Book Nerd Interview
Lisa Mantchev is a temporally-displaced Capricorn who casts her spells from an ancient tree in the Pacific Northwest. When not scribbling, she is by turns an earth elemental, English professor, actress, artist, and domestic goddess. She shares her abode with her husband, two children, and three hairy miscreant dogs. She is best known as the author of the young adult fantasy trilogy, The Théâtre Illuminata. Published by Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan,) the series includes the Andre Norton and Mythopoeic awards-nominated EYES LIKE STARS (2009,) PERCHANCE TO DREAM (2010,) and SO SILVER BRIGHT (2011.) Lisa’s short fiction has also appeared in venues like Clarkesworld, Weird Tales, Fantasy Magazine and Strange Horizons.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
How to make paper in a blender. No, really! In first grade, we gathered bits of twigs and grass and made wood pulp in a blender, then spread it out on a screen to dry. It was part of a Mother's Day present, and it was absolutely eye-opening to see how much work went into make a single sheet of paper. I've been in awe of paper ever since. That's why I can hear the trees crying when I see how many copies of crap books end up at libraries and bookstores. RESPECT THE TREES, PEOPLE.
Is there such a thing as a formula for storytelling?
There's a formula for getting the story on paper… the discipline to write every day, to edit, to revise, but no. I don't think there's a recipe for creating art. The idea is one thing. Conveying it is another beast entirely.
What are “Character Rules”?
1) Make them interesting. No one wants to read about boring people!
2) Motivation, motivation, motivation. I just sorted out a scene because a character who wouldn't normally hold a gun was shooting at people, and it took quite a bit of work to get him to understand why he was doing such a thing.
What are some of the common challenges that new and experienced authors face and what advice do you have for over-coming them?
The highs and lows… you get the most marvelous feeling in all the world when you have a new idea, when you start a new project, when you complete a new manuscript, and then the doubts set in, you start chewing your fingernails off and eating all the chocolate in the house. The trick is to find balance every day in the little things, and to have someone you love hide all the candy.
In your newest book, So Silver Bright; can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about the novel?
It's the conclusion to my Théâtre Illuminata trilogy, which started with Eyes Like Stars and Perchance to Dream. It's the last leg of Bertie's journey, trying to reunite her parents and save everyone from the sea goddess.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Beatrice?
That I could write more than two hundred thousand words about one person… before I started her story, the longest piece I'd ever written was ten thousand words.
Do you have a favorite quote that you keep visible in your work environment to help inspire you?
I don't. I have an inspiration shelf hanging over my desk, old wood with gold art nouveau metal tooling around the edges. Right now, it's holding a cast iron ink well, a sculpted white luck dragon, a Jules Verne brass telescoping ring from ThinkGeek, a pocket watch, a silver candlestick with a rabbit atop it instead of a candle, a checkbook from 1800's San Francisco, a pink glass fisherman's float, and a page from the dictionary with a massive skull and crossbones painted on it. A mix of finishing the theater books and starting my steampunk series.
If you could introduce Ariel to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Christopher Chant from Diana Wynne Jones's Chrestomanci books. Can you imagine no-blinking contest between them?
Did you learn anything from writing Nate and what was it?
Nate started out a friend-character and transformed into a love interest during edits. It was interesting to see how the dynamic between he and Bertie changed as a result of that.
What do you feel is the most significant change since book one?
With Bertie herself… she's coming into her own, still making mistakes but never giving up on herself or anyone she loves.
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I just sent off the first book in a new YA steampunk series to my lovely agent. Fingers crossed that it will sell soon! And I'm working on a short story collection to gather all the things I published before the theater books.
What question are you never asked in interviews but wish you were?
No one ever asks me how I feel about coffee grinds. I love coffee, but hate the mess, and coffee grinds physically skeeve me out. The way most people are skeeved out by baby poop or spiders or that stuff that accumulates in the kitchen drain.
Most horrifying dream you have ever had?
I don't remember my dreams very often. I do recall one in which Heath Ledger asked me to go to prom with him, and I'm still mad about him dying before that could happen.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
"Fries or salad?"
If I came to your house and looked in your closet/attic/basement, what’s the one thing that would surprise me the most?
How few books I have in my bookshelves. I only keep copies of books that I adore, that I know I'll read over and over again. The others get donated. I like keeping words in circulation.
When was the last time you cried?
Over the weekend… my son was flailing his arms and jabbed me in the eye with a fork.
Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
My mom or my sister. The three of us are really close.
Where can readers stalk you?
Brand new website! (Link: lisamantchev.com ) There are links at the bottom to my Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads pages, as well as the theater-themed Tumblr and my own personal Tumblr. It's really sad how much time I spend during the day looking at pictures of cake…
All Beatrice Shakespeare Smith has ever wanted is a true family of her own. And she’s close to reuniting her parents when her father disappears. Now Bertie must deal with a vengeful sea goddess and a mysterious queen as she tries to keep her family—and the Theatre Illuminata—from crumbling. To complicate it all, Bertie is torn between her two loves, Ariel and Nate.
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