14 July 2011

Interview: Leah Cypess (Mistwood)

Mistwood hc cNightspell hc c

Today, ladies and gents, up for my inspection is Leah Cypess, author of two of the bestest books ever: Mistwood and Nightspell.  With Tamora Pierce-like style, Leah Cypess crafts excellent character-driven stories featuring an inhuman shifter learning to be human and a girl battling the forces of the dead.  Now, if you haven't read these two books yet, shame on you.  And don't you sit there and cry about it neither.  Go to the bookstore and get them!  It'll be well worth it.

Using my powers of persuasion and a touch of psychic power, I coerced Ms. Cypess to chill with us here today.  Let's see what she has to say under torture:

You’ve written many short stories, published in various places. How is writing a novel different from writing a short story?

With a short story, I’m usually focusing mainly on one thing – one plotline, one character, one mystery, etc. With a novel, I have to juggle a lot of different threads, which is more of a challenge. For me, I find that my novels develop more as I go along, and require a lot of revising, whereas short stories usually come to me in one quick burst of writing and need minimal revision afterward.

Has having worked in law affected your stories any?

I don’t think so. People keep asking me if I’m going to write legal fiction, but fantasy has always been my thing, and I don’t see that changing! Maybe I’ll think of a way to combine the two.

Nightspell is your second book. Have you learned anything from your writing experience with Mistwood that you applied to Nightspell?

I had written the first draft of Nightspell by the time I got the contract for Mistwood, so not that much changed about the actual writing. I did learn a lot about the process of revising – specifically, how intensive the revision process is, and how much can change. That helped me obsess less about details in the early revisions of Nightspell, because I knew there were so many changes to come.

What kind of research did you do for Mistwood, if any?

The most exciting research I did for Mistwood was arrange for a 3-day stopover in England which I spent running around the country looking for castles to describe. Most of the descriptions of the castle in Mistwood come from that trip (and a lot of them are from Hampton Court Palace). I also researched various other things, mostly by reading books. At one point my library hold list was completely filled with books about various animals and how they sense the world.

What’s your writing schedule and/or environment like?

I have two kids below the age of 5, so I don’t have much of a schedule! My usual writing environment is either the playground while they’re occupied, or my laptop in my living room after they’re asleep.

Was Mistwood the original title?

Nope! The original title was Shifter, but HarperCollins was already publishing a fantasy called The Shifter (by Janice Hardy), so we had to find a new title.

Do you jot down ideas in notebooks, or does it all stay in your head?

I am a big jotter… the type of person who will jump out of bed just as she’s falling asleep to write an idea in a notebook. I carry notebooks and pens with me everywhere, just in case. But the ideas that usually make it into stories are the ones that didn’t truly need to be jotted down… because I was so interested in them that they never left my head.

Now, if you haven't planned on a trip to the bookstore yet, don't have the audacity to call yourself a bookworm. ;)

Thank you, Ms. Cypess, for spilling your confessions.



Ms. Cypess's website

About Leah Cypess

Leah Cypess author photo 1

Leah Cypess is the author of Mistwood.  Though she began writing in grade school, she took a detour to earn her law degree and work for two years at a large New York City law firm before becoming a full-time writer.  She now lives in Boston, Massachusetts, with her husband and two young children.