Introducing: Piper Bayard, An Independent Spirit
This post could fall under the category of “why I love the internet.” A couple of years ago, when I made my first foray into the electronic soup of social media, specifically Twitter, one of the first people I met was Piper Bayard. After only a few short conversations, she made me feel welcome and showed me that there are very real and kind people out in social media land.
Now, two years later, last May I got to meet her in person at the Dallas Fort Worth Writers Conference. And of course, she is just as sweet and gracious in person as she is on line. So I’m thrilled to introduce her to you. She’s a writer, a blogger, a shooter, and a recovering attorney. We got together to talk about her new book, “Firelands” and to talk about her creative life.
When I first met Piper in person, one of the ways she stands out in a room because she’s 6 feet tall.
RFH: So Piper, I have to ask you, what’s like being a 6 foot tall woman in today’s world?
Piper: I don’t think about it much, but I do notice regional differences in average height when I travel across the country. In areas that were settled by Germanic and Scandinavians I don’t stand out. But when I lived in New Mexico, populations are generally shorter, and I get some folks looking at me twice. I will admit that at times, when facing human predators like solicitors or evil playground monitors, I take advantage of being able to look big.
RFH: Describe the circumstances surrounding you when you had the first idea for the book?
Piper: When we went into Iraq back in 2003, I saw an interview with a Shi’ite imam in which he said, “Now we are free. We are free to make the women cover up. We are free to ban music. We are free to ban television. . . .” After that, I noticed that following every election here in America, no matter who won or by how slim a margin, the winner grabbed the bit in his teeth and ran as if he had a mandate from the entire American populace to create freedom in his own image, like the imam. It made me wonder what would have to happen in America for us to accept a theocracy as our image of freedom.
RFH: Have you written any other books?
Piper: Yes. I just finished a spy thriller called THE LEOPARD OF CAIRO, which is the first in the seven-book APEX PREDATOR series that I am writing with an anonymous senior member of the intelligence community.
I also had an original manuscript, which was very loosely related to FIRELANDS. I believe it is now being used for enhanced interrogations at Guantanamo. (RFH: I doubt it was that bad? Was it??)
RFH: What was the toughest lesson you had to learn to take your book to the level where you felt it was ready to be published?
Piper: I had to learn the difference between playing with my imaginary friends and writing a book. Writing is an art, but publishing is a business. I have been a dancer since my childhood, and writing is like dancing that way. Many people can dance, but pros set their egos aside, study the market, and focus their talents toward satisfying the audience.
RFH: What was it like going through the query process for your publisher? Did you ever query any literary agents?
Piper: I didn’t query my publisher. I had good friends who knew him and recommended me. You might say my query process was years of networking and developing honest friendships. I spoke casually to two or three agents I knew, but only half-heartedly. The traditional agent/New York publishing process isn’t a good fit for me at this point in time
RFH: How will you approach writing your next book based on what you learned while writing this first book?
Piper: I won’t argue with the process. I have a process that works for me. Characters, plotting, prose, edits, in that order. I won’t waste time fighting the system.
RFH: Who has been the most influential writing teacher?
Piper: Definitely Kristen Lamb. She was my first editor, and there are reasons I call her the Death Star. She’s brilliant at looking at someone else’s dirty bathwater and extracting the baby, and then teaching them to do the same.
RFH: Do you compose on a keyboard or do you write long hand?
Piper: Both. I’ll type when I have it thought out ahead of time. But if I’m in any way stuck, I take a nap to turn off my left brain. Then when I wake up, I pick up a pen and take it long hand for a while. Works every time.
RFH: What have you learned about yourself in the process of writing your book?
It’s given me a place for all the parts of me to co-exist and be productive simultaneously. When I’m in lawyer there’s no room for belly dancing, when I’m in the belly dancing world, there’s no room for the pottery maker. As a writer, there is room for all of it.
Thanks for stopping by Piper. And for those of you out in social media land who want to connect with her, you can find her on twitter, @PiperBayard.