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Friday, July 9, 2010

Chick Chat: Leah Cypess

Leah Cypess is the author of Mistwood. Here's a bit about the novel:

Everyone tells Isabel that she is the Shifter - the ancient shape-shifting creature who has protected the kings of Samorna for centuries. They need her to be the Shifter. Prince Rokan risked everything when he rode into the Mistwood to summon her to his side; Ven, the magician's apprentice, has devoted his life to studying her legend; and even Princess Clarisse, who fears and hates her, depends on Isabel's powers to further her own plans.

But Isabel doesn't feel like the Shifter. She feels like a lonely human girl, beset by flashes of memory that do more to confuse than to help her. If she is the Shifter, why can't she change her shape? Why doesn't she remember what made her flee the castle so many years ago? As she is drawn deeper into a web of magic and assassination, Isabel will have no choice but to look for answers. But her search will lead her to the one question the Shifter hasn't faced in a thousand years: where does she come from, and what does she really want?

To find out more about Leah and Mistwood, you can visit her at her website.


What inspired you to write Mistwood?

I had an image in my mind of a supernatural creature in a misty forest, being hunted by men on horseback. I wrote that scene without any idea of what would come next.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while writing?

I wrote most of Mistwood while working at a law firm, which meant I only wrote on the subway – so I had dozens of different scenes and ideas scattered over various notebooks and scraps of paper. I never had time to actually sit in front of a computer, type my writing in, and arrange it in some sort of order. When I finally (after I left my job) sat down at a computer to piece them all together, it was quite headache-inducing! I even discovered that I had written one scene twice.

Which one of your characters do you identify with the most?

Isabel, my main character. I stay very close to her point of view for most of the book, and her struggle with making difficult choices was very real for me.

If you could meet any author (dead or alive), who would it be?

I would love to meet Herman Wouk. I love almost all of his books.

Many teens dream of becoming authors. What advice would you give to writing teens?

First, I’d advise them not to think about publication too soon. I submitted my first manuscript when I was 15 years old, and trust me, I have nothing but gratitude for the editors who rejected it! Give your writing style time to mature and grow. Develop it on your own, then with a critique group. Don’t be impatient – you’ll know when you’re ready for the world to see it.

And second, once you get to that stage – don’t pin all your hopes on a single manuscript, no matter how great it is or how much effort you’ve put into it. Sometimes even great manuscripts never get published, because there’s an element of luck – finding the right editor at the right time – that you can’t control. Sometimes it’s time to put a book in the drawer and start submitting the next book. Mistwood was the fifth manuscript I submitted to publishers (not counting the one I sent when I was 15!); all the others, though they received a lot of favorable comments and revision requests and even trips to the acquisition committee, eventually had to be shelved so I could move on.

What's next for you?

There will be a companion novel to Mistwood published in 2011 – I am working on revisions right now! After that, I hope to be able to write more books set in the world of Mistwood, as well as some set in our own world.


Thank you for the interview, Leah!


  1. I loved Mistwood and can't wait to read the companion novel. So glad to know it's definitely coming out next year. Great interview. I love hearing about the process each author has gone through on the road to publication.

  2. I got Mistwood from BEA and it looks really excellent! Nice interview.


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