Home  |  Reviews  |  Vlogs  |  Interviews  |  Guest Posts  |  Fairy Tales  |  Jane Austen  |  Memes  |  Policies

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Interview: Suzanne Selfors, author of The Sweetest Spell

The Sweetest Spellone of the most fun, quirky retellings I've read in some time, is Suzanne Selfors' upcoming take on The Ugly Duckling, so we're super happy to welcome Suzanne today!
Now, down to business. :)

What do you make of the resurgence in popularity for fairy tales? (Once Upon a Time, Grimm, Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsmen, all within a very short time)? Do you see it as a trend that will sort of peter out, or is it just getting started

For the first time in my writing life, I find myself smack dab in the middle of a trend! I missed the whole vampire thing. Fairy tales are certainly everywhere.
Why the resurgence? Many publishers have told me that there's this weird thing that goes on in the writing world, when suddenly every manuscript that shows up on their desks are about the same thing, mermaids for example. Then a year later every manuscript is about teen suicide. It's as if writers are all plugged in to some sort of unconscious story stream. Predicting the next big wave is nearly impossible but right now, it's fairy tales.

I suppose a doctoral student might argue, in a thesis, that during times of societal and economic crisis, happy endings are needed more than ever. It's just a thought.

There don’t seem to be all that many retellings of The Ugly Duckling - did that have anything to do with your decision to use that fairy tale?

I'm no expert but it seems to me that The Ugly Duckling is at its heart a story of rebirth. The hero (a duck) isn't recognized for who he truly is (a swan). Being disregarded is the power of this type of hero.

In my book, Emmeline Thistle is born a dirt-scratcher's daughter, the lowest people in the fairytale kingdom of Anglund. And to make matters worse, she's born with a clubfoot, and so that makes her the lowest of the low. Even her own people shun her. Her transformation is at the heart of the story, as she goes from being the most unwanted to becoming the most wanted.

In the famous screenwriting book, Save the Cat, the author calls these types of stories "fool triumphant." When you think of it in those terms, you see that many stories are Ugly Duckling tales--Cinderella, The Princess Diaries, Legally Blonde, Forest Gump, to name a few.

Did you start this book intending for it to BE a retelling?

Well, sort of. I was actually thinking about King Midos, the guy who turned everything he touched into gold. I wanted to do something with that story, but swap the Midos character for a teen girl. But the more I thought about it, the more I got bored with the gold. It didn't feel right. Then one night, my daughter and I were searching the cupboards for chocolate and nearly going crazy. We wanted chocolate. We needed it. And in our frenzy, that's when it hit me...who cares about gold? Chocolate isn't just a sweet--it's passion and desire too. That's when my story was born.

Any plans to retell any other fairy tales (either set in Emmeline’s world or elsewhere)?

I would love to write a sequel to The Sweetest Spell. I fell in love with the characters and many still have stories to tell.

If someone were to briefly summarize this book, it can sound a little...bizarre (A dirt-scratcher’s daughter who has a special connection to cows has the magical ability to churn butter into chocolate, the most prized substance in the kingdom...*). Was there ever a time when you thought no one was going to get it, or that it had taken a strange turn somewhere? Do you get any strange looks when you tell people what it’s about?

I don't like that description. I didn't write it. Here's the one I'd write...

"Emmeline Thistle, an unwanted peasant girl struggling to survive, discovers she has the magical ability to churn milk into chocolate in a kingdom where chocolate is only a legend."

What I want readers to know is that this is my first true romance, as well as my first true fairy tale. There are three killer guys in this story, a prince, a soldier and a dropdead handsome farmboy, each wanting Emmeline but for different reasons.
There's danger, adventure, and at the heart, a young woman trying to bring about a happy ending.

*Okay, I'm being a bit silly there, but you get the idea...

Favorite fairy tale: Beauty and the Beast

Most underrated fairy tale? Thumbellina

Most overrated fairy tale? I love them all.

Last year we asked everyone’s fairy tale hero/heroine name; this year, we want to know your fairy tale villain name: Griffin Boar

Using that name, give us a line from your villainous fairy tale:

Griffin and I had lived in the same village all our lives but I could count on one hand the times he'd spoken to me. I could remember exactly what he'd said on each occasion:
"Move out of the way. I've got somewhere important to go."
"Move out of the way. I'm in a hurry."
"Move out of the way, now."
"Move out of the way."

If a genie granted you 3 wishes, what would they be?
1. longer legs
2. more time
3. world peace (ok, so I threw that in because that's obvious. But if for some reason the genie said world peace was impossible, then I'd ask for a few months on the NYTimes bestseller list.)

Best way to read fairy tales? (ie location, snacks, etc)
In bed, a bowl of popcorn on one side, a handsome man on the other side.

If one of your books was being turned into a movie and you could cast 1 character, which character would you cast and who would play them?
If Sweetest Spell became a film, I'd cast Reese Witherspoon as the mean but beautiful Queen Beatrice.

Our thanks to Suzanne for joining us for Fairy Tale Fortnight!!  The Sweetest Spell will be released in August from Walker Books, but until then, make sure you enter to win a signed ARC of The Sweetest Spell here!  And check back tomorrow for my quickie review of The Sweetest Spell (I'll tell you in full what I thought closer to the release, but until then I fully intend to tease you...)

Click the button to be taken to the
Fairy Tale Fortnight Main Page & Schedule
(button image via)


  1. Okay, thank you Suzanne for saying you hate the description of your book because it really makes me think this book is not worth reading. Now YOUR description makes me want to read the book. Why in God's name didn't they let you write the description? I gotta read it now! Thanks for letting us know a little more about you!



    After reading you book SAVING JULIET I have to read this one!

  3. I gotta say, I definitely like Suzanne's synopsis of her book better. "Emmeline Thistle has always had a mysterious bond with cows" came across as pretty strange. That being said, I'm loving the spin on the King Midas inspiration. Chocolate! That's so awesome! I wonder if this book will make me hungry. Also, if you think of it, chocolate isn't too far off from gold. Didn't the Mayans or the Aztecs use cocoa beans as a form of currency? I'm just saying!

    - Jackie

  4. Haha. So I'm not the only one struck oddly by the synopsis. Your synopsis idea, Ms. Selfors, sounds much better. Maybe they were just trying to instill curiosity rather than excitement. I guess that could work too. I've learned not to pay attention to synopses anyway. I just wait for Misty to read the book and tell me if I should read it or not, lol. I saw the 4 stars.

    The existence of a book on writing successful screenplays reminds me of a favorite quote by W. Somerset Maugham: "There are 3 rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

    I might snack on any number of things on a given night while reading, some healthy some not. But believe it or not, given the subject of this conversation, I have chocolate every single night, literally. I think I'll make a personal preference adjustment though to the "handsome man on the other side".


Tell me all your thoughts.
Let's be best friends.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...