For Educators, For Readers, Q&A 2 years ago

#LoveOzYA Q&A with Lyndall Clipstone for FORESTFALL

Lyndall Clipstone is a former youth librarian who grew up running wild in the Barossa Ranges of South Australia, and who currently lives in Adelaide, where she tends her own indoor secret garden.

Her latest release, FORESTFALL, is the highly anticipated sequel to the lush gothic romance, Lakesedge.

Lyndall chatted to #LoveOzYA’s Bianca Breen about writing a duology, worldbuilding, and Leta’s character arc — read the interview below, or watch clips on our YouTube Channel.

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Can you tell us about Lakesedge and how it leads into FORESTFALL?

Lakesedge is the story of a girl who goes to stay at a haunted estate with a boy known as the Monster of Lakesedge. When she falls in love with him and discovers that he’s cursed, she decides to make a bargain with the Lord of the Dead to save him. So Forestfall explores the fall-out of that decision. I’ve got a very well-rehearsed elevator pitch and it was the best thing I ever did!

Forestfall concludes this duology, but did you always have a duology in mind when you set out to write Lakesedge?

When I was drafting it, I envisioned if I did write a second story what would it explore. But when I was querying it and sending it to publishers with my agent, I sent it as a standalone with series potential. When my American publisher bought the book, they bought a two book contract, which was lovely, but nobody really asked me what the second book was supposed to be about so I just assumed it would be a second standalone because that’s what had happened to an author friend of mine who’d recently sold two books. And then when I asked my editor if she would like to see a pitch for my other book, she said “We were thinking you might turn Lakesedge into a series”. At first I panicked, but then the more I thought about it, the more it felt right to spread the story across two books. There were a few things that I’d wanted to explore in Lakesedge that I couldn’t quite fit – more about Rowan’s young brother, and Leta’s relationship with the Lord Under. Having two books really opened things up. So I didn’t originally envision it as a duology but I’m really glad it worked out like that and it definitely feels right for the story.

I love that we visit a whole new world in Forestfall. Did you have a process for worldbuilding and creating the new gods and rules that come with this new world?

I was actually inspired by Neil Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS. I was watching the television series and then I read the book around the time I was conceptualising what I wanted to do with Forestfall, and I loved this idea about the gods needing people to believe in them to keep their strength, and how they all had different personalities. Another inspiration was some of the characters and the mythology in Dark Souls 3, which my partner was playing through at the time. I guess, logistically, I needed more characters because otherwise it would have just been Leta and the Lord Under, and I wondered what the story arc for them to work through would be. It was really enjoyable to play with the way the magic worked between everybody, and Rowan and Leta’s connection, and how she experiences using her power.

We got to see things through Rowan’s point of view in Forestfall, what was it like writing from his perspective?

It was really fun! I kind of, by necessity, needed to give him a voice on the page, because I wanted it to be their story, and because the Lord Under is such a strong presence in the whole narrative, I felt like I needed to give Rowan the opportunity to have his own weight in the book. It was fun getting to discover his voice and it came quite easily to me, more than I’d expected. He’d always felt like a strong character that I had a good idea of, so when I started drafting his chapters, I was like, “Okay, here it is.” It always felt quite distinctive. I hadn’t written a dual point of view before so it was a fun challenge.

I loved seeing more of the Lord Under, too. Did his character change when you wrote him much more closely in Forestfall or did he stay the same in your head?

He’s probably the trickiest character for me to write, mostly because I wanted to strike a balance between keeping him as an otherworldly being but also giving him enough depth to add interest to his and Leta’s relationship. My editor and agent were always like, “Stop making him too nice! Stop making him too human! Why are they bickering with each other? She should be more afraid of him.” So that was a challenge, a way to give him depth without making him too human. I really love the power dynamic between them, and how Leta just has to constantly be fighting so hard to meet him on an even level or try and keep up with him. He’s got so much power that she’s using everything she’s got to try and counteract that.

Yes! Leta was so much more feisty and powerful in Forestfall. I loved seeing her character develop.

I’m really happy with how her arc went, because I had a lot of things that I wanted and I didn’t want for her story. I vaguely knew where I wanted her to end up, but there were a lot of questions about how she would get there and what she would have to give up to get what she wanted. I wanted a sweet but satisfying ending and I think that’s the conclusion she got. I think Rowan’s ending made me more emotional but I loved their ending together.

Now that the series is finished, what’s next for you?

I’m working on a new book, which is a standalone dark fantasy gothic romance type thing. It’s set in a completely separate world to Lakesedge, so it’s a new world, new characters, new everything. Hopefully I can reveal more about that soon!

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