Meet Melissa Bashardoust.
Hi Melissa! Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.
From my bio (excuse the third person):
Melissa Bashardoust received her degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, where she rediscovered her love for creative writing, children’s literature, and fairy tales and their retellings. She currently lives in Southern California with a cat named Alice and more copies of Jane Eyre than she probably needs. Girls Made of Snow and Glass is her first novel. Her second novel, She Was and She Was Not: A Fairy Tale, will be released in spring 2020.
Author website: http://www.melissabashardoust.com
Prior to your rediscovery of writing, children’s literature, and fairy tales, had you been writing? Considering writing?
Definitely! I’ve been writing since childhood. I would always throw myself into creative writing assignments in school, and as a kid, I wrote stories that usually involved something supernatural, like witches or fairies or ghosts. I fell out of the habit a bit in high school apart from class assignments, but writing has always been a part of me, and so it was just waiting for me to come home to it again.
Was there a line in either of your novels that you really wanted to have but ultimately had to cut? If not, what is one of your favorite lines from either novel?
I actually think everything I’ve cut was cut for a good reason, so I’d love to share a favorite line from my upcoming novel, She Was and She Was Not:
“She had read enough stories to know that the princess and the monster were never the same. She had been alone long enough to know which one she was.”
What is it about that Jane Eyre that requires “more copies” than you probably need?
Since Jane Eyre has been around for so long, there are SO many beautiful copies that I sometimes can’t help myself from acquiring no matter how many I already have. I read Jane Eyre because it was assigned in high school, but it ended up becoming my absolute favorite book. I was captivated with it from the beginning and found the entire experience to be an amazing emotional rollercoaster.
I love the gothic drama of it all, but it’s Jane herself—her resilience and inner strength, her journey of learning to love and respect herself, her struggle to find the balance between her emotions and her conscience, and to find companionship while maintaining her independence and individuality—that resonates the most with me, no matter how many years pass. I still find wisdom in Jane Eyre that applies at different times of my life, and so I feel like I can never have too many copies!
Do you have any writing quirks that amuse or annoy you?
I love that moment while writing when you’re trying to figure out if something is physically possible, or how to describe a certain movement just right, so you find yourself acting it out in front of your laptop while hoping that no one walks by at that moment to see you swinging your arms around like a fool.
Tell us about your experience from writing to publishing, Girls Made of Snow and Glass.
When I started writing Girls Made of Snow and Glass, I had just set aside a different novel that I had unsuccessfully queried for a while. I was actually working on something else when the idea for a Snow White retelling came to me, and so at first, I thought of Girls Made of Snow and Glass as just a potential future project to come back to one day—but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to write it, so I gave in and let it take over my brain full time.
The first draft was very different from what it ended up becoming—I hadn’t realized I wanted to do alternating POVs yet, and the magical elements were very minor, among other things—but a few drafts later, I began the querying process. As I’m sure any writer will tell you, there are a lot of ups and downs while querying, so I was thrilled when my agent, Meredith Kaffel Simonoff, offered to represent me—when we spoke on the phone, I knew she understood what I wanted this novel to be.
After some more revision, we went out on submission to different editors, including Sarah Barley at Flatiron, where I found my publishing home. I’ve learned so much since I first started drafting this novel, not just about writing and plotting, but also about patience and resilience.
What of Persian/Zoroastrian mythology inspired you for your upcoming novel, She Was and She Was Not: A Fairy Tale?
I had been wanting to write something related to Sleeping Beauty and was trying to figure out what kind of world I wanted to set this story in. I had played around with the idea of contemporary settings, but having recently read a little about Persian myth and the Shahnameh (a Persian epic about kings both real and mythical), I kept thinking about what a Sleeping Beauty story set in Ancient Persia might look like. In particular, there’s already this dichotomy of “good” and “bad” supernatural creatures that seemed to fit with the benevolent and malevolent fairies at the beginning of Sleeping Beauty. That was the spark of She Was and She Was Not, and over time, I found other ways to weave together Sleeping Beauty and figures from Persian myth, including a demon king, a pari (the Persian equivalent of a fairy), and a mythical bird called the simorgh.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?
I’m so grateful to everyone who’s read and reviewed and shared Girls Made of Snow and Glass, and I’m excited to set She Was and She Was Not loose on the world in 2020!