The Word On The Street Festival touches down in less than a month, and in anticipation, we’re rolling out a series of interviews with authors we know you’ll love.

Lesley Livingston is an award-winning author of teen and middle-grade fiction, best known for the Wondrous Strange series, recently named one of CBC’s “100 YA Books That Make You Proud To Be Canadian.” Her novel, The Valiant, is a gripping historical fantasy recounting seventeen-year-old Fallon’s tumultuous journey from fierce Celtic princess to legendary female gladiator and darling of the Roman empire.

SDTC: Walk us through a typical day in your life, from getting up until going to bed.

LL: I mostly try to get done what needs to get done—anything from brainstorming to writing to revising/copy-editing/proofing to doing publicity stuff. I tend not to follow a particular set routine, but there are definitely consistent elements. One of those is coffee. The other is cats. Another is very long showers if I’m stuck on a plot point (I should probably have a whiteboard installed in the bathroom). I procrastinate with walks and reading. And playing with the cats. And the occasional game of Plants vs. Zombies on my phone. It’s part of my process. Heh.

Weather permitting, I like to sit in my backyard and write. Occasionally the local fauna come hang out with me—Earl the white cat from up the street, an entire family of raccoons, that squirrel with the judgey expression on his face…

The rest of the time, I have a desk and a daybed in my office. The daybed is for writing, not napping. I swear. Okay, a little nap, here and there. Maybe. If I’m on deadline, I usually forget to eat until I’m hungry enough that I can’t form coherent sentences. The day usually ends with bashing around story ideas over a pint up the street at my local with my guy—and occasional writing partner—Jon. Then bed. And more cats.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was in high school I realized that I wanted to be a storyteller—probably because it was something that didn’t involve math, team sports, or having to learn to cook. That impulse first manifested in a desire to become an actor. In university, while I getting a master’s degree in English, my friends and I formed our own Shakespearean theatre company together and went on to perform for largely high school audiences for the better part of two decades. But while I was having a blast playing all these wonderful parts and telling wonderful stories, I realized that what I ultimately wanted to do was tell my own stories. I’d been writing in my spare time for years, but I finally devoted myself to finishing a novel. Then another. Then the agent querying began. The rest is kind of a blur…

Best advice to other young women wanting to get their work published?

Give yourself time and space. Don’t expect it to happen all at once. Do everything you can to bolster yourself with all of the mental and emotional support you need. This is a tough business and it can take a very long time to get any traction in it. Believe in yourself and your own particular genius, but also give yourself permission to write the shitty first draft. Then revise. Revise more. Write more. Read more. Revise again. Send your stuff out. And start on that next project.

What literary trends are you loving? Which ones are you loathing?

The bend toward diversity in publishing, especially in YA, is very heartening. I don’t want to call it a trend, because it’s something that should just be. Also female-driven stories that really get down to exploring complex characters in complex situations.

As for loathing any trends…I couldn’t say. There are, of course, individual books in just about any genre that I might be tempted to side-eye, but I can’t, off the top of my head, think of any general trend that really burns my cheese.

What should we be paying more attention to?

Each other. What’s happening in the world around us. I write for YA audiences, and they are aware and active and awesome. They are a constant source of inspiration.

What is your next project?

The sequel to The Valiant. It’s called The Defiant and it releases in February 2018! And I’m beyond excited about it!

Meet Lesley and other fascinating authors at this year’s Word On The Street Festival on Sunday September 24th from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Get more information here.