Interview With Author Allison Saft

Author Interview

Meet Allison Saft.

Social media links:

Hi Allison!

Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi, Rae! Thank you so much for having me! I’m the author of Down Comes the Night, which is out in early 2021 with Wednesday Books. It’s a blend of YA fantasy and Gothic romance about two sworn enemies who must work together when a snowstorm traps them in a mysterious, crumbling estate. I’m inspired by real-world history and politics, vivid settings, and, honestly, anime. I was born in Philadelphia, but I’ve lived in Austin, New Orleans, and most recently, the California Bay Area. When I’m not writing, I’m usually hiking the redwoods, experimenting with new recipes, or practicing aerial silks.

The Interview.

Do you think your background in English Literature enhances or weakens your writing? Perhaps both?

When working within the conventions of a historical literary movement like the Gothic, I think a background in English Literature can be a huge boon! Gothic literature is more than just a flickering-candlelight aesthetic; understanding the economic and cultural factors that led to its popularity in the 19th century has been instrumental in telling a story that stays true to its roots while appealing to 21st-century readers.

I could see potential drawbacks to a literature background, too! When we treat novels as objects of study—as literary contraptions, as one professor of mine used to say—it can suck the joy out of them. Writing fiction, at least in the drafting stage, is a very emotional, intuitive, sometimes even spiritual practice for me; too much analysis can kill a project in its early stages. For what it’s worth, though, I think you can get roped into believing that all your academic friends will judge you if you write genre fic—or worse, young adult genre fic! But if you don’t respect what you’re working on, it won’t be any good. Besides, any friends who consider genre fic lesser aren’t worth listening to (and are missing out, honestly).

What kickstarted your writing journey and resulted in your debut, Down Comes the Night?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid in some form or another (mostly fanfiction…), but what really kickstarted my writing journey was a mentorship program called Author Mentor Match. Deadlines always motivate me, so I planned to rewrite a trunked project during NaNoWriMo 2017 and submit it to AMM in March 2018. By late November, I finished my rewrite. I printed it out, read it through, and immediately threw it in the garbage. It was entirely soulless—the book I thought I was supposed to write rather than a book I really cared about.

I didn’t have any other ideas, so I moped for about a week. Then I thought, well, what do I have to lose? Why not write something fun? Something that would capture the magic writing once had when I was a teenager with no ambitions for my work beyond entertaining my friends. Something romantic and dramatic and full of all the tropes I loved. I finished a draft of Down Comes the Night in about six weeks. I ended up getting into AMM with it, and the guidance, support, and feedback from my mentor and peers were invaluable as I revised and queried the book. I wouldn’t be where I am without them, and I still count on them today!   

Name two things about Gothic literature that fascinate you.

Its relationship to the past—how it, by turns, expresses a longing to return to an unrecoverable time and stages hauntings from that which refuses to be left behind.

Its (sometimes hilariously) intense fixation on the emotional experience of the protagonist.  

As a writer, what has been your biggest struggle when drafting, revising, and editing?

Drafting: I’m a fast drafter—meaning I like to hurtle through a skeletal “draft zero” before I double back and fill in the details. Finishing that draft zero means I’m usually pretty sure a plot works in execution, but it also means the book reads almost like a screenplay. In those really early drafts, it’s sometimes hard for me to imagine how a project will come together thematically and emotionally.

Revising: Since I draft the way I do, my first revision pass is basically… actually writing the book! That’s the hardest part, although it’s the most rewarding. From there, it’s all about ironing out the details, large and small. Revising Down Comes the Night nearly killed me a few times. It has an element of mystery, and it was hard to get right. Planning out the reveals, streamlining the investigation, cutting unnecessary red herring characters, making sure everyone’s motives were clear… Tears were shed!   

Editing: The hardest thing about editing is learning to let go. I struggled with this during line edits for Down Comes the Night, and I’m struggling again during copyedits. I could tinker forever with line-level prose, but there comes a point when you have to cut yourself off and accept that you’ve done the best you can. That the book will just be different, not better, and you may do more harm than good if you start messing with things that don’t need messing with.

What makes the ideal monster?

