Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Davidson author's process is messy, but it works

Davidson's Garret Freymann-Weyr, author of five young adult novels and "French Ducks in Venice," a forthcoming children's picture book, explains to me that her writing process is messy. Really, really messy.

She tells me that she wrote one entire book from the wrong character's point of view. So then she rewrote it. She notes that her first drafts aren't the best. "You can't see how much you suck," she says, "until it's on the page."

And she says her first picture book, "French Ducks in Venice," to be published Dec. 13, contains content that might be inappropriate for children. This content includes unmarried parents -- though they are duck parents. Even worse, her two main characters, ducks Georges and Cecile, make prejudiced comments about mallards.

But in Freymann-Weyr's case, a messy process and inappropriate content beget highly praised books. Her young adult novel "My Heartbeat" was a 2003 Printz Honor Book. And "French Ducks in Venice" (Candlewick: $16.99), just earned a coveted starred review from Publishers Weekly.

In the story, Polina Panova, a dressmaker in Venice, Calif., has been dumped by her filmmaker boyfriend. Her friends Georges and Cecile, ducks who live in the canal behind her house, are indignant.

Freymann-Weyr's storytelling gifts "are unmistakable," PW declares.

Freymann-Weyr grew up in New York and graduated from UNC Chapel Hill. She'll discuss her writing at a free talk, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, in the 900 Room of Davidson College's Alvarez College Union. She plans to read from her novel "Stay With Me," she says, "and talk a little bit about how sloppy my process is."