1. You've stated that “Lucy in Her Secret Wood” (your first young adult novel) is "a story inspired by Wordsworth's wild child Lucy Gray." Can you tell us more about what it was about Lucy and Wordsworth's description of her that inspired you?
When I first read Wordsworth’s Lucy Gray poems as a child, I was immediately intrigued and haunted by the idea of a wild child, always alone, only visible “at break of day” and “the sweetest thing that ever grew beside a human door!” I could not tell if this Lucy, “fair as a star when only one is shining in the sky” was a real little girl or some beautiful spirit of nature. And did it really matter? I liked the mystery of not knowing.
And so, when I walked through the fields and woods of England, often by myself, I imagined I was part-child and part-flower, tree, a blade of grass. I was in everything, and everything was in me. Even when I left England began living in the United States as an adult, I kept all the fields, trees, and flowers of my homeland inside me.
2. How do you think your Lucy can inspire those of us in the world today who read your book?
Children are inherently connected to nature, because they are nature. I had four children myself, and now have eight grandchildren and I know they become more alive when they feel the sunlight, hear the leaves in the trees, see the birds, the squirrels, and witness all the life around them. Even city children benefit from feeling the sky above their heads and feeling the breeze and the changes of light! They will connect with Lucy’s sense of completion and oneness when she is immersed in the wood and surrounded by her natural “family.” My story of Lucy, the wild child, is even more important now when children are being “plugged in" to gadgets or screens of some sort, and “plugged out” of nature. We need to keep our children connected to nature so that they will help to heal the planet from our exploitation of the last two hundred years.
3. You followed up “Lucy in Her Secret Wood” with a second novel, “The Woodland Adventures of Lucy and Will,” and are apparently writing a third. Had you planned to create a “Lucy series” from the beginning?
My publisher wanted to make the Lucy story a series because she thought it would sell better. I didn’t intend to do that when I was writing the first story, but now it makes sense because Lucy keeps on living! The second book, "The Woodland Adventures of Lucy and Will," begins a few minutes after the first book ends so there is no “gap” in Lucy’s and Will’s adventures.
4. What do you think makes a good story?
One that has beauty and suspense. There has to be some kind of “conflict” in a longer novel or children will lose interest. The main conflict in Lucy 1 is the ongoing possibility of her being taken away from her woodland “home” and made to live inside walls again. The conflict continues in Book 2 because she is first of all captured by her mean stepdad again (just for a short while), and then made to live in an orphanage where she has to adapt to rules and conventions. I am also juxtaposing the “free” life of being one with nature, and the “inside” life of rules and expectations.
5. In addition to writing you also paint. Tell us a little about the inspirations for your paintings.
I began painting seriously when I was expecting my second child and living in South Carolina. I was still quite homesick for the English landscape and I couldn’t find any paintings I liked to hang in our home. So I decided to paint some. My son is now in his early 40’s and my painting has never stopped! Both of the Lucy books contain my paintings, and most recently (in October 2018) a gift book came out called "Nostalgia, Poetry and Paintings of Beauty, Love and Loss" which contains 47 of my short poems with my paintings that match their mood.
6. Any additional comments you’d like to share?
There’s more information on my website: http://www.christinapages.com/lucy
There is also a link to a radio interview on "The Authors Show" with Don McCauleyon that page.