Jul 13

Tenner Tuesday with Leah Cypress

Hi out there! I hope you are all having an amazing July! Today for Tenner Tuesday I have with me Young Adult author, Leah Cypress and her amazing book Mistwood that I read in about 3 hours cause it was so good!

Some stuff about Leah: She wrote her first story in first grade. The narrator was an ice-cream cone in the process of being eaten. In fourth grade, she wrote her first book, about a girl who gets shipwrecked on a desert island with her faithful and heroic dog (a brilliant rip-off of both The Black Stallion and all the Lassie movies). However, she took a few detours along the way to becoming a full-time writer. After selling her first story (Temple of Stone) while in high school, she gave in to my mother’s importuning to be practical and majored in biology at Brooklyn College. Leah then went to Columbia Law School and practiced law for almost two years at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, a large law firm in New York City. She kept writing and submitting in her spare time, and finally, a mere 15 years after her first short story acceptance, she wasa published novelist. Right now, Leah lives in Brookline, Massachusetts (right outside of Boston) with her husband Aaron, a researcher and doctor at the Joslin Diabetes Center, and their two daughters.

A Teaser of Mistwood: 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, towind, 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.

Here’s my interview with Leah!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I don’t remember. My parents have a copy of my first short story, which I wrote when I was in first grade. And when I was eight years old, I informed my grandmother that I intended to be an author when I grew up. (My grandmother, an immigrant who worked her way up from poverty, was quite horrified.)

How long does it generally take you to write a book from those first words to the very last?

A loooong time.  I started Mistwood in 2003, and finished it in 2008.  Of course, in between those times I worked as a lawyer, moved, got married, had a kid… and also worked on about a half-dozen other books, since I like switching between projects as a way to stave off writer’s block.

What was the inspiration—that first spark of a story—behind your amazing book?

I had a vision of that first scene – a supernatural creature in a misty woods, being hunted by men on horseback.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

*goes to look up “schedule” in the dictionary*

I try to write for at least 2 hours a day: one hour in the morning while my older kid is in school and my younger one is napping, and another hour at some point later… while at the playground, if they’re both occupied, or during joint naptime, if I can make that happen, or after they go to sleep, if I’m not too exhausted. Okay, sometimes that second hour doesn’t happen. But when I’m gripped by a story, I will write through every two-minute interval that I don’t actually have to be doing something else.  I’ve been known to stop at street corners and pull out a pen and notebook while my kids wonder why the stroller isn’t moving any more.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk…come on…I know you have one.

Probably that business about working on several manuscripts at once.  I find that at least once during every project, I get to a point where I don’t know what happens next, I feel like I know how the book is going to end, and I’m just not interested any more.  When that happens, I go away and work on something else, often for months.  Then one day a new idea for continuing the old book will pop into my head, and I’ll get back to it.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I really like sleeping… :)   Also reading, hiking, and biking.

What do you think makes a good story?

Most of the stories I love have some sort of mystery at their center… something you want to find out.  Sometimes that mystery can just be how the book is going to end, but I am a big sucker for dark secrets buried in the past.

Without giving us any spoilers, how did you choose the title for your book?

I didn’t. When I originally submitted the book, it was called “Shifter”; but since HarperCollins was publishing The Shifter by Janice Hardy, we needed a new title.  I submitted a list of possibilities to my editor, of which Mistwood was one; and it was the one the marketing department liked best.

Are there any tools that are absolute must-haves for writers?

A paper and pen. Or laptop.

What kind of research went into writing your book if any?

One of the main problems my critique group noticed, after reading an early draft, was that the castle in Mistwood wasn’t adequately described.  I arranged for a stopover in England during another trip, and spent a few days wandering around castles and scribbling descriptions in my notebook.  I also read up a lot on various aspects of life in a medieval/early-modern type world, and watched many youtube videos of swordplay and animal fights.

Have you ever had someone try to matchmake for you and if so, how did it go?

When I was a lawyer, a co-worker at my firm thought I should go out with her stepmother’s friend’s son.  We now have two kids, so I’d say it went great.

Because I think you should always save room for dessert, as a child, what was your favorite dessert? And what is your favorite dessert now?

As a child – cheesecake.  Now – those fancy chocolate cakes that are all gooey in the middle.

What do you hope to leave your readers with once they’ve finished your book?

That happy feeling I get when I close a book I really enjoyed.

What question would you like to ask me?

How on EARTH do you find time to blog in addition to everything else?

Well, most times I’m full of blog-guiltiness because I don’t blog as much as I feel like I should blog. Blog, blog, blog. Anyway, I’m also like a baby that a mom puts on a schedule…if I get off my schedule or my routine I get cranky and weepy and if I had a bottle in my hand well…I’d probably throw it. There, Babywise, it’s the secret of who I am.

You can visit Leah on her blog at www.leahcypress.com and to order Mistwood (which I think you really MUST) click HERE!

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