I think a lot about “monster romances” and what makes them work. What does it mean for a character to be monstrous? What does it mean for a (physically) non-monstrous character to identify with the monster? To me, it’s notable that some of the most successful (in my opinion) monster romances are between human women who are marginalized in some way and monsters who are similarly, often wrongly, reviled. In Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver, it’s significant that Miryem is Jewish—as significant as it is that her monstrous love interest, the Staryk King, rules over a fae-like people who are hated because they supposedly strike ruthless bargains and impoverish the kingdom in their endless quest for gold. It’s significant that the heroine of Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is a mute woman named Elisa Esposito in love with a creature stolen from a river in Brazil.

However, I also think there are monsters who are purely reprehensible. Those that embody the ugliness in society or are clearly some cultural fear made flesh. I like them, too.

  • In terms of crumbly mansions, is there a real life mansion that you’ve visited or wanted to visit?

I’ve only ever been to the Newport mansions, which are stunning and ridiculous and the very opposite of crumbly. I’ve always wanted to see the real Allerdale Hall from Crimson Peak—but it turns out they built the entire set in the studio, which is wild to me!

What is the root of romance for you?

To me, a good romance has sizzling tension and also answers the question “why are these characters good for each other?” in a way that’s thematically satisfying.When I’m writing romance, I consider what the characters want and need individually—and how each character’s wants and needs both complement and complicate the other’s. I always try to write parallel character arcs for my romantic leads. Oftentimes, they both need the same thing; they’ve just developed different ways of coping with that lack and told themselves different stories about what exactly will make them happy.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

While Down Comes the Night doesn’t come out until next year, there are some really exciting books coming out in 2020! I can tell you from experience that Beyond the Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald and The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman are absolutely fantastic. Some of my most-anticipated reads are Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Barshardoust, The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska, The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson, and A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe.

Guest Post: “The Infinity of YA Youth: or, Why I Write YA” by Jenny Elder Moke

Guest Post

Meet Jenny Elder Moke.

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Jenny Elder Moke writes young adult fiction in an attempt to recapture the shining infinity of youth. She was a finalist in the 2017 Austin Film Festival Podcast Competition, and studied children’s writing with Liz Garton Scanlon.

When she is not writing, she’s gathering story ideas from her daily adventures with her two irredeemable rapscallions and honing her ninja skills as a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Jenny lives in Austin, TX with her husband and two children.

Her debut novel, HOOD, about the daughter of Robin Hood and Maid Marien, will release from Disney/Hyperion on June 9, 2020. She is represented by Elizabeth Bewley at Sterling Lord Literistic.

Social Media Links
Website: https://jennyeldermoke.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jennyelder
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jennyeldermoke/?hl=en
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jenny.eldermoke.3

 

The Guest Post.

The Infinity of YA Youth: or, Why I Write YA

 

Being a kid can feel eternal. Making it through the school day; waiting to be old enough to pick your own clothes or drive your own car or eat whatever you want for breakfast; waiting for the next season of your favorite show so you can binge it and immediately regret watching it too fast (actually that’s probably an adult thing, too). Everything just takes so long when you’re ready to go go go – ready to be done with school, to be done with homework, to be an adult where you can make your own choices and your own money and your own life. So much of childhood feels like waiting for your real life to start, and that wait can stretch on forever.

But there’s another type of eternity in childhood that first drew me to young adult novels as a reader, and then as a storyteller myself. There’s a line in my bio that says I write young adult novels to recapture the shining infinity of youth, and that infinity isn’t the tiny eternity you live trying to make it through a chemistry final. It isn’t the eternity of waiting for your birthday, or Christmas, or summer vacation. It’s the infinity of possibility. When you’re young, you’re on the edge of everything. You’re on the precipice of experiencing everything for the first time – first love, first heartbreak, first achievements, first year of high school, first year of college (VERY different experiences if you haven’t lived them both yet), all those life-changing moments that shape you into the adult you will become. You’re on the edge of forming your best, truest self, the butterfly you’ll triumphantly explode into after the transformative cocoon of childhood.

