Check out this coming-of-age story... When Elephants Fly by Nancy Richardson Fischer (Interview & #Giveaway)

Welcome to my tour stop! You can find the full schedule here. This book sounds fabulously good, you guys! Particularly after reading the author's answers to my interview questions. So go check the interview out and enter the tour giveaway below...

When Elephants Fly
By Nancy Richardson Fischer
YA Contemporary
Hardcover & ebook, 400 Pages
September 4th 2018 by Harlequin Teen


There are some battles worth fighting even if it means losing yourself.

T. Lily Decker is a high school senior with a twelve-year plan: avoid stress, drugs, alcohol and boyfriends, and take regular psych quizzes administered by her best friend, Sawyer, to make sure she's not developing schizophrenia. Genetics are not on Lily's side.

When she was seven, her mother, who had paranoid schizophrenia, tried to kill her. And a secret has revealed that Lily's odds are even worse than she thought. Still, there's a chance to avoid triggering the mental health condition, if Lily can live a careful life from ages eighteen to thirty, when schizophrenia most commonly manifests.

But when a newspaper internship results in Lily witnessing a mother elephant try to kill her three-week-old calf, Swifty, Lily can't abandon the story or the calf. With Swifty in danger of dying from grief, Lily must choose whether to risk everything, including her sanity and a first love, on a desperate road trip to save the calf's life, perhaps finding her own version of freedom along the way.


"Nancy Richardson Fischer has managed to combine so many important topics-family, mental illness, extinction, animal welfare, and adolescence-into an accessible, moving and extraordinary story." ―Ellen C. O'Connell, Executive Vice President, Global, Space for Giants

"This book was an absolute pleasure to read. I encourage everyone to read this inspirational book and discuss mental illness and tolerance and the need to improve wildlife protection." ―Katie Rowe, Pritzker Genius Award nominee, Co-founder Reteti Elephant Sanctuary

"This moving coming-of-age adventure story is a captivating page-turner that crescendos to a valiant and surprisingly delightful conclusion filled with hope for both humans and elephants." ―Patricia Sims, Filmmaker, When Elephants Were Young. Founder, World Elephant Day

"When Elephants Fly is a compelling read, beautifully threading the complex relationship between mothers and daughters, mental illness and elephants." ―National Book Award finalist Carrie Arcos

"Not only does this book show the reader the perils of keeping elephants in zoos and having them perform in circuses, it does it with heart, grace, and imagination." ―Nina Berry, author of The Notorious Pagan Jones and the Otherkinseries

"Unlike anything I've read before in YA, When Elephants Fly is both a fascinating adventure and a stirring coming-of-age novel. There are few clear heroes or villains, and no easy answers for Lily as she moves into an uncertain future. The bond between elephant and girl is deftly wrought-reminiscent of Alec and the Black in Walter Farley's classic, The Black Stallion, but for an older, contemporary audience." ―Sara Zarr, author of Gem & Dixie

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I have a good friend, Bea, whose mom has a mental health condition. Bea’s stories about growing up with her mom’s erratic behavior, the cruel things people said, and the times when her mother was placed in hospitals to change medications were heart-breaking.

Bea grew up afraid that she, too, would experience some of her mother’s issues. There’s approximately a 10% chance if a parent has a mental health condition that their child will experience some sort of a mental health issue, too. That number is small when tipping a waitress but huge when it’s your life, so Bea’s fears could have come to fruition. Despite her worries, Bea chose to live in the moment, pursue college, a career, marriage and motherhood.

Bea’s experiences made me wonder about all people who couldn’t overcome their fears—the kids who were frozen, afraid to take chances, who overheard conversations that led them to believe that they, too, would have compromised lives, or who gleaned all their information from the Internet instead of from trusted people who could educate and allay fears. The questions that arose, and my desire to create a universal story about the challenges and fears, big and small, real or imagined that freeze or derail lives, led to the creation of Lily, my protagonist.

Elephants were the second inspiration for my novel. My first job out of college was as a traveling writer for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Seeing wild animals, and especially elephants, in captivity was incredibly sad. When I quit that job, I promised myself that beyond donating to elephant conservation organizations, I’d do something to shine a light on the plight of elephants. Creating Swifty, a three-week-old elephant calf, allowed me to educate readers in a way I hope inspires love, empathy and action!

Would you tell us a little more about the characters?

When we meet T. Lily Decker she’s just turned 18 and entered the danger zone for young women with a family history of schizophrenia (approximately age 18-30). She’s determined to live a careful life—no boyfriends, alcohol, challenging jobs, or stress—until she’s thirty. But she’s not living at all. It’s only when Lily’s path crosses with Swifty, a three-week-old elephant calf violently attacked by her mother (just as Lily was once attacked by her own mother) that things change. Lily is drawn into the present and must decide whether to risk everything, including her freedom and sanity, on a desperate road trip to save Swifty’s life, perhaps finding her own version of freedom along the way.

