The kid is alright: An Interview with Land of Enchantas YA fantasy author Corey Labissioniere

From left, Corey’s interview portrait in Michigan Tech Magazine; one of his new characters, the rebellious but endearing Becky; and a beloved Enchantas animal guide. 

“I didn’t get the blog going,” says novelist Corey Labissoniere as we roll down that same Highway 41 that the Allman Brothers sing about in “Ramblin’ Man.” We’re in his paper wrapper-styrofoam cup-loose change-strewn little red truck headed for the spring 2014 Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association confab at Peter White Library in Marquette. Later I will comment that he’s the youngest person there and he will respond with an impudent smirk and a “Waaah. Waaah.”

Later, we will gather the loose change for gas money.

Blogging isn’t his thing. Corey’s promotional strategy is far more fanciful, and wholehearted, including making Lixie fruit in his kitchen and commissioning artists to bring his characters to life.

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Faces of Enchantas, clockwise, from middle left: Mel, Sally, Ryan and John ride Gusto the flying carpet; side-step violent vegetables; tangle with a dangerously enraged teen witch; roll with cute-but-combat-ready Snuffballs; and learn to accept the fantastical as part of everyday existence in a land far below the old mining town they used to call home.

Along the way to Marquette, rimming Lake Superior’s Keweenaw Bay past the statue of Bishop Frederick Baraga known to some young people as “Spider Jesus,” (with no offense intended) Corey begins to tell me his entire second book, “Return to Enchantas.” It has to be to his publisher soon in order to make its pre-Christmas publishing date. This is vital info because I’ll be doing initial editing on the second in the trilogy, just as I did for his first, “Land of Enchantas,” before he turns it over to the wizards at Martin Sisters Publishing.

The driver’s side window won’t stay up. It’s too cold to keep the window down. So Corey has duct-taped it shut. It still drops periodically, blasting us with the bracing air of an Upper Peninsula May.

He gave mom Tammy, his foremost editor, the first 13 chapters of “Return to Enchantas” on Mother’s Day 2014. As of late May 2014 he had completed 22 chapters. As was the case with the first book, the epilogue was already written. He’s already got an epilogue for the third, part of which he tells me on the way home. His writing habits have changed in other ways since the first book. “I can’t write with the TV on anymore,” he says. But the writer ‑ who continually reminds me that writing is supposed to be fun, fun, fun ‑ still knows how to chill (even when windows aren’t falling down).

“I’m laying back, typing, so lounged,” he says, demonstrating how he cuddles with his laptop. “If I fall asleep I put it aside.”

He also worked on the book in public places, including Houghton’s Cyberia Café.

Corey’s one in a long line of writers and other creatives who proceed on the certainty that there’s a sculpture there waiting for the big reveal. The artist’s job is to chip away until the book emerges. “I don’t know where it’s coming from,” he says of his storylines. “They (the characters) brought it up themselves.”

After our UPPAA conference road trip he planned to head home to write until 11.

On the way home Corey mapped out some of the things he think will happen in the third Enchantas adventure, working title “Curse of Enchantas.”

I thought about how great it is to work with a writer that I’ve watched develop from an angelic little blond boy with a reading disability and a fondness for make-believe to an author I’m delighted to know at a deeper level, as a colleague. At some point I hope we find a time to write together. He’s got some cool ideas.

As the front-line big-picture editor, there were times when I forgot I was supposed to be working on the manuscript. I laughed out loud or shuddered in repulsion, caught in the delight of his Enchantas. And Corey welcomed me in. He even let me contribute a spell!

No spoiler alerts here: I want you all to watch the delightful unfolding and be as surprised as I was. I can tell you that there are two new main characters – and a third that makes a brief but super-entertaining appearance in “Return to Enchantas” – and that all three of them captured my heart and imagination for very different reasons.

As a bit of a grammar martinet, my notes for Corey included instructing him to stop using “alright,” which I steadfastly maintained isn’t a proper word. There are some references that back up my contention.

But I just re-read the well-written “The Help,” and character dialogue throughout includes “alright.” Is it all right to use “alright” in dialogue? Does it work as dialect? What do you think?

Corey M. Labissoniere sports scruffy chic and his first YA fantasy novel at the Spring 2014 Upper Peninsula Authors and Publishers Association meeting.

Update: “Return to Enchantas” finally made it through editing and production rounds and is coming soon, a year later than anticipated, but that is the glacial pace of publishing when you want a book to be the best it can be (note to self). The estimated time for a traditionally published book to emerge from the process is 18 to 24 months. In addition to being featured in the Fall-Winter 2015 issue of Michigan Tech Magazine in a feature about the fabulous things you can do with a psychology degree, which also addresses his passion for working with families and children in the foster-care system, Corey is profiled in his alma mater’s Alumni pages

 

 

 

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