Meet the Author

As the author of “Eyes Like Stars”, Lisa Mantchev did a lot of interviews for a lot of sites. Some of the more interesting questions have been gathered up into a bit of a press-conference.

Tell us a little about yourself? (Heather, Want My YA
I am a temporally-displaced Capricorn who spends a lot of time wondering what other time periods I'd rather have lived in, all the while very much enjoying my wireless internetz and push-of-a-button espresso machine. 
What element do you think you are? (Yan, Books By Their Cover
Earth, most definitely. I'm a Capricorn, which is one of the three horoscope signs associated with earth. Plus practical. And stubborn. Elementals are something I researched just for fun a couple years back, and when it came time to work with the characters in my first novel attempt, it actually helped mold their personalities and give them distinctive voices. 
What was it about theater that attracted you to it? (Charles, Bibliophile Stalker
Perpetual Show-Off Syndrome?  Really, I was a kid that liked being in the spotlight, onstage or off, and I was always a sucker for a beautiful costume. 
Picture of The BookOf all of the plays that you have attended, which was your favorite from a patron's perspective? (Shesten, I Heart Monster)
I saw Beauty and the Beast when I was in college at the Ahmanson Theater, and because I had a friend in the production (playing a Fork!) my friend and I got to go backstage, meet some of the cast, and then climb all over the sets. I love the music from that show, too, especially Gaston's "Me" number. The tattoo on my ankle is the red rose from the movie.
Obviously you've been in the theatre a lot. What's the favorite part you've played, and why? (Susan Adrian
I played the Stage Manager in a production of Christopher Durang's The Actor's Nightmare.  Not a huge role, but I gave her this super-high Brooklyn accent that deepened when she also got shoved onstage to act; she went from Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors to a husky-voiced homage to our department's movement instructor in one line, and the transformation made everyone howl.
In Bertie’s play, Bertie’s mother says this about the theater: “ …that life…it’s not all roses and curtain calls and champagne on Opening Night. It’s ugliness and filth and greed. The bright lights mask the sorrow, but the sorrow is still there.” Why did you choose to include this? (
Theater life is much the same as any other competitive, artistic environment, emphasis on the competitive. There are long-standing jokes about an understudy shoving the leading lady down the stairs, overblown rumors of diva behavior, but I've seen what actors will do when they are desperate to get onstage and prove themselves. I've seen an actress have a shrieking hissy fit over the way her costume was put on a hanger. I've seen ballerinas take off their pointe shoes and peel bloody cotton off their toes. Under all the glory and magic, there's a thread of something melancholy... the years passing, injuries suffered, relationships that crumbled under the stress. Topsy-Turvy, which is a movie about Gilbert & Sullivan bringing The Mikado to the stage, is particularly poignant at the end, when the curtain has come down on their triumphant production, and everyone still has to cope with their difficulties and disappointments.
How did you get the idea for Eyes Like Stars and the series as a whole? (James, Book Chic Club
It began with the name "Beatrice Shakespeare Smith." I was working on a different short story at the time, but I'm pretty sure I shoved it aside to draft five thousand words. Those five thousand words then ended up as bits of chapter one, the chapter about how Bertie came to the theater, the important bits concerning The Complete Works of the Stage, and the ending. It was like when Inigo Montoya (The Princess Bride) said, "No, there is too much. Let me sum up," only in reverse. 
Lisa Mantchev
How did you come up with the title? (Tina, Fantastic Book Review)
ELS started life as the aforementioned short story, which was titled "All Her World's A Stage."  Then it became the novel we sent out on submission under the title Scrimshaw.  Feiwel & Friends worried that was too sailing-centric, though, so I began combing Shakespearean quotes for something grabby... that's when I chanced upon the line from Hamlet, and I knew instantly I wanted to use that, as it ties thematically into Bertie's play about how she came to live at the theater. 
Picture of BooksAre you a fan of Shakespeare? Or was there another reason for all the Shakespearean references and characters? (Eli, The Tainted Poet
Whenever I read one of his plays, I get an awed feeling at the idea of writing iambic pentameter with a quill pen... especially when I stop to think about how often I use the "delete" key in my word processor! I really enjoy pieces that riff on his work, too. "The Shakespeare Code" is one of my very favorite episodes of Doctor Who, for example, and I love movies like "10 Things I Hate About You" that use his storylines in a modern setting. 
Some of the characters in your book were characters that already existed in another piece of fiction- Ophelia, the fairies, etc. Was it difficult writing characters that you didn't make up? (Khyrinthia, The Frenetic Reader
Eerily enough, it wasn't. I had the carte blanche of doing with them whatever I wanted, because they've only ever existed within the confines of their written part. Once I pulled them out of that time and place, their personalities just took over. 