Otis Walker is the young publicist for Wild Walker’s Circus, his family’s traveling show. While he has refused to be an animal trainer, his work supports the circus and gets the show out of hot water with animal rights activists. When everything Otis has supported is challenged, he has to face his past and decide who he wants to be in the present. That decision may cost his freedom and family.

Swift Jones, nicknamed Swifty, is only three-weeks-old when her mother, Raki, rejects her in a violent attack. Abandoned, Swifty’s grief threatens her life. Only Lily’s love and devotion can rescue her. But will Lily risk her sanity to save the calf, and ultimately can Swifty’s unconditional love in turn save Lily?

Did you find anything interesting while researching the story?

I learned that no two mental health conditions are the same and there’s no one answer for concerns. Treatment is as personalized as the experiences of those with challenges. The only commonality is that individuals struggling to live with their conditions are all incredibly brave.

*If you think you might have a mental health issue, please do talk to your family, a teacher, good friends, a coach, spiritual advisor or mentor. You do not have to face your problems alone. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak. It makes you smart and helps you control your own destiny.

While researching, I also learned a lot about elephants! Each elephant family is led by the matriarch and consists of mothers, sisters, and female daughters (the males leave the herd around age 13 when puberty begins). The family protects each other, can communicate from several miles away through low-frequency stomach rumblings, and returns year after year to the place where a loved one has died to mourn, and even cry. Elephants are incredibly intelligent with brains similar to humans in connectivity and number of neurons. They’re keystone species, which means that they play a vital role in the health of the ecosystems humans depend on for survival.

Due to poaching and habitat loss, elephants in the wild will become extinct in the next twenty years if nothing is done to save them. I support Space for Giants ( and Reteti Elephant Sanctuary ( Both organizations are working tirelessly to save the majestic, intelligent, kind and loving elephant from likely extinction. Please check out their websites and donate if you’re inspired to be part of the solution!

What is your favorite part of the story?

I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m just going to say that I love when some characters realize that living in the moment, fighting for something bigger than them, and choosing what’s right over what’s easy is the only choice worth making.

What books are you currently reading or looking forward to?

Right now I’m reading The Fall of Innocence by Jenny Torres Sanchez, Still Lives by Maria Hummel, The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest and Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa.

What are you working on next?

Thanks for asking!! I’m super excited about my next novel. It’s tentatively titled, The Gravity of Falling Objects (HarperCollins/Inkyard Press October, 2019)

Here’s the synopsis:

There are four reasons Danny barely knows her dad. First, her mom hates the guy. Second, her dad is Cougar Warren, famous TV survivalist. Third, Cougar wanted a son, hence her name. Fourth, Danny is an embarrassment. Her dad is athletic, charismatic, and handsome. Danny stinks at sports, has only one friend, and bears the nickname Pigeon for the way she moved her head as a kid after losing one eye.

For her 16th birthday, Cougar finally invites Danny to be part of a TV episode featuring Gus Price, a teen movie star. Danny’s mom forbids it, but an unearthed secret leads Danny to defy her. She joins Cougar for what she hopes will be the start of a real father-daughter relationship.

When their small plane crashes in the jungles of Peru leaving most of the film crew dead, Danny, Cougar, and Gus must work together to survive their injuries and the jungle’s perils. Their ordeal shatters Danny’s perception of her parents, illuminates her unique skills, and teaches her that falling for Gus requires its own kind of bravery.

About the Author

I was born on the east coast and went to Cornell University. After college I worked as a writer for Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus. It was a fun first job and I learned how to write quickly, and also that when elephants sneeze on you it's very (VERY) messy. After a year in the circus, I moved out west. I lived in Aspen, Colorado where I skied as much as possible and worked as a waitress in a Mexican restaurant. Great experience but I learned that waitressing is hard (HARD) and I'm not very good at it.

After Aspen, I moved to San Francisco, California where I worked as a writer for University of California, San Francisco and wrote freelance for LucasFilm. At UCSF I learned that sitting in a cubicle under fluorescent lights dulls my soul. LucasFilm taught me that writing freelance, especially fiction, is fun (FUN). So I headed to graduate school in Boulder, Colorado to further hone my skills.

For the first part of my freelance writing career I wrote sport autobiographies. I'd visit and travel with an athlete like Monica Seles, Bela Karolyi, Nadia Comaneci or Apolo Ohno and then write their book. It was a terrific job, but after ten years and tons of incredible experiences I got tired of writing other peoples' stories and not my own.

Today I live in the Pacific Northwest with my amazing husband, Henry, and our mostly loveable (but sometimes vorpal) Vizsla, Boone. When I'm not conjuring a story, I love to kite-board, bike, ski or plan adventures with Boone and Henry, who both make me laugh for different reasons and who are the best partners in fun a gal could ever imagine.


Tour-Wide Giveaway

- 3 Winners will receive a Copy of WHEN ELEPHANTS FLY by Nancy Ricgardson Fischer
- Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter | Ends October 8, 2018

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