Monday, September 17, 2012

Bombs, Bananas, and Beckham: An Interview with Maggie Lyons

Vin and the Dorky Duet is a middle-grade adventure story about magnetic compost heaps, man-eating bubble baths, and other disasters that erupt when Vin, an inventive seventh-grader, takes up his sister Meg’s challenge. To wriggle out of playing trumpet in a duet with Meg, he must befriend an unsociable nerd and persuade the nerd’s trumpet-playing brother, Brad, to take his place. If Vin’s Operation BS—as he calls it—succeeds, Meg will meet the hunky Brad, whom she has a crush on, and Vin will win an autographed  David Beckham soccer jersey.

Vin has agreed to take a few moments out of his busy day to interview Maggie.

Vin: This will be a short interview because I’ve got soccer practice in an hour.

Maggie: That’s fine. I told your mom to pick you up in ten minutes. Now, I know you want to know why I saddled you with the Welsh name of Bevyn. At the time I had a perfectly logical reason: I gave you a Welsh mom, an immigrant like me. I realized there was a good chance you wouldn’t like the name Bevyn, at least not while you were young because most kids don’t want to be different. They want to be just like other kids and that includes having names that are not unusual. So I had everyone call you Vin, spelled with the letter i instead of a y.

Vin: Everyone except Meg, you mean.

Maggie: Siblings can be a pain.

Vin: Tell me about it. Does my name mean anything in Welsh?

Maggie: It means “youthful.” You’ll be forever youthful, Vin.

Vin: Cool. Did you grow up in Wales?

Maggie: I was born in a small coal-mining town in South Wales but brought up in the county of Surrey in England. That was during and after World War II when rationing and neighborhood bombsites were part of everyday life. My mom told me the government allowed families one banana a week, which my dad was awarded because he loved bananas and because he deserved a treat. He was an air-raid warden. He had to patrol the streets at night to make sure people drew their black-out drapes to stop their lights from being visible and to help people when bombs were dropped. I used to play on a bombsite across the street from my house. It had plenty of dirt to make mud pies and some good concrete to roll marbles.

Vin: Why couldn’t you let any light shine out of windows?

Maggie: To make it difficult for German bomber crews to identify urban areas.

Vin: The worst thing that ever dropped on me was from a bird. My friend Eyeballs’s brother went on a student exchange to Germany. He made a lot of friends there.

Maggie: That’s the way the world works, Vin. Enemies sometimes become friends.

Vin: Wouldn’t that be a bit difficult after your enemy killed you? Just kidding. I think I know what you mean. I couldn’t imagine a nerdy person like Eyeballs becoming my friend, but he did, even though he’s not interested in soccer like me. Did you play soccer when you were a kid?

Maggie: I played field hockey in the winter on frozen ground and hated it. I was terrified of the whirling hockey sticks. I wasn’t any good at sports, maybe because my eyesight was poor. I wore thick glasses like Eyeballs.

Vin: The Welsh like sports, though, don’t they? Aren’t they famous for rugby?

Maggie: Yes. Football, as Brits call soccer, is very popular in Wales. Rugby is the national sport of Wales and plays a major role in Welsh culture.

Vin: Talking of sports, sorry, but I gotta go. Soccer practice. Oh yeah! Meg got me the David Beckham autographed soccer jersey. I framed it. Looks real cool. Thanks for putting that idea in her head. She’d never have thought of it without you.

Maggie: You’re welcome, Vin. I enjoyed chatting with you.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
Maggie Lyons is a writer and editor who was born in Wales and crossed the pond to Virginia. With no regard for the well-being of her family and neighbors, she trained as a classical pianist. Then came a career of putting rear ends on seats—that is, orchestral management, marked by reams of marketing and fundraising writing and program note scribbling for audiences many of whose first priority was to find their names in the donors’ lists. Editing for academic publishers also brought plenty of satisfaction—she admits she has a fondness for nerds—but nothing like the magic she discovered in writing fiction and nonfiction for children. Several of her articles, poetry, and a chapter book miraculously appeared in Stories for Children Magazine and knowonder! magazine. She hopes her stories encourage reluctant young readers to turn a page or two.

Her middle-grade adventure story Vin and the Dorky Duet is available as an e-book at MuseItUp Publishing’s bookstore (MuseItYoung section), on Amazon at, and as a paperback at Halo Publishing International at and on Amazon at

Her middle-grade adventure story Dewi and the Seeds of Doom will be released by as an e-book by MuseItUp Publishing and as a paperback by Halo Publishing International in October. More information at:, and

You can find out more about Maggie Lyons and her book through her World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

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