers to stay back and play welcome wagon these days.
At the heart of everything, I consider myself a story seeker, so, of course, my favorite part of traveling is the people I meet, the food I eat, and seeing things I would never see otherwise. This is the stuff of life, right? Where the stories come from.
I know Book Reader Magazine typically links to author websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds, but readers can keep tabs on much of what I’m up to via Instagram, too! My Insta handle is @h.r.younglira, and I can provide a link to my author account there, as well. (https://www.instagram.com/h.r.younglira/)
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
Hm. You know, I believe my parents enrolled me in a monthly book club around age three? It was one of those programs that sent two new books a month. So I don’t think there was ever a time that books weren’t a part of my life, really.
As far as writing, for years I kept the random observation notebook, story idea notepad, or travel journal, but nothing serious until this first published work of mine, The Truth About Sunday Minor. I will say there was a good decade where nothing at all was written, I was so engrossed in my advertising career. I count myself lucky to have heard Sunday’s story, and for it to have stuck. It was one of those that couldn’t be put aside any longer, and I’m grateful it wouldn’t let me go.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
I have to admit, outside the classic required reading in school, which I also loved, some of my earliest favorites were V.C. Andrews, Stephen King, and Dean Koontz. Those were the books my mom was most interested in and left lying around the house so I think they were a default for myself.
These days I am a part of a local book club that isn’t genre specific, and that’s why I selected it. The works of Margaret Atwood, Fredrik Backman, Celeste Ng, and Blake Crouch have passed through my hands so far this year, for example. And most recently, the ladies of The Rose All Day Literary Society actually selected MY novel for May’s discussion. What an honor and treat that was to be able to sit in on a group discussion about my own work!
Who inspires me? I imagine I’m not so different from many authors in that inspiration comes from everywhere. You pick up on a little something here, a clencher there, while you’re reading and sort of lock it away in your arsenal. Then when you’ve found yourself in a holding pattern – often for me, it’s about ensuring that vice grip on a reader’s emotions – you revisit those ideas you’ve stored and try them on in your own story. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.
A bit different from others, I’d say, I’m actually more entertained and inspired by oral histories, spoken word, and music. I’ve always been fascinated with the extraordinary bits of ordinary lives, and there are so many wonderful resources for that out there, especially with the archiving capabilities available now. Ira Glass is a hero of mine. David & Amy Sedaris are both pure genius. David Isay, this world is a better place because of you. On the music, just this past weekend, for example, was all Spring vibes, R&B, and funk at our house. Listen to, and then tell me you aren’t completely transported by Roy Ayers’ “Everybody Loves Sunshine.” Gosh, I could manage an entire interview on being inspired by what I hear, I think.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
The Truth About Sunday Minor was released near the end of February this year, and I actually just received word that I’ve been nominated for the 2018 Top Female Author Award for it! Winners will be announced in July, so cross fingers for me.
A bit more about the novel, it’s is a fictionalized biography recounting the true attempts of a South Texas girl to break away from a life of unrelenting abuse during an era when appearances were everything and all who knew turned a blind eye.
And although the characters in the story are an amalgam of the real-life Sunday Minor’s recollection and how I imagined them, the events in it are crafted around her original journals and about a year of oral discussions all covering the time between Sunday’s earliest memories until she was seventeen.
To that extent, the story is true.
This is definitely one that book lovers who enjoy memoirs and true crime are destined for, but I have to mention, I was surprised and elated by such a lively discussion with the ladies that selected The Truth About Sunday Minor for book club this month, too – so much so, we decided to develop a book club package and make it available through my website! We’re still putting the final touches on that, but it should be up and ready to order soon.
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