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Moravian College
Joyce Hinnefeld

In Hovering FlightIn Hovering Flight

Joyce Hinnefeld, associate professor of English at Moravian College, has written her first novel In Hovering Flight, which has just been published by Unbridled Books. Her first reading will be Thursday, September 11, 6 p.m., at the Moravian Book Shop in downtown Bethlehem, Pa.

In Hovering Flight is a novel about mothers, daughters and art; about illness, death and burial; about fragile ecosystems and tenacious human relationships—all explored through characters inspired by the lives, and particularly the songs, of birds.

The book already has garnered a number of highly positive pre-publication reviews. Publisher’s Weekly called it “provocative and page-turning,” while a Philadelphia Magazine reviewer described In Hovering Flight as “… a story that is deep and believable, largely because Hinnefeld seems to know (and love) that of which she writes.”

Hinnefeld’s richly detailed descriptions of Pennsylvania countryside, New Jersey Shore and birding, along with the characters themselves, are informed and inspired by her lifelong love for the natural world. “I 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,” Hinnefeld said.

Hinnefeld’s love for birds was fostered by her father Lynn Hinnefeld, a high school science teacher. Her knowledge of birds and birding grew through her research for In Hovering Flight—beginning with a Biology of the Birds class taught by Muhlenberg College Professor Dan Klem in 2004.

The book’s engaging characters—bird artist and activist Addie Sturmer Kavanagh, ornithologist and musician Tom Kavanagh, and their daughter, poet Scarlet Kavanagh—are only partially influenced by the author’s own family, however. “My parents were, really, the anti-Tom and Addie Kavanagh,” explained Hinnefeld. “They were children of the Depression, conservative and religious … Making Addie and Tom’s daughter Scarlet someone who needed to flee her parents’ home and lives came pretty naturally to me. Now … as a mother myself, I can still understand [the] need to flee. But I can also recognize the bewilderment of parents who only want their child to know she’s loved.”

In structure and style, the novel is in the tradition of writers such as Virginia Woolf, Harriet Doerr, and Carol Shields, containing a variety of stories, viewpoints and voices.

Joyce Hinnefeld, Ph.D., is an associate professor of writing at Moravian College and director of the college’s writing center. She has published fiction, poetry, and essays in a number of print and online journals. Her book of short stories, Tell Me Everything (University Press of New England, 1998)—called “a beautiful and wise collection, with no wasted words” by judge Joanna Scott—received the 1997 Bread Loaf Writers Conference Bakeless Prize in Fiction. In Hovering Flight is her first published novel. It has been chosen by IndieBound, the American Association of Independent Booksellers, as it number one pick nationwide for September. For details about upcoming speaking engagements and book signings, and for more information on her Joyce Hinnefeld and her work, visit