MFT Guest: Interview with Laura Sullivan and Giveaway of Under the Hill (MG fantasy)

I have the pleasure of having Laura Sullivan on today for My Favorite Things.  She’s here for an interview and a giveaway of her middle grade fantasy Under the Green Hill.

Welcome to the My Favorite Things Event, I’m excited to have you on.  Fantasy is one of my favorite genres and I love it in middle grade and young adult because adult fantasy just gets a bit too intense and heavy.  I still love it, but I think I prefer middle grade or young adult. 

Thanks so much for having me here, Candace! I’m with you in generally preferring MG and YA fantasy over adult.

Can you tell us 10 things we’ll find out when we read Under the Green Hill?

You will learn…
1. …that fairies are real – and very dangerous…
2. …who keeps the peace between fairies and humans…
3. …why you should never, ever step on ants…
4. …what a book Wyrm wants to forget…
5. …how a father can be younger than his daughter…
6. …what you call a mean, nasty centaur without any skin…
7. …why the Brownie has no toes…
8. …who will fight in the Midsummer War…
9. …how to spy on fairies…
10. …what happens when you spy on fairies (and it’s pretty terrible, trust me.)

When you started writing did you know what age level the Under the Green Hill would be for?  Or was that something that just came later?

When I began writing Under the Green Hill, I was very, er, green myself. I thought MG and YA were determined more by reading level and character age than theme and content. Originally, Meg and the other characters were at least a year or two older than they are now, and I pitched it as YA. I was soon set straight, and decided to lower their ages. Which was best for the book, and certainly more appropriate. I had a fairly innocent upbringing, and forgot that fourteen year old girls aren’t interested in fairies. (Or at any rate, pretend not to be!) Meg is perfect at around 12.
That said, it is certainly an upper middle grade book, though I have a lot of adult fans too. Oh, and one dad who sent me my favorite fan mail – he read Under the Green Hill aloud to his six-year-old daughter, and she was crazy about it. So though it sits on the MG shelf, it seems like a fairly broad age range is reading it.

Are any of your characters based on real people in any way (even loosely)?

Finn is an amalgam of a few bad boys I’ve known. And yes, I have a crush on Finn. (Well, um, my preteen self does, because otherwise, you know…) I’d like to say Meg is based on me, but Dickie is probably closer to the mark!

How did you pick your character names?

Meg had to be Meg – there was no pondering involved. I think she existed even before I had a story for her. I wanted the other character names to have a folkloric feel – Rowan and Finn in particular. Silly (short for Priscilla) was named after a kitten who lived next door. Bran is from Irish mythology. Phyllida and Lysander are names used by pastoral balladeers. Lemman is an archaic term meaning sweetheart or beloved.

What kinds of things do you find inspiring?

In my writing, I’m inspired by thoughts of my readers. Books have given me so much pleasure in my life – perhaps, ultimately, more pleasure than anything else – and the thought that someone else might have that same experience from something I’ve written is inspiring – and certainly daunting!

What are 10 of your favorite things?

Be advised, this list, with a few permanent exceptions, would vary widely from day to day!
My son
Words (debouch, deliquescent, incandescent and flesh are my favorites at the moment)
Ice cream
Almond horns
Any really good cheese
(Sorry, I’m kind of a glutton!)
Fossils, bones, teeth, cool rocks
Fernando Botero’s painting and sculpture
Very full, very long skirts
Opium perfume, sandalwood, leather (I was thinking the smell of leather, but really, the feel and sight of it, too.)

If you could meet one author, dead or alive, who would you choose to meet?

I waffle on this question, but at the moment I’m going to have to pick Oscar Wilde. Not only do I love his writing, but unlike many authors I don’t think he’d be disappointing in person. Because of course there’s a great deal of difference between being an interesting writer and an interesting human.

If you could travel any place in the whole universe, where would you choose to go?

Wow, the possibilities… Since I don’t know my way around much of the universe yet, can I make up a portal that will take me anywhere, automatically let me survive in any environment and speak the language? Then I can explore to my heart’s content. Or is that cheating, like wishing for more wishes?

If you could be some supernatural creature what would you like to be?

I’m going to aim high and be a minor nature deity – someone without a whole lot of responsibilities but who still gets the perks like eternal youth and beauty. I could dance through the forests all day, and people would leave me offerings of ripe fruit. What could be better?

