Thursday, October 25, 2012

Author Interview with Ally Malinenko

Today we're thrilled to welcome Ally Malinenko, author of the enchanting middle-grade adventure Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb, to the blog. You can check out our reviews of the book here.

Welcome to Rally the Readers, Ally! We thank you for chatting with us today.

Hi! Thanks for having me!

How did you first become interested in William Shakespeare and his works?

I’ve always been a big fan of Shakespeare, ever since I was younger, but it wasn’t until recently that I learned that there is a name for that. They call people like me Bardolators. Isn’t that hilarious? I love it.

I think the first time I read Hamlet was in middle school. I remember thinking that once you got you used to the language it all sort of came together. And it was sad and beautiful and also funny (though it’s possible I was probably the only seventh grader in my class who thought so). Not long after that I saw a movie version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and from then on, I was hooked.

If you could travel back in time and have a conversation with Shakespeare, what would you talk about?

I would love to say that we would talk about politics and how corrupt Elizabethan England was or that we’d talk about the theater and his players or what his writing schedule is like but just recently I had the great fortune to meet Mr. Peter S. Beagle, the author of The Last Unicorn, one of my favorite books and movies from when I was a kid. I was all set to tell him about what an influence it was and how much it meant to me when I was growing up and how now that I had my first novel published I wanted to thank him for being such an influence but as soon as I opened my mouth, I started crying, full on, blubbering. I completely reverted to a 10 year old girl, clutching her copy of The Last Unicorn, looking at her hero-author and sobbing her eyes out. So chances are good, I’d be catatonic if I met Shakespeare!

How important was it to you to include Shakespeare’s contemporary, Christopher Marlowe, in your story?

Very. While Shakespeare’s work has stood the test of time better than any of his contemporaries, during his day and age, it was Marlowe who was considered the brightest star in the sky. His tragic and unfortunate death opened the door for Shakespeare to become the person that he was. Without Marlowe, it’s possible that Shakespeare would never have been THE Shakespeare we know today. Plus they had so much in common. They were born in the same year, both from middle class workers (Shakespeare’s father was a glove maker and Marlowe’s was a shoemaker). There is also a large contingent of “scholars” of which I am not a member, who believe they were the same person. Or that Shakespeare wasn’t real and Kit wrote half his plays. There are all sorts of strange conspiracies.

From the beginning I knew that if Shakespeare was going to be a part of this story then so would Marlowe. Though I do feel bad about making his descendant the bad guy! Sorry Kit! I still love your work.

Did you need to do lots of research for all of the mythical figures that make an appearance in the book?

I’ve always been interested in Greek mythology but when I decided to create the Muses and the Mythkind, I knew that I needed to brush up. I started this book right before I got into graduate school and while I was working and going to school full-time, I put the brakes on actively writing and instead started reading everything I could get my hands on regarding mythology and Shakespeare. I checked a bunch of books out of the library (Yay! Support your libraries!) and started making charts of characters I wanted to use and then how I would change them or combine them with other characters to create something new. Actually, doing the research for Lizzy was one of my favorite things about writing it.

Who is your favorite character in the novel?

Probably Jonathan. He knows more than he’s letting on. He’s playing this one pretty close to the chest. Jonathan has Lizzy’s best interests at heart, but he also knows she has a dangerous destiny to fulfill. And he isn’t going to be the one to stop her.

Lizzy’s nemesis, Dmitri Marlowe, seems like a pretty high-strung guy. How did he end up with a hipster like Cole for a roommate?

Dmitri moved to Brooklyn to be a writer but having failed terribly at it he was forced to get a roommate to split the bills. Lots of hipsters answered the advertisement because they all wanted to live in the trendiest part of Brooklyn but Cole was the only one who bothered to return Dmitri’s call when offered the place. And Cole was 10th on the list. What can I say? It must have been the eye-patch and the plans for world domination. Turned all the other applicants off.

What adventures are in store for Lizzy in the next book?

I’m actually working on the next book right now which is tentatively called Lizzy Speare and the Hall of Hecate. Hecate is the Greek Goddess of Magic and her hall contains every magical object in this history of myth or legend. Looking for the Vorpal Blade that killed the Jabberwocky? It’s there. So is King Arthur’s sword. Once the Hall of Hecate is robbed and all that magic is released, Jonathan realizes that Marlowe’s plans don’t end at destroying Lizzy. They begin there. And all of Mythkind are in trouble.

We’ll see the return of some old friends and we’ll get to meet a few new ones. And few other Muses. Jonathan isn’t the only show in town, you know. And we’ll get to go to Hagsmoor Copse, the land of the satyrs and find out more about Cleo and the war with the harpies.

And now for the obligatory random questions:

Favorite Shakespearean work?

Only one??? Either Hamlet or A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I refuse to pick just one.

Favorite color?

Blue or purple or black or brown. Apparently I have trouble picking just one of anything.

Favorite authors besides Shakespeare?

C.S. Lewis, Madeline L’Engle, Peter S. Beagle, Salinger, Kerouac, Sexton (do poets count?), Rowling, Pullman, and about a million more.

Biggest pet peeve?

Mean people.

Best thing about Brooklyn?


Thanks again for taking the time to answer our questions, Ally!

Thanks so much for having me! This was lots of fun!

About Ally Malinenko

Ally Malinenko lives in Brooklyn where she wakes at an ungodly hour to write. She's had poetry and stories published online and in print, including her first collection of poems, entitled The Wanting Bone (Six Gallery Press). Her second book of poems, Crashing to Earth, is forthcoming from Tainted Coffee Press.

Her children's novel Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb, the first part in a series, was recently published by Antenna Books.

To learn more you can follow her on Twitter - or visit her blog:


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