Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Bridget Hodder here to share about her MG fairytale retelling THE RAT PRINCE. It’s gotten great reviews and sounds like an amazing retelling of Cinderella.
Here’s a blurb from Goodreads
The dashing Prince of the Rats–who’s in love with Cinderella–is changed into her coachman by the Fairy Godmother on the night of the big ball. And he’s about to turn the legend (and the evening) upside down on his way to a most unexpected happy ending!:
Hi Bridget! Thanks so much for joining us.
1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.
Hi Natalie! I'm so happy to be here, thank you!
I became a writer through reading. Stories are like candy to me--a sweet, addictive experience--and the more I read, the more I want. So back in childhood, when they ran out of books I liked at the library, I started writing my own.
I wrote my first "book" at age 4, entitled The Lovely Someplace. I penciled the words and illustrations, cut the pages, and stapled it together myself. THE RAT PRINCE is my debut novel, so it's been a few years (ahem) since The Lovely Someplace.
Persistence pays off!
2. So true about persistence. Where did you get the idea for THE RAT PRINCE?
It came straight out of the blue. I didn't sit down and say "Okay, what am I going to write?" and then power my way through to an answer. Actually, the basic idea for the plot-- the Prince of the Rats is changed into Cinderella's coachman, and he turns out to be this kickass guy who outshines the regular prince-- hit me while I was taking a shower.
3. Share a bit about your world building process for Prince Char’s world. Do you have any tips for other writers?
I did my undergraduate work in European history, and wrote my thesis using primary sources at theBritish Museum Library, so I had an extensive research background to draw upon as I wrote THE RAT PRINCE. Building a vibrant rat culture with its own history, ceremonies, and traditions, was a true delight. I got to dream up "old sayings", create a rat throne room, devise a naming system, navigate inter-species politics, and on and on. I loved it! The fact that the rats tend to view their environment through food-colored glasses made it even more enjoyable (although I did gain some weight while writing the book)!
You asked for world-building tips I could give to other writers, and I'm no expert, but here's one: As long as your universe is thorough, consistent, and follows its own rules, readers will believe in it.
4. Sounds like you had a fun world building process. Reviewers of your story rave about your retelling. Share how you decided on the way you made this a retelling. Do you have any advice for authors wanting to write a fairytale retelling?
It's not terribly hard to "fracture" a fairytale. Put the annoyingly passive heroine in trousers and give her a sword; make the ridiculously beautiful princess not so pretty; make the prince poor, not rich... You can tell great stories this way.
But I didn't do this in THE RAT PRINCE. Rather, I set a challenge for myself. I wanted to try my hand at a retelling that was faithful to the outlines of the "original" fairytale, while explaining the huge gaps and inconsistencies in the plot and adding depth and character. I also wanted to change the sexist, materialistic tone of the original tale, but do it without introducing glaringly modern elements.
It was a tall order.
In the end, I think I was able to give the book an air of discovery--as if I were a scholar who went looking for the "true" story of Cinderella, and found this first-hand account buried deep in the royal archives of Angland.
As for advice... I think you should write whatever makes your heart sing and your fingers click across those keys like they'll never stop!
5. It sounds like Prince Char’s voice really comes out in your story and that he is a really memorable character. Share how his character developed for you.
My first ideas of Prince Char had him as a morally ambivalent character. His rat-ness made him willing to do absolutely anything to achieve his goals; a kind of anti-hero. That changed almost immediately when I sat down to write from Prince Char's point of view. The character spoke for himself--he's fierce, noble, principled. Though he starts out with a ruthless edge, his growth arc throughout the book explores the theme of what it means to be humane as well as human.
6. That is awesome how he turned out to be opposite of your vision of him. Your agent is Eric Myers. How did he become your agent and what was your road to publication like?
Like most debut authors, I wrote several manuscripts prior to the one that sold. Those old attempts will probably stay in the boxes in my attic forever. I worked long, hard and humbly to learn my craft before I was ready to sell. Then I found my agent the traditional way--I researched him online and sent him a query letter.
7. Good to know this route works well. What was something that surprised you about working with Eric?
One day, early in our professional relationship, Eric told me not to think about "the market" while I was writing my next book. He told me to write from the heart and create classics that rise above market trends. It surprised me and almost brought me to tears. (The good kind.) I'm very lucky to have him.
8. How are you planning to market your book? What advice do you have for writers planning to debut in terms of marketing?
There are lots of interviews, guest posts, and giveaways associated with the release of THE RAT PRINCE. I'm also lined up for some personal appearances and signings at events like the Baltimore Book Festival in September, and Ohio's Books by the Banks in October. I'll be touring in Louisiana in November. You can keep up with those dates and more on my website, www.BridgetHodder.com
My best marketing advice? As soon as you sell your book, consider joining a debut authors' group like The Sweet Sixteens. Doing promotion in a group can be more productive than going it alone. You can pool your resources, ideas and energy, and make beautiful friendships at the same time!
9. What are you working on now?
I actually have two super-secret projects in the works...stay tuned!
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Bridget!
THE RAT PRINCE at Macmillan Publishing:
THE RAT PRINCE on Amazon:
THE RAT PRINCE on Goodreads:
Bridget has generously donated an ARC of THE RAT PRINCE 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 August 20th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.
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 years old or older to enter. This is an international giveaway.
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Messenger. You can find the participating blogs on her blog.
Here's what's coming up:
Next Monday I will be doing another Summer Fun Book Giveaway--my last for the summer.
The following Monday I have a guest post by one of our followers and a blogger friend C. Lee McKenzie and a giveaway of her new MG adventure SIGN OF THE GREEN DRAGON.
The Monday after that I have a guest post by debut author Hannah West and a giveaway of her YA fantasy KINGDOM OF ASHES AND BRIARS.