Sunday, May 23, 2010

Interview with Lisa Mantchev, author of Eyes Like the Stars and Perchance to Dream

Lisa Mantchev, author of Eyes Like the Stars and Perchance to Dream kindly agreed to answer some questions about her writing.

Me: Where does PERCHANCE TO DREAM pick up after EYES LIKE THE STARS?

Lisa: Almost immediately after ELS ends... I don't like having too much time pass, or I just have to pause to explain what's happened in the interim, and it feels like an infodump.

Me: How will Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed survive so far away from all the sweets in the Green Room?

Lisa: They end up getting a bit... *ahem* creative about procuring dessert, which naturally causes problems for the troupe. I could say more, but it might ruin it (like a pie to the kisser!)

Me: EYES LIKE THE STARS began as a short story. How long was it before you knew it was going to be a trilogy?

Lisa: About the time I wrote the ending for the first book. I knew by then it wasn't a standalone, that I needed to write at least one more book to tie up all the plot threads, if not two. What's funny is my web guru and beta reader was teasing me from the beginning that it would be a trilogy, and I swore up and down that it wouldn't. Oops!

Me: How much did you plot before you started drafting PERCHANCE TO DREAM?

Lisa: It's strange... I always spend quite some time noodling out the story, in my head and on paper, and then that first draft ends up with its guts on the floor by the time I'm done rewriting. Someday, I will be come to terms with the fact that I can't seem to write a coherent first draft to save my life.

Me: Do you have a particular "stage" where you find it easier to write?

Lisa: If you mean where I prefer to set up my laptop, I can write just about anywhere (and do...) My office, my dining room table, my little writing nook, the coffee table in the TV room, coffee shops, outside on the porch. It just depends where my daughter is playing!

Me: How many drafts did you go through before your were finished with PERCHANCE TO DREAM?

Lisa: There were at least two major sets of revisions with PTD, including the deletion of several minor characters and their storylines.

Me: Many of your characters are characters from plays written by other writers. Was it challenging to capture the epitome of a character who already exists in a new story?

Lisa: With quite a lot of the Shakespeare characters, they are only "onstage" for limited periods of time. When it came to using them in larger roles (Ariel, Ophelia) I deliberately chose the ones I thought would be most suited to having my own characterizations superimposed upon them... for example, Shakespeare doesn't mention if Ariel is a boy or a girl, just an airy spirit with a yearning for freedom. And Ophelia's madness left plenty of wiggle-room for me to write around.

Me: Were there any advantages to using characters who are already well known?

Lisa: Absolutely... and I was usually playing it for the laughs. There are a lot of little theater-reference jokes when the Shakespearean characters turn up, from lines like "Is this a doughnut I see before me?" to the Ghost of Hamlet's Father wearing a flowered bedsheet and acting like a guest character on an episode of Scooby Doo.

Me: The lines between reality and the magic of the theater are difficult to draw in Bertie's world. Did you find that to be true at all while you were creating it?

Lisa: That was actually quite deliberate... I didn't want a set of hard-and-fast rules about how the theater's magic works. I felt that by letting reality be nebulous, soft about the edges, it did a better job of capturing the true magic of being backstage in a theater.

Me: I happen to think The Theatre Illuminata would make a fabulous musical. Any chances of that ever happening?

Lisa: I would ~love~ to see something like that happen. And hey, there's already one musical number ready to go, right? *cues "What Will Become of You"*

Thanks you so much Lisa for taking the time to answer my questions and I look forward to picking up Perchance To Dream next time I hit the bookstore.


  1. This sounds totally interesting! Thanks to both of you for the interview!

  2. Sounds like such a good read. And I love getting inside the minds of other writers, and finding we have some things in common!

  3. I'd never heard of these books before, but they sound so interesting! (Especially as a former theater geek). I'm going to add these to my read-list.