Mercer Buddie wants two things in this world: a girlfriend and the chance to prove to his master falconer father that he’s not a flake. With hunting season fast approaching, fourteen-year-old Mercer has only a short time to work with Flip, a red-tailed hawk he irreverently named to show his dad that falconers don’t have to be so serious all the time.
When Mercer meets Lucy, he falls hard for her gorgeous looks and bubbly personality. He thinks his love life is about to take flight, until he discovers that Lucy and her family belong to a fanatical animal-rights organization called HALT—a group that believes imposing any sort of restrictions on animals is a form of cruelty. Mercer soon realizes that if he wants to keep seeing Lucy, he’ll need to keep his love of falconry and his family’s raptor rehabilitation center a secret from her, and Lucy’s involvement with HALT from his family.
With humor and honesty, Mercer’s story shows how growing up means making difficult choices…and sometimes, being rewarded in unexpected ways.
HI Kym!! Thanks for visiting my blog and being willing to do this interview! I can’t wait to peek behind the scenes of Flip the Bird!
HI Rachel – thanks for having me! I’m soooo excited about Flip the Bird’s release you might say I’m “flipping” out. And with so many thousands of books being released every year, I’m honored and thrilled that you chose my book to review.
Aww! No problem! I occasionally get a case of the sads because I know I can’t read them all!!
Flip the Bird is a hilarious and clever title, how did it first come to you?
The original working title was “Falconer’s Apprentice” (snoreville!) so perhaps, in my angst over such a lame title, I may have made a rude gesture at my computer, thus sparking an idea for the best title in the history of YA novels. Only problem is, many teens never heard the expression of “flip the bird” before, but I’m hoping to change that. At this time, I want to make it known that if this phrase becomes popular again with the under-twenty set, I’m personally taking full credit for its reinstatement.
No way! They don’t know that term?! This decreases my faith in humanity. I wonder what they call it? XD
What surprised you the most about falconry? What did you love most about it?
I was surprised by several things: how deeply falconers cared about their birds, how much time, talent, and treasure it takes to house and nurture a raptor, and how beautiful the experience of working with birds of prey can be. I loved how quirky and individual the birds were, and how truly beautiful these majestic birds of prey are in flight. Finally, the realization that these birds were free to fly off whenever they were out on a hunt with their falconer, but yet they chose to remain as partners instead astounded me. That’s a true symbiotic relationship!
I hope they succeed in preserving the art. It’s certainly an ancient process, I have really deep respect for it and the relationships they form with the birds. It’s magical.
At the end of the book, you say that you took falconry lessons, so you probably got to at least see a few amazing birds. Did you have a favorite?
All of the birds in my novel were modeled after real birds of prey (most of them permanently injured) that are housed at SOAR (Save Our American Raptors) facility in Illinois. The Great Horned Owl (who I named Monocle in my novel) loved to have her neck and head scratched––exactly the way I described her in my novel. She had a super cute and lovable personality––and of course, who doesn’t love owls?
I was hoping that’s what you’d say! I love owls. I used to live out in the country where you could hear them all the time just hootin’ away.
One of my favorite things about Flip the Bird was the familial presence. A lot of YA lacks that, and in particular, my favorite was the relationship between Mercer and Lincoln. The sibling relationship is so well expressed. It captures Mercer’s transition from idolization to something less, or perhaps just into something human. How difficult was it to capture the spirit of their relationship?
Thanks! The ups and downs of brotherhood were definitely something I wanted to represent authentically. Having two older brothers myself I witnessed how they could be best buds one day, and then knock each other down in a brawl on another. The thing was, they said what they had to say (often with fists or dirty tricks), but then it was out of their system and they moved on. And with me being the baby in the family like Madison, I could get my older brothers to pay attention to me for a day or two when they weren’t speaking to each other for those “off” days. (TRUTH: I was a big tattletale, which my brothers resented of course, and they argued with me about it incessantly. Then one day I did something wrong and didn’t want to get in trouble, so they had a heart-to-heart with me, exactly the way Mercer and Lincoln had with Maddie.)
Aww! No wonder it’s so genuine! That is one thing I envy about boys. They seem to duke it out and get over it pretty quickly. Sometimes us girls hold grudges. XD
Another heartfelt but amusing relationship is the relationship between Mercer and Lucy. It’s a 21st century version of Romeo and Juliet. Falconer meets an Eco-activist. What inspired that premise?
After attending a dinner theater show at Medieval Times, I knew I wanted to find out more about falconry. I had read My Side of the Mountain as a kid, but hadn’t read any novels recently that had falconry in it (although there were a few SNL skits, lol). My original idea was to do a time travel story involving a modern day falconer apprentice unknowingly traveling through a portal and landing in the Middle Ages, but then I realized I’d have to research both falconry and the Middle Ages! As much as I love research, I decided I could do a better job focusing on only one of those two aspects and chose to write a contemporary story with falconry instead.
However, I wasn’t sure what the conflict would be.
