Saturday, March 13, 2010

Saturday Spotlight: An Interview with Leah Cypess, Author of Mistwood

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Today I am spotlighting Leah Cypess and her soon to be released debut novel Mistwood. First, a little background on this up and coming author.

Leah Cypess has been writing since she was seven years-old. As she explains, she took a few detours during her college years, receiving a degree in biology and the went on to law school. However, even as she worked for a large law firm in New York, she continued to write and submit stories in her spare time and now fifteen years later she is a published novelist.

She lives with her husband and two daughter just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. You can read more about Leah by visiting her web site.

Leah graciously agreed to let me interview her and gives some interesting insights about the writing of Mistwood.

Could you explain what prompted you to write your first book about a shapeshifter?

Actually, Mistwood was not the first book I ever wrote… it  is the first book to be published. Ghosts, witches, and even vampires preceded shapeshifters. But though I love playing with all (well, most) fantasy tropes, shapeshifters have a special place in my heart. I love animals, and the idea of being able to change into an animal is both magical and fun.

Describe Mistwood’s setting for us and tell us about any research/inspiration that helped with its creation.

The Mistwood itself is an ancient, mist-filled forest.  I originally described it based purely on imagination, but while I was writing the book I visited the old growth forest in Seward Park, Seattle.  That forest was exactly what the Mistwood looked like in my mind; after being there, I went back and rewrote a lot of the description.

The Mistwood is in a country called Samorna, and Samorna is part of a larger world… but more about that in the companion novel. :)

What made you decide to write for a young adult audience?

Ironically, although most of my earlier books were written for a young adult audience, when I wrote Mistwood I thought it was going to be a book for “regular” adults.  Only when I was finished did I realize I had written another YA. Not surprising, since most of my favorite books are YA.

What element of fiction do you feel is the strongest aspect in Mistwood and why?

Personally, I like Isabel’s struggle and the plot twists that accompany it the best; I feel that these are the heart of the book.  A lot of my first-readers complimented me on the atmosphere and world-building, and I really hope I’ve done a good job with them, but honestly, those came second.  I usually start with a character and plot, and build everything else up around that.

What did you learn while writing Mistwood?

Through my research, I learned a lot about various animal senses, about castles, and about how knives are thrown. :)  Through the revising process, I learned a lot about writing, especially about pacing and tightening.  And as with all writing, I learned a lot about my characters and hopefully about human beings (or my view of human beings) in general.

Is there anything else you would like readers to know about you or your novel?

For those of you who want to be writers, I’d like you to know that Mistwood was the fifth novel I ever completed and sent to publishers, and that it took me almost five years to write.  So you should never give up on a dream, or a manuscript, just because things are taking so long that you the end seems out of view.  You just have to be patient, do your best, and wait for your time to come.

I want to thank Leah for allowing me to interview her. I for one am anxiously awaiting Mistwood's release next month.   Make sure your check out Mistwood's book trailer and the summary below. 

Author:Cypess, Leah
Publisher:Greenwillow Books
Subject: Magic Fantasy Action & Adventure 
Publication Date: April 27

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.


Kathy Martin said...

This book sounds great. It was already on my radar because I am doing the 2010 YA Debut Author Challenge. This just cofirms that I have to have it. I am on my way to Amazon to pre-order it.

Great review!

Anonymous said...

book sounds good! i'm from the Saturday Network!

Suey said...

This book looks absolutely lovely! Thanks for the wonderful interview.

Lea said...

Great interview! This novel sounds so incredible, and Leah seems so sweet!

Melissa said...

Excellent interview. I love the sound of this book, and Leah speaks so well! :)

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