Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Author Interview: Leah Cypess

When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.

Deathsworn (Deathsworn, #1) is coming out soon. How does it feel?  What's your favorite part of the process been so far?

It feels thrilling! Even though it's the third book I've published, there's still that same excitement of knowing this story I made up and these words I wrote are going to be in a real physical book. If anything, it's more exciting this time around, because I've learned to
let some of the anxieties go.

My favorite part is the writing -- both first-drafting, when I can see the story taking shape, and revision, where I can see it getting a million times better under the guidance of my amazing editor.

What's your best advice for someone that wants to be a writer?

Write, read, and hire a good therapist. ;) Okay, kidding about the third. But really, in the end, it's all about the writing -- writing one thing, and then another, and then another, finding your voice and
improving your craft. And though I haven't done this in the past, I would also recommend a writing book - The 10% Solution by Ken Rand.  It's a really hands-on effective book about how to tighten your writing. I read it about a year ago and am both (a) glad that I read it before Death Sworn was finished, and (b) chagrined that I hadn't read it before I wrote my first two books!

Name three things you loved about writing Deathsworn?

(1) I loved writing a protagonist who is mostly powerless -- it was such a different challenge from writing Mistwood and Nightspell, where the main characters were fierce and frightening.

(2) I loved setting the book in a series of underground caves - the research was awesome and getting the descriptions right felt fabulous.

(3) I loved writing the relationship between Ileni and Sorin.

What's in your reading pile right now? Any recommendations or ones we should steer clear of?

I just finished These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, and I *definitely* recommend it - it kind of blew me away, actually.  Next on my pile is Delia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer. I haven't started it yet, but I know my fellow Greenwillow author Rae Carson loved it, so I'm really looking forward to it.

Do you enjoy being a writer?  Over being a lawyer?

Ha! A million times yes. The thing was, I was always a writer, and being a lawyer was something I thought I could do to make a living while keeping writing as my real vocation. The fact that I now get to make money (I wouldn't call it a living...) from writing is still astonishing to me.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?  And if you could only bring three things with you, what would they be and why?

Well, I'm hoping my next trip will be to Israel - and that I'll bring my three kids with me. ;)

About the Author:
I wrote my first story in first grade. The narrator was an ice-cream cone in the process of being eaten. In fourth grade, I wrote my first book, about a girl who gets shipwrecked on a desert island with her faithful and heroic dog (a rip-off of both The Black Stallion and all the Lassie movies, very impressive).
After selling my first story (Temple of Stone) while in high school, I gave in to my mother’s importuning to be practical and majored in biology at  Brooklyn College. I 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. I kept writing and submitting in my spare time, and finally, a mere 15 years after my first short story acceptance, I sold my first novel to Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins).
I live in Brookline, Massachusetts (right outside of Boston) with my husband Aaron, a researcher and doctor at the Joslin Diabetes Center, and our three children.

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