Hello bookworms!! Welcome to today’s post, where I get to share a very auspicious occasion with you — an author interview with Lyndall Clipstone, who is the debut Aussie author of Lakesedge.
Lakesedge is a gothic-inspired fantasy YA novel that came out in September (August in Australia), but is PERFECT for the spooky season. If you would like to see my review for this amazing story, please click here to see yesterday’s blog post. But for now, let’s meet Lyndall, and talk about this eerily amazing story, and what inspired her to write it!!
Author interview with Lyndall Clipstone
Lyndall, welcome!! First and foremost, congratulations on your debut novel, Lakesedge, being out in the world. What 5 words would you use to describe the book?
Romantic, lush, haunting, atmospheric, lyrical.
Lakesedge is a gothic-inspired fantasy novel. It’s dark and twisted and has the big, empty haunted-feeling house. It gives me serious spooky, autumnal, Halloween vibes — despite being set in the heat of summer. Can you tell us about what inspired you to write this tale?
My original concept was “what if The Secret Garden was a gothic romance” and I pitched it as Wintersong meets Crimson Peak. I wanted to write the type of book I loved as a teenager, and I drew inspiration from some of my favourite things, including Labyrinth, Angela Carter’s vicious and empowering fairy tales, death and the maiden mythology, and Florence + the Machine’s Lungs album.
As for the summer setting, I’m from somewhere that has very brutal summers (Adelaide, South Australia), where it is very hot and very dry. Our winters are so mild that summer is definitely more of an impactful season on day to day life — so I thought it would be an interesting challenge to set a spooky story during that time of year. I think there’s a lot of gothic-esque atmosphere in the long, airless nights and oppressively warm weather.
The characters are amazing. Can you tell us a little bit about Violeta and Arien, and what they find at Lakesedge Estate?
Violeta has spent her whole life doing her best to protect her younger brother, Arien. But although she has the best intentions, they have reached a point where her protectiveness of Arien is actually quite damaging to him. Arien is upset and frustrated by seeing Leta put herself constantly into harm’s way in order to spare him hurt, so when he is offered the chance to go to Lakesedge Estate, he takes it — even though it means trusting the feared “monster of Lakesedge”.
I really loved how going to Lakesedge gave both Leta and Arien a chance to grow. For Leta, especially, it challenges all of her “fatal flaws” because she has to accept her brother choosing to put himself in danger.
And please tell us more about Rowan Sylvanan — have we at least heard all the rumours about how dreadfully monstrous he is, or are there more out there in the nearby villages?
I feel like each village has their own version the rumours about Rowan. Between him and the Lord Under, everyone has a lot to fear! And he certainly doesn’t do anything to dissuade people of the stories about him. I’m such a fan of the “dark boy with a mysterious past” type of character, so writing Rowan was a lot of fun for me. I love how both the reader and Leta slowly get to unravel the mystery around him — in my opinion, the truth behind the rumors might actually be worse?
Which character do you most relate to, and why?
I think I’ve put little elements of myself into all of my characters. But I definitely feel very close to Rowan. We have a fairly similar personality — I am very serious, and a lot of his tired exasperation with Leta’s silliness is how I would react!
I have to say, that ending almost killed me. When do we get to find out what happens next?
I am both sorry and not sorry for the cliffhanger ending! It is definitely the worst kind of suffering. The story will conclude with Forestfall which is set to publish in late 2022 — I’ve really enjoyed working on this book, and spending another volume with all of the characters. I’m equally nervous and excited for readers to experience the conclusion of the series!
As an Australian author, we don’t really have a lot of the historical architecture that encapsulates the gothic era, except in Adelaide, where you live. Was the Lakesedge Estate something that was pieced together by Victorian architecture near you?
I’ve always loved the Victorian/gothic architecture around Adelaide — places like St. Peter’s Cathedral, Elder Hall, the Mortlock wing of the State Library. And I grew up in the hills outside of the Barossa Valley, where the environment was quite similar to that of Lakesedge — granite rocks, a mix of European and native plants. Our neighbor had a beautiful old bluestone house that would sometimes visit during the holidays, to take care of the garden and feed her pets while she was away. I think something about it stuck with me, and when I created Lakesedge Estate, I drew a lot of inspiration from there.
I love that you can see elements, or small hints at other mythologies — the pomegranates and the Lord Under feel Hades, of Greek mythology, inspired; and the two children lost in the woods gave me Hansel and Gretel vibes — what other influences do you draw from when you write stories?
The intertextuality of Lakesedge is one of my favourite parts of the book. I drew a lot of inspiration from authors like Vladimir Nabokov and Donna Tartt and the way they wove numerous cultural and literary references through their works, especially Lolita and The Secret History. Since Leta forms a lot of her world view by storytelling, I liked how her narrative is shaped by these intertextual hints of different fables and fairytales (Hades and Persephone, Ariadne, Hansel and Gretel) combined with literary allusions. I wove in many hints of my favorite things, including Koshchei the Deathless, lines from The Song of Solomon, and The Secret Garden.
