I wish I could see your faces, wish I could sit down in a room and talk with you, but as that isn’t possible at the moment, I’ll try to talk to you as if we were together, chatting.
I’m guessing many of you who visit this site will have read my novel In Hovering Flight, so I won’t give a lengthy synopsis here. For those of you haven’t read it, In Hovering Flight is, in brief, the story of the struggles and triumphs of bird artist and activist Addie Sturmer Kavanagh, ornithologist and musician Tom Kavanagh, and their daughter, poet Scarlet Kavanagh. It’s a novel about mothers, daughters, and art; about illness, death, and burial; about fragile eco-systems and tenacious human relationships—all explored through characters who are inspired by the lives, and particularly the songs, of birds.
When people ask me when or how I got started on In Hovering Flight, I’m never sure how far back I should go. I think of a scene I wrote years ago, maybe around 2000 or 2001: a distraught young woman driving into a seaside town, to the home of an older friend. Eventually that young woman became Scarlet, the older friend became Cora, and the seaside town (which, back then, was Chincoteague, Virginia) became the fictional Cider Cove, New Jersey.
I also knew, very early on, that I wanted bird song to figure prominently in the novel, for the simple reason that for as long as I can remember, the sound of a singing bird has never failed to soothe me.
How to write a novel about bird song? Well, make one of your characters an ornithologist. Have him marry a bird artist who becomes an angry and disillusioned, but ultimately hopeful, environmental activist. Give them a sensitive daughter who has to come to terms with her complicated parents, not to mention several other complicated people that she also happens to love.
The book’s cover image is based on John James Audubon’s Plate No. 321, “‘Cuvier’s Kinglet’ [Cuvier’s Wren],” from Birds of America. The disappearing Cuvier’s kinglet at the right is an imagined version by artist Dana Van Horn. The Cuvier’s kinglet—either a long-extinct or, possibly, a mythical species—alights, teasingly, throughout In Hovering Flight, a fitting emblem of its characters’ elusive desires.
- Joyce Hinnefeld
In Hovering Flight is published by Unbridled Books
Website by Christie Jacobsen