Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Author Interview: Lisa Mantchev, author of Eyes Like Stars

When I posted on Twitter that I finished reading EYES LIKE STARS and was planning on reviewing it, and would @LisaMantchev pretty please like to do an interview for this blog, I thought there was no way I'd get a response. No. Way. But Lisa is my kind of cool: not only did she respond speedy-fast, but she was super nice about it all.

Below is her interview, but if you'd like even more (!) reading material, check out Lisa's website and (highly entertaining) blog.

We can all read about your bio from the back of your book or your FAQ online. So, what's a completely random fact about you that most people don't know?
I cannot stand having coffee grinds on me... which makes it tricky to clean out the espresso machine!

As a child, what was your favorite book? Have your tastes changed since growing up?
Around the age of nine or ten, my favorite book was BALLET SHOES by Noel Streatfeild. I read a lot more fantasy now than I did then, but I still love the old-school British sensibility in books like the Shoes series, and those by Diana Wynne Jones and Neil Gaiman.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An actress. That was pretty much the dream until I went to college.

Are you more of an on-stage girl or behind-the-scenes one?
An even split... I spend as much time performing as I do working behind the scenes, both with theater and with the writing.

How much of you is in your book? Is there a character like you? Is a situation in the book derived from real life?
The book is ALL me, really, and Bertie is the character the most like me, although the voices of the fairies are all aspects of my personality as well. Sadly, I never met a boy who could command the winds, nor a pirate. *really should have dated more in college*

What was your timeline for the book? How long did it take to write, revise, submit, and finally, get published? How did you feel at these stages?
  • July-September 2006: Writing the first draft.
  • September-December, 2006: Revising the draft.
  • December 30, 2006: Submitted manuscript to my agent
  • March, 2007: Signed by my agent
  • May, 2007: Novel goes out on submission and sells to Feiwel & Friends
  • June-December, 2007: Contract negotiations
  • 2008: Editing, including copyedits and page proofs
  • January, 2009: Advance Review Copies come out
  • July 7th, 2009: Official publication of the hardcover
  • [Beth would like to add that eight freaking days after that, they went into a second printing. I mean, holy cow!!! OK, back to Lisa's interview!]
So... three years total, start of draft to finished product! As far as how I felt... well... I
have been on the EmoCoaster of crazed, elated, deflated, then more crazed for that entire time.

If your reader could only take away one emotion, theme, or idea from the book, what would you want that to be?
I really hope it inspires people to buy tickets to a theatrical production, or to try out for a play.

I've got to ask: What's your favorite play/character and why?
It's hard to choose a favorite, but today it's Katerina from TAMING OF THE SHREW, because I played her in high school, and a very talented artist I follow recently posted a fabulous illustration from that. Also, that line about "I'll see thee hanged on Sunday first!" is made of win.

What are your goals as an author? Where do you want to see yourself as a writer in 5, 10, 15 years?
It's the same goal: in fifteen years, I want still to be writing novels that people like to read.

What's the most surprising thing you've learned since becoming a writer?
It's a job. A great job, even a career, but it's less glamorous than Hollywood would have you believe.

Beyond the typical—never give up, believe in yourself—what would be the single best advice you'd like to give to an aspiring author?
See how I just said it was like a job? As an aspiring author, I think the sooner you treat the writing as a job, the better. Put in the hours, meet your deadlines, behave professionally.

What do you consider to be your strongest talent in writing? Your weakest?
I like writing dialogue, and descriptive bits, and using interesting vocabulary words. I'm rubbish at writing some of the action sequences, and I'm extra rubbish when it comes to losing sight of the forest for the trees. I tend to put my nose against the manuscript and forget to back up to make sure the big picture is still hanging correctly.

What's a writing pet peeve that you have?
Lazy writing... doesn't matter if it's mine or someone else's, it still irks me!

Thank you so much, Lisa, for the wonderful interview! Especially the detailed timeline--I found that really helpful. (And, for the record, my favorite play is KING LEAR...Cordelia is made of awesome, and I love how the same actor could play her and the jester.)
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