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

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Interview & Giveaway with Merrie Haskell, author of Castle Behind Thorns! | #FairyTaleFortnight

It's no secret to anyone that I love Merrie Haskell's middle grade fairy tale / adventure stories. Full of plucky characters, well-executed fantasy elements and a ton of heart, they're pretty much perfectly geared to make me love them. So of course, I'm thrilled to welcome Merrie back to the blog for Fairy Tale Fortnight! She's dropped in to chat fairy tales with us, and offer up a special prize pack of books that frankly, I'm a little jealous of... =D

Welcome, Merrie! If you could introduce any of your characters across-books, who would you introduce and how would they react to each other?
Well... spoiler that there's an Easter egg in The Castle Behind Thorns where this happens. Very obliquely. What is truly awesome about this is that of the 18 alpha and beta readers I had for that book, the only one who picked it up was a 10-year-old girl. All the adults dismissed it. But I won't go into that, because spoilers!

So to answer your question more directly, it would be super fun to introduce Lacrimora to, well, anyone. I love the Secret History of Lacrimora, all under the surface and never explored. She's a total badass. She could show up in any story and be a villain and a hero simultaneously, which is totally how I wrote her in The Princess Curse. I would like her to take down the Countess in Castle Behind Thorns, frankly, who is a villain and a person to be pitied, but far from heroic.

Play fortune teller: choose one tale (a fairy tale or your own), and take us into the future, past where the story ends: does all turn out Happily Ever After? Any unexpected occurrences?
I have thought through the adulthood of the main players in Handbook for Dragon Slayers quite a bit. Judith and Parz totally go on a husband-hunt for Tilda, not trusting to her mother to find the appropriate person for her, nor trusting to Tilda herself. Judith would use all the reverse psychology on Tilda to convince her that this is The Guy for her. Parz would give The Guy lessons in being gentle and enthusiastic. It would be a pretty epic comedy of manners on some level, kind of Jane Austen visits faux Medieval Germany. Not at all a Middle Grade story, but I think it would be great fun.

You had me at Jane Austen. ;)
Make a case for your favorite lesser-known tale or retelling: which story should we all read, right this instant?
Something that really reeks of fairy tales but is technically not one (though perhaps the first one could be considered a re-telling of Robin Hood) is Jackaroo and the rest of the Kingdom series by Cynthia Voigt. The first one came out when I was a kid, and they are simply gorgeous, heart-breaking, and rich, and just terribly underappreciated. Almost completely unknown is her adult novel, Glass Mountain, which is very charming and atypically romantic story with all sorts of "The Glass Mountain" references.

If you could own any item from a fairytale, what would it be? (eg. The Queen’s magic mirror from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the magic harp from Jack and the Beanstalk).
Possibly this could not be more obvious: I would want the trio of metal horses from "The Princess on the Glass Hill" (different than "The Glass Mountain," even though they both feature geological features made of glass.) I would also just take one such horse and its magical suit of armor.

If, in "real life," they're anything like the horses you introduced in Handbook for Dragon Slayers, then I can't say I blame you a bit. Follow up: if you could give any fairy tale item to one of your characters, what would you give them and how would they use it?
With great power comes great responsibility, right? I think the only one of my characters who would right off the bat have the proper attitude to receiving the unfathomable largess of, say, Aladdin's lamp (who doesn't want that?!) would be... Well, Sand from The Castle Behind Thorns. Sand would repair everything in his castle flawlessly, give his duchy freedom from France, mend all political situations, and do all sorts of untold good, I'm quite sure. (And bring down any particular wall of thorns he sees. You know. Any old wall.)

Would You Rather...
- Follow a trail of breadcrumbs or try to climb a hair rope?
Breadcrumbs. I have much better eyesight than I do upper body strength.
- Go about in the emperor's "new clothes" (ie nothing) or wear a smelly, crusty donkeyskin for the rest of your life? 
UGH! Terrible choice. I mean. Can I launder the donkeyskin at least? I get cold.
No, Merrie. No you cannot. LIFE IS FULL OF DIFFICULT DECISIONS. ;)
- Lose your ability to walk, or lose your ability to talk?
Well, walk. As difficult as that would be, I live words. Also, can I still swim?
- Marry a man cursed into the form of a bear, or a frog?
Bears! Bears are cuddly!
- Eat a poisoned apple (Snow White) or eat pomegranate arils/seeds (Persephone in Greek myth)
Pomegranate, please. Tasty tasty, and no coma.
- Follow a wil-o’-the-wisp or face a troll?
I'm not sure I would come out of either one of those situations alive! So. I guess wil-o'-the-wisping it sounds like a better death. 0.o

