Hi everyone! Today, I have the pleasure of sharing an interview with Leslie Livingston, author of the YA Urban Fantasy Darklight (my review). And at the end of this interview you will find the details on the giveaway.
Hi Lesley! We'd like to know a little about you, please tell us about yourself.
Hi! Happy to! I am writer living in Toronto, Canada. I’m also an actor and a principal performer with a Shakespearian Theatre Company called Tempest Theatre Group.
I’m a Full-fledged Mythology Geek (seriously—I have a card in my wallet that says so), and I eat stories of the Otherworld, Faeries and King Arthur for breakfast. I have a Master’s Degree in English from the University of Toronto specializing in Shakespeare and Arthurian literature. For almost three years, I hosted weekly late-night movie marathons on the nationally broadcast television show, SPACEBAR, as the Waitron-9000, a sparkly holographic waitress with an encyclopedic knowledge of obscure B-movie trivia.
I am an unrepentant egghead—a character-trait that somehow doesn’t interfere with my deep love of shoes and shiny things.
My website does this far better than I can so, if you’ll forgive me, a wee bit of cut-and-paste here!
Kelley Winslow is living her dream. Seventeen years old, she has moved to New York City and started work with a theatre company. Sure, she's an understudy for the Avalon Players, a third-tier repertory company so far off-Broadway it might as well be in Hoboken, but things are looking up—the lead has broken her ankle and Kelley's about to step into the role of Titania the Fairy Queen in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Faeries are far more real than Kelley thinks, though, and a chance encounter in Central Park with a handsome young man will plunge her into an adventure she could never have imagined.
For Sonny Flannery, one of the Janus Guards charged by Auberon, the King of Winter, with watching over the gate into the lands of Faerie that lies within Central Park, the pretty young actress presents an enigma. Strong and willful, she sparks against his senses like a firecracker and he can't get her out of his mind. As Hallowe'en approaches and the Samhain Gate opens, Sonny and Kelley find themselves drawn to each other—and into a terrible plot that could spell disaster for both New York and Faerie alike.
In this sequel to Wondrous Strange, Kelley Winslow finds her NYC acting career blossoming as she takes the lead in Romeo and Juliet. But she also finds herself desperately missing Sonny Flannery—who was forced back to the Faerie Otherworld, charged with a dangerous mission by Kelley’s father, King Auberon.
When Kelley finds herself thrown into the Otherworld following a deadly chase in Central Park, her passionate reunion with Sonny is cut short. Ancient magick is stirring, and a dangerous enemy has Sonny and Kelley caught in a web of Faerie deception that could tear their love apart.
I've always been curious as to why books will be a trilogy versus a series. Why did you decide to make the Wondrous Strange books a trilogy instead of a series?
I like the structure of a trilogy. It always feels to me (when it’s done properly) like the classical three-act structure of a play. In a trilogy, the first book introduces you to the characters and the world and, while the story should, ideally, resolve the conflict within that book itself, it should also open the doors to the larger overarching plot arc. Then in book two, you get a deepening of the themes and characters and knowledge of the world, and book three should bring it all together into a satisfying conclusion. I like that. Of course, there are also series that I love to read but there is a completely different set of structure rules you have to follow in that instance. Same goes for two-book stories and standalones.
How much research did you put into the Wondrous Strange trilogy? Did you draw on your own background in acting?
The acting stuff I didn’t really have to research because I’ve been doing that all my life! It’s part of my genetic makeup at this point. Same with Faerie Lore, because I’ve always been fascinated by the subject and have read everything about the Fair Folk that I could get my hands on since I was a kid. I did have to do a lot of research when it came to the history and creation and construction of Central Park, and its features and landmarks—but I was more than happy to do it: because that meant I had to go to New York several times and it is one of my favorite places in the world!
What are your biggest influences in your writing?
