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Interview: Kelly Lyndon talks about her novel Crystal Reign

Kelly Lyndon’s background is in romance writing and she writes under a pseudonym for Torrid Books, a publishing house based in New York. She is the former editor of the Kid’s Page at the Herald on Sunday. Kelly is also a filmmaker, and has made two short films, with a feature in the pipeline. Her film Liquortine Dream was bought by Sky TV in 2013 and can be viewed on Sky’s Rialto Channel. Her film Blue Mermaid can be viewed on YouTube where it has had over 111,000 views. Kelly’s work can be viewed here:

She talks to NZ Booklovers about her first literary novel, Crystal Reign.

Tell us a little about Crystal Reign.

It is about a Kiwi man named David who is trying to hold his family together after his wife gets addicted to methamphetamine.

What inspired you to write this book?

A family friend got hooked on meth. This was a guy I'd known as a kid who was a good man who loved his family, and I watched as it slowly made him turn on everyone who loved him. In the end he was unrecognisable, in how he looked and how he behaved. He even told his kids he hated them (in language I cannot repeat here). I was so disturbed by what I saw that I felt compelled to write a book about what meth does to families.

What research was involved?

After I saw what happened to my friend, I spoke to a lot of other families who had gone through the same thing. What really stood out to me was that all the stories were nearly exactly the same. So my research was mostly based on the people I had spoken to. I also spoke with rehab clinicians about typical behaviour associated with meth abuse, and the NZ Police who were very helpful once I got through a lot of red tape.

What was your routine or process when writing this book?

I wrote the first draft in 2015, and I was working full time so I only wrote on weekends. I started writing in February and finished in November. Then there was another six months of continuous editing.

If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

Well the main character David is rock fan, so Estranged by Guns N Roses would definitely be in there and so would Wicked Game by Chris Isaak. Both songs are quite representative of what is happening to him in the story.

If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the lead characters?

I think our own Madeleine Sami would be amazing as David's wife Chrissie. Not too sure who could play David... ten years ago I would say Russell Crowe but he is a bit old now. Someone like Russell Crowe would be good.

What did you enjoy the most about writing this novel?

The thought that I might be able to help families affected by meth.

What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?

I haven't actually celebrated that yet... I should probably look at doing something!

What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

Fiona Sussman's The Last Time We Spoke, which won last year's Ngaio Marsh Award. A brilliant story about the aftermath of an extreme act of violence. I loved the way it was from the point of view of both the victim and the perpetrator.

What’s next on the agenda for you?

I am working on my next book which is a children's picture book called Leon and the Big Scone. It is about a naughty cat called Leon who accidentally tips too much baking soda into a scone mix. The scone grows so big it chases him down the hill. It is quite a delightful little story if I do say so myself. After writing such a dark tale like Crystal Reign I need to write something light haha.


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