Today, I had the pleasure of asking Ally Malinenko a few questions! She's the author of Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb.
To start off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your book?
Sure, my name is Ally Malinenko. I live in Brooklyn which is good except when it’s not which is horrid. I’ve been writing for awhile, and have some stuff published and some stuff not. I don’t like when people refer to pets as their children and I can’t resist a handful of cheez-its when offered. I have a burning desire to go to Antarctica, specifically to the South Pole so I can see where Robert Falcon Scott died. I like to read books. I like to write stories and poems. I even wrote a novel that to my utter delight was published by Antenna Books. It’s called Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb and it’s the first in a series of middle grade books. Here’s what it’s about:
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 going back nearly five hundred years. Is that 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 the tomb of that bald guy with the goatee? 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.
What is your inspiration?
Everything really. Books I’ve read, movies I’ve seen, television shows, my obsession with Doctor Who, conversations I overheard on the subway, people I’ve known, who I used to be, who I am, who I hope I’ll be, the city I live in, the small town I grew up in, the friends I had and have, the seasons, the way a storm blows through the trees kicking up the pale green underside of the leaves, the stories I told as a child, the books I read under the covers with the flashlight, the wardrobe, my travels, the imaginary land I had when I was a kid, my cat, my husband, mythology, summer days, chess games, winter nights, history, magic….everything really.
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
When I was eight. I wrote my first short story which was eight pages long and felt like a novel to me. Afterwards in school I had to illustrate what my career would be. I drew a quill and a pot of ink. Obviously I wanted to be a writer in Shakespearian times.
What gave you the idea for Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb?
My love of Shakespeare and mythology. And seeing a copy of Philip Ardagh’s Eddie Dickens book, A House called Awful End. I thought a character named Eddie Dickens set in Victorian England was clever. Walking home from the bookstore I thought about who I liked more than Dickens. That night, I sat down to write poems, but instead started a novel. Albeit a much different novel than the one I have now, but a novel all the same.
Are there any characters that you modeled after people that you know or yourself?
Lizzy is very much me. She’s precocious and loud and curious and creative and bossy just like I was when I was a child (and I guess even now as an adult). Sammy is partially based on my best friend growing up, especially the friendship that Sammy and Lizzy have, and also partially based on my husband. Leonard, Sammy’s father is 100% my friend’s father whom I was very close with. Everyone else is sort of a mishmash of people I’ve known and pure imagination.
How about some Favorites?
Favorite Place to Write
I write in a walk-in closet off my living room. It fits my desk and there are wonderful built in bookshelves which I have stocked with my favorite books. My cat, June, sleeps in an empty comic book box on the floor each morning that I write. It’s terribly cozy.
Favorite Writing Food
I write at 5 am and I certainly can’t stomach food at that hour. But I do drink tea. Copious amounts of tea.
In Lizzy? My favorite scene is when Lizzy has the opportunity to travel back in time and meet William Shakespeare face to face. I loved writing him and I loved writing Lizzy, as full of awe and horror and happiness I would have been in her shoes.
Probably Jonathan Muse. As Lizzy’s muse and the guardian of the Shakespeare family he has seen and done a lot. Also, he’s keeping secrets (which will come out in the next book) and he knows more than he’s letting on when it comes to Lizzy’s true history.
Blue. No, green. Or Black. Or brown. I can’t decide. All the earth tones.
Here are her links so you can stalk *ahem*...I mean follow her!