Friday, May 22, 2009
Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston
Thanks so much Lesley for blogging with us today and doing this interview. Your book was truly enchanting.
Terra: What made you choose Shakespeare for a back drop to your story?
Lesley: I’ve always had an affinity for the bard and, being a Shakespearean actor myself, it just seemed sort of a natural fit! Of course, Shakespeare’s characterizations of the Faeries in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is just so interesting – they are at times almost more human than the humans in the play, with their passions and their petty jealousies and mischief-making. And I thought it would be a lot fun to let them loose in a modern setting and see what happens.
Terra: How do you think this story will affect the way teens perceive English Literature and was it your intention to try and create more interest in this genre’ among the teen population?
Lesley: I hope WONDROUS STRANGE will have the effect of maybe driving some readers (teens and adults) to discover the fun in the classics. Because there is a lot of fun in those stories! I’ve already had some readers tell me that they’ve gone and read MSND after reading my book and that is enormously gratifying to me. I’m not sure that it was exactly my primary purpose in telling this story but it’s certainly a nice bit of chain reaction!
Terra: I have to say I found this wonderfully enchanting and it gave me an easier understanding of what Mid Summer Night’s Dream could portray. I know the original story that Shakespeare wrote is supposed to be magical but I think you took it a step further. Would you list the ten most important reasons that would make us want to run out and grab this book!
Lesley: Aw – thank you!! That’s really lovely of you to say! Let’s see… ten reasons… okay – number one is my heroine Kelley. I kind of adore her – she’s feisty and funny and, even in the face of impossibilities, she’s not willing to give up or give in. Number 2 is my hero, Sonny. I definitely adore him – not only is he handsome and gallant, he’s also thrown into a situation where he’s really forced to face a vulnerability that he’s never allowed himself to acknowledge before. He’s also pretty kick-butt in a fight! Okay so – number three would be the action scenes (I love a good action scene!). Number four would be the romance element (I’m a sucker for unexpected romantic moments!). Number five would be Bob (you’ll just have to read the book to find out about Bob!). Number six has to do with a bathtub with an unexpected occupant. Number 7 is, as you say, the magic – I love taking a familiar setting or situation and turning it into something that shimmers if you look at it in just the right light. Number eight is Maddox (Sonny’s best friend) and the Janus Guard, all of whom are pretty kick-butt in their own right. Number eight is Tyff, Kelley’s high-strung roommate – I loved writing her scenes because she’s funny and sarcastic and surprising. Number nine is the theatrical backdrop, because theatre has its own special kind of magic – as Kelley discovers. Number ten… Central Park – definitely one of the most magical, romantic places on Earth.
Terra: What would you say is your number one main profession and what influence does that have on your writing “Wondrous Strange”?
Lesley: Well, I’d have to say that my number one profession is that of a storyteller! Being an actor, especially a stage actor – and one that gets to work on a regular basis with some of the greatest material ever written – has really infused my own sense of story and language. You can’t study Shakespeare for as long as I have and not be affected by it. And, of course, even the title of WONDROUS STRANGE is a phrase used twice by Shakespeare – once in Hamlet and once in Midsummer – and it just so perfectly describes the situation that Kelley and Sonny find themselves in.
Terra: With the way the economy is heading today how important do you think it is to make sure drama, music and the arts are kept in our school systems for teens and young adults? Not only is it important for teens/young adults to learn to express themselves but to also teach them more of what was and is important in so many cultures, don‘t you think?
Lesley: I think it’s enormously important. Teens need creative outlets so that they can develop the faculties that make them a driving force in creating positive change in the world as they become adults. Societies stagnate without the arts. Human beings are, by our very nature, artists. We’ve – essentially – been telling stories around campfires and painting pictures on cave walls for our entire history. To quash those impulses rather than nurture them is not only self-defeating but, I think perilous. A bored human is a dangerous human. And also, as you say, the keys to creating richer, more rewarding societies lie in the stories of our past.
Terra: What would you say to that shy teen, young adult or adult to encourage them to follow their dreams in the field of the arts?
Lesley: I would say – I was that shy teen. And I managed to get to this place. You don’t have to be an extrovert, you don’t have to be the life of the party, you don’t need to scream at the world to look at you. What you do need to do is – as a very close friend of mine is always saying – “Stick to your knitting”. Whatever you want out of life, out of your art, give yourself to it wholly and completely. Learn. Be open. Be willing. Face the tiny, fearful voice inside and tell it to shut up (it won’t always agree or obey, but eventually – if you do it often enough – it will start to keep its mouth shut). Find out everything you can about the field you want to commit yourself to – and then do it. Commit.
Terra: Kelley our heroine has no idea of who or what she is even though she is pulled to the theatre with a magical allure that is almost overpowering. How much of this is because of her age and need to prove herself in comparison to her birthright pulling her?
Lesley: I think the two things dovetail in Kelley’s situation. She’s at the age where stuff – external stuff – does start to really have an impact on your life. And with all that she’s got going on internally as well, she really is at the point where magic is a definite possibility for her.
Terra: Okay this is killing me, will there be a second book to accompany this one and will we ever find out what happens between Kelley and Sonny? Will they ever be able to unite or will they be left forever longing?
Lesley: Hee! Well… Book 2 is actually done and gone to copy-edits! It will be out late this year. It is called DARKLIGHT and, I have to say, I’m very excited about it! I’m now working on Book 3. Both books are the direct continuation of Sonny and Kelley’s story. As to how things wind up? You’ll just have to read on to find out! *evil grin*
Terra: True love always has strength, always wins out over evil, has an allure that is overpowering and pure. Do you think this is what Shakespeare is trying to convey to us with his tales of love and woe? Is this what you want to convey to teens and young adults with your story of Wondrous Strange?
Lesley: I think that true love does really have enormous strength. I’m not so sure that it always wins out over evil in the end – but I do think that what Shakespeare (and me too, I guess) tries to convey is that it’s always worth a shot. Always – even in the face of overwhelming odds. Love is such a pure, potent force. It can both create and destroy and should be handled and nurtured with great care because it is something very precious and unique to the human condition.
Terra: How important do you think Literature is to us as a human race?
Lesley: Well, as I said, I think we’re born storytellers. I think literature is a great gift. It is the sum of who we are as a species. It’s also, at its most basic level, just plain fun! That’s one thing that I do wish people would remember sometimes a little more often. Literature is storytelling and stories are entertainment. Sure, they can teach and enlighten and enrich, but they should always – first and foremost – entertain. That’s what I try to do. Anything else… is gravy.
Thank you SO much for this. These were terrific questions and I’ve enjoyed myself immensely.
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.
This debut novel that puts a fresh new spin on classic fairy lore. Wondrous Strange blends a gripping plot with fully-believable characters, fascinating ideas and just the right amount of romance to create a story that is vivid, thrilling and engaging. Readers of Herbie Brennan, Holly Black and Melissa Marr will find a new favorite in Lesley Livingston.
I have a copy here of Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston that will be given away to one lucky commentor who leaves Lesley a comment/question and your email addy. (No email addy, no chance to win!)