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Interview with Author Elise Stephens!

Monday, December 26, 2011
  1. What was your inspiration behind the story?

I’ve been in love with Greek myths since I was about thirteen years old, and I’ve been retelling them for years. One of my favorite novels is “Till We Have Faces” by C.S. Lewis, which deals with the same myth, but it wasn’t until I discovered the second half of Cupid and Psyche’s story (the part where Psyche goes on a quest to find her husband and battle against her mother-in-law) that I got this fire in my chest and thought, “Oh my gosh, that would be a great novel!”

  1. Who was the hardest character to write about and why?

Kestrin was toughest. He has a reckless “hell-if-I-care” attitude about a lot of things, but he’s also sensitive, thoughtful, and a bit tortured. I knew who he was almost immediately, but creating why, the history with his parents and his past was tough for me.

  1. What are your favorite qualities concerning the two main characters?

I love how stubborn Lorona is. When she decides she’s going to do something, she does it. I love that she doesn’t settle, and that she’s willing to take the more difficult road if she thinks it’s the right thing.

I love how passionate Kestrin is and how he uses Lorona as his inspiration to resist the charms of people who used to overpower him. I especially love how he accepts the challenge to be a man from his friend, Kahlil, but how he still wrestles with it all the way to the end.

  1. Do you have any specific inspiration for your characters?

I often start with real people and mix them with personality types that add drama, humor, and color.

I’ve been told that Yuki and Lorona behave a heck of a lot like my best friend and me. Kestrin is inspired by a friend of mine from college. Kestrin’s aunt, Carlina, is hugely drawn from my own mother, and Kahlil’s Lebanese culture is rooted in my own experience with having a father who was born in Lebanon.

I go into detail on my character inspirations here.

  1. Give the readers five reasons why they should pick up your book.

If you like:
…quests where the girl is the hero
…modern-day drama in young relationships
…love stories with mistakes and second-chances

Then you will love “Moonlight and Oranges.”

  1. Did you have a say in that gorgeous cover?

I did! My publisher is awesome in that they let me steer the cover art in the direction that made me most excited. They weighed in with comments on how to improve it, but I still chose most of the elements. My cover designer was Isaiah Qualls. He’s been a friend of my family’s for a long time.

  1. Which quote from the book do you think represents the plot the best?

This is a quote taken from the fortune teller who Lorona sees at a carnival:
“I don’t need to see your lines to know this. It’s written all over your face. If you love him, and I can see that you do, you’ll need to pass the tests that were written before you were born.”
  1. Can you give us a sneak peak on your next book?

My current project is an urban fantasy. A fifteen year old boy discovers a magic door that gives him sight into the future and, he hopes, the ability to face his abusive father.

It’s very different in scope and tone from “Moonlight and Oranges,” and so far, it’s been a blast to write! Editing is always the most daunting beast for me.

  1. What is your favorite part of being a writer?

I love the thrill of writing a story, and knowing in my blood that I just wrote something really good. It doesn’t happen for every story, or even for every scene, but when I get that “zing” in my chest after I lift the pen from the final line, the feeling is huge (and I confess, I’m addicted to that high). My favorite thing after the writing high is knowing when one of my stories has warmed the heart of someone. It’s amazing to know that I’m impacting real people.

  1. How did you come up with the title?

The book was originally called “Pierced Art,” which I thought was a cool way of talking about the beauty of imperfections in a relationship. The old title also sounded like “Pierced Heart” which alluded to Cupid from Greek myth, but it just wasn’t working. When I chose two objects that were strong themes for both Kestrin and Lorona, “Moonlight and Oranges,” I thought it would make a good, evocative image to someone who read the title.


  1. Lori Thomas said...:

    Interesting story, would love to read this

    ctymice at gmail dot com

  1. Anonymous said...:

    I can't get my LiveJournal working, but I had to comment :)

    I just won Mrs. Stephens from your blog and can't wait to read it. This was a really great interview!

    Chelsea Carson