Interview with Lesley Livingston

Read my review of DarkLight here.

HarperTeen: Which one book would you pick to read if you were snowbound in a mountain lodge and the ski slopes were closed (but luckily, the hot chocolate kitchens were open)?

Lesley: Hmm… If I was stuck there for good long while, I’d probably want the collected trilogy edition of the Fionavar Tapestry series by Guy Gavriel Kay. I haven’t read it in a while, but it was one of my favorite series when I was Kelley’s age and I’d love to revisit it. Great characters, sweeping fantasy epic, romance. . . and some really terrific fight scenes! Perfect with hot chocolate!

HarperTeen: The heroine of Wondrous Strange and Darklight, Kelley, is the daughter of the Faerie Winter King, Auberon, and the Queen of Autumn, Mabh. But which of the four seasons does Kelley most closely identify with?

Lesley: I think Kelley would probably say that she identifies most with autumn. Aside from the fact that she cringes inwardly every time someone compares her to her capricious, fiery-tempered mother, there is still something about this season, the crispness in the air, the crunch of leaves under her feet. . . that, and the fact that she just so happened to meet a certain Janus Guard for the first time in a fall-shrouded Central Park at twilight. . .

HarperTeen: Sonny is good at the Faerie sport of hurling. Any winter sports he excels at, considering he grew up in Auberon’s court?

Most of Sonny’s time growing up in the halls of the Unseelie Court was spent learning how to fight. Even playing in the hurling matches was akin to tests of survival for the young Janus. For those who don’t know, hurling is sort of like a cross between field hockey and football. Only—in the Faerie Kingdoms—with higher stakes and greater risk of dire injury. It is played on a large field with two goals—one at either end, a small ball (made of enchanted silver in the Otherworld, so it really hurts if you get hit with it), and curved wide-bladed wooden sticks (which the Fae tend to wield like weapons). There is no protective padding worn.

In his rare moments of free time during his youth, Sonny learned to pack a mean snowball and devised several unorthodox uses for icicles. If he were to have to pick an actual winter sport to play in the mortal realm, he’d probably have a hard time choosing. Sonny’s problem is that he’s ridiculously good at just about every physical activity he’s ever set out to master. I’m sure he’d probably excel at something fast and dangerous like downhill skiing, or difficult and dangerous like ice-climbing, or crazy and dangerous like luge! But I have a feeling he might be drawn toward hockey, given the chance. It’s a little like hurling—what with chasing a small object with a stick—and there’s the added bonus of danger from bodychecking and slap shots and knives strapped to your feet!

HarperTeen: Living in Canada, you’re familiar with winter, I’d say! Any favorite long winter survival techniques?

Lesley: You have to embrace it! You can’t be shy with winter up here—you have to actively court it, and seek to discover its charms. Throw a log on the crackling fire and light some candles. Grab your ice skates—and a handsome guy’s hand—and take a spin on a frozen pond. Learn to love stylish layering and funky hats and awesome boots and scarves and ponchos. Wear luscious scented lip balm and revel in the pinkness of your cheeks without blush and the sparkle in your eyes without mascara! And, of course, use body heat to its best advantage. Chilly winter evenings are for snuggling. A warm hug is the best way to drive away the cold.

HarperTeen: What would be your number one getaway spot during the winter months?

Lesley: A good book! Or better yet, a fully stocked library. Then I can go anywhere I want without having to deal with the hassle of lines and the plane deicing at the airport! (Seriously. I’m not much of a beach person anyway—I’m so pale I tend toward spontaneous combustion in direct sunlight!)

Valentine’s week promotion

Because it’s Valentine’s day this week, HarperTeen asked Lesley a few extra questions.

HarperTeen: What was the funniest date you’ve ever had?

Lesley: For one of my birthdays, my boyfriend arranged an entire crazy day for me based on one of my favourite movies—Ferris Bueller’s Day Off! It was hilarious and sweet. And really elaborate! We went to the art gallery and the museum and up the CN Tower and to the racetrack. My boyfriend had prearranged for whole bunches of friends to meet up with us at certain times and places so this movable party just kept getting bigger and bigger—and he’d sound-tracked the whole thing with a mix tape of the movie sound track, my fave songs, and quotes from the film! It was awesome!

HarperTeen: And something more romantic—the best date?

Lesley: Again, it was another birthday, when my guy brought me to New York City and then arranged, secretly, for some of my friends to meet us there. That part was lovely and surprising, and he’d put so much thought and planning into it that I thought it was really tremendously romantic, even if it wasn’t just the two of us. And, of course, then there was the sparkling winter ride through Central Park in a carriage at night, with all of the lights of the city twinkling in the distance and the crisp, dark air and frost on the trees. . . and snuggling. . .

HarperTeen: Kelley and Sonny experience something close to love at first sight. Do you believe in love at first sight?

Lesley: I really do. Or sometimes, it’s love at first “hear”—which was the case with me. Sometimes all it takes is listening to someone speak Prospero’s lines from Shakespeare’s The Tempest in a perfectly rich deep voice for the very first time. . .

HarperTeen: Is there anyone special in your life who’s inspired the swooningly romantic love story in Wondrous Strange and Darklight? If so, does he/she play a role in your writing process—reading early drafts, for example?

Lesley: See above! ;-) And he’s tremendously helpful with my writing. He’ll read drafts for me and help me brainstorm ideas and work through plot knots and help me out of all the writerly corners I paint myself into. And sometimes he’ll just listen to me rant and complain about a story (although I’m sure he prefers it when I’m enthusing and triumphant about a story)!

HarperTeen: What would Sonny’s Valentine’s plans be for Kelley?

Lesley: I think, seeing as it’s February, and it might be a little gray out in the mortal realm, his plans might have something to do with showing her all of the winter wonders that the Unseelie kingdom has to offer. After all, it might be Kelley’s birthright, but she’s never really seen the place, while Sonny grew up there. And it’s chilly—so there would be necessary snuggling (Sonny’s not above an ulterior motive or two). I think maybe a horseback ride across a frozen lake at night under the dancing lights of the Otherworld’s aurora, and then a crackling fire, with strawberries and roses in the garden of the Winter Palace (he’d probably have to call in a few favors to procure those, I would imagine). And then dancing. Kelley still hasn’t forgotten the first time they danced, you know.

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