And all those firsts? Sometimes they hurt – horribly, worse than anything you’ll ever feel. And sometimes they are like sips of sunshine, a joy so pure and radiant it bursts through every pore in your body. Sometimes they fill you with a rage that makes you shake, and sometimes they make you so blue you’ll feel like you’re drowning on land. Sometimes they’ll feel like too much, like your skin will burst or your heart will explode from the pressure. You don’t yet have ways to protect yourself from them, from the immediacy and the intensity. You have no choice but to be present, to experience those feelings so deeply and fully that they overwhelm you.

But that’s what I love most about young adult fiction, far more than adult fiction. That immediacy of emotion, the importance of every decision, that feeling that everything you do is huge. What you wear today, what books you read, what hobbies you pursue, what schools you look at – every single decision feels like it’s setting you on a course for the rest of your life. Some of them do, and some of them don’t, but you can’t know which ones are which until you make them and live through them. And even though that living through them can be painful and messy and complicated, you’re fully living. You’re in the thick of it, your brain and your body and your spirit coming alive with possibility.

HoodIt’s the same decisions my characters face in HOOD – the same decisions all my characters face, because it’s one I’m constantly facing. Who do I want to be? Where do I fit in the world? What is my purpose in life? Isabelle, the main character in HOOD, is certainly looking for her place in the world. She doesn’t fit in with her old life in a priory (a place of chores and prayers and severely limited wardrobe choices), but when she accidentally shoots one of the king’s soldiers and becomes a fugitive, as terrifying as it is, the decision opens up her world. Suddenly she’s searching for the father she’s never known, fighting for her place among the Merry Men, battling the king of England – and finding her purpose in the world. It’s painful, and messy, and terrifying, but it’s also exhilarating. Because she’s on the edge of everything, the infinity of possibilities opening up before her. And I hope readers find the joy and heartbreak and hope in that shining infinity.

 

 

HOOD coming soon!

Stay tuned for more information by visiting Jenny’s social media links.

Author Interview: Brian Koscienski & Chris Pisano

Author Interview, Misc.

Meet Brian Koscienski & Chris Pisano.

BK and CP.jpg

Links:
www.novelguys.com
www.fortresspublishinginc.com
https://www.facebook.com/brian.and.chris/
https://www.facebook.com/Fortress-Publishing-Inc/
https://www.instagram.com/novelguybrian/
https://twitter.com/novelguybrian
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1914791.Brian_Koscienski
https://theimbloglio.wordpress.com/

The Interview.

 

Hi Brian & Chris! Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourselves.
Brian Koscienski & Chris Pisano skulk the realms of south, central Pennsylvania. Brian developed a love of writing from countless hours of reading comic books and losing himself in the worlds and adventures found within their colorful pages. In tenth grade, Chris was discouraged by his English teacher from reading H.P. Lovecraft, and being a naturally disobedient youth he has been a fan ever since. They have logged many hours writing novels, stories, articles, comic books, reviews, and the occasional ridiculous haiku. To find out where they may be skulking next, visit them at http://www.novelguys.com. If you happen to see them at one of the various conventions they participate in, feel free to stop by their table and say, “Hi.” They’re harmless!

If you could live in any fictional world, where are you headed?
C: The City.
B: The city? Which city?
C: THE City. From “The Tick.”
B: You don’t follow directions well. She asked which world, not city.
C: I think she means “world” as blanket setting containing a specific set of characters and associated confines. I’d love to rub elbows with The Tick and Die Fledermaus. Arthur never wants to be “the bunny guy,” so I figure maybe I can give that a try. Play with Speak, the mangy capybara… teach him a few tricks, possibly even how to walk. The possibilities here are endless! Look out! Here comes Carpeted Man and he’s fully charged with static electricity!
B: You don’t have issues, you have subscriptions.
C: Yeah? What world are you choosing?
B: Star Wars.
C: Star Wars isn’t a world.
B: Following your arbitrary definition, it is. All those planets. All those cities. All those cantinas filled with cool sentient beings. And light sabers! Star Wars has light sabers! And pew-pew guns. I want a pew-pew gun.
C: Rebel scum.

