The prevailing winds of Kitty Hawk where author Tara Staley set her new novel, Conditions Are Favorable, can blow a person, a ship or a flying machine right off course. The known course for books featuring the Wright brother’s first flight experiments in Kitty Hawk begins with the iconic brothers as confirmed bachelors. The predominate presumption concerning their fondness for single-hood and dandified appearances positions them as latent homosexuals. Others who knew them well claimed they were simply odd and “woman-shy.” Yet, no one has ever examined the brothers through the spectrum of autism. Until now. In Conditions Are Favorable, Staley presents a daring connect-the-dots story suggesting that not only were Orville and Wilbur Wright on the autistic spectrum, they were affected specifically with the yet-to-be named Asperger’s Syndrome.
With luminous prose true to the era and gentle use of the remote region’s dialect, Staley explores the religious, cultural and political edges of the period leading up to the Wright’s successful experiments in human flight. It was the age invention, the turn-of-the-nineteenth century, when two engineering brothers changed their obsession from manufacturing bicycles to designing flying machines.
Staley begins with the fictional Madeline Tate, a smart and spunky unmarried woman on the verge of becoming a spinster. Growing up among the old salts and sea pups of this remote barrier island, Madeline is something of a pearl trapped in an unyielding oyster. She longs for romance, but not with one of the grizzly-faced, whisky-soaked fishermen who overrun the island. When the Wright brothers choose Kitty Hawk as the staging place for their experiments in flight, Madeline’s life takes off. She sees them through eyes of need, desire, and adventure, spinning a romance around one of them that tests him as much as it does her. Conditions may be favorable for flight, and conditions may be favorable for romance, but are conditions favorable for love?
Staley’s debut novel Need to Breathe, published in 2012, was selected as a “LitPick of 2012″ on the popular Twitter forum #LitChat. It was also named a Top Pick by Underground Book Reviews. Staley’s writing background includes undergraduate and graduate degrees in English and Creative Writing, an RWA award for a past novel, and involvement with the North Carolina Writers Network. She is also a founding member of the online writers’ community Backspace.
As a freelancer, her work has appeared in such publications as UNCG Magazine, BizLife Magazine and the Winston-Salem Journal. She grew up, lives, and will most likely die in Kernersville, N.C. She and her husband have two sons, William (who was diagnosed with autism at age 2) and Reese. She also has a cat, a penchant for powdered doughnuts, her very own Leatherman multi-tool, and a professionally framed pencil sketch of the Wright brothers in the guest bedroom.
Read an interview by #litchat’s Carolyn Burns Bass with Tara Staley in the Huffington Post.
Follow Tara Staley on Twitter: @TaraStaley.