#LoveOzYA Q&A with Lyndall Clipstone
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 debut novel, LAKESEDGE, is out now in Australia, with a sequel, Forestfall, due in 2022.
Lyndall chatted to #LoveOzYA’s Alex Patrikios about the inspirations behind her lush debut — read the interview below, or watch clips on our YouTube Channel.
What is LAKESEDGE about?
The premise is that LAKESEDGE is a young adult, Gothic, romantic fantasy, about Violeta Graceling, who goes to Lakesedge to stay with the ‘Monster of Lakesedge’. When she falls in love with him, and finds out that he’s cursed, she decides to team up with the Lord of the Dead to try to save him.
It will appeal to people who love sort of spooky, romantic kind of stories. If you really enjoyed watching Crimson Peak, or reading books like Wintersong or Uprooted, it might appeal to you. It’s very pretty and girly, with lots and lots of feelings, so it’s exactly the sort of book that I would have loved reading as a teenager.
I believe you started this story as a reimagining of The Secret Garden, and I can also see elements of mythology, and a bit of Beauty and the Beast, plus Crimson Peak, which you mentioned — so all these wonderful things in this big melting pot. Where did the original seed of the idea come from?
I did a creative writing honours degree at University of Adelaide in about 2006, and one of the pieces that I wrote for my assessment was a short story about a girl and her brother who went to stay in a haunted house with a man who needed the brother for something. That was kind of the very start of LAKESEDGE.
I always thought if I did have the time, or drive, to write a full-length novel, I would have loved to expand the story, and so kind of over the years, I always kept coming back to it, and thinking more and more about it.
Even then, it was a dark Secret Garden. Between the book and the 90s movie, there’s just this really, really lush aesthetic that I really liked.
Totally. Why do you think that the Gothic style is so enduring? And in particular, why do you think it fits so well in the young adult space?
I think maybe there’s something about facing darkness and making it safe, by making it your own in terms of exploring it in a safe way — this psychological, claustrophobic type of horror — and getting to explore it in a safe context, through a fictional book.
You get to have all these heightened emotions and enjoy the romance of it, but a safe distance. (It’s) like how you would watch a horror movie or read a romance novel or something. It evokes quite like a romantic response.
Your author bio says something about writing about “monsters and the girls who like to kiss them”. Why do you think the monster is an interesting, seductive archetype?
There’s definitely like a long, ongoing appeal of the Byronic hero type. You know, like Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, or Rochester. I think, again, maybe there’s something about getting to touch danger and darkness in a way that is safe: you can experience the feelings of it without being in actual danger. You know, I love reading books like the Grisha Trilogy, but I’m sure I wouldn’t like to meet the Darkling in real life. But I love imaginarily thinking, ‘Yes, of course, I would love to team up with you!’
I’ve always been really fascinated with this idea of being the one the monster won’t hurt, in fiction — obviously, in real life, that becomes a problematic concept. But in fiction, I think there’s a lot of power (in it): a maiden/female character, who is like, a fairly powerless figure, like Leta at the start of the book.
She really only has her own self; she’s got nothing to sort of put against the world. But by having these interactions with these very monstrous characters, and becoming special to them, and using the connection she has, she’s able to gain quite a lot of empowerment and drive the story herself.
Speaking of the Grisha Trilogy — that makes me think of the Netflix show, and so can I ask: if you could dream cast a LAKESEDGE adaptation, either as a movie or a TV show, including the director, who would you choose?
Yeah, I think maybe that’s someone like Sofia Coppola or Guillermo Del Toro would be a good director — a combination of both would be amazing.
Film has definitely been a really big inspiration for me. I have a very visual imagination. And often, like when I’m thinking of a scene, I see it quite visually, and I try to capture this very cinematic feeling on the page. So things like The Virgin Suicides — the aesthetic and the emotion was always very inspirational, as well as Crimson Peak and Pan’s Labyrinth.
As far as a cast, maybe Sadie Sink who was in Stranger Things? She’s got the perfect look for Leta — a surly redhead.
In terms of Rowan, the drummer from Måneskin. I can’t remember his name, but he looks perfect. He’s got this like a wild dark hair and a lot of eyeliner. For the Lord Under, it’s always been Lee Pace as Thranduil with the hair and the crown and stuff, which was really intentional. I will also accept Adam Driver, especially if I’m allowed to go on the set and meet him.