Since I got to review Tash Hearts Tolstoy on Monday and Song of the Current on Friday, I thought I’d make this week ace week all the way through, and feature an asexual author! Today, I’d like to introduce you to Lyssa Chiavari!
Lyssa Chiavari is an author of speculative fiction for young adults, including Fourth World, the first book in a YA sci-fi trilogy set on Mars. Her short fiction has appeared in Ama-Gi magazine, Wings of Renewal, Clarion Call Vol. II, and Perchance to Dream, a young adult collection of Shakespeare retellings which she also edited. Lyssa lives with her family and way too many animals in the woods of Northwest Oregon.
I also reviewed Lyssa’s Cheerleaders from Planet X here!
What are your top 3 go-to book recommendations?
These are series rather than individual books, but my top favorites that I love to recommend are:
The Oracle Prophecies Trilogy by Catherine Fisher – my FAVORITE books of all time. She’s my favorite author so I could really recommend any of her series, but OP is my absolute top. It’s set in a world that’s based on Ancient Greek, Egyptian, Roman and other ancient societies, and there’s magic and epic quests, but really the biggest appeal to me is the characters. I am so attached to every single one of them, it’s so hard to pick a favorite. It’s my absolute, all-time favorite series in the world.
Howl’s Moving Castle (and its sequels) by Dianna Wynne Jones – I had missed this book as a kid but learned of it when the Studio Ghibli movie came out, and I’m so glad I found it, because I adore this book. Seriously, the book kicks the movie’s butt. The characters are so hilarious and there’s a really important aspect to the world that got cut out of the movie (I can’t say what because it’s a big spoiler, but you will know what I mean as soon as you get to that part of the book) and it turned everything so topsy-turvy for me. Plus, Howl and Sophie are so hilarious and I love their interactions with each other.
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater – this series is amazing. It somehow manages to capture the magic I feel in the woods (I live in northwest Oregon and I kind of love trees, like Blue) in a weirdly accurate way. The magic in this series is incredibly raw and kind of scarily overpowering, but also super realistic. It makes me feel like all of the magic in the books is real and is all happening just out of the corner of my eye. This probably sounds incredibly woo-woo, but a lot of people who have read the series have made the same comment, so it’s not just me!
What authors are auto-buys for you?
Meg Cabot, Catherine Fisher, Maggie Stiefvater, Malinda Lo, Roshani Chokshi, Marian Snowe… I’d include Mary Stewart but unfortunately I already own everything she wrote in her lifetime
What inspired you to begin writing fiction?
I feel like I always wrote stories when I was little, but the one thing that sticks out in my mind is in fourth grade when I wrote an Island of the Blue Dolphins fan fiction and showed it to my teacher. She loved it and went to my parents to have them encourage my writing. So I guess I have been ever since? A lot of what I wrote from that age through college was fan fiction, and I feel like that was a great way to practice and get the basics of writing down before launching into my own original works.
What’s the first book you remember falling in love with?
This is hard! I had a lot of series I loved when I was little, from the Boxcar Children to a couple Bruce Coville series (I loved My Teacher is an Alien and The Ghost in the Big Brass Bed) to Phyllis A. Whitney’s children’s mysteries (and I discovered recently that she wrote romantic suspense in the vein of Mary Stewart for adults, so I’m like, “YES, GIVE ME THAT”). My mom is a BIG reader and she always was stuffing books in my hands, so I have this huge book collection and at this point I can’t remember what order they came in, haha. We have a bit of a book problem.
What was your last five star read? What made it a five star read?
A couple of months ago I got to read an early version of Starswept, an upcoming sci-fi novel from my friend Mary Fan, and I absolutely loved it. It was sooooo good. The book takes place a few hundred years in the future, after humanity’s made contact with an alien species called the Adryil who value humanity for our arts and they sponsor elite performing arts academies kind of in the vein of Julliard. The main character is a girl who loves to play the viola, but she’s worried she won’t stand out enough to attract an Adryil patron. Then she meets an Adryil boy with a secret and uncovers a conspiracy and there’s a bunch of mystery and intrigue spanning two planets which was reeeeally cool, but I was surprised that I was just as interested in the more “mundane” aspects of the arts academy and the behind-the-scenes of performing in an orchestra. I recently saw a ballet that had a live orchestra performing, and I kept watching them and being like, “This is just like Starswept!” Haha.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
Eyes on your own paper. It can be really, really hard to avoid comparing yourself to other authors. It can really seem like everyone else is better than you, more successful than you, or even that everyone else writes better than you. But when it comes to writing, you have your own style and perspective that no one else has; and when it comes to publishing, everyone’s experiences are different, and even the people who seem to have it made will have their own struggles. Regardless, there’s nothing you can do about it, and trying to compete with others is going to accomplish nothing but stifle your own ability to be creative and to be successful. So focus on your own work and try not to sweat it.
What projects are you working on?
Right now I’m working on two projects: first of all, my ongoing series, The Iamos Trilogy, is a YA science fiction set on Mars in the near future. Right now, the first book, Fourth World, and a novella that takes place between books one and two, Different Worlds, are available through Snowy Wings Publishing. I’m currently working on the second full-length book of the series, New World, and hope to have it out sometime this year.
My other ongoing project is a NA sci-fi called Cheerleaders From Planet X. It’s a quirky, very tongue-in-cheek mashup of B-movie tropes and comic book series like X-Men. That’s due out soon (no official release date yet, but… soon!) from Kraken Collective Books.
What is your favorite description of your books?
RoAnna Sylver (author of the Chameleon Moon series) said this about the first book in the Iamos Trilogy:
“Atlantis, guys. Freaking Atlantis. On Mars.”
This cracked me up, and it’s also accurate! I love it.
What’s one thing that would surprise people to know about you?
I had the mumps in fourth grade even though I’d been vaccinated against it. My cheeks still hurt just thinking about it. But my parents moved their TV into my room while I recovered, so I got to watch nonstop Gilligan’s Island for a week. That was pretty awesome.
Where is the best place to contact you?
You can find me on Twitter and Instagram at @lyssachiavari, and on Facebook at @lyssachiavariauthor. I don’t use social media as much as I used to, so if you really want to keep in touch, you can visit my website at lyssachiavari.com and sign up for my newsletter! That will also get you a free short story set in the Iamos universe, so there’s also that 😉