Lesley Livingston is a writer and actor. She holds a master’s degree in English, with a specialization in Arthurian literature and Shakespeare, from the University of Toronto. A principal performer and founding member of the Tempest Theatre Group, Livingston brings Shakespearean classics to life in productions and workshops for high school students across southern Ontario.
Darklight continues the magical, romantic story of Kelley Winslow and changeling guard Sonny Flannery that began in Wondrous Strange. Can you give us a teaser or sneak peek into Darklight?
Ooh… how about this? (She said, grinning evilly and rubbing her hands together…). This is a snippet of a scene that takes places when Sonny encounters Queen Mabh in the Otherworld as he is pursuing the remnants of the Wild Hunt. At this point, Sonny hasn’t seen Kelley for several months – and Mabh offers him a peek at what Kelley has been up to….
“In spite of himself, Sonny knelt back down on the grass and glanced into the Faerie queen’s improvised scrying pool. He had no wish to spy on Kelley. Still, he found he could not look away. . . . The wild, dangerous look on Kelley’s face made her look so much like her mother that it gave Sonny a hollow feeling in the pit of his stomach. But not nearly as much as the last, lingering image that flared up in the water—the image of Kelley throwing her arms around another man…”
In preparation for Wondrous Strange, you researched a lot of mythological folklore and also toured around New York City. Can you tell us about some of the most memorable things you discovered that really sparked your creativity?
Without giving any spoilers away *grin*, I will say this about my research:
I was really inspired by the history of Central Park and it’s creation (as well as a certain story that had to do with one of the Park’s lesser-known creators). It was all stuff that formed the background and underpinnings for the over-arching story arc of the whole trilogy. It’s really only hinted at in Wondrous Strange but in Darklight, I get to explore that foundation story a bit more. In fact, the very first scene in this second book is based on an actual historical event—with, of course, my own fantastical spin on it. But I love it when I stumble on a real-world bit of information or location or occurrence that just happens to dovetail with a story idea. It grounds me and really gets me thinking ‘what if’.
As far as my delving into Faerie lore went, I was constantly surprising myself by how much of it I seem to have just sort of absorbed by osmosis over the years. I’ve been reading this stuff since I was a kid but, writing the books, I would find that I needed something particular to happen. Then, when I would go back to some of my source material, I would often find the exact bit of ‘magick’ or precedent I needed to move the plot forward didn’t have to come just my imagination, but there was also usually a key buried somewhere for me in the old stories waiting to be found.
I gotta say, researching the nastier elements of Faerie lore was a heck of a lot of fun!
The cover art for Wondrous Strange and Darklight is so beautiful. Were you a part of the decision process and are you happy with the final products?
It is, isn’t it? *large grin*
To say that I am “happy” with the end result of my cover art is to commit a punishable offence of gross understatement!! I am beyond thrilled with the job that Sasha Illingsworth and the design team at HarperCollins did. It was so obvious to me upon seeing the images for the first time that they’d actually read the books and—more importantly—got them.
The only real input I had was before they did the cover shoot, my editor asked me to send impressions and ideas and any kinds of visuals I used while writing the story (I was just finish the first book by then) and I emailed her a few jpegs of some artwork I’d drawn inspiration from. I knew they wouldn’t use any of it—it was more just to get a feel for how I saw things. She also asked me some specifics about how I pictured Kelley. Then they went out and found a young model that—really—if I’d seen her on the street, I would have just pointed and said “That’s Kelley. That girl. Right there. Go get her.” The lovely young lady that wound up on the cover of the books is almost exactly how I pictured her. (They shot the covers for Wondrous Strange and Darklight on the same day, back when I only had a 2-book contract—but I’m ecstatic to say that we got the same girl back for book three, which they just shot a couple of weeks ago down in NYC!).
What were the most challenging aspects of bringing Wondrous Strange to life?