But when I went to my first falconry apprentice class, the instructor was telling us how she’d brought some of her permanently disabled birds out to a public information event on falconry the prior weekend, but a group of animal rights demonstrators showed up. The protestors hooted and hollered, blowing whistles and horns, so the rehabilitation specialists couldn’t take the birds out to talk about them because it would be too upsetting to the birds. Much to the dismay of both the falconers and the people who brought their kids to the event, the presentation had to be cancelled. I was like “Bam!” – the antagonist would be an animal rights activist group. But it would be even more intense if my young falconer fell for a girl who was an eco-activist. Then he’d have to make some tough choices about where his allegiances belonged. We’ve all had conflicts with love interests or friends, and the reality of navigating the differences can be stressful.
Ugh. That sounds so sad (about the birds, not the plot inspiration lol. At least the birds were protected, but how icky can humans be sometimes?!ugh. Sounds like a fantastic AH HA moment though.
Imagine you can create your own bird breed (no restrictions required, it can be a pterodactyl with a unicorn horn if you’d like). What does it look like? (be forewarned, I’m going to photoshop one for you. XD)
LOL – Love this question! A pterodactyl with a unicorn sounds awesome! But since you took that one, how about a bird that has a:
- Cute owl head
- Peacock body
- Speaking abilities of an African Grey
- And knows how to do laundry. (Hey, you said no restrictions!)
- And I’ll even let you name him for me.
TADA: Here he is, Sherbet, the highly-confused, yet intelligent bird. I finally get to showcase my mediocre photoshop skills. Yay?
Where I live, we have an old park where peacocks pretty much roam free. The really don’t give a flip (haha, pun intended) what the humans do. They just roam around and hog the roads. XD I’m pretty sure the park rangers keep an eye on them (safety and food wise), but they’ve been living in the park by the hoards since a bird sanctuary burned down in the 30’s. haha. Precious childhood memories. I about cracked up when you mentioned Peacocks. Anyway, back on track…
We’re headed into fall! Not only is it a time when most Falcon hunting seasons start (in the US anyway) but it’s also a time for a serious case of the fall snugglies. This excites me, even though the leaves don’t change here ‘till December. What’s your favorite fall comfort food?
Super tender pot roast that’s been in the crockpot all day simmering with potatoes, celery, and carrots, dripping in gravy and served with a hearty piece of buttered and toasted sesame bread. Mmm…I just made your mouth water, didn’t I?
That sounds divine! Only, I have a respiratory allergy to wheat so I can’t have delicious sesame bread. *cries* A deli downtown used to have the most AMAZING savory, mouthwatering bread. *sobs*
How about your favorite fall drink?
Pumpkin spice chai tea latte (non-alcoholic)
Two-hit Fig Punch (muddled figs, whiskey, and spiced rum) (alcoholic)
Believe it or not, my favorite fall drink is a Double Chocolately Chip Frappuccino. Yes, the ice one. The leaves don’t start changing colors here in SoCal until mid December. XD It’s just started cooling off to the 70’s-80’s. But when it does get cold, I LOVE SwissMiss Hot Chocolate. It just has such a creamy taste…
Finally, what movie gets you in the Halloween mood? (if you don’t celebrate Halloween, then maybe just fall in general…or winter. Whatever 😉 Movie something or other.
I love Halloween! My favorite things about fall are the changing colors of the leaves (and then stomping on the crunchy leaves later on) as well as outdoor campfires at night with friends. And while I don’t like horror movies, I love me a creepy psychological thriller like Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, or We Need to Talk about Kevin.
*le guilty* I actually haven’t read/seen any of those! Also, I refuse to see scary movies. Just…NOPE. But those thousands of books published every year… amirirte? *chuckles nervously*
Thank you so much for agreeing to interview me! I had a blast answering your unique questions. I’m hoping that, with your help, Flip the Bird can soar into a lot of readers’ hands. xoxo, KYM
Thanks for stopping by! I hope to read other things from you in the future!
Don’t forget to follow Kym! You can find all her social media handles to the left of her bio below. Also, don’t forget to swing by and read my review of Flip The Bird!
Click here to read my review
Also, don’t forget that this is my post for the official Flip the Bird blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Here’s the schedule and links!
10/24/2016- Books,Dreams,Life– Excerpt
10/25/2016- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review
10/26/2016- Mike reads– Excerpt
10/27/2016- Itsmisselizabeth– Review
10/28/2016- Rachel’s Book Reviews– Interview
10/31/2016- Margo Kelly– Review
11/1/2016- The Silver Dagger Scriptorium– Spotlight
11/2/2016- RhiReading– Review
11/3/2016- Curling Up With A Good Book– Interview
11/4/2016- Reese’s Reviews– Review
“Brunner writes an impassioned story with real-life moral dilemmas. Abundant details of falconry, the result of the author’s own falconry apprentice lessons… root the story solidly in a fascinating world new to most readers. An engaging story of a young teen finding what’s most important in his life.”
“Lovers of Sterling North’s Rascal, Farley Mowat’s Never Cry Wolf, and Calame’s Dan Versus Nature will flock to this tale about a teen and his hawk. . . Get multiple copies for nature-loving reluctant readers.”
“An exciting adventure into the art of falconry and the heart of a young man.”
—David Lubar, author of Hidden Talents and Character, Driven