As a few of you might remember, I read Eyes Like Stars in March. This wonderful-wonderful YA fantasy novel isn't due to be published until the summer--July, I believe. But I was fortunate to have Lisa Mantchev, the author of Eyes Like Stars, drop by for an interview here at Becky's Book Reviews. (Here's how I described my reaction to her novel: Take my normal enthusiasm of a book that I've gushed about in the past and multiply it a couple of times. Then you'll begin to understand how giddy this book made me.)
Can you share with us a little bit about your background and your journey towards becoming a published author?
I started by writing short stories and plays for my fourth grade class to perform. Playwriting led me to writing short stories, and short stories led to novels.
What do you love about writing? What do you find the easiest? What do you find the hardest?
Whatever I'm working on--draft, revisions, copyedits--seems like the hardest thing, and whatever project I'm not working on seems ever so shiny because I'm not allowed to touch it!
I will say that getting the first pass revision done on a novel-length piece of fiction is particularly painful.
What is a typical day-in-the-life like as a writer?
Well, for this writer, I do a lot of multitasking. When I work from home, I tend to do laundry, vacuum, check email ten thousand times, in between the actual writing. I also have a young daughter and four dogs to keep track of.
What inspired you to write Eyes Like Stars?
I had attempted novel-writing once, before really working on my short stories, and I reached the point where it seemed like the next logical step. Lots of friends teasing/prodding/daring me to do it, too.
What came first the characters or the premise?
It started with the line "the fairies flew on wires despite a tendency to get tangled together" and a vivid image of these four incredibly hyper, wiggly-silly fairies zooming around a stage in harnesses when they had perfectly good wings.
How did you choose which plays to highlight in the novel?
It was a fairly organic process... I needed fairies, but I didn't want them to be major characters, so I chose the ones from A Midsummer Night's Dream. I am a huge fan of the comedies, so it was fun to throw in Katherina and Petruchio from Taming of the Shrew.
Have you always loved the theatre?
Since I was old enough to realize that's where all the beautiful costuming is, yes. I appeared in my first community theater play when I was seven. I hope I managed to convey a fraction of how much I love it--the lights, the feeling of being onstage and in the audience--in the book.
What was your first introduction to William Shakespeare? Was it love or hate?
I was a huge fan of Noel Streatfeild's Shoes series. In Ballet Shoes, Pauline and Petrova Fossil play Peaseblossom and Mustardseed from A Midsummer Night's Dream. So I asked for, and got, a Complete Works of Shakespeare for my birthday.
Which Shakespeare play is your favorite?
Much Ado About Nothing. That's where Bertie's name came from. Surprisingly enough, not much of that play ended up in Eyes Like Stars!
Have you always loved faeries?
Always. The second play I did was Peter Pan, and Tinkerbell has been a lifelong favorite, despite the fact that she is portrayed by a lighting special.
Do you have a favorite character? A favorite scene? (My favorite scene is the tango between Ariel and Beatrice. It was one WOW scene for me!)
That's one of my absolute favorite scenes, and one of the few that remained intact after all the editing!
What was the most difficult scene to write? Which scene was the easiest?
Getting the ending chapters just right was really tricky. Writing the fairies' dialogue is absolutely the easiest part for me.
What was your first impression of the cover art of Eyes Like Stars? Did it blow you away with its awesomeness?
It did. I remember opening the file, holding my breath, and just being knocked back in my chair. It was still in the concept stage at that point (the fairies weren't completely rendered, and Bertie wasn't wearing the medallion yet) but it was so utterly right for the book that I did a happy dance.
Can you tell us anything about your current work-in-progress? Do you have any upcoming releases? Is there a sequel on the way?
The second book in the trilogy will be titled Perchance to Dream. It's in revisions right now, and I'm outlining the third. I also have the first in a YA steampunk series drafted that needs revisions before my agent starts submitting it.
How do you find time—do you find time—to keep reading? Do you have any favorites of the year?
I steal random moments to read, usually between writing projects. Right now I am having a major literary crush on Frank Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars. (Anyone who's read Eyes Like Stars knows I have a thing for Alice!) I also cannot wait to dive into A.S. King's The Dust of 100 Dogs.
If you had twenty-four hours, a time machine, and a limitless supply of money, what would you want to do?
First off, it is my mad hope that the time machine is the TARDIS and I get to travel somewhere with David-Tennant-as-Doctor-Who. Then we start hopping through history: Victorian England, the Titanic pre-iceberg, Edwardian New York City. I'm a Capricorn, so I have the constant feeling of temporal displacement... I really was meant to spend my days in a corset.
Then, when the twenty-four hours is done, I use the time machine to start it over again!
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