What is your writing origin story?
B: I wish it were more interesting.
C: And more enlightened.
B: That’s true. See, we’re guys and we communicate as such.
C: Meaning we speak to each other with monosyllabic grunts about beer, sports, and movies where stuff gets blowed up.
B: So, we knew each other for literally ten years before either of us knew the other aspired to be a professional writer.
C: Not only that, but it took a third party to tell each of us that the other aspired to be a professional writer.
B: We started working a novel together, but then also discover a mutual appreciation for comic books.
C: And comic book conventions.
B: We started writing scripts for original material as well as a few short stories and a series on online articles. Once we realized that this collaboration was going to be permanent and far reaching, we decided to form a corporation to protect our intellectual property.
C: It makes me laugh every time you say, “intellectual.”
B: Thus, Fortress Publishing, Inc. was born. We started with a graphic novel containing four different books and a few chap books. Even though we’re up to eight novels published through four other publishers, we use Fortress to develop those properties as well as about two dozen more. And we have legal recourse should one of us kill the other in his sleep.
C: Rebel scum.

Favorite genre to write for?
B: Even though I usually like science fiction more as a genre, I like to write fantasy.
C: Weirdo.
B: I feel like science fiction is far more limitless, but to write anything more than “laser-guns and aliens” type science fiction, you really need to have a firm grasp of the particular science you’re writing about. With fantasy, you can run unabashedly with scissors.
C: I like horror.
B: Dare I ask why?
C: Horror delves into the human psyche. What makes us afraid? Are we still human if we’re stripped away of the comforts of humanity? Plus, most horror stories, especially the classics, are allegories. Dracula was an allegory about lust. Werewolves examine what happens when we no longer contain the beast within. Zombie stories reflect upon our fear or becoming another brainless member of a work-only-to-consume post-modern society.
B: Wow. You really like to give your literature degree a workout, don’t you?
C: Each and every day.
Do you have any writing quirks?
B: I lick my computer keyboard.
C: Eeeeew!! You’re disgusting!
B: I’m joking! It’s a joke! I don’t lick my computer keyboard. I lick YOUR computer keyboard.
C: I hate you.
B: I think that might be my writing quirk. Annoying him. Other than that, I think the quirkiest thing I do is write specific scenes of a chapter and then suture them together.
C: I have two writing quirks. I tend to get stuck in inner monologue mode, which often leads me to switch point of view without trying to do so. For this reason I cannot stress enough the importance of re-reading your work and bringing in another set of eyes for editing.
B: Yeah, as his second set of eyes, I sooooooo love that. He mumbled sarcastically.
C: The other quirk I have is searching for the exact word even when it doesn’t immediately come to me. I have to remind myself to move on. I sat down to write and my time to do so is limited, so I have to get better at keeping on task and word searching when I’m re-reading or editing.
B: Of course, for this he never contacts me.
C: We’re guys and communicate as such.

Are you already planning for 2020?

If yes, what does your writing schedule look like?
B: Yep!
C: We’re always planning. We’re like rabid wolverines; we can’t be stopped, most of the times we can’t be contained.
B: Your analogies make me itchy.
C: Then get a cream and quit whining.
B: Anyway… We’re looking to have three or four novels released as writers, and as publishers, we are launching at least one solo-topic magazine and possible the start of a series of novellas.
C: As well as shopping around two novels and develop another series or two and crank out more and more words.
B: After all, we are rabid wolverines, apparently.
C: See, I knew you liked the analogy.
B: Still itches.

What is it like co-authoring?

Do you both have different schedules and deadlines?
C: This is a tricky question. We are completely different in terms of, well, everything. From our writing backgrounds to our styles to our joking styles. When I hand off a work in progress to Brian with some instructional thoughts I rarely get back what I expect… and I think that’s the best part about it. It’s a challenge, but a mind expanding one.
B: The same water flows in the other direction, too. It’ll be his turn to work on a project and I’ll say, “This is point A, get to point B.” He’ll get to point Q via points J, K, and pi, and never even get close to point B.
C: He attacks tricky problems differently than I do. His characters speak in strange tongues. His sentence structure is simplistic… but his characters actually accomplish something, argue their points with validity, and he can advance a plot in wondrously unexpected ways. My characters do NONE of that!
B: Basically, he’s the better writer, but I’m the better story teller.

