Rummanah Aasi
  I had the wonderful opportunity to chat with L.K. Madigan, the author of The Mermaid's Mirror, last month when I finished the book. L.K. was born in Portland, Oregon but grew up in Los Angeles, California, where she held a cool job working at Warner Bro. Records. When she was 28, she decided to relocate with her husband back to her hometown. L.K. enjoys traveling, meeting new people, and of course writing. Her debut novel, Flash Burnout, received the William Morris Award in 2010. This year her sophomore novel The Mermaid's Mirror was released. L.K. and I chatted about her books and writing. I hope you enjoy the interview and be sure to read about the giveaway details below!

Rummanah: Welcome and thank you for stopping by my blog, L.K. It’s so great to have you here. I absolutely loved your debut novel Flash Burnout and expected you to write another contemporary, realistic novel, but was pleasantly surprised to find out that your second book, The Mermaid’s Mirror, is a fantasy novel. What made you to decide to switch to another genre? As an author, is there a genre that is ‘easier’ to write?

L.K.: Thank you for the kind words about Flash Burnout! I had planned to follow it with another contemporary realistic novel, but my editor didn’t like the premise of the new manuscript. My agent asked me, “What about your mermaid novel?” I answered, “What about it?” I couldn’t imagine that my editor would be interested in it … but she was. I spent several months revising it for a YA audience, since I first wrote it as a middle grade novel. We sent it to my editor, she loved it, and We All Lived Happily Ever After.

‘Is there a genre that is easier to write?’ Hahaha! Oh. You were serious. Well, to be blunt … no. Writing is hard. I suppose there are a few rare birds out there who find it easy, but I don’t even want to know them.

Rummanah: I'm also envious of creative writers who seem to effortlessly write their books. Both of your titles have similar themes of love and consequences, what draws you to these themes?

L.K.: Love is primal, timeless, fascinating, complicated, fierce, fragile … you get the idea. I think every book is about love, in some form or another.  There’s no story without action. And all actions have consequences. I love to explore the gray areas of our choices.

Rummanah: I always say the more shades the better. It's not only realistic, but it's also interesting to deconstruct too. What I love most about your books is the real presence of a family. In a lot of young adult literature, the family is usually in the background and is either completely clueless or all together absent. How important is having a family in your stories?

L.K.: Parents are people, too! J

Rummanah: Exactly, which is why I can't help but think of how we hear the grown ups in the Peanuts comics and cartoons whenever I read YA!

L.K.: The device of the absent parent is a time-honored tradition, and one that comes in very handy – the main character is forced to cope with challenges on his or her own. But in real life, as opposed to fiction, most children and teens do have parents, whether they’re happily or UNhappily married, divorced, remarried, widowed, etc. I wanted to reflect that reality. I like books with a rich cast of characters, too. It seemed natural to surround my fictional people with lots of friends and family.

Rummanah: And as a result, I felt a stronger connection to your characters. It was as if I became part of the family too. In Flash Burnout, you wrote from a teenage boy’s perspective. Blake’s voice was so authentic, funny, and honest. After finishing your book, I visited your website and was blown away when I found out that you are a woman. I don’t think there are that many female writers who can really pull off a real teenage boy. I’m sure you get this comment a lot. In The Mermaid’s Mirror, however, the narrator is a teen girl, who is also very real and likeable. What was your experience writing from different genders? Did you channel one character more than the other?
L.K.: Thanks for the compliment! I had so much fun writing in Blake’s voice. He still feels like a real person to me. (Sanity check: I do know he’s not.) I told Lena’s story from the third-person-past-tense point of view, which had the effect of separating me very slightly from her. (Blake’s story was first-person-present-tense – you can’t get more immediate than that.) But I still drew upon my years of teen girl drama to create Lena. I’m glad you found her likeable … I’ve read reviews in which the reviewer felt differently. I like her. Maybe I identify a little too closely with her stubborn streak.

Rummanah: I'm glad that you brought up writing from different perspectives. Although I noticed the difference, I still felt that I could relate to both characters almost equally. I understood Blake's struggle with loyalty and love whereas with Lena I shared her confusion of what or who to call home. The Mermaid’s Mirror does a great job in balancing Lena’s two different worlds, on land and in water. Did you have a hard time switching between these two settings?

L.K.: No, they’re so symbiotic. And both so rich in sensory details … truly a pleasure to imagine myself in both worlds as I wrote.

Rummanah: My favorite part of The Mermaid’s Mirror is the world building under the ocean. How did you come up with this world and the mermaids’ culture? Did you have to do a lot of research?

L.K.: The world beneath the waves was a joy to create. It got darker and more complex with each rewrite. I read as much mermaid lore and literature as I could find, but I definitely envisioned my own world, complete with songs, customs, traditions, hierarchies, duties, etc.

Rummanah: I’ve been fascinated by mermaids ever since reading Han Christian Andersen’s story The Little Mermaid and then the Disney adaptation as well as the movie Splash. How about you? Were you always drawn to mermaids? Why?

L.K.: My earliest childhood memory of mermaid-love also stems from the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale! In my case, it involved a Viewmaster. I hope you don’t mind if I direct you to an interview I did with Jaclyn Dolamore – who also has a mermaid book coming out in the spring – in which I share a couple of vintage pictures. 
Rummanah: Not at all! I'm sure you are always asked this question, besides I love pictures! When I finished the book, I asked myself whether or not I would have made the same choice as Lena. It’s actually not an easy question to answer. I think I would after thinking things through. So I’m curious, if you were in Lena’s position, what choice would you make?

L.K.: I like to think I would have made the same choice as Lena … but I can’t be certain my emotional teen self would have been that strong.
Rummanah: I know some reviewers might disagree with me, but I really liked the ending of The Mermaid’s Mirror, however, it definitely leaves me wanting more. I know that you hope to write a sequel in the future. Would you continue to write it from Lena’s perspective or from a different character?

L.K.: Lena would still be the main character, but I see Lorelei playing a bigger role in the sequel.

Rummanah: Do you have any other projects that you’re working on at the moment? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

L.K.: I’m revising another contemporary realistic boy book. Then … more mermaids!

Rummanah: Thanks so much for stopping by. I  hope my questions weren't too redudant or tedious for you.

L.K.: Your questions were not tedious or redundant - they made me think. :-)  Thanks again for inviting me to your blog.

Readers, shortly after this interview I had learned that L.K. was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. Like many readers and fans, I'm sad about the news and sent out heart felt prayers and love to L.K. and her family. I wanted to show her my support so I'm offering to giveaway her books, essentially one winner for each book, so that more readers can enjoy L.K.'s fabulous writing.

Rules for the L.K. Madigan's Books International Giveaway:

 1. You must be 13 years or older to enter. Only one entry per person.

 2. Leave a comment with your name/alias along with an email at the end of this post. The email is required so that I can contact you if you win. 

3.  I will be ordering the books from Book Depository so be sure to check if they send it to your country before entering the giveaway.

You do not have to follow my blog, but if you like what you see here then it would be greatly appreciated. Giveaway ends 11 pm EST on 2/20/11. The winner will be notified via email and announced on my blog 2/21/11. Good Luck!
12 Responses
  1. Booklady Says:

    I'm sorry to hear about the diagnoses. I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer (very early stages and very treatable), but I can relate to some of what she must be feeling. My prayer are with her and her family.

    bevarcher (at) me (dot) com

  2. Vivien Says:

    This is a great giveaway. I've been touched by this authors story.

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  3. Great interview and give away!

    Helen (Helen's Book Blog)
    helen (at) helensbookblog (dot) com

  4. Daisy Says:

    Great review! I really loved the Mermaid's Mirror and think it's wonderful you're supporting the author like this. I was also really sad to learn of her disease.
    Great giveaway and yes, please enter me :)

    My e-mail: daisyjdebruin(at)gmail(dot)com

  5. Unknown Says:

    I feel for her. My mom's been diagnosed with lupus when I was five and has been suffering for ten years. I'll make sure to have her in my prayers. I haven't read either of her books so thanks so much for the opportunity.

    sauvadeavelle at yahoo dot com

  6. ikkinlala Says:

    Thanks for the interview, and I'm sorry to hear that L.K. is ill.

    ikkinlala AT yahoo DOT ca

  7. Spav Says:

    Great interview. I've had The Mermaid's Mirror on my wishlist for a long time and I would love to win it.


  8. Laura Howard Says:

    Great job, Rum! You're an awesome interviewer! All my best to L.K and her family.
    howardgirls2003 at gmail . Com

  9. Aleeza Says:

    I feel so terrible for L.A.! My best wishes to her and her family. id love to read either book, so thanks so much for the giveaway! :)
    you have such a nice name and such a nice blog--im a new follower!
    heres my email id:

  10. Jenny Says:

    Fabulous interview, I've been wanting to read The Mermaid's Mirror for a while and just haven't gotten to it yet. Glad to know family is a strong presence in the book, I love YA that includes family, it adds such a rich layer to the story and is something extra for us all to relate to. Thanks so much for the giveaway as well!


  11. Great interview as always. I hadn't heard of these yet but Flash Burnout sounds interesting. I think I may look into that one!
    sprtygal10 at aol dot com

  12. Great interview. I've been wanting to read Mermaid's Mirror for awhile and have heard a little about Flash Burnout too. I like that Madigan purposely makes families important in books. Great comment that parents are people too.

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