The 'Serious' Questions:
I get the feeling that a lot of 'you’ goes into your fairy tales (Norway, the knitting, etc). How do these elements get infused into the stories? Is it a conscious choice (I’m goingto make Galen a knitter), or does it just happen (Oh, hey, I just made Galen a knitter!)?
Yes, and yes. And yes. SUN AND MOON came about because of my love of Norway, and the fairy tale EAST O' THE SUN, WEST O' THE MOON. I wanted to throw everything I love about them into that book: polar bears! wolves! snow! And it just all felt "right", so I didn't actually have to stop and think, Hmmm, good place for them to make lefse? Here? Or here? I don't honestly remember when I decided that Galen would be a knitter . . . sorry. But I do know that it must have seemed like a natural fit, because when my editor went, HE knits? I had to think, Um, is that weird or something?
Basically, my head is filled with "stuff": random facts, strange words, bric-a-brac. And when I'm writing, it's just all there, ready to filter down into the story where it needs to go. Once in a while I'll think, Y'know, I need something weird here, and then I'll root around (living gargoyle housekeeper) and put it into a story. So it's really a combination.
Any plans to do a more modern retelling, or does the magic lie in “long ago and far away” for you?
While I have enjoyed and admired many modern day retellings, for me when I write, "Long ago and far away" seems like a better fit for the story I want to tell.
What’s the process like for you? Do you start with the characters, the “spin” or do you work from a standard tale and expand out as you explore it?
It depends on the story. With SUN AND MOON, I wanted to tell that story, to expand. Who was this young girl? Why were her parents so eager to let her go away with the bear? Who was the bear? And so on. With MIDNIGHT BALL, I was intrigued by the idea of the story, but I also had an idea about Galen: a young man who only knows how to be a soldier, but the war is over. And Rose: what would it be like to be under a curse you didn't create, what would it be like to be the oldest of twelve girls with no mother? Would you want the responsibility, or would you fight it? So it all depends on what the story I wanted to tell, on whether I wanted to tell the story straight as with SUN AND MOON, or whether I wanted to play with the characters and the setting, and the story was just a background? (MIDNIGHT BALL, PRINCESS OF GLASS).
What’s your favorite scene you’ve ever written?
When the Lass encounters the first of the four winds in SUN AND MOON. Actually, all of the part with the four winds is possibly my finest writing, if I do say so myself.
I've made no secret of the fact that I think Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow is one of the best fairy tale retellings I’ve ever read, and you’ve been open about the passion (obsession?) that went into it. Can you tell us a little bit about the research and the love that went into creating the lass and her world?
Well, let's see: I took four years of Norwegian. Two semesters of reading and analyzing fairy tales in the original Norwegian or German. Went to Norway on my honeymoon. Jotted down every idea I had that might work in the book for over ten years. Studied Old Norse for a semester. Looked at endless pictures of polar bears, the Arctic Circle, wolves, and read a rather dry book about reindeer herding.
Follow up: What are some bits of your studies in Norway that didn’t make it into the book, that you still cherish?
I'm not sure how much I cherish it, per se, but I can describe the reindeer cheese making process to you. Would you like to hear about it? (Sigh. No one ever does.)
Further follow up: any plans to set any future books in Norway?
Can you tell us about anything you’re working on now?
I am finishing the edits of TUESDAYS AT THE CASTLE, which will release on October 11, 2011, and I am writing the rough draft for a third Princess book, based on a fairy tale about a girl who owns a red cape, if you catch my drift. . .
Why fairy tales? What is it that calls to you, personally,as a writer, and why do you think readers connect to them the way they do?
Fairy tales tantalize us because they ARE our daydreams: Cinderella, unappreciated, overworked, gets to wear a beautiful dress, go to a party, and is loved by a prince. The miller's youngest son inherits nothing but a cat, becomes fabulously wealthy, marries a princess. Beautiful stuff! And who hasn't felt like Cinderella? My mom used to make me dust the leaves of her ginormous houseplants! I wanted a fairy godmother to spirit me away SO BADLY! And as a writer, it's fun because you have the outline for your book right there, but there are endless ways to play with it. Half the time, the main character doesn't even have a name! You can describe them how you want, name them, put your personal stamp on them, and then see how that changes the story! It's a wonderful game for a writer! Sorry about all the exclamation points!
Quickfire, Silly and Random stuff:
Rapunzel is named after lettuce; what odd thing would you be named after if you were in fairy tale?
My dad has always called me Woozelina, because I was terrified of the Heffalumps and Woozles dream sequence in the Winnie the Pooh cartoon.
Using that name, give us a line from your life as a fairy tale:
Woozelina had been dusting houseplants all day, and she was very tired and smelled like potting soil.
Best fairy tale villain and why?
Maleficent from Disney's Sleeping Beauty: great fashion sense and she can turn into a freakin' dragon!
Favorite tale from childhood? East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon Favorite tale as an adult? East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon.
Least favorites? Hansel and Gretel. Also, I never really got into some of those more obscure ones, like Bluebeard.
If you could be any fairy tale character, or live through any fairy tale "happening," who/what would it be?
I wouldn't want to be a lot of them! Some of these people have some truly horrific things they go through first! But I could do East o' the Sun, or Beauty and the Beast.
Would you rather:
-- eat magic beans or golden eggs? Golden eggs!
-- style 50ft long hair or polish 100 pairs of glass slippers? I SO want the hair!
-- have a fairy godmother or a Prince Charming? Prince Charming!
Thank you for being with us Jessica!
Jessica has generously offered up a prize pack for one luck winner! She has offered a prize pack containing an ARC of Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow and a PB of Princess at the Midnight Ball.
To win, fill out THIS FORM here AND you MUST leave a comment stating that you entered the giveaway. Please be aware that this is the SAME form as found on The Book Rat and only enter ONCE. Comment on whichever blog you entered through, and make sure to leave some love for Jess for such an amazing interview!
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