Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Because of A Book

Today is the first installment of a brand new, weekly feature called Because of A Book.  If you want to know the story behind this feature, read yesterday's post.  Our first guest is YA author, Lisa Mantchev.  Before I let her take over, I'd like to tell you a little about her.

Lisa Mantchev grew up in the small Northern California town of Ukiah and can pinpoint her first forays into fiction to the short stories she thumped out on an ancient typewriter. She now makes her home on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state with her husband Angel, her daughter Amélie and four hairy miscreant dogs. When not scribbling, she can be found on the beach, up a tree, making jam or repairing things with her trusty glue gun. Eyes Like Stars is her first novel. Find out more at http://theatre-illuminata.com/.

And now, here's Lisa!

Three girls, one stage school.

The year I was in fourth grade, I had a no-nonsense teacher who ended up with the nickname Mrs. Grizzlybear. This was largely the result of her spelling tests, in which we were expected to use each word properly in a sentence. She would have had better luck with me if she'd included some of my new favorite vocabulary words:

Pocket money, attaché case, dress circle, license, m'audition.

Because, after receiving Ballet Shoes as a birthday gift from my aunt, I lived, ate, and breathed the story of the Fossil sisters. One was an actress, the second a gearhead and a mechanic, the third a ballet dancer, but they all attended the Children's Academy of Dancing and Stage Training and studied under the tutelage of the renowned Madame Fidolia. Oh, I wanted to go, too. Better yet, I wanted to be Pauline: golden-haired, beautiful, stage actress, film star.

My love of Ballet Shoes knocked over the first of many literary dominoes for me.

Pauline and her sister Petrova perform in a charity performance of Maeterlinck's The Blue Bird, and parts of the script were included in the text. When I found a tattered hardbound copy of The Blue Bird in a used bookstore, I devoured it, then turned the scene with the Unborn Children into a skit for the May Day festival: my directorial debut.

Pauline's very first audition was for Alice in Alice in Wonderland.  Enter, Stage Left, the "Drink Me" bottle in the Théâtre Illuminata Properties Department.

And, perhaps most importantly, Pauline and Petrova go on to perform in A Midsummer Night's Dream. So I asked for a Complete Works of Shakespeare. It must have been a curious sight: a nine-year-old, sitting on front porch with a giant gilt-edged, leather-bound book on her knees. I still have that book, and surely it is template for my own Complete Works of the Stage.

When the fairies appeared in Eyes Like Stars, I knew immediately which ones I wanted to use: Peaseblossom, Moth, Cobweb, and Mustardseed. They only have a handful of lines (even then, Petrova struggles to get her "And I!" just right) which made them a blank slate on which I could paint my own brand of sugar-fueled mayhem. Nana would be highly disapproving of my Fearsome Foursome's shenanigans, but she'd be thankful to know I didn't send them onstage in their combies.

When I back up far enough, I see the patterns created by all those fallen dominoes in the pages of my own novel, and it's one that makes me smile. Perhaps someday there will be echoes of Beatrice Shakespeare Smith in someone's work, but I'd be wholly satisfied if the dominoes tipped by Eyes Like Stars include a child asking to see a play for their birthday, or reading their first bit of Shakespeare...

Or using a cupcake as a trampoline. *wipes the frosting off my shoes*

About Eyes Like Stars:
All her world’s a stage.

Bertie Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theater.
She’s not an orphan, but she has no parents.
She knows every part, but she has no lines of her own.
That is, until now.

Enter Stage Right
NATE. Dashing pirate. Will do anything to protect Bertie.

COBWEB, MOTH, MUSTARD SEED, and PEASEBLOSSOM. Four tiny and incredibly annoying fairies. BERTIE’S sidekicks.

ARIEL. Seductive air spirit and Bertie’s weakness. The symbol of impending doom.

BERTIE. Our heroine.

Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the actors of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book—an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family—and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known.

Lisa Mantchev has written a debut novel that is dramatic, romantic, and witty, with an irresistible and irreverent cast of characters who are sure to enchant the audience.

Open Curtain

Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at Powells
Buy it at Indiebound
About Ballet Shoes:  Pauline, was rescued from a shipwreck as a baby. She longs to be an actress.
Petrova, is a Russian orphan. She is happiest when playing with cars and engines.
Posy was handed over with just a pair of ballet shoes to her name. If she could, she would dance all day!
But one thing they DO have in common is, that with money running out at home and Great Uncle Matthew missing, the sisters want to stay together. Whatever it takes.
As they prepare for a dazzling life on stage, the dreams and fears of the fossil girls are about to come true…

Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at Powell's
Buy it at IndieBound


Marie said...

A lovely post!

Great feature! Keep it up!

Werecat said...

Thank you for bringing us this post from Lisa. I'm glad she recovered enough from the exploding cupcakes to be able to write this. It is amazing to trace back where we draw inspiration. To recall the moment that we knew we simply must write.

C.J. Redwine said...

Yay! Having read ELS, I can certainly see the evidence of those literary adventures running through your gorgeous book. (leaving tiny frosting-coated footsteps behind)

Reverie said...

that is too cute?!! Loved the book! but msot of all I love you, Lis!! you're the cutest?!!?

Natascha De Marco said...

Lis is great ^^

Hmm got me interested in this Ballet Shoes book...

Melanie said...

This is a great idea! Lisa's story is really interesting. I can't imagine a nine year old reading the complete works of Shakespeare. Must have been an interesting sight, indeed.

TexasRed said...

This is a great way to introduce an author. Thanks!

Lexie said...

Oh Ballet Shoes!! I just saw the movie a few months ago and fell in love with it so much I had to have the books...but what a wonderful journey it was for you :D

cleemckenzie said...

Very sweet. A perfect book for you, Lisa.

cindysloveofbooks said...

Shelly this is a great feature for your blog. I know have another book to add to my TBR Pile.

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