Welcome to the first of the author Q & A series! If you love learning more about the brains behind the books, you’re in the right place. Today’s interview is with Lyra Selene, the author of Amber & Dusk, which is the featured title in the December 2018 ‘Rebellious Royals’ box.
Thanks so much for answering a few questions, Lyra!
Can you describe what sparked the idea for Amber & Dusk?
It started on a long ago trans-Atlantic flight. As we flew westward across a ruffled tundra of pale clouds, the red sun seemed to hang motionless, bathing us in copper and gold. And in that seemingly endless dusk, I dreamed of an impossible world where the sun truly never set. But for a long time, I didn’t have a story that fit in that world.
Many inspirations fit together like broken shards of mirror glass: a fascinating novel about Versailles, the court of the Sun King; a line from Shakespeare–“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em;” Inigo Jones’ fantastic drawings of masque costumes from the 17th century. And then I met my heroine, waiting impatiently in the dusk–a girl with dreams in her eyes and strange colors in her heart. And I knew whose story I had to tell.
Amber & Dusk is loaded with incredibly enchanting settings. What are a few of your favorite literary landscapes? And did any of them inspire any of the locations in the Amber City?
Too many to name them all! Narnia, Prydain, and Hogwarts were the backdrops for my childhood, so I’ll always think of them first. But I’ve also been happy to lose myself in places like V. E. Schwab’s alternate Londons, Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom, Laini Taylor’s Eretz, and Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse.
None of those specifically inspired any of the locations in A&D, but rather the Dusklands and Amber Empire were born from my desire to hopefully spin a fantastical landscape as breathtaking as the ones I love reading about!
What is your dream destination, real or fictional?
Tír na nÓg, the mythological faerie realm of Irish mythology. But really, anywhere with just a little big of magic, real or imagined!
The pages of Amber & Dusk are lush with descriptions of colors – so I must ask, what is your favorite color?
Dark red, like wine and velvet and secretive lips.
Amber & Dusk was featured in the December 2018 ‘Rebellious Royals’ themed Unicorn Crate. What are some of your favorite books you’d recommend to those who love reading about rebellious royals?
Some of my favorites are the WINNER’S CURSE, by Marie Rutkoski, SNOW LIKE ASHES, by Sarah Raasch, and A CROWN OF WISHES, by Roshani Chokshi!
Almost every character in the book is dealing with deception in some way. As a writer, what draws you to write about characters who are deceiving and/or being deceived?
The human capacity for deception is fascinating to me. Lies can be for personal gain, or to protect oneself or others. Lies can be verbal, physical, or even mental. We can lie to others, but just as often we lie to ourselves. People often assume a binary conflict between truth and lies, but I think that’s a superficial way to look at it. I love exploring all the nuances that exist between honesty and deception, and how they affect my characters and their choices.
What character from Coeur d’Or would you love to duel with?
None of them! I think they’d all beat me very quickly and soundly. I would love to hear Lullaby sing, though, and would want to watch some of the flashier legacies face off against each other.
Sylvie is a fiery one. She does something not a lot of female characters do. She goes after what she wants, not because it’s “the right thing to do” or to “sacrifice herself for the greater good” as we often see female characters being depicted, but because she wants it and feel she deserves it! There are many people, especially women, who struggle with feeling worthy, good enough, and deserving of their dreams. What does self-worth mean to you?
Sylvie is complicated, flawed, and often selfish–I wrote her that way because I wanted to show that no one is perfect, we all make mistakes, and virtue doesn’t always come easy, even to people who are ultimately good. To me, self-worth is about believing in your truth, pursuing authenticity, and being patient with yourself even when you don’t achieve perfection.
What is your writing process like, and did it change after writing your first book?
My writing process actually changes a little with each book I write! No two stories want to be told in the same way, and I find that if I’m flexible with my process I’m able to give stories the space they need to grow.
Did you have to do any research for Amber & Dusk? Was there a particularly difficult scene to write?
Because some elements of the court of Coeur d’Or are inspired by Versailles during the reign of Louis XIV, I did do some research into that time period because I wanted the atmosphere, clothes, and modes of etiquette to feel believable. But since it’s a fantasy novel, I had the freedom to invent a lot of that too!
The final scene was actually really difficult for me to write–I wrote and rewrote it a number of times before I got it right. But because of that I’m proud of how it eventually turned out!
Any deleted scenes you could describe to us?
Revisions always involve a good deal of shuffling around, adding, and taking away scenes! I can’t think of any in particular that were cut, but if they didn’t make it into the final draft it’s probably with good reason.
Who are a few favorite authors that have influenced you as a writer?
It’s hard to name just a few! Susan Cooper, Tamora Pierce, Wendy and Richard Pini, Jacqueline Carey, and Ursula K. Leguin are all amazing authors who inspired me to work toward this dream.
What book are you most looking forward to reading in 2019?
Probably KING OF SCARS, by Leigh Bardugo!
Do you have a favorite TV show or movie?
Miyazaki’s HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE is one of my all-time favorite movies.
Here it is, the classic island question. If you were to be stranded on an island for many years, what book would you hope to have with you?
This may sound cliche, but I would probably choose PRIDE & PREJUDICE. I discover new joys in its pages every time I reread it, and I’d feel a little less lonely with Lizzy and Mr. Darcy to keep me company.
Lyra Selene was born under a full moon and has never quite managed to wipe the moonlight out of her eyes. When she isn’t dreaming up fantastical cities and brooding landscapes, Lyra enjoys hiking, rainstorms, autumn, and pretending she’s any good at painting.
She lives in New England with her husband, in an antique farmhouse that’s probably not haunted. AMBER & DUSK is her debut novel.
LOVE AUTHOR Q&A’s? Let me know in the comments below what questions you’d love to see authors answer in future interviews! x Naomi