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Monday, April 25, 2011

CLOSED Interview & Giveaway with Diane Zahler!

Help us welcome today Diane Zahler, author of The Thirteenth Princess a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses and A True Princess a retelling of The Princess and the Pea. (Click here to read Ashley's review of A True Princess).

Diane grew up in Ithaca, New York, where she spent most of her time reading children's books. She loved fantasy, but she especially loved fairy tales. In high school, she started working in the children's room of the public library, and kept reading fairy tales. After college, she went to New York City, got a job in children's book publishing and (what else?! ) read more fairy tales before she finally decided to write her own! She loves to travel and often finds inspiration for her writing from the places that she visits.


What made you decide to write fairy tale retellings? 

I’ve loved fairy tales for as long as I’ve been a reader, and I also love a lot of the retellings I’ve read, especially the ones by Robin McKinley and Shannon Hale. So it was a natural fit for me when I started thinking about writing my own novels for young readers.

Would you consider a non-fairy tale retelling? Do you have any ideas?

I’m working on an idea now for a non-fairy tale retelling, but it’s in such an early stage that I don’t want to jinx it by talking about it (and I haven’t worked out the details).

Can you tell us anything about your current writing project?

I’ve finished a third retelling, Princess of the Wild Swans, which is based on The Wild Swans (versions by both Hans Christian Andersen and the Grimm brothers). And I’m partway through a fourth, which has a well-known fairy tale as its inspiration but goes off on some wildly different angles.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses has always been my favorite fairy tale, and I've thought about it a lot. But a thirteenth princess has never occurred to me. Where did the idea for Zita come to you from? 

There’s not a lot to the original story, if you recall. Twelve princesses are cursed to dance until they die; they’re rescued by a soldier. Not much detail there. So I felt like I had a lot of freedom to play around with it. Fairy tales are often about abandonment and betrayal, so I wondered: what if there were another princess, but she wasn’t allowed to be part of the family? Zita is abandoned in plain sight, living in the servants’ quarters below her sisters’ bedchamber, but she never loses her desire to be connected with her  family, and she never loses her determination to help them.

Is there a fairy tale you would love to retell, but haven't been able to find the right inspiration for? 
One that you are maybe working on, just waiting for everything to click? 

I love Rapunzel. It’s been retold in various forms, but I still feel there’s a lot that can be done with it. It’s on the back burner for now, but maybe soon…

Are there any fairy tales that you absolutely do not want to retell?

Well, there are some that have been done either to death or so beautifully that I wouldn’t want to go there – Cinderella, for example, and Beauty and the Beast. And some fairy tales are just too weird or grotesque to approach, especially some of the lesser-known Grimm tales. What amazes me is how MANY fairy tales there actually are.
Check out this Wikipedia list! I could write a dozen a year and not run out. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fairy_tales (Try Foundling-Bird or The Iron Stove for bizarre Grimm stories.)

Silly/Random questions:

~Rapunzel is named after lettuce; what odd thing would you be named after if you were in a fairy tale?

Chocolate, without a doubt. But in another language, so it sounds princess-y: Suklaa (Finnish)? or Siocled (Welsh)?

~ Using that name, give us a line from your life as a fairy tale: I was named after the food of the gods, because my mother loved chocolate more than any other food. But I never managed to live up to the sweetness of my name.

~Best fairy tale villain and why? I started thinking about this and immediately wondered: Why are the villains mostly women? There’s Bluebeard, and the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood, and Rumplestiltskin, if you’re looking for wicked males. But, though I don’t want to retell the story, the queen in Snow White has a malevolence all her own. It’s based on envy of her stepdaughter’s youth and beauty, which strikes me as particularly nasty. In the Grimms’ original tale, this villain was Snow White’s mother, not her stepmother, which makes her all the more evil.

~Favorite tale from childhood? Favorite tale as an adult? Least favorites? The Twelve Dancing Princesses and Rapunzel, as a child. As an adult, maybe Beauty and the Beast – one of the few with a heroine whose courage and love help her to save another. I’m not crazy about Jack and the Beanstalk or The Frog Prince (kissing a frog – ick. But in the original version, the princess throws the frog against a wall).

~If you could be any fairy tale character, or live through any fairy tale "happening," who/what would it be? If you consider A Thousand and One Nights a kind of fairy tale, I’d most like to try riding a flying carpet. Ever since reading E. Nesbit’s The Phoenix and the Carpet, it’s been my preferred mode of travel. So much easier and more romantic than the subway or JetBlue!

~Would you rather:
-- eat magic beans or golden eggs? Golden eggs, definitely -- scrambled
-- style 50ft long hair or polish 100 pairs of glass slippers? The hair, by a length. One long braid.

-- have a fairy godmother or a Prince Charming? A fairy godmother – I could wish for the prince, if I wanted him.


Thank you so much for participating with us Diane! It's been a real pleasure to work with you! 

We have a copy of A True Princess to giveaway to one lucky reader today! Diane was generous enough to provide us with a copy of the book (via the publisher) as well as some really neat bookmarks to go along with both A True Princess and her debut novel, The Thirteenth Princess.

One person will win a copy of the book and a set of the bookmarks. Then, winners will be drawn for the remaining bookmarks.


You must leave a MEANINGFUL comment on this post. Let Diane know you appreciate the time she took to contribute be involved with us.
Include a way to be contacted.

Open Internationally

Ends May 5th May 8th!


