OBS Staffer Annabell had the opportunity to interview Lisa Mantchev. Read her review of Perchance to Dream here.
Annabell: Eyes Like Stars as well as Perchance to Dream are centered around the classic plays of Shakespeare. What drew you to creating a story with those elements in mind?
One of my favorite YA books growing up was Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild. The characters attend a theatrical school and study quite a lot of Shakespeare, and so I asked for a Complete Works on my tenth birthday. I was probably the only one in junior high English class thinking “YAY!” when the teacher broke out copies of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Annabell: There are so many interesting and fun characters within your novel, the four tiny fairies: Cobweb, Peaseblossom, Moth and Mustardseed are four of my favorites! I love reading their antics and banter. How did you come up with their characters? Were you always drawn to the tales of fairies?
Those four fairies appear in Midsummer as well as in Ballet Shoes . . . two of the sisters play Peaseblossom and Mustardseed. They only have a handful of lines, which meant I had plenty of wiggle room for how they should speak and act, so they have my love of snacks and say all the terrible, wise-mouth things out loud that I think in my head.
Annabell: Bertie is very strong willed and hard headed, she’s also very loving and loyal. She is a great heroine for young girls to look up to. Was that always your intention behind creating her character? Do you feel you share similar traits with her? Or are there traits of her you wish you had?
I really made a conscious effort for Bertie to be a strong character. She certainly has her faults (the words “headstrong” and “heedless” come to mind, and she is certainly a bit selfish in her quest at times) but the one thing I did not want to portray was another weak-willed, swoony girl who only exists as a reflection of her attraction to certain men. While she does have feelings for Nate and Ariel, those feelings are not the be all and end of her existence.
I definitely share her love of crazy hair dye (mine is usually some shade of burgundy or raspberry) and coffee. I used to order quad shot cappuccinos at conventions… it scared the baristas!
Annabell: Nate and Ariel are just ridiculously hot for fictional characters! I lean more towards Ariel though. Do you lean more toward one or are you fighting even with yourself to decide who she ends up with?
As of right now, So Silver Bright is headed to press and the decision has been made. It was tough, I will admit, because I had no idea at all as of the end of Perchance To Dream what was going to happen with the boys. The outcome I think is going to surprise a lot of readers, but once I made the decision, I knew that’s how it had to be.
Annabell: Regarding Perchance to Dream, what made you decide to introduce Bertie’s father? How in the world did you come up with making him half bird, half man?
It was always my intent to focus the second book on the search for Bertie’s dad, given that much of ELS is spent with her searching for her mother. The Scrimshander’s character comes from the original Inuit legend about Sedna, the Sea Goddess. In it, she runs away to live with a creature that is a prince in some versions and a bird in others. Once that decision was made, a lot of the second book’s imagery became about animals (Waschbär’s character, the Innamorati’s costuming.) It was something fun and new to play with, as a writer.
Annabell: Will both Bertie’s mother and father be making continued appearances in further novels in the Théâtre Illuminata books?
You will definitely see more of them in So Silver Bright.
Annabell: Whether from Eyes Like Stars or Perchance to Dream, what was one of your favorite scenes? I ABSOULTELY LOVED when Peaseblossom falls in love with the fake groom from the top of a wedding cake and has to protect him from Mustardseed. I also LOVE that Mustardseed eats him! Haha!
I loved writing about Henry as well! *L* That little bit got added in during a revision (inspired by a conversation I had on the telephone with my website guru.) Probably my favorite scene in ELS is the tango scene, and I loved writing the introduction to the Innamorati at the train station in PTD.
Annabell: So much of Eyes Like Stars and Perchance to Dream are centered around food, does that have to do with your upbringing? Is your family the type of family that does everything around food (mine is *hehe*)? What is one of your favorite type of dishes to eat?
My family is absolutely that kind of family! Every holiday and birthday, it was All About The Food. Right now, my favorite thing to make and eat is grilled cheese sandwiches. We’re experimenting with different kinds of bread and cheese, then we put them in a buttered cast iron skillet and put another skillet on top for a weight (like a panini!) Nothing is better on a cold, rainy day, that’s for certain.
We also make a lot of sweet things… big surprise! And my husband just mastered a recipe for Liège waffles, which are authentic Belgian yeast waffles studded with pearl sugar. The little beads of sugar caramelize when they cook, and you eat them hot and fresh out of the waffle iron, no butter or syrup needed at all. *NOM*
Annabell: How many more books will there be in the tales of Bertie? (I for one hope you continue for a VERY long time!) And what can fans expect in the next installment, So Silver Bright? The cover is so beautiful by the way!
SSB picks up pretty much right where Perchance to Dream left off, and it’s the final book in the trilogy. The big questions (will Bertie reunite her family, and which of the boys will she chose?) are both answered by the end of the novel, but I do believe there is room for more Bertie-adventures, should readers want them. I also have several spin-off ideas in mind.
Annabell: I’m sure having a newborn can make writing a bit overwhelming to accomplish, how do you find the time everyday to write? Do you listen to music? Or do you need absolute silence? Do you write at home or in a public place? Do you have some favorite snacks you just have to have?
It was really tricky, doing a set of revisions and then copyedits and page proofs with a little one in this house, that’s for certain! Right now, my only time to write is when he takes naps, which never seem to last very long. I used to need complete quiet and privacy to get any writing done, but I don’t have those luxuries now! I switched from a computer to a laptop about three years ago, so I write anywhere it’s set up (coffee table, dining room table, writing nook.) And I always have a cup of coffee with me!
Annabell: Who are some of your favorite authors? Do they help influence your style of writing?
I love writers like Patricia McKillip and Juliet Marillier… they are goddesses of description. And then Terry Pratchett and Jasper Fforde, because I’m a sucker for wry British humor.
Annabell: If you could live in Bertie’s world as one of the characters, which character would you want to be?
There’s a new character in So Silver Bright. I would love to spend some time as Her Gracious Majesty, the Queen. Maybe then I’d have enough time (and privacy) to take a bubble bath. And if I didn’t get what I wanted, I could throw things!
Annabell: Do you want to always continue writing in the fantasy genre or do you want to dabble in other genres?
Everything I’ve ever written has been fantasy of some flavor. I don’t think I could write anything without it.
Annabell: Outside of writing, what are some of your most favorite things to do?
Most favorite thing? Would have to be Disneyland, hand’s down. We try to visit Southern California at least once a year to see family (we used to live in Pasadena, and had annual passes.) We’re really looking forward to taking the new little one for his first visit, getting him his mouse ears, and introducing him to Peter Pan’s Flight. J
Annabell: For aspiring writer’s attempting to stake their own claim in the writing world, what are some words of wisdom you can pass along to them?
Treat it like a job, and by that, I mean you have to dedicate the hours to the writing, the revising, you have to be willing and able to take constructive criticism about your work, and you need to behave professionally–online and off.
Thank you VERY much to Lisa Mantchev for granting OBS the wonderful opportunity to interview her about her AWESOME novels! If you want to find more information on the author and her work, check out her blog at: http://lisamantchev.livejournal.com/ or the website dedicated to the Theatre Illuminata Trilogy at: http://www.theatre-illuminata.com/