Meet Lexa Hillyer.
Lexa Hillyer is the author of Spindle Fire and Proof of Forever, both published by HarperCollins. She is also the author of Acquainted with the Cold (Bona Fide Books), the 2012 gold prize winner of the Foreword Book of the Year Award for Poetry and recipient of the Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize. Her work was featured in Best New Poets 2012 and she has received various prizes and honors for poetry. Lexa earned her BA in English from Vassar College and her MFA in Poetry from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. She worked as an editor at both HarperCollins and Penguin, before co-founding creative development company Paper Lantern Lit with New York Times Bestselling author Lauren Oliver. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter and their very skinny orange tree.
Now onto the interview!
How do you handle main characters that are polar opposites but need to interact positively in Spindle Fire?
Aurora and Isabelle’s differences are in some ways what make them so compatible. They rely on each other—perhaps too much, at the start of the book. Their journeys across the duology are about growing up and evolving that codependence into mutual respect.
Why Sleeping Beauty? What inspired you to write a fractured fairy tale?
I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that sleeping beauty is such a passive tale—its hero is literally asleep for almost the entirety of the action. I wanted to invert expectations and give Aurora a chance to become a true hero in her own right, a journey that becomes even more epic in book 2, as she is really pushed to the limit!
How important are the five senses in Spindle Fire when dealing with illusions, key fairy tale components, and the Underworld?
Well I’m glad you asked! In this tale they are particularly important because the faeries have a system of tithing human senses in exchange for gifts such as beauty and grace. At Aurora’s christening, they tithed away her voice and sense of touch, and took her sister’s sight as well. In addition to the research I did, I also leaned heavily on the senses that the sisters do have at their disposal to evoke the world and underworld (dream world, actually) of the book. There are aspects of the dreamworld that are almost impressionistic—they come in and out of focus, the way details in actual dreams do.
In your bio, I noticed that you got your MFA in Poetry. Do you use poetry in your writing? Was poetry how you started writing?
Oh yes, very much so. Poetry is how I got my start—I’ve been writing it since I was a teenager. Poetry is all about capturing moments in a visceral way, and going deeper into them rather than spreading outward and forward. As a result, there are times when I probably linger too long and need to keep the story going more! But I think overall my background in poetry helped me sink into what it might really feel like to be these two characters.
Is there anything else you want to share?
Just that this book has a sequel—title to be announced soon!—that takes the sisters’ journeys to the next level. The ending to book one is a bit open because there’s so much more to come!
Thank you Lexa for the interview!