Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fabulous New Fiction: 2k10 Debut Author Leah Cypess

Here's another interview with one of my classmates - meet Leah Cypess (that's right, there's no "r"!), debut author of MISTWOOD. MISTWOOD is a book I'm dying to get my hands on...and now it's out!

Congratulations on the publication of your novel, MISTWOOD. Every time I see the cover, I can't wait to read it. Can you tell us a bit about the story and what inspired it?

I'll start with what inspired it: I had a scene in my mind of a girl in a magical forest being hunted by men on horseback.

And now the story: Turns out, that girl is actually an immortal shapeshifter, bound by an ancient spell to protect the dynasty of the king who bound her. One of the men hunting her is the current prince of that dynasty, who wants her help. Trouble is, she doesn't remember any of this, she doesn't believe half of what he says, and she has lost her ability to change her shape. She'll have to figure out who she is and what happened to her while at the same time protecting the prince and figuring out what he really wants.

Oo - I love that inspiring scene and your summary! How long have you been writing for children/teens? Have you written other books or is this your first effort?

I have been writing since at least fourth grade, when I wrote a long sprawling saga about a girl and her heroic collie who got shipwrecked on a deserted island. (I was very into both the Lassie movies and the Black Stallion books at the time.) That book still exists somewhere on a wide-lined school notebook...

The Black Stallion books were some of my favs, too. Can you describe your path to the publication of MISTWOOD?

I published MISTWOOD by submitting a query directly to my current editor at Greenwillow Books. She had read a previous submission of mine, and liked it enough to send me a kind and detailed rejection letter explaining why she wasn't going to acquire it and inviting me to send her my next book. Which, needless to say, I did. That book was MISTWOOD.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

At the VERY beginning, I would advise you to just write for the fun of it, and not be too focused on publication. In other words, don't submit your sprawling saga about a girl and her dog shipwrecked on a desert island! It really takes a while to develop your own voice and style. When you feel like you're ready to submit your writing to other people's judgment, I would suggest going to a critique group first, and only afterword to start submitting to agents and editors. At which point, my major point of advice would be to not give up.

Can you tell us something about your personal life – inspirations, plans for the future, goals, etc.?

My inspirations come mainly from nature and history. I love nature --hiking and biking are two of my favorite activities -- and I do most of my best writing when I'm outdoors. I also love reading history, and I often get ideas when reading about the politics and dramas of the distant past.

I have two kids, and my main goal in life is to balance raising them with what I hope will be a successful writing career. Both of these things -- having children and being a published writer -- are dreams come true for me, and I'm sometimes taken aback by (and incredibly thankful for) how fortunate I am.

Do you have any new writing ventures underway?

Many -- I'm the kind of writer who is always working on a number of projects at once. There is a companion book planned for MISTWOOD, which is currently in the revisions stage, and one of my projects is another book set in that same world. Another is something...completely different, and still too unformed to talk about. :)

Do you have a website where readers can learn more about MISTWOOD?

Thanks for interviewing me!


Anonymous said...

Great interview. I loved the part where the editor rejected/encouraged you! I'm so glad you didn't give up. :)
I can't wait to read Mistwood. Especially since now I know there are more on the way!

Denise Jaden said...

Great interview, Janet and Leah! Mistwood is a wonderful book, and I'm sure it will make a big splash out there in the big world!

Bonnie J. Doerr said...

Yay for that wise editor and more YAYs to you, Leah, for sending her the next one. Thanks for sharing Leah's story, Janet.

Irene Latham said...

I'm with Leah: motherhood and writing books. Does life get any better?? Thanks, Janet!

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to read this! I've heard lots of buzz.

Anonymous said...

Great interview! Can't wait to read it! Thanks Janet.Go Leah!

Anonymous said...

First of all, I love your snapshot inspiration of the girl in the woods. Awesome. Second, we need to hang out. We have more in common than I should list here :)

I wish you the best of luck!

Janet Fox said...

Thank you, guys, for coming by. Kristina - I'm with you - hiking, biking...felt a real common bond (that's why I love hanging with you all!

Lisa Green said...

Yay, Leah!