Interview with Lamar Giles, author of THE LAST MIRROR ON THE LEFT


Today, we’re joined by Lamar Giles, author of THE LAST MIRROR ON THE LEFT. I (Holly Schindler, administrator of Smack Dab) was delighted to get my hands on a copy of MIRROR. I absolutely loved THE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER, and I was anxious to find out where Giles would take the characters and story. He absolutely did not disappoint:


HS: THE LAST MIRROR ON THE LEFT is such a fun time travel / alternate dimension read. Please tell us a bit about Warped World.


LG: The Warped World is where you go when you step through the interdimensional funhouse mirror inside of The Rorrim Mirror Emporium. Much like a funhouse mirror distorts your characteristics in extreme ways, the residents of Warped World exist as extreme versions of characters you might’ve met in The Last Last-Day-of-Summer. And if you stay there long enough, you might begin to change in some extreme ways, too.


HS: Would you consider this a sequel, or a standalone featuring two characters we were lucky to meet previously?


LG: Definitely a sequel. I’m really big on treating the fictional spaces I write about as snapshots of a living universe. So, decisions made in book 1 can’t be separated from how the characters think and act in book 2. Could someone pick up Last Mirror and enjoy it without reading Last Last Day, possibly…but I think they’ll find the story richer if they’ve been on Otto and Sheed’s previous adventure.


HS: Was it hard to find the right tone / groove for these characters? How hard was it to return to the right mindset?


LG: Not at all. It’s harder for me to get out of the wacky adventure mindset required for an Otto and Sheed adventure than get into it. I always want to exist in a world of fantastic magic where you meet new and amazing friends that fight for right alongside you. Writing Otto and Sheed is often how I wash away some of the ickiness we deal with in the real world.


HS: What's it been like working with illustrator Dapo Adeola? 


LG: A dream. I mean, you’ve seen his work, so you know the skill and quality you’re getting. But Dapo is also a lovely human being that I can spend hours talking to. In fact, when we do talk, it’s rarely about work because we’re both professionals who respect what the other brings to the table, that part is more like I do my thing, and he does his. When we talk it’s about movies, comics, and TV we’re enjoying. And how I have a guest room ready for him whenever he decides to visit the States (he’s based in London).


HS: I'm constantly amazed and your ability to write adventure. When THE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER came out, we talked about writing action scenes. This time around, can you offer some advice for plot structure and adventure?


LG: I wish I had some really groundbreaking take on how to adventure, but I keep coming back to something one of my writing mentors told me years ago…don’t stay in the same place for too long. That means if you’re in an action scene, end it and give the reader a break. If you’re in a slow moment, make sure something fast is around the corner. If the character is thinking, make sure they’re going to talk soon. If they’re talkative, be sure to eventually describe a significant sight, sound, taste or smell that they’re experiencing between breaths. Instinctively learn when and how to switch gears and you’re writing page turners.


HS: This book has some great humor as well! How do you approach humor when writing for kids?


LG: I honestly don’t think of it as writing humor for kids. I’m writing the things I think are funny and would’ve thought was funny when I was Otto and Sheed’s age. I believe if I went into thinking I’m going to write this joke/gag that I think a young reader will find funny but isn’t really funny to me, it would fall flat. So, the first laugh I’m going for is my own. I just happen to think me and my readers would find a lot of the same stuff hilarious.


HS: Where'd you get the idea for Warped World?


LG: Warped World felt like a—this may sound funny, but—LOGICAL (as much as anything in Logan County can be) progression from the concept of a “Mirror Prison” introduced in The Last Last Day of Summer. Once I went down the path of mirrors being things you could pass through, it made me think of how different mirrors can be. There are several in my house that are different shapes and sizes, though those all do the same thing—reflect what’s in front of them—it seemed reasonable it wouldn’t work that way in Missus Nedraw’s shop. What if the size and shape and frame of a mirror indicated the sort of passage it was? Once I went there, I thought, “Oh…what about a funhouse mirror?”


HS: What bigger message do you want kids to get from MIRROR?


LG: First of all, fun. I want my readers to have a good time…while considering how the justice system works differently for different people, and how there have been instances where folks who make the rules our society lives by have considered themselves above the standards they enforce, or worse, they simply punish others for personal gain. In other words, consider why the rule exists and who made it before you determine who should or shouldn’t be held accountable for breaking it.


HS: Will we get to meet up with these characters again?


LG: We most certainly will. I don’t know exactly how much I’m allowed to say about the future of our heroes and their friends, but there will definitely be another Otto and Sheed adventure soon. Stay tuned for the scoop on what’s happening in and around Logan County next.



I absolutely cannot wait for the next installment. This would make a fantastic “classroom” book, reglardless of what your classroom looks like this year: kitchen table, bedroom, under a tree, virtual setting, etc.


Catch up with Giles at his author author site, and be sure to snag a copy of THE LAST MIRROR ON THE LEFT!