Thursday, April 1, 2010

Get to Know...Lesley Livingston!

Lesley Livingston, author of Wondrous Strange and Darklight, has graciously granted me an interview! *squee* She is one of my favorite YA authors and so this was a fantastic opportunity to get to know her better.

(Click on picture for link to Lesley's website)

1. Did you always feel that you wanted to be a writer? Was there a specific moment when you made the choice to pursue a career in writing?

I've always felt I wanted to be a storyteller. I guess I sort of fulfilled that ambition in two ways - through both the acting and the writing. I know they are two very different mediums, with very different disciplines, but, to me, they've always felt connected. I think the specific moment I decided to pursue the writing aspect as my career focus was when I finished my first novel (which remains, as yet, unpublished). It felt like such an accomplishment and I knew that writing was not something that was going to leave me anytime I figured I might as well make the most of it!

2. Where do you write? Do you have to create a certain mood or atmosphere?

Most of my writing is done in my upstairs office, which I affectionately refer to as the Nook, whereupon I am routinely interrupted by one of three cats, who will stand on his hind legs and reach up to tap me on the shoulder. Every five minutes. Until I take a break and furiously pat him on the back as if he were a congo drum (this sounds cruel, but it is his absolute favorite thing in the world. He is not right in the head.) But I am also portable. "Have laptop, will travel." And then write. I used to have rituals. Music, a favorite candle, snacks, herbal tea...not so much anymore. Acutally - that's a lie. My ritual now consists of: turn on computer, open file, write dammit. Anytime, anywhere possible. Because time is a precious, fleeting, rare commodity apparently. Especially when you are on a deadline!

3. What was your inspiration for Kelley's world (or in this case...worlds)? Was there a single sparking moment that inspired Wondrous Strange?

As to how that fascination managed to find a home in the middle of an adventure set in NYC, well, I had some time ago written a short story about an actress in a production of DREAM in which some of the characters in the play were actually real Faeries. It was a fun little character piece and it stuck with me as something to expand upon. But, if it was going to become a longer tale, it needed a truly extraordinary setting outside of just the theatre. When I went down to New York for the first time to meet my agent, I - naturally - paid a visit to Central Park. That was my "sparking moment" as you so aptly put it! I fell instantly, irrevocably in love with the place. And with its history. The Park was the most magical place I had ever been and it virtually demanded that I turn it into a setting for a story. For some reason, it was just perfect for this story. It fits so well with the play and the pastoral setting, but there is also a whole bunch of really interesting history behind the building of the Park that just dovetailed wonderfully with what I had in mind.

4. I love the covers. The colorization is beautiful and ethereal. Is there anything you would change about the covers? Have you started working on the next one?

I wouldn't change a thing. I am absolutely thrilled with the job the HarperCollins design team has done on these books and I feel extremely lucky. I also can't take an ounce of credit for them! As for book 3, I have seen the unfinished art and it is absolutely lovely. I can't wait to see the final product!

5. Central Park almost plays a role as its own character in Kelley's world. Why Central Park?
I guess I sort of answered this with question 3 but I'll say it again. It's MAGIC. And, you're absolutely right - the Park is really its own character in the books. That's actually the way I approached writing it.

6. What type of research did you do for this series? I love the more traditional view of the "fair folk," especially the leprechauns. Similar to Grimm's Fairy Tales, I think many traditional folk tales have become too child friendly instead of retaining their cautionary origins.

Absolutely. Faerie stories should be cautionary! Personally, I've been fascinated by Faerie lore in general since I was a kid. The stories that intrigued me the most were never the ones that portrayed the Fae as tiny, sweet, sparkly things. Rather, I was drawn to the idea that these were the creatures that existed beyond the circle of firelight, or just on the other side of the threshold, or just over that far hill; things only ever glimpsed out of the corner of your eye - if you were lucky! I love the dangerous aspects of the Fair Folk. I always appreciated that you got the sense with Shakespeare's chracters. That, given just a little nudge, things could go badly south with those creatures pretty quickly. Like it does with my leprechauns! Glad you enjoyed them!

7. What is your favorite Shakespeare Quote? many...too many...head exploding...can't choose...Okay, okay...I'll choose. But I cannot, in good conscience, choose just one. So, instead, I'll choose just two. I adore:
"There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio,
Then are dreamt of in your philosophy"
for it's sentiment, and
"Light thickens; and the crow
Makes wing to the rooky wood:
Good things of day begin to droop and drowse;
While night's black agents to their preys do rouse."
for the way it sounds. So lush and ominous. And I love the imagery of light thickening. Gadzooks - the man truly was a genius.

8. What was the last book you've read that you would highly recommend to other readers?

CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins (of course, I recommend reading the first book in the series, THE HUNGER GAMES, first.)

9. Your next book, Once Every Never, is set in Britain during the Roman Conquest. Are you having fun researching the details of that period?

Oh yeah! Buckets of fun! It's actually a time-period that I've always been fascinated with so I already have a fairly broad knowledge base, but I love researching detail stuff and there's a lot of richness in this particular story.

10. Would you ever try a different genre?

Sure! I would have to have the right story to write first, of course, but I read broadly and eclectically and I write things that I want to read so it's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility. But I have to say, that I really, truly enjoy the genre and the age-range I'm writing for now.

11. Okay, on to fun things!! What is something about yourself that most people would be surprised to know?

I'm really quite shy and retiring. Most people who've met me would not believe that if you told them. In fact they would laugh in your face. Loudly. It would go on for some time. And then maybe they'd just think you were talking about someone else... or that you were a crazy person. (But it's true!)

12. Do you miss being the Waitron-9000, source of endless B-movie trivia knowledge?

Hee! I do not miss the false eye-lash application, nor the glitter that seemed to get everywhere...but - yeah, I really do. She was a ton of fun to play, sparkly and snarky all rolled into one!

13. Quick Picks List: Favorite Vacation Destination? Favorite Childhood Book? Favorite Movie? Favorite Food? Favorite Clothing Item?

Wales. Or New York. It's a toss-up.
The Black Stallion
It varies, depending on my mood but right now I'll say the Lord of the Rings trilogy, extended version (and I do consider it to be one long movie).
The Linguine Bolognese at a restaurant in NYC called Scalinatella. Insanely good.
A comfy pair of jeans and the teal knit hooded tunic my boyfriend bought me at Anthropologie in L.A.

Thank you so much!!

No - thank YOU so much!! This was a ton of fun and I really enjoyed your questions!!

Cheers, Lesley.

PS - If you click on the cover of either book, it will take you to the Amazon listing where you can get more information.

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