SOME INTERESTING QUESTIONS FROM ZIGGY
I’m back from visiting my Dad and found almost immediately a questionnaire with some witty and intriguing questions from a U.K. reader. Of course, I couldn’t let that go to waste, so . . .
1) Have you thought of writing more books like Night of the Solstice, or do you feel you have been there, done that, as it goes?
The third book in the WILDWORLD series, MIRROR OF HEAVEN, is very much alive and kicking, trying to get out of my head and onto paper. In it, Alys and Janie (and eventually Charles, Claudia, the vixen, and Elwyn) go on a quest to find the magical stone, which is called “Mirror of Heaven” for its unusual properties and its striking color. This is a story that takes place within the Wildworld itself, as the questers travel from place to place tracking down rumors of what may have happened to this valuable but uncanny gem. And . . . they have competition. Pub date: indeterminate, but it’s going to happen.
2) You mentioned that you were a teacher before a writer. Were you very strict and no nonsense? Would it be wrong envisioning you in a swively chair stroking a white cat with half moon glasses?
LOL. I was, for three years after grad school, a kindergarten teacher with a very high proportion of special ed. kids in my class. We were usually around 35 to 40 students stuck in a room that was built for 25, and we had no air conditioning in 100+ weather, and often no paper to color on because there was no budget for it. I bought almost all my teaching supplies. We spent most of our time dancing to Raffi songs (if you remember him you’ve probably been a teacher, too), listening to me read storybooks (ha! I had a captive audience) and learning to count to 100 or do a cooking project. I pride myself that in my third year of teaching (with two books out) I was my school’s Teacher of the Year. Every autumn I still miss the smell of chalk and tempera paint. But I kept my cats at home or they would have been tempera-painted, too. (Also, I swear I never used magic once on a student.)
3) Out of all your characters, which do you think resemble you the most, and why?
No fair. I can’t pick. Honestly, I couldn’t write from each girl’s POV if I didn’t feel exactly like her at the time. I’ve got a lot of Elena and Mary-Lynnette in me, but then I’ve got a lot of Bonnie and Gillian Lennox (from the NIGHT WORLD series) there too. I was never an evil manipulator (especially of young men) like Elena, but I’m stubborn and I plan. Also I’m far more shy than any character I have yet written, except maybe Cassie of THE SECRET CIRCLE trilogy. I suppose if you strapped me to the rack and brought out the red-hot toasting forks I would say, “Most like Cassie and Jenny (of THE FORBIDDEN GAME) but with delusions of grandeur of being someone brave and canny and competent like Dee (same FORBIDDEN GAME) or wild and reckless like Jez (NIGHT WORLD).”
4) Who inspires you in your writing? (friends, family and the famous all applicable)
Friends definitely. I have a few cherished friends who get to see my manuscripts before I send them to the people with the long knives and the red pencils. They give me everything from solutions to plot dilemmas to book titles. I use them mercilessly, taking like a sponge, squeezing them like oranges. (Just call me Inspector Javert.) But it’s so fun to talk about your problems to sympathetic souls. Famous? Who and what is famous? Well, I think everyone would agree on Jane Austen, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker. They’re my idols, presenting things in that slightly skewed, satiric way—as if they were from another planet and reporting back on the habits and oddities of human beings. But there’s one more that will be as famous, who’s already been called “the modern Chaucer”: Terry Pratchett. Mr. Pratchett’s books are all about satire and everyone should go out and buy at least the books from GUARDS, GUARDS to MONSTROUS REGIMENT in his Discworld series.
5) What novels of your own would you recommend for fledgling L. J. Smith readers?
Don’t bother. Go out and read Terry Pratchett. You’ll be happier. I guarantee you’ll laugh out loud once a page (at least).
Oh, all right. My own books?
Fledglings still in the nest: try THE VAMPIRE DIAIRES or THE SECRET CIRCLE. Remember that in THE VAMPIRE DIARIES I myself wrote up to MIDNIGHT, and then the series was taken away from me because of a clause in a contract I had signed over twenty years ago when I wrote the first four books, THE AWAKENING, THE STRUGGLE, THE FURY, and DARK REUNION. All written twenty years ago. NIGHTFALL, SHADOW SOULS AND MIDNIGHT I wrote after TWILIGHT rekindled a worldwide interest in vampires.
As for THE SECRET CIRCLE, I cannot comment other than to say that I wrote the first trilogy and then the books were given to a ghostwriter because of a contract that I signed over twenty years ago.
For the partially-fledged: anything. THE FORBIDDEN GAME, since I’m now actively planning the sequel. There’s DARK VISIONS, of course—I tend to underrate it because Disney tried to sue me over the name Kaitylyn Fairchild until I proved I had made up and disseminated the name before anyone else. And, finally, THE NIGHT WORLD series, which is really quite easy to understand. Basically, each story is about a vampire or other Night Person who finds a human soulmate . . . the penalty for which is death. But when did that ever stop young lovers? They’ve already lost their heads. I am, yes, I am currently writing as fast as possible on STRANGE FATE, the conclusion, and I’m hoping to finish it around wintertime. Note: the more enquiries I get about when it is coming, the longer it takes.
For those who actually can fly: my latest book, THE LAST LULLABY, over 700 pages, and once part of STRANGE FATE. It is the tale of Brionwy and her guttersnipe friend, Crispy, who . . . oh, here’s the blurb:
THE LAST LULLABY is the story of Brionwy, daughter of Branwen, a courtesan in the harem of the Lord Overseer, Rajan Adani, who is the head of a Great House under the rule of the Masters. In this post-Apocalypse story, magic exists, but is rarely seen. Brionwy befriends Crispy, a little girl, or fawn, who has escaped from the pens in which all humans but the serving slaves of the Overseer, the guards, and the “humble and pathetic” Beauties in the harem are kept like animals.
Crispy has named herself for the burns that cover half of her body and have withered one of her arms. She considers herself slightly abled because of her baby arm; it looks useless but is almost as strong as the other. Tough, cynical, and quick to laugh at herself or others, Crispy’s life changes the day that she peeps through a hole in the harem wall and listens to Brionwy playing her lute and singing a heart-rending lullaby. Together, the two girls who come from the most different backgrounds imaginable, and with the help of Crispy’s gang of dwarfed, misshapen, deaf, and otherwise abled misfits, solve the mystery of a strange prophecy that leads to the secret of the nearby caverns and of how to fight the Masters. Despite the fearsome Guntra, Head Dwenna of Brionwy’s Concubine Pavilion; despite the Overseer himself, Brionwy and Crispy find themselves leading a revolution that will change the lives of all who belong to the Overseer’s Great House forever.
When THE LAST LULLABY comes out will be up to the publisher who buys it. Unlike all my other books since THE NIGHT OF THE SOLSTICE, I wrote it before trying to sell it.
THANK YOU, ZIGGY, WHEREVER YOU ARE!
One more announcement: my $#@&*! computer has to go back to the shop because it will not back up my data without freezing about 10 percent of the way into the backup process. This means a lot of things will be on hold. Can you hear the scream bottled up in these simple words? Do the voices in my head bother you?