  1. Thank you so much for this review! And Thank you for this awesome giveaway! This book looks amazing!

    Rachel Leigh
    TheOneRing111 at gmail dot com

  2. Scrambled golden eggs sound delicious! :) My favorites were Rapunzel and Beauty and the Beast too. Goodluck with your WIP! I have never heard of The Wild Swans. It's not that popular here in my country but now that you mention it...I'll look into it soon. :) Thanks for the fun interview! I'd love to be entered in the giveaway please.



  3. Fairy tale retellings seem to be gaining in popularity at the moment.

    Why do you think that is happening ?

    Thanks for the giveaway and for opening it to worldwide entries.

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  4. I love fairy tales and have already added this book to my wishlist, it sounds like a great read. Thanks for the great interview and giveaway.

    linaramz at yahoo dot com

  5. I really like Rapunzel too. I would love to read a retelling of that story.

    thegirlonfire27 at gmail dot com

  6. I always, even as an adult, loved fairy tales, especially those by Brothers Grimm. And I must say, the more I hear about modern versions of these old stories, the more I want to read those too!!

    Thanks for the lovely interview and introducing Diane and her books to us!!

    danaan at gmx dot at

  7. Interview was amazing! love the questions, I was laughing at the end with the scrambled eggs and the fairy godmother lol will totally had her books for on my to read pile :)

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    email; fallendream03(at)gmail(d0t)com

  8. This was an amazing interview! I fell in love with "The Thirteenth Princess" when I read it a couple weeks ago. Diane is so talented. I've been trying to get a hold of "A True Princess" for a while. I love the princess and the pea so much, but it hasn't been retold a lot. I also cannot wait to read "Princess of the Wild Swans".
    Thank you so much for this wonderful interview & giveaway!



  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. A retelling of The Princess And The Pea? How cool is that! I adore Princess stories.

    Lovely interview :)


    PS. 50 ft long hair, ftw! Did I tell you Rapunzel's my favourite? Heh.

  11. Having a daughter after having three sons led to a love of princess everything, much to my delight! But alas, the princess-loving girl is now a pink-hating, sports-loving preteen! Thanks to Diane's books, I can at least get her to read about princesses again, as she thinks these books are awesome (and so do I)! We're still working on wearing pink...

  12. I'd love to read these books! So glad I stopped by. I too would pick the fairy godmother. Prince Charmings are WAY overvalued and still leave their socks lying around the palace ;)

    bchild5 at aol dot com

  13. thank you so much for this awesome interview!!!
    i am looking forward to reading this book as nowadays the whole fairy tale books seem to be popular but i would like to see something different with their endings,something more modern and more realistic.

    justjanhvi at gmail dot com

  14. I haven't read a re-telling of Rapunzel. I think that would be very interesting. I adore Snow White.

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  15. Diane I love reading fairy tales and watching the movies. I always have. I cant wait to see some of the remakes of them. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read this book. Tore923@aol.com

  16. Thanks for this interview! I love that you know so much about all of these different fairytales, even the obscure ones. I feel like that would make your re-tellings seem more authentic than if you were just familiar with the more famous ones.

    I also love that The Twelve Dancing Princesses is one of your favorites! I haven't read The Thirteenth Princess, but I would love to. Last summer, I read and fell in love with Juliet Marillier's Wildwood Dancing, which is a combination re-telling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses and The Frog Prince. I'm curious to see your take on my favorite tale!


  17. I grew up on fairy tales. Now I have a daughter and she loves fairy tales too. What can I say? I am a hopeless romantic and imagine living happily ever after and being a princess. Diane, thank you for the time you have put into this. I definitely want to read this book. My favorite princess stories are Beauty and the Beast and Rapunzel.

    sassysasha817 at gmail dot com

  18. I like some of the names for chocolate in different languages. I looked ones for Tiger and I found two that are awesome Tyger in Czech and Teigr in Welsh.


  19. Thanks so much for your wonderful comments -- good luck to you all!

  20. I've always thought THE PRINCESS AND THE PEA should get more attention. I'm so excited to read this and have a chance to hear Diane's thoughts about what the rest of the story might be! thanks so much for the great giveaway!

  21. I love the idea of a Princess being named CHOCOLATE but as you said in a language other than English. The sky is the limit when you think along those lines.


  22. What great questions! I've had the pleasure of working with Diane, but I learned a lot about her here!

  23. Cinderella has an amazing story and I never liked any retell story of Cinderella. I think she is perfect as she is.
    "Chocolate" I think is a great idea.
    Thank you!!!

    artgiote at gmail dot com

  24. Ever since I saw Tangled, I've been wanting to read Rapunzel retellings! It could be fantastic... :) Also, I'm curious as to what non-fairy tale retelling Zahler has up her sleeve. Good luck!


  25. Sounds like I have a couple authors to check out....Robin Mckinley and Shannon Hale... thanks for a fun interview!


  26. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Diane! I can't wait to read your book!

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  27. I would like 50ft of hair too! And a few people to carry it for me like a train hehe:) Thank you for the great giveaway!

  28. Such interesting answers to these great questions! I especially loved Diane's answer about the fairy godmother or the prince. Very clever!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  29. Thank-you for the interview =)

    I know Diane chose the hair over the 100 pairs of glass slippers, but I don't know if I’d choose the same. Maybe I wouldn't want glass slippers, but I doubt I could pass up the opportunity for 100 pairs of shoes. I just don't think I have it in me!



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