The fairies, especially. Those little buggers practically talk to me 24/7 now. 
How different is it writing for young adults compared to writing for an adult audience? Is it an easy transition for you?  (Charles, Bibliophile Stalker)
I think the main difference between YA and mainstream literature or even fantasy is that more leeway is given in way for the silly, the energetic, that sort of wild and exuberant enthusiasm that younger people and the young-at-heart have... that feeling of "yes!" when dealing with possibilities. My shorter fiction always had that sense of ridiculous and feeling of imaginary tap-dancing, so I think YA is the perfect place for me. 
You seem to write about a variety of fantastical elements.  Is there any one that you prefer?  Fairies, spirits, magic, etc... (Karin, Karin's Book Nook
I haven't happened upon a preference for a particular element, but I do prefer it be presented in the style of "magical realism" so that the fantastic elements are a given, something accepted. Then it's the story, the character's interaction, the difficulties they experience _beyond_ the fantastic element, that's important. 
Is fantasy your favorite literary genre? If so, why, and if not, what is? Why do you think the fantasy genre appeals so much to so many people?  (Chloe) 
For me, what is possible is always more interesting that what is... but I'm a kindred spirit of Anne Shirley, and the scope for the imagination just seems larger and shinier in fantasy. 
What is the best part of being an author? (Catt, The Dreamer Reader)
Working in my pajama pants. Also, I'm allowed to drink coffee until I vibrate and no one looks at me funny.
Do you listen to music as you write? Why or why not? (Marie, Fireside Musings
Not very often... I find lyrics very distracting, so if I listen to music, it's usually instrumental only. And I had "The Assassin's Tango" from the Mr. & Mrs. Smith soundtrack on repeat as I choreographed the Tango scene in the Properties Department.
The Theatre Illuminata is filled with magic. Does the location of the Theatre change as easily as the sets and props on stage?  In other words, is the Theatre always in the same city? (Karin, Karin's Book Nook
There's actually a character from a medieval morality plays called "The Everyman"... and he's there to represent the individual, with whom the audience or reader is supposed to be able to identify. So, in a lot of ways, the Théâtre Illuminata is an "every theater"... timeless, despite the architectural details I gave it, and not any place you'd think to look for it. If you're lucky, you'll stumble over it on your way somewhere else completely.
Many authors have told me their characters talk to them, and sometimes even have different ideas of where the story should go than the author. Do you hear your characters? (Heather, Want My YA
The voices of the four fairies (Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed) come very naturally to me, because they say all the rude/horrifying/silly things that I usually think, or only say out loud to friends. I've had a number of phone calls with friends that end with one or both of us yelling, "The fairies would totally say that!"
Bertie is a fun character.  Which characters from other YA novels do you think she’d be friends with?  Have a crush on? Why? (Lenore, Presenting Lenore
She'd probably best get along with wild-and-imaginative characters like Flora Segunda (from the novels by Ysabeau Wilce) and Peter Pan, and the Wonderland creatures. I'm pretty sure she'd think Dodge (Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars) would be hawtsauce, because he's utterly fearless and good to have in a fight.
Nate and Ariel are so completely different from each other.  Which do you think is the better match for Bertie? (Becky, Becky's Book Reviews
I'm not actually certain, honestly. There's Nate, with his innate concern for her safety, his sense of propriety (odd, for a pirate!) but he has just as bad a temper as Bertie, with small strains of chauvinism that really chafe. Then there's Ariel, who is beguiling, but has so much going on that he doesn't let anyone see... which makes him very, very hard to trust.  

And I think Bertie harbors some very sweet, very wistful ideas about love that evaporate the moment she deals with the realities of a person, not an ideal. I also don't think she is the sort of character that believes in "happily ever after" yet, and for all that she's attracted to Nate and Ariel at different times, she's not looking to throw herself into a man. 
In an all out fight a la Celebrity Deathmatch (oh yeah I loved that show), no holds barred, rules are out the window--who do you think would win?  Bertie, Nate or Ariel? (Lexie, Poisoned Rationality
Bertie. She'd fight dirty, no doubt about it. I have the sneaking suspicion she'd be a stealth junk-kicker, and neither of the boys would see it coming.
Your dedication to your mother is so sweet! Tell us about that day…the audition (and what kind of pie it was!) (
The director was a parent of a child in my class at school, and he'd directed us in a short skit of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. He knew I could memorize lines (I might have known everyone's lines...) and just as importantly, he knew he could count on my mom to bring me to rehearsals on time and help out with costumes and make-up.  So the night of the audition for South Pacific, he called my house and reminded me to come. She left the half-done pie sitting on the counter to take me... and I cannot remember what kind of pie it was!
Any hints for us about Perchance To Dream? (Shesten, I Heart Monster) :
The original title was "ELS 2: Eyes Starrier!"  *G*  No wait, come back, seriously, I was kidding!  *chases after you* 

Bertie and the fairies are certainly in the second book, and Bertie learns even more about her past. Almost everything else I could say would be a plot-spoiler for the first book, never mind that we're probably going to do more revisions on PERCHANCE and everything is still subject to change!
What authors, artists, filmmakers inspire you? Why? (Melissa) 
I have a list as long as my arm of authors: Neil Gaiman for pulling back the thin curtain between reality and fantasy, Patricia McKillip for her descriptive work, Terry Pratchett for his humor. My new literary crush is Frank Beddor (The Looking Glass Wars.)

I love Tim Burton's film work (I'm a recent Sweeney Todd addict) and any other movie with lush costumes and fantastic production values. For the same reasons, I like television shows like The Tudors, despite its many historical liberties. I also like reality television that involves the arts, like So You Think You Can Dance? and Project Runway.

Performance companies like Cirque de Soleil and Lucent Dossier have been hugely inspirational for the second theater book, both for music and the videos of their work made available on the internet. I love watching both acrobatics and dance.

As for artwork, it seems like I am constantly discovering new artists that make me happy. There simply isn't enough room on my walls (or money for framing) although I have big plans to have Jason Chan's cover art for Eyes Like Stars framed for my office! 
Picture of girl writing at desk
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