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edge staff writer


The Hobbit' star Evangeline Lilly on The Squickerwonkers'

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Titan Books; Evan Agostini/Invision/AP; The Atlantic Titan Books; Evan Agostini/Invision/AP; The Atlantic

Evangeline Lilly is known for playing tough characters on the big and small screens. But if she were to play herself, she says the character would have to be an introverted loner.

Lilly was fugitive survivor Kate Austen in six seasons of ABC's 'Lost.' As Tauriel, she is head of the Mirkwood Elven guard in Peter Jackson's second and third installments of J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit.' The trilogy concludes with 'The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies' in theaters Dec. 17.

Slaying giant spiders and rescuing romantic pursuits on film has been lucrative, but Lilly says it doesn't stir her soul like writing.

When 'Lost' wrapped in 2010, Lilly says she considered herself a happily retired actor. She was living in Hawaii with her husband and son and letting her imagination run wild just as she had as a young girl lost in a fantasy world.

'The Squickerwonkers,' (Titan Books) is Lilly's first book and based on a story she wrote at age 14.

In the book, Selma is a spoiled little girl who discovers that life will not always go her way. Richly illustrated by Johnny Fraser-Allen, the book has gathered glowing praise from critics who have compared it to the work of Brothers Grimm, Tim Burton and Dr. Seuss.

Currently filming Marvel Studios' 'Ant Man' in Atlanta, Lilly took time between takes to discuss 'The Squickerwonkers' and why she would be happy if she never did another film.

Dow: How does it feel to have your work compared with Dr. Seuss?

Lilly: That's so flattering it's embarrassing. I'm almost horrified if people are comparing my book with his because he is untouchable. I revere Dr. Seuss and he is one of my all-time favorite authors ever even as an adult. To hear people compliment my writing is truly a dream come true.

Dow: What were you like as a kid?

Lilly: I was a daydreamer - literally daydreaming my days and nights away. I was really caught up in fantasy when I was a kid, and that's where this poem came from that I called 'The Squickerwonkers.' I think there's something to be said about kids writing books for kids because kids are still in that mind-space. They live in a fantastical world.

My mom said, 'You should publish that. It's very good.' Being only 14, I didn't know the first thing about publishing. It meant something to me that my mom said that so I literally carried it with me for the next 20 years. Now it's the first in a series of 18 books.

Dow: I think it's really interesting that people have this image of you as someone in constant pursuit of physically demanding, rugged, outdoorsy activities, but the reality is you're happiest when you're writing.

Lilly: That is so true. When I was on 'Lost' I was asked all time, 'What do you like to do in your downtime?' and I would always respond, 'Read and write,' and then the articles would come out saying 'she spends all of her downtime kayaking and climbing mountains.' (laughs) They just couldn't fathom that the gal who played Kate Austen and the one who plays Tauriel is actually an introverted, quiet, isolated loner and a writer.

Dow: You're at the point now where you can do whatever you'd like. Do you see yourself saying goodbye to acting and devoting all of your work-time to writing?

Lilly: You know, that's what I thought I had done. When I finished 'Lost,' I retired from acting. I was focusing on my writing and focusing on being a mom. And then Peter Jackson called and very cunningly lured me out of retirement when he asked, 'Would you play an elf in the new Hobbit film series I'm doing?' When I was about 13 years old, 'The Hobbit' was my favorite book. The Silvan Elves were my favorite characters in the book and I would fantasize about being an elf.

Dow: Had you quit acting because it was no longer fun?

Lilly: I think being in the public eye was a tough one for me, and that took a long time for me to come to terms with. I've learned a little bit about how to deal with it and I can have fun with it now.

I had such a wonderful time filming 'Real Steel' (2011) and 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' (2013) that I actually changed my mind a little bit about acting. I call acting my 'day job.' For now, I'll keep my day job, but the writing will always take precedent.

Dow: What was your son's reaction when you read 'The Squickerwonkers' to him for the first time?

Lilly: He was 2 at the time and he did not have the attention span for the book, which was devastating (laughing). He's three now and absolutely loves it especially the ending of the book. The highest praise I can get is when my son says 'Mom, can we read The Squickerwonkers?'' That's pretty great.

'The Big Morning Show with Mike Dow' can be heard on Big 104 FM The Biggest Hits of the '60s, '70s & '80s - airing on 104.7 (Bangor/Belfast), 104.3 (Augusta/Waterville) and 107.7 (Bar Harbor/Ellsworth)


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