Merrie has kindly offered up a prize pack of books, including an ARC of her latest release, Castle Behind Thorns, and an ANNOTATED ARC of Handbook for Dragon Slayers! Ooh, ahh! [No, for real, I'm jealous of the winner of this, 'cause that is awesome.]  This giveaway is US only, and ends May 10th, 2014 at midnight.
**To enter this giveaway, you have to be registered on the Giveaway Registration Form.  Please make sure you have registered, and please do not leave any personal info (like your email) in the comments.  Thanks, and good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Handbook for Dragon Slayers
336 pages, Published May 28th 2013 by HarperCollins
Get It | Add It
Thirteen-year-old Princess Matilda, whose lame foot brings fear of the evil eye, has never given much thought to dragons, attending instead to her endless duties and wishing herself free of a princess's responsibilities.

When a greedy cousin steals Tilda's lands, the young princess goes on the run with two would-be dragon slayers. Before long she is facing down the Wild Hunt, befriending magical horses, and battling flame-spouting dragons. On the adventure of a lifetime, and caught between dreams of freedom and the people who need her, Tilda learns more about dragons—and herself—than she ever imagined.

Merrie Haskell, author of The Princess Curse, presents a magical tale of transformation, danger, and duty, starring a remarkable princess as stubborn as she is brave.

Castle Behind Thorns
336 pages, Expected publication: May 27th 2014 by Katherine Tegen Books
Get It | Add It
When Sand wakes up alone in a long-abandoned castle, he has no idea how he got there. The stories all said the place was ruined by an earthquake, and Sand did not expect to find everything inside-from dishes to candles to apples-torn in half or slashed to bits. Nothing lives here and nothing grows, except the vicious, thorny bramble that prevents Sand from leaving. Why wasn't this in the stories?

To survive, Sand does what he knows best-he fires up the castle's forge to mend what he needs to live. But the things he fixes work somehow better than they ought to. Is there magic in the mending, granted by the saints who once guarded this place?

Unexpectedly, Sand finds the lost heir, Perrotte, a girl who shares the castle's astonishing secrets and dark history. Putting together the pieces-of stone and iron, and of a broken life-is harder than Sand ever imagined, but it's the only way to gain their freedom, even with the help of the guardian saints.

With gorgeous language and breathtaking magic, Merrie Haskell's The Castle Behind Thorns tells of the power of memory and story, forgiveness and strength, and the true gifts of craft and imagination

Merrie Haskell’s novels are The Princess Curse, Handbook for Dragon Slayers and The Castle Behind Thorns. Merrie was a finalist for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature in 2013, and won the 2014 Middle Grades Schneider Family Book Award. She lives in Michigan and works in a library with 7.5 million volumes.

Click here to go back to the Fairy Tale Fortnight Main Page, where you can access the schedule or find out more!


  1. Are you kidding me with this??! Definitely an amazing giveaway!

    You know I'm a huge Haskell Fangirl and I really loved this interview - especially the references to so many lesser known tales I clearly need to track down immediately.

  2. Oh man, I love Handbook for Dragon Slayers! I can't wait to read Haskell's newest, so I'd love to win this. (Plus: annotations!) Too cool.

    I hope I catch the Easter egg cameo. ^_^

  3. You always ask such great questions, and Merrie gave great answers! I enjoyed The Princess Curse, and I've been dying to read her other books.

  4. I've read The Princess Curse in the beggining of this year and I loved it SO MUCH! I wanted it to be longer, to know more about that world, what would happen after... It was so unique, her writing style is so good.. and the cover! I was happily surprised when I discovered that her other books are in the same world as the first one, I really wanna read them!

  5. Great interview. I added the books to my never ending TBR so I will have to read them soon.

  6. I've wanted to read Handbook for Dragonslayers for ages! This is an amazing giveaway.

  7. this is a new genre for me!!
    thank you for the giveaway!!!

  8. I loved The Princess Curse and Handbook for Dragonslayers. I can't wait to read The Castle Behind Thorns

  9. These stories sound beautiful, if I don't win them I'll just have to go to my library and see if I can get a copy there. ;)


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


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...