The religion in Lakesedge has a pagan feel to it, but it also has that dual symbolism of light and dark, or life and death. The gods play such an important role in the characters lives, but in particular, the Lord Under. Do we get to see more of the rituals and gods in the sequel? And do we get to spend more time in the world Below?
Without giving away too many spoilers, yes, we will definitely learn more about the gods and the underworld in Forestfall. Creating the religion was one of my favourite parts of worldbuilding, and I’m excited to delve further into that during the sequel!
I read in your bio that you have a secret garden of your own, and in the book we see that Violeta finds a secret garden. Is ‘secret gardens’ something you love?
I really love gardens, but I’m actually not very good at keeping them alive! I’ve discovered that indoor plants are perfect for me, because they thrive on neglect. So my “secret garden” is actually just a lot of monstera and pothos cuttings that are all living their best lives in the sunniest room of my house.
Emily Lloyd-Jones, YA author of The Bone Houses and The Hearts We Sold, blurbed your story. What was that like?
I adored The Bone Houses so when the opportunity came to share an early copy of Lakesedge with Emily, it was very exciting. She is one of the loveliest people I know, and it was so wonderful that she enjoyed reading my book. I’m very much looking forward to reading more of her stories in the future!
Your debut book was picked up by one of the biggest YA subscription boxes, OwlCrate. How does that feel?
Being in a loot crate was definitely one of my big author dream goals, and it was so exciting to be chosen for their September box. I got to sign about 20k tip in sheets (the pages which get bound into the finished book to make a signed edition), and it made me so happy to know that my books would be going to so many readers. Being in Australia, I didn’t get to hand sign any of the regular US copies of Lakesedge, so it made the Owlcrate versions extra special. I also love that my illustrations were used to create the special edition cover.
What can you tell us about your writing style — are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am a bit of a mix! I tend to roughly plot out a book, and have a loose idea of the overall storyline. When I am drafting I will hand write an outline for each chapter, then make changes as I type it up as a full draft. But I often get stuck as I am writing, and when that happens it’s usually a sign that the direction I’ve gone isn’t working. So I’ll draw back and brainstorm ideas for how to change it. Generally I know when an idea is right because it “feels” right! It’s such a chaotic process but it’s what works for me.
Which scene in Lakesedge was your favourite to write?
The scene where Rowan and Leta first go inside the garden was one of my favourites. There’s been a version of that in almost every draft of the book. I love how it is a perfect coalescence of character and plot development, and is also very romantic!
Do you have a song or a playlist that you listened to while writing Lakesedge?
I do! I made this one, which is a chapter by chapter playlist:Spotify playlist link
And I also made a special playlist for Dymocks Bookstores:Spotify playlist link
Do you have a favourite place to write, and can you tell us anything about it?
Most of the time I work at my desk, but my favorite place to write is at night, next to the fireplace (in winter) or in my bedroom when the afternoon sunlight is coming through the window for those perfect golden hour vibes. I often have to move around the house until I find the “right” place to sit down and work!
Has lockdown affected the where or how of your writing?
Pre-lockdown I would sometimes go out to write at a café or public library, but it’s a bit more difficult to do that now because of capacity limits and wearing a mask while indoors. We have been fairly lucky in South Australia and only had a couple of short lockdowns — and I’m very grateful for that. I had planned to travel for my book’s release and do a lot of in-person events, but that ended up changing to all virtual. I do miss getting to meet people face-to-face, but I’m glad there’s been ways to still connect and celebrate safely!
Do you have any writing companions, human or animal, that provide you encouragement or a sounding board when you need it?
My partner has been wonderfully supportive — I think he knows Lakesedge better than anyone, in spite of not even reading it until it was published because we have talked over so many of the plot points as I revised and needed to brainstorm. And I am lucky to be part of an excellent community of other writers. Having friends who understand the particular ups and downs of being an author (and the chaos that is the publishing industry) has been such a vital part of this journey.
And finally, can you recommend some stories for readers who might need some suggestions after the book slump they are sure to be in after reading Lakesedge?
- Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
- Deathless by Catherynne Valente
- Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April G. Tucholke
- Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier
- Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
- Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton
Lyndall, again, thank you so much for making the time for this. I really appreciate it, and I can’t wait for Forestfall next year!
About the author
Lyndall Clipstone writes about monsters and the girls who like to kiss them.
A former youth librarian who grew up running wild in the Barossa Ranges of South Australia, she currently lives in Adelaide, where she tends her own indoor secret garden.
She has a Bachelors in Creative Writing and a Graduate Diploma in Library and Information Management.
About the book
There are monsters in the world.
When Violeta Graceling arrives at haunted Lakesedge estate, she expects to find a monster. She knows the terrifying rumours about Rowan Sylvanan, who drowned his entire family when he was a boy. But neither the estate nor the monster are what they seem.
There are monsters in the woods.
As Leta falls for Rowan, she discovers he is bound to the Lord Under, the sinister death god lurking in the black waters of the lake. A creature to whom Leta is inexplicably drawn…
There’s a monster in the shadows, and now it knows my name.
Buy the book
You can buy Lakesedge from the following retailers: