And Literary Rambles made The Write Life Presents 100 Best Websites for Writers list. Go HERE to see the complete list. Congrats to all the winners. I read a number of the blogs that won and they're fantastic.
And Medeia Shariff sold SECRETEST BOYFRIEND EVER, the sequel to BESTEST. RAMADAN. EVER to be published later this year. Here's a short blurb:
When Almira’s family is always making plans for her, she has to sneak around to see her secret boyfriend, Peter. And he’s secret because her strict Muslim family forbids her to date. When her time with Peter is compromised, Almira hatches a crazy plan to spend more time with him.
Go HERE to congratulate her.
Next I’ve got a winner to announce.
The winner of DEFY is Gayle Krause!
Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can send you your book. Please e-mail me by the end of Wednesday or I’ll have to pick another winner.
Today I’m excited to have debut author Rosamund Hodge here to share about CRUEL BEAUTY, which releases on January 28, 2014. I love fairy tale retellings and I really enjoyed Rosamund’s new take on Beauty and the Beast, especially because it also mixes this tale with Greek mythology. And Nyx is a fascinating character filled with all of the emotions—good and bad—that we all have.
Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:
Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.
With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.
As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.
Hi Rosamund. Thanks so much for joining us.
1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.
I have been telling stories ever since I can remember—when I was a little girl, I told my mother endless installments of epic stories as I dried the dishes every night. But I didn’t get the idea of becoming a writer until I was eight, and my thirteen-year-old brother told me I was too young to join his writing club. Of course I swore that I would become a writer and make him SORRY.
He’s still not sorry. But at least I get to publish a novel!
2. That’s so funny how you started writing in part because of your brother. What inspired you to write this story?
I had never felt any real desire to write a “Beauty and the Beast” retelling; I liked the story, but it felt http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/eastsunwestmoon/index.html] a story where (for the sake of her family) a girl marries a polar bear. He stays a bear during the day, but at night he comes to her in the form of a man. Only she's forbidden to light a candle and look at him — and when she goes home to visit her family, her mother goads her into looking anyway, which triggers a curse that forces them apart. Cue epic quest to get him back. It is very, very clearly another form of “Beauty and the Beast.” It is also very clearly another form of “Cupid and Psyche” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cupid_and_Psyche]—a Greco-Roman myth about a girl who thinks she’s beings sacrificed to a monster but is actually marrying the god of love, and who is forbidden to see his face.
Suddenly “Beauty and the Beast” wasn’t just one static little separate story to me; it was part of a whole tapestry of stories about brave young women travel to strange places and marry monsters who are really men (or men who are really monsters, which is how some “Bluebeard” [http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/bluebeard/index.html] elements ended up in the novel.) And it was in the intersection of those stories that I found the tale I wanted to tell.
3. Awesome that you got the idea from reading a book. I love learning from the books I read and it’s true books, TV, and movies can inspire our ideas. Nyx knows from a young age that her family picked her instead of her sister to marry and kill Ignifex, the evil lord ruling her land. And she has a lot of feeling about this, including a lot of anger, which is understandable, but could also lead to Nyx not being sympathetic. And you show us this from the beginning of the story. Share how you balanced her negative feelings with her other qualities to make her remain a sympathetic character.
That’s kind of a funny question to me, because when I was writing CRUEL BEAUTY, I actually tried very hard not to make Nyx a nice person, and I ended up breaking my original outline to do it! But I did still want her to be sympathetic, and I guess the main thing I did was try to make her aware of when she was being unjust and unkind. I ended up drawing a lot on my own teenage years to write about that. Now, I had a very happy childhood and my parents hardly ever sold me to demon princes. But I did have a bad temper, so I knew very well the horrible feeling of being furious while knowing you had no right be furious. And I’d always loved heroines who struggled with genuinely ugly feelings. So I tried to do that with Nyx.
4. You did a good job with that. And it’s true we all have hidden ugly feelings. I read that you read a lot of fairy tales. Where do you find all the fairy tales and the different versions of them? Do you have any tips for writing a fairy tale retelling?
It’s hard to say where I find fairy tales, because my entire life has been saturated with them. My mom read aloud Grimm’s fairy tales to me and my brothers when we were children. We had a great pile of fairy tale picture books—which varied widely in how close they were to their original sources—as well as the Andrew Lang fairy books. And then I kept reading at the library, too.
Nowadays, two places I often look for inspiration are the Sur La Lune [http://www.surlalunefairytales.com] website (which focuses on a small set of fairy tales, but annotates them and provides a lot of information on different versions and related stories) and D. L. Ashman’s Folklore and Mythology site [http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/folktexts.html] which provides a vast number of fairy tales organized by type.
As for tips: don’t just read a lot of fairy tales, read a lot of different versions. Most of us grow up knowing fairytales in two forms: the Disney version, and the Standard Picture Book version, which is usually a Grimm/Perault hybrid with the ickiest bits removed. But every story comes with a million different versions—or ancestors, or siblings. It’s in the places where stories overlap and intersect and contradict that I find my inspiration, and I think that learning about that complexity can help you create something that isn’t just Disney-with-a-twist.
5. Thanks for the links. I’ll have to check them out. You wrote this during NaNo. What was your revision process like and what challenges did you have to overcome?
Well, to be perfectly accurate: CRUEL BEAUTY was not a NaNoWriMo novel. I started it in September and finished it in mid-November, while also trying to hit the word-count goals for my actual NaNoWriMo project. (It was a crazy month.) So it wasn’t a NaNoWriMo novel exactly . . . but it was written pretty quickly, and so a lot of the revisions involved expanding it, and getting the stuff that had been in my head onto the paper.
6. What have you learned craft-wise from working with your editor?
I have learned that if, when you hand people your novel, you keep having to tell them, “This is set in a world where X and Y and Z, and also sometimes Q, except when P”—at that point, you should probably just put X, Y, Z, P, and Q into the actual text of your novel.
Also K. It’s really important to have K, and by “K” I mean “kissing scenes,” which I’ve had to expand in every draft I’ve sent to my editor.
7. Your agent is Hannah Bowman. Share how she became your agent and your road to publication.
It’s not a terribly exciting story. I queried agents. And I queried agents. And I queried some more agents, and a few of them did ask to see the full manuscript, but they would always return it with one of those “It’s not you, it’s me” rejection letters. Finally—after about nine months and 65 agents—I queried Hannah. She didn’t take me on right away; she wanted to see if I could make some revisions. I revised, she liked it, and she took me on. (Then we did even more revisions.)
Submitting the novel to editors was much easier and faster. Sara Sargent at Balzer + Bray made an offer within a couple of weeks, and that was that!
8. Even if your story to getting an agent isn’t exciting, it shows the importance of not giving up. Your book has been selected as an Epic Read. How did it get selected and what does that mean for you in terms of publicizing your book?
I have no idea how my book was selected as an Epic Read. The oracle commanded it? The stars aligned? I presume it was something to do with the Marketing and Publicity departments, which for all I know consult oracles. What it means for me, so far, is that it’s been featured on the Epic Reads blog. Perhaps at some point they will also give me a tiara?
9. You’re a member of OneFour Kidlit, a group of MG and YA debut authors. How did you find out about this group and how has it helped you? When do you recommend a debut author seek out such a group and how does she/he find out about these type of groups?
I’m afraid the story of how I found OneFour KidLit is not too universally helpful—my agent heard about it on Twitter and passed the news on to me. Obviously that won’t happen to everyone! But I would guess Twitter and general networking is a good place to start. Alternately, you could probably contact the last year’s debut group(s)—they’re probably setting up interviews with next year’s. (OneFour KidLit did a bunch of interviews with people who debuted in 2013.) As for when: I joined in September 2012 (about when OneFour started), and that’s probably a good time to start looking.
How has OneFour helped me? Well, they’ve helped with publicity, though of course with that sort of thing, it’s really hard to gauge how much any one effort has helped. I think the main benefit is that it’s given me a community of writers who are going through the same things I am. And it’s how I ended up involved in The Hanging Garden [http://hanginggardenstories.tumblr.com], a blog of short fiction inspired by GIFs.
10. It’s good to know that we can find out about these groups through our agent or word of mouth. What are you working on now?
I’m working on my second novel for Balzer + Bray. It’s . . . how shall I put this? It’s kind of like “Little Red Riding Hood” meets (gender-swapped) “Girl With No Hands.” [link: http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/armlessmaiden/index.html]. There’s a bit of Norse mythology in there too, because everything is better with Norse mythology.
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Rosamund. You can find Rosamund at:
Rosamund and her publisher Harper Collins generously offered an ARC of CRUEL BEAUTY for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through February 1st. I’ll announce the winner on February 3rd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome but the winner would get an e-book or $5.00 Amazon gift card.
Here’s what’s coming up:
On Wednesday I’m interviewing follower and debut author Stina Lindenblatt and giving away a copy of TELL ME WHEN, her contemporary NA story. Her characters are rich, complex people that I grew to love and even though I don’t read much contemporary stories, I read her book in two days. And it's always exciting when one of our followers becomes a published author. Yay!
Next Monday I’m interviewing MG debut author Rachel Searles and giving away a ARC of THE LOST PLANET. I loved the plot of this one. Chase wakes up on an unknown planet not knowing who he is and goes on an action packed space adventure to discover who he really is.
Next Friday I’ll be participating in the Favorites Giveaway Hop. I’ll have lots of great choices that I loved or am looking forward to. My post will be posted on Friday afternoon.
The following Monday I’m interviewing Holly Schindler and giving away a copy of THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY. This is a contemporary middle grade story that I know you’re going to love so I jumped at the chance to be part of Holly’s blog tour.
And don’t forget Casey’s Tip Tuesdays and Agent Spotlights.
Hope to see you on Wednesday!