Shakespeare. Arthurian legend. Classical and Celtic mythology. As for authors that have inspired me… Parke Godwin. Guy Gavriel Kay. Pauline Gedge. Jim Butcher (his stuff is so fun!). And, while I’m not necessarily influenced by her because I’ve only just started reading her stuff, I love Suzanne Collins. Her style of so readable and engaging. Love THE HUNGER GAMES.
Books covers are a big deal to the majority of readers and writers. Did you have any input on yours? Are you happy how your book covers turned out?
I’m ecstatic with my covers!! As far as I’m concerned, the design team at HarperCollins are a buncha’ freakin’ geniuses! I had no idea what they would come up with before I saw the actual images—they consulted me before casting and shooting about what qualities would I really want/ not want to see in whoever they chose as "Kelley"… did I picture her auburn hair as more strawberry red or a deeper shade (deeper), things like that—but that was pretty much the extent of my input other than to send along a few of the images that inspired me as I wrote (I forwarded a couple of pre-Raphaelite paintings and a few other scattered images that I had drawn on while writing).
But the designer really got the book. She understood the look and feel and she just ran with it. When, eventually, they sent me the image I was thrilled with it. Same with DARKLIGHT.
I haven’t seen the cover art for Book 3 yet… but I can’t wait!!
Without giving anything away, can you tell us what your favorite scene is from any one of your books?
I’m very fond of most scenes where Bob plays a part. He’s very entertaining and always unpredictable—even to me. But, I have to say that one of my absolute favorite scenes actually takes place fairly early on in WONDROUS STRANGE; it’s the first time Sonny and Kelley meet and it was great fun to write because, while Kelley is practicing her lines, there is this added layer of typically Shakespearian circumstance that she’s totally unaware of—the scene involves mistaken identity, hidden characters overhearing and misinterpreting, love-at-first-sight, a gallant gesture, and a sudden mystery… all stuff that was fodder for the Bard back in the day.
There’s also a scene in DARKLIGHT that has to do with one of my villains and a kick-butt fight scene that was a blast to write.
And there are a few scenes with Sonny that I’m particularly fond of…
And a scene in Book Three that… okay—I’ll stop now… ;-)
Can you share any of your future books plans with us?
Well, I just finished writing the third book in the WONDROUS STRANGE saga… and that is as far as this particular story arc goes with these particular characters. At the end of book three, Sonny and Kelley’s story will be wrapped up. I’m just not going to tell you how! ;-) And, of course, that certainly doesn’t preclude me writing other stories that are companions to this one. I’m certainly open to considering the possibility of another tale set in the WONDROUS universe, you know…
Also, I just recently signed on with Penguin Canada to write a novel called ONCE EVERY NEVER. It’s a story about a modern teen girl who spirals back in time to Rome's bloody conquest of Britain—where she befriends the daughter of a fiery queen, falls for a fierce warrior prince, and discovers that she may be the only hope of averting a devastating blood-curse. I’m really excited about it! It should hit store shelves some time in late summer 2011, so keep an eye out for that one!
If the worlds created in books were real, which book would you pick to live in?
Ooh. Interesting question. See… I love historical fiction, but I’m well aware that there were vastly different levels of hygiene in the past… and that’s problematic.
Rivendell sounds nice, but there’s always the threat of Sauron and his annoying Orc armies… and apparently Aragorn’s taken. Hmph.
If it were my own books? Well… the Otherworld is beautiful beyond imagination. Also, frequently chock full of dire peril. I think I’ll pick Manhattan. Where there’s a Gate to the Faerie Realm… and great shopping!
Thanks Donna! This was tremendous fun!
You’re welcome and thank you Lesley for the very fun and interesting interview!
Thanks to Karen at Media Masters Publicity, one lucky commentator will win a copy of Darklight by Leslie Livingston. Here’s how to enter:
- In the comments, tell us your favorite fairy tale or favorite mystical being.
- Leave your email with your comment ONLY IF it is NOT part of your profile.
- Open to the US and Canada.
- Deadline to enter this giveaway is Sunday, February 14th at 8AM CST.