What has been your greatest author experience so far?
B: I’d have to say getting our first novel published. Getting it accepted by a publisher was an amazing feeling – someone was willing to invest in us! But then to hold the finished product in my hands? Total dream come true!
C: I am humbled and elated every time someone comes up to us at a show and asks about the next book in a series. Please keep doing that. I need more humbling experiences!
B: You just love to be loved.
C: It’s just natural for a human being to appreciate the well wishes that other humans give.
B: Attention whore.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

C: I have a tremendous love of the written word, so I often encourage people to keep reading. Read what interests you, but don’t forget to try new things.
B: I agree. Half the books in my read pile are thrillers and mysteries, which are styles that we don’t write in.
C: Read the classics, particularly some of the brilliant Gothic classics. Ann Radcliffe and Charles Robert Maturin are great examples. If you like Alfred Hitchcock presents, read some of the stories that inspired him – Robert Bloch and Daphne Du Maurier stories, in particular. When we stop reading, we stop learning. And we must never stop learning.
B: I’m going to add, “We love conventions.” And we’re going to suggest going to them if you already don’t. There are so many right now, that I’m sure you can find a couple that not only fit your schedule, but fit your fandom.

 

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!
B: Thank you for taking the time to put up with us!
C: Yes, thank you. And we’re sorry if we broke anything.
B: If we did, just send the bill to Jeff Young. He’ll fix it.

Author Interview: D.H. Davis

Author Interview

Meet D.H. Davis.

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Instagram: dh.davis
Twitter: @DHDavis12
Email:d.h.davis@mail.com

The Interview.

 

Hi D.H.! Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

Well my name is Danni, I’m 29 years old and mummy to the most amazing little girl. I love food that’s bad for you, a good binge on Netflix, cuddles with my cockapoo and anything YA! I am the author of Coven Deception, which is my debut novel. I have loved reading and writing since I was a child and have always kept it up throughout my adult life. When I get my nose in a good book the world around me stops and I just have to get it finished! I think my Husband loves it when I find a good series as it means he can watch all the football he likes! I have worked as an Occupational Therapist and a Teacher, both of which I loved but I could never escape from my real passion which is writing, it was always there bubbling in the background. Finally I decided to stop being so scared of failing and with lots of encouragement from a dear friend who loves fantasy just as much as me, I decided to see it through and make Coven Deception a reality.

How does your career (or rather day job) influence and/or hinder your writing?
While I was teaching English it actually helped motivate me to write as I really wanted to be able to practice what I preached. Teaching literature and unpicking all the hidden meanings in a story and teaching language with the ways one simple comma can change the whole meaning of a sentence made me want to keep writing. Granted the heavy demands of teaching these days made it difficult to always fit it in when I wanted to and a lot of the time it would be tired drafts that needed lots of proofing but I still found it a comfort and a way to relax, so it was important for me to write even if it was at 2am! Now I am working as supply I am finding this gives me much more time to write whenever inspiration hits, which is great to be able to do.
Why did you decide to use a forbidden romance arc in your debut, Coven Deception?
Who doesn’t love a good forbidden romance? It’s always been something that’s drawn me into a book and been present in some of my favorite series. I think as humans we are drawn to wanting things we can’t or shouldn’t have so when that takes the form of love, we just enjoy seeing how it pans out and the risks characters take to get their happy ending. If things were easy and what was expected then the journey would never be as fun!
What is your favorite element of fantasy to work with?
I just love the fact that anything is possible. An author can take their craziest ideas and make them work in this genre because there are no rules. I also love that we can take something spooky, magical or unheard of and make it seem like the most mundane notion; the existence of species, other worlds and magic can become familiar and real. I think the fact I have always enjoyed reading and escaping to fantasy worlds made me more excited to write within the genre too.
Any any point in your writing/revising process with Coven Deception, did any of the characters surprise you?.
I was surprised by Sammy’s betrayal. As I was writing it I was imagining how I would feel if one of my brother’s triggered such stressful events for me and the thought was crushing, but I also knew that his actions were understandable and could be justified so I wanted to keep it. I think it helps strengthen their bond in the end as they can unite in a way they wouldn’t have without everything blowing up. I was also surprised with the deaths in the book. Originally I had only planned for one of the characters to leave us in book one but as I was writing it just flowed and made sense for the story to take another one too. It leaves room for some big reactions to contend with in the future. I have had some shocked messages about this since the book published though, people both commending and scolding me at the same time!
What is your favorite characteristic of your main protagonist, Brooke Lesley?
I like that Brooke is righteous in a world where there’s a lot of hatred and deceit. There’s so much negativity in our world at the moment with people having to battle at lot of injustice but along the way I have met some incredible young people that keep going and keep trying to do what’s right no matter what. I wanted Brooke to reflect that, to be symbol for the worth there is in caring about others and wanting a better future for everyone.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?
Thanks so much for reading and I really hope that you enjoy reading the novel. I had a lot of fun writing it and it means the world to me that it’s out there now. I also know lots of people have been asking about the ending and don’t worry, book two has been drafted so there will definitely be some answers!

