Title: I Am Lucky Bird
Author: Fleur Philips
Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: New Dawn Publishers Ltd
Release Date: May 27, 2012
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When her mother mysteriously vanishes from the small town of Plains, Montana, 12-year-old Lucky Bird’s childhood comes to an abrupt end. Left to defend herself against her suddenly abusive grandmother, Marian, and forced to endure the twisted predatory games played out by Marian’s lover, Lucky soon finds herself trapped in a nightmare.
Even when she manages to escape, the outside world can’t take away the brutal images of her past. Still haunted by her mother’s disappearance and the trauma that followed, Lucky is easily led down a path of self-destruction—a path that only the intervention of a young stranger and his family can guide her away from. But first, Lucky will have to confront her demons, and the dark truths kept hidden.
Being Brave When Creating Bad Guys
By Fleur Philips
Tom Cressfield in I Am Lucky Bird is one of them. To say he’s a monster is being nice. And having to bring him into the novel—a difficult task from the get-go as he makes his initial appearance in the first few pages—was like watching the rape of Sarah Tobias played by Jodie Foster in The Accused. I didn’t know what to expect when I saw the film the first time, but when I watched it again, my stomach clenched into a knot and my hands started shaking a good ten minutes before the dreaded scene. I had a similar reaction when I had to bring Tom Cressfield into Lucky Bird’s life. I created him though.
I knew what he was and what he was going to do (and what he’d already done). And as I despised him, I had to give him life. I had to swallow my fear and unravel the twisted rope in my gut and put this animal in the pages of my book to torment the young Lucky Bird. I created this man in my head—a compilation of the many bad guys I’d read about in books or I’d watched in films—and now he was alive and breathing. I made him walk and talk. I made him do those horrible things. There were moments when I questioned my own sanity. Was it possible I did have some deep, dark traumatic moment in my past that I was repressing?
It was days, maybe weeks later, when I realized it wasn’t so spectacular that I created this character. Writers aren’t brave for creating villains. They’re brave for finding a way to connect with them, for finding a way to make their readers empathize with them. I tried digging deep within myself to find the strength to be brave enough to connect with Tom Cressfield, but I fear I fell short.
I had to find a way to make my readers not hate him, even though he disgusted me. It’s an incredibly tricky task for writers, and there are many out there who can do it, and do it well. Unfortunately, I don’t think I succeeded because each time I think of a new reader about to meet Tom Cressfield, I get that same sickly feeling in my stomach, like I’m about to watch that horrible scene in The Accused.
Fleur Philips is a graduate student at Antioch University in Los Angeles, pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing. She attended the University of Oregon in Eugene where she was awarded placement in the Kidd Tutorial Creative Writing Program. After a short-lived acting career (she was a “featured extra” on Steven Spielberg’sCatch Me If You Can), she completed three manuscripts. I Am Lucky Bird is her first novel and was selected as a general fiction finalist for the 2011 Book of the Year Award from ForeWord Reviews. She’s currently working on her second novel which will be released in the summer 2013. She lives in Upland, California, and when she’s not writing, she’s cheering for her son in his athletic endeavors.
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