This week was the release of Wondrous Strange on paperback. To celebrate this, amazing Lesley Livingston agreed to answer some questions for us. A little about Lesley.
Lesley is an actor and a writer in Toronto, and she
loves what she does. Most of her acting is done on stage, and she is a founding member and pricipal performer with Tempest Theatre Group.
Now that is just a little about her, if you want to learn more go to her main website.
Let's start with the interview, shall we?
Tell us a little about Wondrous Strange...
My website blurb says it better than I could so 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.”
How does it feel like to be a Debut Author? To see your books on the shelves, smiling alongside authors like P.C. Cast and Melissa De La Cruz?
It’s amazing and gratifying and a little scary sometimes and more fun than anything and awesome and wondrous and… er… strange…
Hee! I like the way you put that—‘smiling alongside’—because that’s sort of how it feels every time I walk into a store and see it sitting there with all those other wonderful books—like my book is just so happy to be there!
How did this book come to be?
Basically, I had an idea for a book—a Faerie tale about a young actress named Kelley Winslow and a handsome changeling named Sonny. And a gateway to an otherworldly realm. I'd had the basics for their story kicking around for awhile and had dabbled with it in short story format—but what I really needed, was somewhere to put it. I needed a setting.
Then I went to New York. I did all the touristy stuff on that trip—the carriage ride, lunch at the Tavern on the Green—and it felt to me like I was on a first date. With the park. It wooed me. I became fascinated by certain of its landmarks: by the fantastic, otherworldly landscapes of the Shakespeare Garden and the Ramble and the Lake; I developed and instant crush on the handsome bronze boy that was the subject of a statue called “The Indian Hunter”; I was captivated by the whimsy of the carousel. Back home, I couldn't get the park out of my head. The whole place just struck me as somehow mythic. It is grand and mysterious and I needed to write my story into it.
In your story Kelley desires to be an actress in the play, but then realizes she is meant to do a lot more than that, do you think she’ll be able to get back and finish her dream?
Well… that would be telling now, wouldn’t it? ;-)
No seriously. Kelley has a couple of big decisions ahead of her. At some point she’s going to have to decide what’s really important to her and whether or not she’s willing—and able—to chart her own destiny, or have someone else determine her fate for her. And also how much she’s prepared to sacrifice for her dreams.
Why is the Janus so dreamy/scary?
What a cool question! I’ll assume you mean just Sonny, as opposed to the entire Janus Guard (although there are, I think, a few other members of the guard who might fit the dreamy and/or scary bill…).
The answer is that both traits flow from the same source in Sonny’s life. He’s been raised in a culture of contradictions—by creatures who have both an overdeveloped sense of things like chivalry and, at the same time, no easily definable sense of moral centering. The Fair Folk play by their own rules but they definitely have those rules. It’s a courtly society, with all that implies, and Sonny’s upbringing has been steeped in both beauty and danger. So I guess it was only natural that he should absorb qualities from both. As a consequence, Sonny has learned to be both ruthless and gentlemanly.
He’s also had to spend his entire youth honing both his mind and body in order to just survive. So not only is he in excellent shape, he’s pretty sharp, too. At the same time, I think his naiveté where human customs and relationships are concerned makes him kinda sweet and vulnerable. Of course, that’s all just my opinion!
You know I used to not like fairies that much, that is, until I read your book, then I just loved them I guess I always put fairies in the same capsule as Tinker Bell, what makes your fairies so unique?
Aw, thanks! I’m glad I could change your mind about the Fair Folk! I always say that the stories that intrigued me the most about the Fae were never the ones that portrayed them as tiny, sweet, sparkly things (sorry, Tink—you know I still love ya). I’ve been fascinated by Faerie lore since I was a kid, but mostly, 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! There is such beauty to them, but it’s a dangerous beauty. I love the dangerous aspects of the Fair Folk.
Any advice for the to be authors of today?
Read, read, read. You will absorb the craft the more you do. Write, write, write. You can’t edit a bunch of nothing. Believe in yourself and never ever, ever stop learning.
Any info on the second book you can tell us?
It’s called Darklight, it will be out in bookstores in December of this year (2009), and it’s a direct continuation of Kelley and Sonny’s story from Wondrous Strange. Here’s what the catalog blurb says:
Er… spoilers for those who have yet to read Wondrous Strange…
“Much has changed since autumn, when Kelley Winslow learned she was Faerie royalty, fell in love with changeling guard Sonny Flannery, and saved New York City from a rampaging Faerie war band. When a terrifying encounter in Central Park sends Kelley tumbling into the Otherworld, her reunion with Sonny is joyful—but cut short. For they’ve been plunged into a game of Faerie deception and wavering allegiances in which the next move could topple a kingdom…or part them forever.”
I’m really excited to see how readers will respond to this book because they’ll get to see a lot more than the glimpse of the Faerie Realm that we saw in the first book. Plus more of some of the other characters we only just met in WS… and a few new faces…
That Shakespeare guy was pretty good… *grin*
Favorite Shakespeare plays
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (obviously *grin*). Hamlet. The Tempest. Cymbeline. Much Ado About Nothing. Henry V. Romeo and Juliet… er… I could go on…
Of all time?
The Fionavar Tapestry (that’s the name of the trilogy) by Guy Gavriel Kay
Firelord by Parke Godwin (an Arthurian re-telling)
Did you help with the cover?
If grinning like an idiot when I first got the jpg of the image emailed to me is considered ‘helping’ then… yes. Yes I did. No seriously—the design team came up with the gorgeous covers all on their own. But it was SO gratifying to see that they really got my book, visually, right from the get-go.
And that is it for today folks! Lesley is awesome, as you may know if you read the interview. She is very care free with a lot of sunshine spirit. Again, if you want to know more about her go to her main website.