Continuing our tie-in with The Beachcomber’s 15th anniversary in August. This issue, the spotlight shines on veterinarian and author Lydia Staggs, whose debut novel Shamar was published in March by Argus Books.
1. Where do you currently call home? Freeport. I live in Hammock Bay. It’s nice. That’s between both of my jobs. That’s why we moved there.
2. When did you start writing fiction? I started writing Shamar in the summer of 2014. I’ve written nonfiction—peer review papers, articles—for a while now. But those are not as much fun!
3. What inspires your work? The characters are inspired by people I know or have met. The premise and subject matter are inspired by life events or the genre itself. I really like the fantasy genre.
4. What’s your day job? I’m a veterinarian. I work at Gulf World in Panama City Beach doing aquatic animal medicine, and part time at Bayside Hospital for Animals in Fort Walton Beach.
5. Tell us about your new book, Shamar. The book is about a young veterinarian that goes back to Kentucky to practice in a small animal clinic, but she also does wildlife medicine. She’s involved in this program to deter poaching. During one of her trips in the field, she stumbles across a wolf caught in a trap, and after she rescues him her life kind of gets turned upside down. It’s not what she expects.
6. Do you write every day? Yes. I write 30 minutes to an hour a day, after I put my kid to bed.
7. How many pets do you have? I have one dog, a Border Collie-Australian Shepherd mix that was abandoned. I’ve had her for three years now.
8. Where can we find your book? Amazon and Barnes & Noble online. Or you can get a signed copy at Bayside “while supplies last.”
9. What was the last book you read that you really loved? Right now, I’m reading the Wraith Kings series by Grace Draven. It’s a fantasy romance, really complicated. I can’t even describe it. It’s, like, set in another world. I just ordered Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah Maas. She’s an author I like.
10. Who are some of the writers that inspired you? My favorite book of all time is Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Jane Austen. Elie Wiesel—he was my teacher in college. And I really like Mark Twain.
11. What are some of your favorite Beachcomberland places to eat, drink, shop? McGuire’s Irish Pub is my favorite place to eat. I like going bike riding around Seaside and WaterColor. I’m kind of not a girl—I don’t really shop!
12. Do you have any book signing events coming up May 19-June 1? I don’t right now because I’m going to a conference for my veterinary job, and I’m spending Memorial Day with my family. But I’m more than willing to do some after that. I am doing another at Sundog Books in Seaside this summer. It will be on my Facebook page, Lydia Staggs Author.
13. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? Don’t get discouraged. Always write what you know, because readers know if you’re faking the subject matter. I thought you had to have a literary agent to get published, but you don’t have to—you can do the legwork yourself or publish independently. For some reason, there’s this thought that self-publishing— which I didn’t do—means you’re not as good. But I’ve read a lot of great books on my Kindle from selfpublished authors.
14. Our friends at Bayside Hospital for Animals say a follow-up novel is already in the works. Yes. It’s book two in the Shamar series. I’m on the fifth revision! I have an editor and a few beta readers that kind of preview it and voice their opinions. I have 12 chapters in book three already. The hardest part is coming up with a title.
15. The Beachcomber’s 15th anniversary is coming up in August. How are you planning to celebrate this momentous occasion? I will pick up 100 copies of this issue and send it to all my friends and family!