I was under a pretty tight deadline for the first book and for the last month or so, I was rehearsing and performing in a production of Macbeth with my theatre company so it was a little like juggling cats at times! But I’m usually the sort that works best with a bit of pressure (thankfully!) and it all got done. Really, these books are just so much fun for me to write. On good days it just pours out (of course they’re not all good days!) but I will admit that book three in the series was a bit challenging just from the perspective of braiding together everything from the previous two books in a way that all makes sense! I just sent that one to my editor, so I don’t know if I actually came anywhere near accomplishing that task! *grin*
Besides being an author, you are also a stage actress and founding member of the Tempest Theatre Group. Is there a difference in performing for teens as opposed to adults?
I love performing for any audience but I will admit to a special love of performing for teen audiences! They are so passionate and they don’t really let you get away with anything. They will let you know immediately if they’re not engaged or if they think you’re trying to b.s. them. They’re not shy. They will also be your most enthusiastic supporters when you get it right. Teens in the house keep you sharp and on your toes. When you’ve got them—really got them—it’s the best. thing. ever.
What inspired you to make the jump from the stage into becoming a published writer?
For me, it’s not so much a jump as just an extension, really. It’s all story telling and that is what I love to do. Being in the theatre for so long, if you have any writing tendencies yourself, it’s hard not to pick up an ear for dialogue and story cadence. It seemed like a natural evolution for me. I’ve always loved language (hard not to if most of what you do is Shakespeare) and the chance to play with words was irresistible to me.
How did your theatre experience influence your writing for Wondrous Strange and Darklight? Do you draw from a lot of your own experiences when writing for Kelley?
Oh it was a huge influence! Yeah… sadly, Kelley and I share a somewhat similarly disastrous theatre school background. And some of what happens with Quentin might have a few real-life resonances—heh. But so does some of what happens with Gentleman Jack. And Kelley gets to experience some of the very same thrills that I have, as well as the same heartaches. The world of the backstage is kind of a strange and startling one if you’ve never been there and I’ve been told that the theatre scenes in the books have a particular ring of verisimilitude to them. That makes me happy and I know that’s because I’ve lived in that world.
What types of feedback do you receive from readers? Have there been any comments in particular that were truly meaningful to you?
I get the BEST email from readers! (Enough so that I get terribly behind in answering—especially when I’m buried under a looming deadline!) They tell me how much they love Sonny (Hee! Me too!), and how they can relate to Kelley, and how Bob and Lucky made them laugh… It’s wonderful. One that sticks in my mind was a young girl who very sincerely wanted to know if I really thought that the kind of love Sonny and Kelley share is possible in the real world. I told her absolutely yes. Because I believe that.
Currently there are three installments in the trilogy scheduled. Any chance for a spin-off down the road? Also, can you tell us what other novels we can look forward to from you in the future?
Ooh… I have some ideas… we’ll just have to wait and see! I certainly think there’s an awful lot of the world(s) in these books left to explore! As for upcoming projects, I have something on the go right now and some exciting plans for the future… but I can’t really say much at this point! Sorry! ;-)
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just that I’ve really enjoyed this chat and I really looking forward to seeing how readers react to the continuing adventures of Sonny and Kelley and company!
Darklight by Lesley Livingston
Publication Date: December 22nd 2009
Much has changed since autumn, when Kelley Winslow learned she was Faerie royalty, fell in love with changeling guard Sonny Flannery, and saved New York City from a rampaging Faerie war band. When a terrifying encounter in Central Park sends Kelley tumbling into the Otherworld, her reunion with Sonny is joyful—but cut short. For they’ve been plunged into a game of Faerie deception and wavering allegiances in which the next move could topple a kingdom...or part them forever. The fans who flocked to Lesley Livingston’s Wondrous Strange will fall hard for Darklight, the soaringly romantic second book in the trilogy. Breathless high stakes and vividly magical characters make this a can’t-miss fantasy for readers of Melissa Marr and Holly Black.
Purchase Darklight HERE.
NOTE: THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED
NOTE: THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED
Lesley has offered to giveaway one copy of Wondrous Strange in paperback.
To Enter: Leave a comment with your email address
Bonus Entries: Post/Link to any social network
Contest Ends 2/15/2010
This contest is open INTERNATIONALLY!