Monday, November 10, 2008
Day 1: Introducing Stacy Nyikos!
It's another super exciting week on the blog. We're celebrating the launch of classmate Stacy A. Nyikos' debut middle-grade novel DRAGON WISHES.
Ahhhh....What can we tell you about Stacy?
She has always been a storyteller. When she was little, her parents called her a ham. Why? Because she acted out her stories!
Then she learned to write. And we're happy she did.
Besides writing, Stacy loves to travel. In DRAGON WISHES, she flies her readers high above the earth and into the mythical world of Chinese dragons.
Stacy also has three children's picture books under her belt: SQUIRT (2005), SHELBY (2007), and DIZZY (2007).
When she isn’t traveling–either through her imagination or around the globe–Stacy lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with her husband and two daughters.
Guess what else? Stacy has a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Virginia. She's one smart cookie.
Okay, Stacy, tell us about DRAGON WISHES and how it came to be.
Eleven-year-old Alex is searching. So is Shin Wa. They both need to find a path out of the darkness that surrounds them. Shin Wa’s journey leads her to the Black mountains of the far north in China. There she discovers more than just the last surviving dragons. She finds a way to save mankind. It all lies in a single pearl of wisdom. The gem is also the key to Alex’s own journey. The pearl travels through the ages to find the struggling young girl and her sister. But it is not until Alex discovers how to use the pearl that she finds a path out of the darkness.
Here's the story behind the story. I wanted to build a strong sense of family into my book. The Asian culture offered that to me. Now, I have to say, I am neither Asian nor did I grow up in an Asian household. I did grow up in a family very proud of its heritage. I am a third generation Hungarian. However, when I moved back to the United States from Germany to start my PhD, my best friend was Ching Ling Teng, from Taiwan. We celebrated holidays together, both Western and Eastern. We cooked ethnic foods. We told stories. She and her extended family took me in and made me feel at home again in the U.S., odd as that may sound.
When I began working on DRAGON WISHES, Ling and I had long conversations about names and what they mean, festivals and their importance, Chinese storytelling, and stories from her childhood. Many of them found a place in my story.
But dragons? I knew next to nothing about Chinese dragons. I began researching. I read books. I combed the Internet. I learned a lot. But I still wasn’t quite ready to write. Then one day, I learned that Asian dragons protect knowledge. And that knowledge is symbolized in a very unusual way, by a pearl.
Many Chinese dragons, both drawn and as statues, have a small pearl around their neck. They are said to guard this pearl of wisdom. For me, it became the key to my story. It became the element that could crossover from the legend into the real world and spur Alex into action. Thanks to the pearl, Alex began to change her life. Granted, she didn’t get it right at first. Does anybody? But she had guidance, a family that loved her, and, finally, the will to move in the right direction.
The pearl of wisdom became more than just magical, or symbolic of knowledge–or even the dragon story–in Dragon Wishes. It became a representation of storytelling in our lives. As such, it led Alex to three things: family, wisdom, and love. I had my story.
Very cool, Stacy. We love hearing the story behind the story.
Join us tomorrow for the inside scoop on how Stacy landed her publishing contract with Blooming Tree Press. We're looking forward to a week learning about Stacy A. Nyikos and her fantasy middle-grade DRAGON WISHES!