Monday, January 17, 2011

Interview with Lesley Livingston!

Thanks to Shannon at Harper Collins Canada, I was given the opportunity to interview Lesley Livingston, author of Wondrous Strange, Darklight, and, most recently, Tempestuous. I met Lesley at a book signing last year, so I know she's a vibrant, fun woman (and Canadian also ;-).  What fascinates me is this author's ability to make readers almost giddy to read Shakespeare again! (Not many can take credit for that feat.)  Lesley's enthusiasm is contagious, I think....but read on and see for yourself:

Can you tell the readers a bit about what to expect from Tempestuous?

Well… I don’t want to be all spoilery for anyone so… in no particular order, I’ll just list a few things readers can expect. Things that may or may not occur in this book: kissing, heartbreak, turmoil, kick-assery, Shakespeare, reunions, separations, reconciliations, vengeance, retribution, redemption, betrayal, kissing, magick, humour, hi-jinx, shenanigans, fighting, battles, skirmishes, fisticuffs, feathers, true love, heartache, blood, sweat, tears, flying, singing, and pretzels with mustard.

Will King Auberon ever show his nice side? Wait! Does he even have one?

Auberon is certainly a… shall we say… multi-faceted character. He has a nice side—I guarantee it. He may even have already shown it. The problem is that, his “nice” side might not exactly resemble what the average person thinks of as “nice”. With Faerie—especially High Fae—it’s always a bit tricky trying to figure out precisely what’s going on in their minds. There. How’s that for a perfectly straightforward answer?

The portal between the human and the Faery Otherworld is in Central Park, but you mention others too. Are any of them in Canada, and if so, where?

There are Four Gates between the Otherworld and the mortal realm and they correspond with the four points of the Celtic calendar. They are—or at least, when they were open, they were—movable, which is why one of them ended up in the middle of New York City. Another is in Ireland, and one is located at Stonehenge. But there is one Gate that I only ever describe as existing in “the far north”. I never specify the far north of where. And there is, after all, a strong tradition of faerie culture in the Canadian Maritimes, so it’s a definite possibility. I suppose I could be a little less obscure with my answer, but the Faerie do like to keep their secrets… and I really don’t want them mad at me!

With your background in Arthurian legend and in Shakespeare's work, how much additional research did you have to do for the books? Was there anything new you learned?

I learned a lot! Mostly about the history and background behind the design and construction of Central Park at the turn of the century. I had to do quite a bit of research into that aspect of the story, and it was fascinating! I was pretty solid on my Shakespeare and the hints of Arthurian lore I used but, even still, there was always some surprising bit of faerie trivia, or a line in one of the plays, or some obscure nugget of folkloric detail that I would stumble across that would enrich the story—or suddenly make something make perfect sense. Discovering certain aspects of leprechaun lore, for instance, was enormously helpful when it came time to deal with those guys. And they had to be dealt with extremely carefully, it turns out! Just ask Sonny…

What is your favourite Shakespearean role to play?

Ooh… tough question! In the comedies, it’s Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing! Smart, sassy, and surprisingly vulnerable. In the tragedies… well, Juliet was wonderful to play, but so was her Nurse (not in the same production—heh!). And then there’s Ophelia, and Lady Macbeth… I mean, let’s face it: any time you have the opportunity to go stark raving bonkers on stage, well—there’s almost nothing more fun than that! Ariel was a joy to play, too—although I think I still have glitter-dust floating around in my lungs, even after all these years, because of that show!

With your company, the Tempest Theatre Group, have you ever had to act in a male role?

I did, actually! I played the Boy in the Henry V and it was huge fun. I got to be in all the battle scenes and had a quarter-staff fight (I love stage combat)… and then got my throat cut horribly at the end when the French soldiers kill all the luggage boys. Henry then carried my poor limp, lifeless (stage-bloodied) body down to centre stage where all the hardened warriors wept over me and then sang Non Nobis… all very poignant!

What is your take on the conspiracy theory of Shakespeare's identity?

Shakespeare was Shakespeare. His “true” identity never came into question until the 19th century and all that speculation has always struck me as a mostly hot air. I’m still not sure why everyone thinks it’s such a stretch to believe that the guy was who he was, regardless of education or social standing. He just happened to be a freakin’ genius, that’s all.

With Tempestuous being the final book in this trilogy, do you have your next project planned out? Can we have a hint?

Well, my very next project is a YA time travel adventure called ONCE EVERY NEVER, 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. It’s great fun—and there are flaming arrows!

I’m also hard at work on another trilogy called STARLING and… all I can say is, if you’re a fan of the WONDROUS STRANGE books… you should probably keep an eye out for these in 2012! Yes. Yes, you should.

Thank you for such fun questions!

I want to say thanks again to Lesley for taking the time to answer my questions. I hope that her answers have inspired any of you out there that haven't picked her books to do so...and soon! I'll be posting my reviews of Darklight and Tempestuous shortly, so keep an eye out for them. In the meantime, you can click on the book covers below for Harper Collins Canada's "Browse Inside" feature, and get a taste of what you've been missing, as well as check out the teaser trailer for Tempestuous. As for me, I off to hunt down a warm pretzel with some mustard. Thanks for stopping by!


Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Great interview! And so glad you are enjoying the books. :) I have Wonderous on my list to get and read as it does sound amazing. And this interview makes me want it more. :) Thank you!

Jackie said...

I really enjoy the way Lesley writes, as you'll see in my review of Darklight. Fortunately, I can move right on to the next book now, which is great 'cause I don't want this story to end. Hopefully you'll like it too :-)

Chrystal said...

Wonderful interview!

Isn't Shannon @ HarperCollinsCA the best? Love her!

Jackie said...

@Chrystal - Yes, Shannon is awesome! And I'm happy to say, I'll be attending the launch of Lesley Livingston's new book in June. I'm so excited...

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