Author Shannon LC Cate was nice enough to share with us an interview she had with Mystic Thompson, about her novel “Fighting Kudzu”. Let’s read what Mystic had to say about it!
FIGHTING KUDZU by MYSTIC THOMPSON.
In 1972 on a hot, late spring day in Georgia, five-year-old Noble Thorvald plays contentedly, alone in her suburban backyard. Her only companions…an imaginary professional football team. As she plays in her world of wonder and adventure, Noble is unaware of the challenges life will hurl in her direction-challenges that will redefine her more than once. Fighting Kudzu is the lyrical saga that traces Noble’s life as she emerges into adulthood and discovers herself. Author Bio: Author Mystic Thompson, a veteran educator, is a principal with Eckerd Youth Alternatives at Camp E-Ku-Sumee, a residential school in a wilderness setting. Fighting Kudzu is her first novel.
Shannon: What is your writing history? Have you published other types of writing in other places, or is Fighting Kudzu a new endeavor?
Mystic: Fighting Kudzu is my first and only published work. I have a degree in Journalism, but never worked in the field. I have written my entire life for my own pleasure. I write poetry, short stories, and of course I journal regularly. Additionally, I have written a number of curricula in the area of outdoor education. Essentially, I consider Fighting Kudzu to be the beginning of what I hope is a new career as a young adult novelist.
S: Your book reads very much like an autobiography. Are there ways in which Noble’s story touches on your own?
M: Noble’s story is very much based on my own experiences. I chose not to write it as a memoir or autobiography because it is still a work of fiction. I changed things, embellished, enhanced in the interest of creating dynamic characters and an engaging story. Like Noble, I grew up in Suburban Atlanta, I had an alcoholic mother who loved me and was very wise, I had an adulterous father who failed in acknowledging his parental responsibilities in a lot of instances, and I am a lesbian. In those ways, Noble’s story very much touches on my own.
S: Speaking of Noble, OMG, I love that name. How did you come up with that? And can I steal it if I ever have another daughter? (Admittedly, this is unlikely.)
M: I knew that I wanted the character to have a unique name that would become a big part of her identity. I went through several name choices before finally settling on Noble. I was writing a monologue spoken by Mamateen in which she was talking about the importance of being a noble person. While writing that monologue, I realized that Noble should be the character’s name. In the monologue, rather than have her talking about the word, Mamateen came to be talking about Noble’s name and about the responsibility of living up to it. So, that’s the process through which I named her. And, of course, I would be honored if you name your next daughter after my character!!
S: These days you are a PE teacher. Do you bring a part of your writer self to your teaching? Do you bring a part of your teacher self to writing?
M: Through my teaching, I am fortunate enough to get to experience the world and life through the eyes of teenagers. I definitely bring that experience into my writing. Since these are my target readers, I feel like my teaching gives me a unique insight into how they think, what’s important to them, what they enjoy, etc.
As a PE teacher, my students are often surprised by my literary knowledge. They seem to find it unexpected. Because I love literature and I am interested in what they are reading, I often have discussions with them about these things. Their knowledge that I’m a writer gives them a bit more understanding of who I am as an individual, and it makes me more relatable to them. It truly enhances my ability to be an effective teacher.
S: What are your hopes for Fighting Kudzu and what is on your agenda next, whether it’s another writing project, or something else?
M: My hope for Fighting Kudzu is that it would get enough exposure to have an impact on kids that might be struggling through similar issues. I’m also working with a screenwriter currently, and I’m hoping that the book will be optioned and adapted into a screenplay. I am probably biased, but I think it would make a beautiful movie. I am also writing a sequel that is currently called Downhill Running.
In addition to these writing projects, I am also starting a non-profit organization called Give A Dime. It is based on a scene in the book that emphasizes the importance of kindness, and the impact one small gesture of kindness might have on someone. The Foundation will celebrate and promote kindness, while also raising funds and awareness for LGBT Youth. We are just in the initial stages of creating the non-profit, but I hope to devote a lot of my time to that in the near future.
About the author:
Mystic Thompson is a veteran educator who has taught Physical Education, Social Studies, and Reading at the middle school level. Additionally, she has been both an Assistant Principal and Principal at the high school level. She currently teaches in a charter high school in the Greater Los Angeles area, where she is also a member of the Board of Trustees. Fighting Kudzu is her first novel. She has begun work on a sequel that is currently entitled Downhill Running.
Check out her twitter.
About the interviewer:
Shannon LC Cate has been writing about family, parenting, politics and religion since 2000. Her work has appeared on Babble.com, BlogHer.com, Literary Mama.com, VillageQ.com, in Adoptive Families Magazine, Gay Chicago Magazine and elsewhere. Her debut novel, Jack, is an Editor’s Top Pick from Musa Publishing.
Shannon, her partner, and their two young daughters divide their time between Chicago and Urbana, Illinois. You can find her online at ShannonLCCate.com or on Twitter @LilySea.