What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I have four more books coming out in the next couple of years. The sequel, Guardian of the Green Hill, will be out this fall from Holt. Then in spring 2012 I move to Young Adult with the bawdy historical Ladies in Waiting, set in Restoration England, followed by Delusion, a WWII fantasy, in fall 2012. I’ve also sold an undetermined book for 2013 – that might be a sequel, or something entirely new. Those will be from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Fairly soon, I’ll be making a leap into adult crime/adventure/romance under a pseudonym, but since it will be completely inappropriate for my current audience, I won’t say any more about that!

Thanks so much for coming on today!
Thank you, Candace! It’s been fun! And congratulations to whoever wins a copy of Under the Green Hill. I hope you love it!

About Under the Green Hill:

Meg and her siblings have been sent to the English countryside for the summer to stay with elderly relatives. The children are looking forward to exploring the ancient mansion and perhaps discovering a musty old attic or two filled with treasure, but never in their wildest dreams did they expect to find themselves in the middle of a fairy war.When Rowan pledges to fight for the beautiful fairy queen, Meg is desperate to save her brother. But the Midsummer War is far more than a battle between mythic creatures: Everything that lives depends on it. How can Meg choose between family and the fate of the very land itself?

The Giveaway:

Laura is giving away one copy of Under the Green Hill to one lucky winner (it’s in my hands, I’ll be shipping it :)
Open to US/Canada only
Must be 13 or older to enter
Ends July 5th, 2011

To Enter:

What do you think?  Do you prefer MG or YA fantasy to adult? Or do you prefer adult but still enjoy MG and YA?  Let us know your thoughts!  Leave contact info!


For the schedule of The Favorite Things event check out the schedule post.  And make sure you head over to My Bookish Ways to see what she has going on today as well!
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  1. What a great interview, thank you, this book sounds great.
    I absolutely love MG and YA fantasy, much more than the adult books. I love sharing them with my kids. They are so imaginative and well written.
    coreenamcburnie at gmail dot com

  2. I don’t read much adult fantasy other than the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. To me, YA fantasy books are better. I’ve been reading them for years and I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of them.

    Thank you for this, it sounds lovely!

  3. I have to say I prefer adult (mainly because I have been one for a very long time:)) However, I love to read the YA and MA stories as well. They often have great adventure with still a touch of innocence that is so pleasing to the mind, although I do draw the line and the whiners, as while my son is living at home, working, and going to university – I am done with the whining LOL. Thank you for the fun interview and I would love to read this book. Thanks for the chance to win the giveaway!


  4. I LOVE MG & YA Books. I haven’t ever read an adult book in my life and I’d be happy for it to stay that way! They’re more magical, even when they aren’t fantasy. A child’s point of view is so different, and I love to read from it!

    debzbookshelf AT gmail DOT com

  5. Thanks for the giveaway. What a giveaway. I love reading all 3 but I think sometime the YA and MG are alot better than adult fiction. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read this book.

  6. I love all fantasy. I really like MG fantasy in the vein of E. Nesbit or C. S. Lewis but I love some adult epic fantasies, too.

  7. I prefer adult fantasy. But I do love YA fantasy. I think both are fantastic especially considering who the writer is. I would love to win this, especially after reading the 10 I will learn from reading this (some I am very curious about). Thank you so much for the great interview and giveaway guys :)

    drharleyquinn87 (at) gmail (dot) com

  8. Great interview! I love all forms of fantasy, but I like the fun of YA and MG more than, say, high fantasy where there is so much history it takes away from the story. Anything with good characters and I will eat it up.
    Under the Green Hill looks like a a lovely book, thank you for sharing!


  9. I do enjoy a wide range of both types. I do still relate more to the YA fantasy. In general though, any type of fantasy is great.

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  10. First, great interview and great giveaway!
    Second, I prefer YA but I read a lot of adult, also. I like anything having to do with the paranormal/fantasy genre:)
    jwitt33 at live dot com

  11. Laura seems like a lot of fun!

    I like all kinds of fantasy! Although I haven’t read a adult fantasy in a long time I still love them!

  12. I like all fantasy, as long as the story and characters are good. I’ll read everything from Bruce Coville to Tanya Huff.
    faefever25 at hotmail dot com

  13. ya i agree, I love it all.. although i have a preference for the YA and MG more than adult sometimes. I guess it depends on the subject and the author.


  14. I love all types of Urban Fantasy, but I definitely have a preference for YA. It’s the first section of the book store I go to.

    tommygirl828 (at) gmail (dot) com

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