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

Guest Post

Meet Jenny Elder Moke.


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


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.

Guest Post: “Why Write YA Fiction?” By Christine Rees

Guest Post

Meet Christine Rees.


Canadian teen fiction author Christine Rees is a Western University graduate, Sheridan College alumni, animal enthusiast and lover of all literature. Christine is passionate about helping other writers find their voice and challenging themselves. She spends her free time writing books with a cat nestled in her lap or a large dog encouraging her procrastination. Christine’s debut YA novel The Hidden Legacy and its sequel The Broken Rivalry are paranormal stories filled with romantic inklings and suspense.

Social Media Links:

The Guest Post.

Why Write YA Fiction?

As a teen fiction author, this is the most common question that I’m asked. My response to this is, why not?

YA fiction revolves around the concepts of growth, change, and self-discovery – many of which we are familiar with. The truth is, YA fiction isn’t just for teenagers. Not anymore. Almost 70% of teen fiction readers are over the age of 18. That’s a large number of readers that are outside of the targeted age group, and there’s a number of reasons for choosing this genre over others.

First and foremost, YA fiction either relates to a teenager’s current situation or cultivates nostalgic feels for older readers. Remember the butterflies in your stomach the first time you held your crush’s hand? What about the unbearable pain of your first heartbreak? First time experiences are powerful and continue to remain so in literature.

Secondly, teen stories can implant serious, dark, and highly emotional undertones that relate to readers of all ages. Many YA readers and writers relate to widespread themes throughout the genre because they don’t necessarily view themselves as adults. Growth and change continue throughout our lives. This doesn’t fade as you get older. For example, the feelings and challenges that a teen character is facing can highly relate to what a twenty-something reader is currently dealing with. This may create a bond between a fictional character, a reader, and their situation regardless of the book genre.

So, why do I focus on teen fiction?

Because it is one of the most powerful genres out there. This is the time in a character’s life where they go through tough life changes as well as self-discovery. This is also an opportunity for massive character growth, deep-rooted emotions, and life-learning skills.

Books have the power to impact us and our thinking. They provide a new perspective, a way of looking at things that we might not have considered before, and that can help readers through some of their toughest days.

I write teen fiction because it’s the genre I still relate the most to, and I firmly believe that you should write what you know. Whether that’s about loss, first-time joy, popularity, being an outcast, or failures and successes, YA fiction accepts it all.

Book Info.

If you’re interested in reading YA fiction, check out my debut best-selling and award-winning novel, THE HIDDEN LEGACY and its recently released sequel THE BROKEN RIVALRY:

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The curse of premonition follows Faye Lithyer, forcing her to witness death—over and over again.

When Faye moves in with her grandmother in Astoria, Oregon, her visions grow stronger. Faye watches a new friend fall victim to a murder in the not-so-distant future and becomes obsessed with preventing it from happening. However, Faye’s insecurity has her undecided whether she should tell her friend about their impending death or hunt down the murderer before it’s too late.

Faye will be faced with an epic choice that threatens to expose her abilities. Will she choose to save her friend from a monster or risk becoming one herself?

Book Buy Links:
The Hidden Legacy:!
The Broken Rivalry:

Author Interview: Brian Koscienski & Chris Pisano

Author Interview, Misc.

Meet Brian Koscienski & Chris Pisano.

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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 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

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


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:

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!