 

 

Thank you for stopping by Bookish Looks!

 

Coven Deception is available now for purchase!

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Author Interview: Patrick Canning

Author Interview

Meet Patrick Canning.

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Patrick Canning is a fiction author who has released two novels Cryptofauna (urban fantasy/dark humor) and The Colonel and the Bee (Victorian adventure/coming of age), as well as several short stories (mostly sci-fi, horror, & humor). A big fan of gin & tonic, Calvin & Hobbes, and mac & cheese, Patrick lives in Los Angeles with his dog, Hank, and hopes to release many books in the years to come.

IG: @catpanning
www.patrickcanningbooks.com

 

The Interview.

Tell us a little bit about your writing history and how you got to be where you are today as writer.

I mostly learned writing through screenwriting, which I still enjoy doing even though I’m more focused on novels now. I have two books out so far, and I’m always working on the next couple projects.

 

Write a steampunk fantasy line in 10 words or less – go!

That Josiah’s got a gigglemug with a sauce-box ripe for punching. (I cheated. This one goes up to eleven.)

 

What made you decide to write in the Victorian age for The Colonel and the Bee?

I wanted the characters to travel around in a hot air balloon and for the world they were exploring to be much more of an unknown than it is today. I then discovered Victorian slang (as used above) and thought it would be a great fit for the tone of the story.

 

To you, what is the most important key element or characteristic to have (or achieve!) in a coming of age story.

Probably relatability. Even if the situation is exotic (as it often is in this book) the emotions and reactions that Bee has need to resonate with the reader. Even if we all haven’t been in a gunfight in the middle of a hurricane, or held hostage of treasure hunters, we understand what it’s like to search for where we belong in an unpredictable and sometimes confusing world, which Bee is very much trying to do.

 

Do you find that your writing process is different from when you write a short story vs. a full-length novel?

Definitely. In a short, there are far less plot logistics to map and connect, meaning you can better focus on one singular idea. For better or worse, I don’t really outline short stories, which is a nice change of pace from the foresight required in novel-length projects. I think shorts are a great way to experiment with more outlandish characters and twists as well, which are always fun to do.

 

What is your biggest writing inspiration?

Just hoping the work speaks to someone, makes their day better, or gives them the experience of reading something they’ve thought/felt, but never been able to express. Also, making enough money to build a book-shaped pool…which I guess would basically be your standard rectangular unit, is at the top of the inspiration list.

 

In Cryptofauna, did your character(s) surprise you at all in how they acted during a particular scene? 

Hmm, not so much. I’ve heard writers describe this but it doesn’t happen that way for me. I think characters become more like themselves in the revision process because it’s easier to more clearly see who they are on a second pass, but I’ve never quite had the detached experience of a character doing something surprising to me.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers today?

I love book covers, please send me your favorites!

 

Author Interview: Melissa Bashardoust

Author Interview

Meet Melissa Bashardoust.

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The Interview.

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!