Once upon a time, in a faraway frozen kingdom called Syracuse University, Lisa Preziosi studied music in the dungeon of a giant castle, high up on a hill. After she earned her music degree, she toiled for years on the island of Manhattan when she realized that her heart’s desire was to write stories. She enrolled in the MFA program at the New School and focused on writing for children. She finished her first middle grade book, The Ice Maiden’s Tale, and the wonderful folks at Xist Publishing released it. Currently, she is still working on that same island, in the dungeon of an old building, sorting through endless stacks of papers, just dreaming of the time she can spend with imaginary people. She is working on several novels and hopes to find an agent that will enable her to spend even more time with people who don’t yet exist.
Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Ice Maiden’s Tale, When did you start writing and what got you into children’s books?
I started writing stories almost as soon as I could write. They were pretty boring, (mostly stuff about sharing toys or watching butterflies), but it was something I always did and was always with me. In high school, I won some writing awards and finished a full-length novel, then went on to minor in creative writing at Syracuse University.
I’ve always loved children’s books – in particular, fairy tales. The darkness and light in them are so crisp and palpable, that they are the perfect medium for stories that you want to resonate with the reader. The stories that you loved as a child, you will always love, with a passion and a connection that is much harder to find in books you read as an adult. Children read books with their entire heart and soul and as a writer you just couldn’t ask for a better audience.
What is your book about?
Two siblings, Johanna and Casper, need to be babysat by their neighbor, Mrs. Kinder. She’s the weird old lady that all the neighborhood children think is a witch. She doesn’t have a TV and so tells the children a story to keep them occupied. Her story follows a Sculptor who thinks he sees an angel in a piece of ice and carves her, and a Sorcerer who wants to bring that Ice Maiden to life. As the children deal with the difficult family issues they are facing, Mrs. Kinder helps them cope by telling them this intertwining fairy tale about hope, love, and redemption.
What was your inspiration for it?
The Ice Maiden’s Tale started 19 years ago at Syracuse University. I needed to submit a piece for my fiction workshop with George Saunders and the night before I had absolutely nothing prepared. I keep a list of quotes for inspiration and I stumbled across one from Michelangelo: “I saw an angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free.” Suddenly there was a whole story in my head. I wrote late into the night and when the dust had cleared I had a fairy tale. I ended up using that same story to get me into my Grad school program at The New School. It turned into my thesis and finally into the book that is currently on Amazon.
Do you plot in advance or do you write by the seat of your pants?
I definitely fly by the seat of my pants. Just the idea of outlining gives me anxiety. For me the fun in writing is not knowing exactly what will happen or where it will go. The Ice Maiden’s Tale, has a frame story and two inner stories that intertwine. Even with its complex structure, I still didn’t plan ahead or outline the book. I often have key scenes in mind that I want to reach, but beyond that, it’s all surprises. As a writer if I’m surprised at the twists and turns, I feel like my reader will be too.
What was your publishing process like? Did you go the traditional way or did you self-publish? Are you happy with your decision?
I published my book with an indie publisher, Xist Publishing. For this book, self-publishing was not an option for me. I wouldn’t know the first thing about how to market or reach a middle grade audience on my own. I’m very happy that my book is out there in the world and that I have the support of a publisher who believes in the story.
Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about your work?
I have a blog where I feature all of my projects and writing. They can check it out at www.lisapreziosi.com
Where is your book available?
My book is available on Amazon.com both as an Ebook and in paperback.
What is your advice for aspiring children’s authors?
It should always be about the story. When you sit down at your keyboard/typewriter/writing pad, leave all the doubts and worries outside. Don’t worry about what your critique group thinks, or if you’ll be able to sell it, or if you’re even good at writing. Just turn off all that excess noise. Get out of the way and just listen to your story. If you always do what’s best for the story, in the end it will work out.