How Ricky Tims and Kat Bowser teamed up to create Lizzy Albright

Meet Lizzy Albright. Each week, an accomplished published author takes over the YEM Twitter account for Thursday’s Twitter Takeover. During the takeover, the YA author will answer questions, tell stories, and give advice on our social media. This week authors Ricky Tims and Kat Bowser will be taking over our Twitter account. Together, the two are the authors of Lizzy Albright and the Attic Window.

Ricky Tims has enjoyed a long and diverse career that coalesced from a variety of creative art forms. He is well-known in the international quilt industry as a TV host, best-selling author, teacher, award-winning quiltmaker, fabric designer, inspirational speaker, and live performance entertainer. With the publication of this book, he adds novelist to his long list of creative endeavors. Kat Bowser is a dynamic vocalist and consummate entertainer. Her performances—ranging from her remarkable tributes to Janis Joplin to her intimate piano bar weekends on Fort Lauderdale Beach—have thrilled local music lovers and tourists from around the world. Learn how the two came to collaborate below!

Young Entertainment Mag: How did you first get involved in writing?

Ricky Tims and Kat Bowser: We’ve both been active in creative arts our whole lives, but this is our very first attempt at being authors of a novel.. We were happy to make it a collaboration! ..Blind leading the blind if you will.

YEM: How did you two meet?

Ricky and Kat: We met while working on a musical endeavor together in the 1980’s. We moved apart shortly after, but always stayed in touch. We both continued working in the music industry, and Ricky also began a prosperous career in the quilting world.

YEM: When did you come up with the idea to write together? Where did your inspiration for the book come from?

Ricky and Kat: Believe it or not, they both happened at the same time…In 2008, Kat was doing marketing/sales work for Ricky’s quilting business.  While attending a quilt convention, Ricky was teaching Kat the names of traditional quilt blocks..names like ”Flying Geese”, “Scottie Dog”, “Bear Paw”…Kat immediately pictured these blocks as characters for a story…lightbulb moment….and so it began.

YEM: Have either of you worked with a co-author before?

Ricky and Kat: Nope…first book for both of us, but we’ve both experienced collaboration in other art forms and knew it could be a powerful source.

YEM: How does it compare to writing solo?

Ricky and Kat: We enjoyed having someone to bounce ideas around with …even when one of us would write a section thinking it was “buttoned up” , the other could find the holes in the story or add to the narrative. It was fun letting the characters unfold before us as we both had different perspectives for their purpose. The key to a successful collaboration is to first select a partner you trust. We have collaborated on musical projects and knew we would work well together.

Second, don’t have your heart set on a specific outcome. When expressing the importance of an idea to the other person, we would use a 1-10 scale…10 meaning it was REALLY important that this idea live! This helped alleviate that awkward feeling of insisting your idea take precedence by cluing the other person into your attachment to it. During final edits, we kept the phrase “does this move the story along” in our minds. This helped buffer the sting of getting one of your beautifully written paragraphs removed 🙂

YEM: You’re the authors of Lizzy Albright and the Attic Window. Can you tell us about the book?

Ricky and Kat: The book is set at Christmas Eve 1964….it’s also Lizzy Albright’s 10th birthday. The family travels to Lizzy’s Grandmother’s home to celebrate the holidays. While going through Granny’s heirlooms in the attic, Lizzy discovers a 1930’s sampler quilt. Granny teaches Lizzy the names of the quilt blocks….remember the aforementioned ”Flying Geese”, “Scottie Dog”, “Bear Paw”…. Lizzy Albright’s imagination is sparked and when she falls asleep under the quilt, the blocks come to life and take her on magical journeys. This book immediately connects with quilters as the classic blocks are near and dear to the community. But Lizzy Albright and the Attic Window is not about the quilt, it’s more about discovery which we believe will connect with the young and the young at heart.

YEM: How did you create the character of Lizzy Albright?

Ricky and Kat: We knew we wanted a child to be the main character…They say “write what you know”… So the character of Lizzy Albright is based from Kat’s childhood…much easier to take from a world you’ve experienced.

YEM: Which came first, the character or the story?

Ricky and Kat: The basic synopsis of a child discovering a quilt made from classic blocks was the impetus…the imagery made us connect the dots immediately..kind of like a songwriter who’s inspiration comes with the lyrics and the melody all at once. Inspiration doesn’t always come together that quickly, but this time, for us, it did.

YEM: Where did you get the idea for the Kingdom of Ailear?

Ricky and Kat: The name itself is the Gaelic word for “attic” thus connecting it to Granny’s attic, an important place of intrigue and discovery in the story. When creating “other worldly” names in the book, we tried to connect it to our known world in some way by either looking at other languages or taking letters from a common English word and scrambling them. For example, the character Calixta…she’s a complicated soul, a sorcerous, and all we knew was that we wanted an ‘x’ in her name to symbolize this complexity. We played around for hours just letting sounds come forth that utilized the ‘x’ before we landed on Calixta. The hard consonants mixed with the soft vowels really captures the essence of this character.

YEM: What is it about Ailear that makes the kingdom unique?

Ricky and Kat: There is an old-world feel from the physical description and customs of Ailear, but also technologies and gadgets that are futuristic and fantastical….a little something for everyone! This was purposeful as we felt in order to keep all generations engaged, we’d needed to incorporate things old and new…it sparks fond moments of reminiscing as well as wild imagination….who doesn’t love that combination?!

YEM: Lizzie is 10 years old. Do you hope this book inspires young readers to go on their own adventures?

Ricky and Kat: Absolutely yes! Discovering new things to try or new ways of thinking is what helps to keep us all young.

YEM: This book takes place during Christmas. Thanksgiving is coming up and Halloween was just last weekend. What’s your favorite holiday?

Ricky and Kat: Holidays are interesting markers in the year. Each one highlighting some human aspect we value: Valentine’s highlights love shared between individuals, July 4th highlights the desire for independence, Halloween highlights honoring the dead or the delight of a good scare. As a kid, birthdays and Christmastime are pinnacle…the focus is generally on self and receiving. But as one ages, the treasured times tend to shift to more of others and giving. Thanksgiving embodies that notion….gather, eat, drink, share, love…what a great idea! We included holidays in our story as they are integral and almost imperative expressions celebrating life.

To follow along with this week’s Twitter takeover, follow our Twitter account @YoungEntmag and follow the hashtag #YAAUTHORTAKEOVER.