Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Interview with Leah Cypess, author of MISTWOOD

I am very excited to bring you the second interview this week with a debut YA author. Today's guest, Leah Cypess, is a fellow member of the class of 2k10, and her new release, Mistwood, comes out today!

The Shifter is an immortal creature bound by an ancient spell to protect the kings of Samorna. When the realm is peaceful, she retreats to the Mistwood. But when she is needed she always comes.

Isabel remembers nothing. Nothing before the prince rode into her forest to take her back to the castle. Nothing about who she is supposed to be, or the powers she is supposed to have.

Prince Rokan needs Isabel to be his Shifter. He needs her ability to shift to animal form, to wind, to mist. He needs her lethal speed and superhuman strength. And he needs her loyalty—because without it, she may be his greatest threat.

Isabel knows that her prince is lying to her, but she can't help wanting to protect him from the dangers and intrigues of the court . . . until a deadly truth shatters the bond between them.

Now Isabel faces a choice that threatens her loyalty, her heart . . . and everything she thought she knew.

has been getting amazing reviews, including a starred review from Kirkus that called it "astonishing and inspiring." And if you know anything about Kirkus, you know they're a pretty tough audience.

And more praise!

"Edge-of-the-chair reading, with enemies and betrayal at every turn!"
--Tamora Pierce

"Intriguing and illusive...with an incredibly executed twist that fits like that very last, perfect puzzle piece. A one-sitting novel!"
--Aprilynne Pike

"An unusual, suspenseful fantasy that is propelled by well-placed clues."

Leah was kind enough to take time out of her busy pre-release schedule to answer my Mostly Debut Author interview questions. It's been a while since you've seen them, since I ask an abbreviated list for the Girlfriends' Cyber Circuit. I'd forgotten some of them!

Q. What's been your biggest surprise/thrill about your first release?

The fact that it’s happening! I have wanted to be a writer for so long, and have been seriously submitting manuscripts for so many years, that I was really starting to think it never would. I had imagined being told, “We want to publish your book!” so many times that when I finally did get an offer, it felt like it wasn’t real. And incredibly, it was with one of the imprints I have always most wanted to work with.

Q. If you could inhabit the life of any of your characters, enter their world and deal with it as that person, which one would you choose?

Hard to say I’d want to be any of them… I’m kind of tough on my characters. :) I’ll have to choose Isabel, though; in a way, I feel like I was inhabiting her life when I was writing her.

Q. Conversely, which of your characters would you most like to bring to life in our world (maybe as a best friend or much, much more ;-) ?

Rokan would be a great person to have around! And so would Clarisse, in a different way (and as long as she was on your side….)

Q. Same two questions, but use examples from another author's work (including television/movies/theatre)?

I would love to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Walking around all little and fragile-looking, and then someone starts up with you and WHAM! As for a best friend, Kaylee from Firefly would be an awesome person to hang out with.

Hmm, maybe I should just ask Joss Whedon if he would write my life for me.

Q. Which author, living or dead, would you most love to collaborate with?

I’m intermittently working on a time-travel book that is giving me a lot of trouble, and I would love for Connie Willis to come fix all its problems for me. Because I’m sure she could, in about three seconds.

Q. What's the weirdest tidbit of research you've ever incorporated into a book?

In medieval times, huntsmen would go out before a hunt to search for deer dung; then they would all bring back their finds, lay them out on the table, and argue about which deer they should go after that day, based apparently on intensely analyzing the droppings. (A very abbreviated and not-quite-so-gross version of that is in the companion book to Mistwood.)

Q. Do you have any phobias?

I have a terrible fear of flying. It’s unfortunate, because I really like being in faraway places, and usually you have to fly to get to them.

Q. Let's say there's a TV show, movie, or recording artist that has a cult of you. Which is it? (i.e., what do you like that no one else you know likes)?

I like country music, and I’ve lived in the northeast all my life, so almost every recording artist I like has a cult of me! Martina McBride, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban…

Q. If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

Go hiking to somewhere scenic, then sit and read a good book. (The scenic spot would also happen to contain a comfortable couch, hot chocolate, and muffins.)

Q. If you could write in a totally different genre than your current one, which would you choose?

There’s nothing stopping me from writing in a totally different genre than my current one – in fact, I am currently working on a straight historical novel set in the 16th century. Of course, I have been working on it for the past 10 years and probably will be working on it for the next 10 years, because that kind of intensive research is hard to find time for. I will finish it someday, though!

Q. What are you working on now, and what new releases can we expect to see from you down the road?

There will be a companion novel to Mistwood, currently slated for publication in 2011; I’m currently working with my editor on revisions for that one. I’m also working on a new book set in the world of Mistwood, and on a fantasy novel set in our world as well. (Not to mention that time-travel novel.)

Q. The forest plays an iconic role in MISTWOOD, as it does in many fantasies. Why do you think forests evoke such strong feelings of magic and mystery? What is it about them that humans simultaneously desire and fear?

I grew up going to summer camp in the Catskills, and I always noticed the difference between the forest during the day and during the night. During the day, the forest was a beautiful place in which to have adventures; I used to sneak off from scheduled activities and go hiking alone (NOT recommended; I’m lucky I never got seriously injured when no one had any idea where I was). But at night, walking back from campfires, the forest was seriously scary. The trees always seemed hostile and menacing, like they didn’t want us there.

Q. I noticed on your website that you spent some time drawing fantasy scenes during law school classes. :-) Do you still draw in your spare time, and if so, do you find that it helps your writing?

Doodling is something I’ve always done when I was bored or my attention was only half-engaged. During times when I was very bored, the doodles could get rather elaborate (see aforementioned fantasy scenes). These days I tend to doodle only when I’m trying to write and my manuscript won’t cooperate. The pages of my writing that are free from drawings are the ones where the writing was going well. When there are drawings, that usually means I was stuck and trying to figure out what happens next. It probably does help me to keep my fingers busy while my mind works on it…

Thanks so much for interviewing me!


Giant congrats to Leah on her wonderful debut! I can't wait for my copy to arrive in the mail--it better be here when I get back from RT on Saturday.

Speaking of which, I generally don't blog when I'm at conventions (too exhausted), so if you want to see what I'm doing, check out my full RT schedule, or follow me on Twitter. Hope to see some of you there!

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Great interview Jeri & Leah. For some reason this book wasn't on my radar but it looks amazing!

Posted by: Blogger Karen at 4/27/2010 8:15 AM

What a great interview, Leah and Jeri! I can't wait to read Mistwood - will be buying this week. :)

Posted by: Blogger Janet Fox at 4/28/2010 6:18 PM

Wonderful interview! So fun to hear how Leah thinks of a few of her characters! Can't wait to pick up my own copy!

Posted by: Blogger Denise Jaden at 4/28/2010 6:20 PM

The book looks amazing! Can't wait to read it. Way to go Leah, and thanks for the great interview Jeri!

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 4/29/2010 6:48 AM

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