Good morning! I have a special treat for you today! This is my very first blog tour and author Q&A. Today I’ve got some questions for Lesley Livingston the author of Once Ever Never, a book about a teenage girl who instead of doing touristy things while she visits her Aunt in London, finds herself smack in the middle of a war between the Celts and the Romans. I sent Lesley some very unoriginal questions and she came up with some superbly fun and original answers!
Tell me a little bit about yourself. When I read a book I always want more information about the author than what is generally included in the author bio. Somehow it helps me to connect with the book more.
Lesley Fun Facts time! Let’s see… I used to water-ski. I also used to down-hill ski. Backwards. Sometimes, that ended poorly. I once had a hamster named Spartacus. When I was a kid, I named my shiny white and gold ten-speed bike Apollo. I chew my lower lip when I can’t figure out a plot problem. It’s highly surprising to note that I still have a lower lip. I own a pair of moss-green cowboy boots that I wear on an almost constant basis. They are awesome. I’m pretty sure I met a ghost once. By ‘met’ I mean it tried to push me down a hillside in the middle of Wales. I am not to be given chocolate-covered coffee beans. EVER. For the sake of myself and those around me.
Where do you get the inspiration for your books? (I know this is a pretty lame question but I am actually curious!)
That’s not a lame question at all! (Heh… there are days when I wonder that very same thing, myself!) I get inspiration from a lot of places, but I do find that I draw frequently and deeply on history and mythology and folklore. For Once Every Never, the germ of the idea came from a visit to the British Museum in London, where I spent a great deal of time staring open-mouthed at glass cases containing some of the actual artifacts that Clare comes into contact with in the story. I was, of course, also profoundly inspired by the story of Boudicca, the fierce Celtic queen, herself.
I’m not very good with history so can you fill me in on how much of the Boudicca parts of the story are true and how much is artistic licence? Were Connal and Comorra real people? Did they really find bodies in the Norfolk Broads?
Essentially, the basic storyline I’ve set out in the book sticks fairly closely to what happened to Boudicca—as far as we know. We don’t actually know a great deal, in fact, and what was written about her contemporaneously was, of course, written by Romans. Specifically the historians Tacitus and Cassius Dio. The details are sketchy, but the bullet points—her rebellion, the subsequent massacre, and her ultimate defeat in AD 60 or 61 are accepted fact. So, too, it’s a fact that she had two daughters. There names aren’t verified to my knowledge but Comorra and Tasca are the two possibilities I came across in my research that I liked best. As for Connal, he is a creature of my imagination. Sometimes, I like my imagination. (I like it too!)
As far as I know, there have been no known discoveries of bog bodies found in the Norfolk Broads… yet. But my Spirit Warriors are based on similar finds—specifically one bog body in the British Museum called Lindow Man, who was discovered in Cheshire in England.
I found Clare to be a really interesting character. I loved her attitude and her fearlessness. Is she like you at all?
Yay! Thank you for saying that. I’m very fond of Clare, too. She’s headstrong and generous and funny and sharp but not the most… how shall I say… ‘intellectually curious’ character I’ve ever written. At least, she doesn’t start out that way! Once she does find herself compelled to act by circumstances, though, I think you’re right—she is fearless. Part of that is a kind of ‘never say die, never think things through’ attitude, but it serves her well. I think I probably would have spent more time trying to work through the problems she faces—and probably would have just wound up getting impaled on a flaming arrow or something. So… Go Clare!
I haven’t read any of your other novels. Can you tell me a little bit about them?
Sure! The WONDROUS STRANGE trilogy is about a 17 year old girl named Kelley Winslow who, while rehearsing an off-Broadway production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, discovers that the Bard didn’t make all that stuff up: Faeries are real, she is tied far more closely to that supernatural community than she could ever have imagined, all of Central Park in New York City is a gateway to the Otherworld—the Faerie Realm—and it’s opening. Only one things stands between the city and looming Faerie peril, and that’s Kelley. And a fierce, handsome changeling named Sonny Flannery. Okay—that’s two things. (Sounds interesting, I’m definitely going to look into those!)
What is your favourite book or author?
Can I say Shakespeare? I know his collected works can’t really be considered a ‘book’ per se, but man! That guy could really write! (Thank you, Captain Obvious…)
Doesn’t she sound friendly and fun! You should definitely check out Once Every Never – I really liked it and it was well written and original.