MEET LIZZY SPEARE …
… a normal twelve year old girl with a talent for writing, who has a very not normal family secret. And when Lizzy’s father vanishes, that secret will change her life in ways unimagined. (Spoiler Alert! It turns out that Lizzy, or Elizabeth S. Speare, is the last living descendant of William Shakespeare. Shhh! Don’t tell anybody!)
Then Lizzy and her best friend Sammy are kidnapped, awakening in the faraway land of Manhattan. Their host is Jonathan Muse, whose job is to protect Lizzy from becoming the latest victim in a family feud nearly five hundred years old. Could that be why the mysterious, eye patch-wearing Dmitri Marlowe is after her? (Spoiler Alert 2 — he’s the last living descendant of Christopher Marlowe, a friend and rival of Shakespeare’s. But keep it to yourself!) Is Marlowe after Lizzy’s family fortune rumored to be kept in Shakespeare’s tomb? Does he seek artistic immortality? Or Revenge (with a capital R) for a death long, long ago?
In a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, Lizzy and Sammy are thrust into the realm of the mythical and fantastic — from satyrs and Cyclopses to Middle Eastern cab drivers and Brooklyn hipsters — in what is truly “an improbable fiction” as the Bard himself once wrote.
Today, I’m thrilled to have Ally Malinenko on my blog for an interview! She is going to talk a little about herself as well as her book, Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb.
1. When did you first start writing? What made you want to be a writer?
I wrote my first story when I was 8 years old. It was 8 pages long and I figured at the time that pretty much counted as a novel. I got not one but two hand cramps. I was hooked. As for wanting to be a writer – easy – I loved telling stories. Trust me, you couldn’t shut me up.
2. What inspired you to write the Lizzy Speare series?
I’m a Bardolator. That’s the name for crazy people who can’t stop obsessing about Shakespeare. I always loved middle grade as those were the books that hooked me as a kid and I love mythology. Then I smashed all three together.
3. How long did it take for you to finish writing Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb?
Well the first version was a way different book than this one. Lizzy’s name was Hamlet (yes, I know that was a mean thing to do to a character) and there was no play within a play or any of that. So if I count both versions, I’d say about two years off and on.
4. If you must summarize Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb in one sentence, what would you share with the audience?
It ain’t easy being a Shakespeare.
5. Which of the characters in Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb is your favorite? Why?
It’s a tie between Jonathan and Lizzy. Jonathan because he’s a magical muse and because he’s complicated. He plays it pretty close to the chest. And Lizzy because she’s brave and stubborn and stupid (in a good way).
6. Did you listen to music while you wrote Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb? And if so, what music was on your playlist?
I did. I listen to WQXR every morning when I write. Jeff Spurgeon is the DJ so it’s whatever he feels like playing. But that was during the revision. When I first started writing I listened to a lot of Beethoven – mostly the 7th and 8th symphony.
7. Tell us one thing about Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb that kind of surprised you as you were writing it.
How much I sympathized with my bad guy – Dmitri Marlowe. I don’t get into his back story in this book – that’s in the second one which I’m working on. But yeah, Marlowe wound up being one of those characters that thinks he’s right and he deserves a chance and who does all the wrong things for all the right reason. He’s not so black and white.
8. Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb is a middle grade urban fantasy and the first in a series of three, could you share a little something about what Lizzy could be facing in the next installment?
Lizzy is going to find out more about her family – specifically the things that Jonathan is keeping from her. She’s going to travel to Hagsmoor Copse, the land of the satyrs and this time Sammy, her best friend, is going to get his own adventure. It’s been a blast to write so far.
9. Besides writing stories, I know that you write poems too. I’m just curious, do you have to get into a certain mood before sitting down and writing a poem?
Ugh. Yeah, poetry is so different than writing stories or novels. I can’t just sit down and say “today I’m going to write a poem.” I wish I could! I know lots of people who can (my husband included) but for me, I have to have the poem pretty much worked out beforehand. So for poetry I have to already write it in my head. I try to spend my morning walks thinking about poetry – getting ideas cooking – coming up with images and lines and that way when I sit down, we’re good to go.
10. What’s next for you?
I’m working on the second Lizzy book tentatively called Lizzy Speare and the Hall of Hecate. I also have a massively out of control YA manuscript about chess, street kids, time travel and parallel universes that I’m still hammering away at. And I have the beginning of another book about the time I fell off a waterfall in high school and cracked my skull open. Good times! Also I try to fit in stories and poems whenever I can.
Ally, thank you so much for stopping by. It’s great to have you here today!
About the Author
Ally Malinenko, a self-proclaimed Bardolator, took her first pilgrimage to Stratford-Upon-Avon in 2009 and hasn’t been the same since. Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb is her first children’s book. Her poetry book, The Wanting Bone, was published by Six Gallery Press. She blogs at allymalinenko.com. Ally lives in Brooklyn with her husband.