Lyra Selene

Author of: Amber & Dusk

Author Lyra Selene with her book Amber and Dusk


Lyra Selene was born under a full moon and has never quite managed to wipe the moonlight out of her eyes.

Lyra grew up on a steady diet of Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper and Ursula K. LeGuin, scribbling in book margins and tapping on typewriters. When she isn’t dreaming up fantastical cities and brooding landscapes, Lyra enjoys hiking, rainstorms, autumn, and pretending she’s any good at music.

She lives in New England with her husband, in an antique farmhouse that’s probably not haunted. AMBER & DUSK is her debut novel.

To learn more about Lyra, connect with her online:

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+ What can readers expect from AMBER & DUSK that they wouldn't gather after reading the summary?

LS: That’s a great question! While the summary captures a lot of what the book is about—court intrigue, magic, and romance—it doesn’t really touch on one of my favorite elements in the book, which is myth-building. The setting of this novel is an impossible, dusklit world where the sun never sets, and I knew from the beginning I wanted to incorporate a creation myth told throughout that world to explain its unique characteristics. A grand, atmospheric creation myth woven like a thread through the narrative and the main character’s evolution.

But I also wanted to explore smaller kinds of myths, too—the private stories we tell ourselves to keep our eyes bright and our hearts singing. Myths about radiant cities where we will find ourselves; myths about family and bloodlines and all the places we think we belong. Because while creation myths may fade into the oblivion of the past, humanity will always tell these smaller myths—stories about fear, and longing, and ultimately, hope!

+ The elite members of the Amber Empress' Court at Coeur d'Or have magic in the form of legacies. When you were developing the story, what came first, the character or the legacy?

LS: I had so much fun inventing all the characters’ legacies in this book, but it was a very organic process. Some characters—like Sunder and Bane—were built around a particular magical power. Others came into the story as characters first, and I had to discover along the way which power suited their character and situation best. Some even changed over the course of drafting and revising—in a very early draft, Sylvie’s legacy was very different!

+ Much of the world of A&D is built around three ores: ambric, kembric and dristic. What was your inspiration behind these and why were they so significant to this world?

LS: When I first dreamed of this world—and the Amber Empire in particular—I ran into the interesting problem of how a world with a static sun operates. Things we take for granted in our world—things like telling time, and seasons, and shifting climates—are fundamentally altered. I knew there needed to be a commodity (or several) upon which the empire’s wealth was built, and because of how low the sun hangs on this part of the world, I doubted it would be agriculture. I eventually settled on mining ambric (a magically imbued precious ore that looks much like our amber) as both a useful and symbolic emblem for a wealthy and powerful empire.

I invented the legend of Meridian soon after, and that’s when I decided to add two additional ores—kembric, like gold, and dristic, like silver—as a way of fleshing out both the mythic and physical foundations of the world. I wanted the very bones of this impossible world to feel magical, and so I chose to make them glitter.

+ What is your favorite trait of your main character, Sylvie?

LS: I’ll be honest—Sylvie was a challenge to write. She’s a complicated young woman who wears her ambition like armor and her want like perfume. It took writing an entire novel to understand her, but I love how fiercely she fights for all the things she desires. And ultimately, she wants what we all want—a place to belong and a world just a little more radiant than the one we live in.

+ You've talked a lot about the importance of perseverance for writers. What was the hardest rejection you received and how did you grow from it?

LS: This may sound counter-intuitive, but the hardest rejections for me weren’t the borderline harsh nos (and trust me, I’ve had my fair share of those) but the positive, complimentary almost-maybes. The rejections from agents or editors who enjoyed the writing, or liked the characters, or loved the setting, but for whatever reason still weren’t going to make an offer. It always hurt the most to feel like I’d gotten so close, yet was still falling short in some crucial way.

But those rejections taught me that this business is built on the unpredictable alchemy of right place, right time, and right person. I’ve always believed the champions for my books were out there, but it took time, patience, and a certain degree of zen for that to happen the way it was supposed to!

+ In your opinion, what set A&D apart from the other full length novels you've written and allowed it to become your debut published novel?

LS: The most obvious reason is because I grew as a writer. Raymond Chandler supposedly said that every writer has one million bad words inside them, and to write well you have to write those bad words out of your system first. While I’m not sure if that’s strictly true, I believe deeply in the sentiment. To get better at writing, write. There are thousands of amazing resources on literary craft, and I absolutely recommend studying from the greats, but to truly learn how to be a writer you must write. And write. And write some more.

The second reason is, I suspect, because I wrote this book for myself. I wasn’t trying to jump on a trend or edge in on a market—I wrote the book I wanted to read. I filled it full of everything I love in YA fantasy: prose like gilded nightmares; ball gowns and banter; lacquered lips hiding deadly secrets; treachery and mythology and forbidden love and scheming royals. I’m so passionate about this world and these characters, and I hope readers sense that.

+ What are some weird or quirky writing habits that you have?

LS: I love burning candles while I write—often, I have one for each setting in the book! Smell is most closely related to sense memory, so by lighting a candle I’m better able to fall back into the world I’ve created.

+ What is the last book that you've read that you would rate 5/5 stars?

LS: Roshani Chokshi’s The Gilded Wolves filled my heart and then mercilessly broke it. A must-read!

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