Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Interview with Anna Staniszewski: My Epic Fairy Tale Fail

If you've ever been plagued waiting for that second book to come out in a series that captured your heart, I sympathize. Some say it's the waiting makes it sweeter, but I think of it more as torturous agony waiting to see the friends you miss most after a long, cruelly-enforced vacation. These are the friends closest to our hearts, the ones who made us laugh and care and took us on the wildest adventures once upon a time and we just can't wait for more! So you can imagine my excitement when I heard that Anna Staniszewski's sequel to My Very Unfairy Tale Life, My Epic Fairy Tale Fail was due out and I got the chance to interview her for her launch at the Enchanted Inkpot!


In an age of teen angst and dark tales, your characters are light and fresh and funny. How did you come up with hilarious characters such as Anthony the Gnome and Sir Knight?

From the start, the UnFairy Tale series was meant to be playful and funny. In My Epic Fairy Tale Fail, Jenny visits the Land of Tales which is the place where all fairy tales originated. I really wanted to play with the expectations we have of fairy tales. For example, a fairy tale land must have a brave knight: thus, the overly-heroic Sir Knight was born. I exaggerated his need to rescue damsels in distress until it became completely ridiculous (picture him saving fair maidens from swooping pigeons). I had a lot of fun weaving in fairy tale elements and then twisting them until they were wacky and over-the-top.

I'm all for wacky and over-the-top and this book delivers! I am also a huge fan of fairy tales and mythology and the Land of Tales is where, in your world, it all began. It's true that many cultures share remarkably similar stories, which fairy tale is your cross-cultural favorite?  

A fairy tale that I only discovered as an adult was "East of the Sun, West of the Moon." It's a beautiful tale that's reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast, but in it, the heroine must go on a quest to rescue the prince (instead of the other way around). I think this tale was in my brain when I began working on the first book in the My Very UnFairy Tale series. I really wanted the main character, Jenny, to be the kind of girl who wouldn't hesitate to go rescue the prince. 

Or one of her friends. If there's one central theme in this book, it's friendship. I love the friendship between Trish, Melissa and Jenny and the loyalty of Princess Nartha, Aletha and Sir Knight. Do you think this lies at the heart of the best fairy tales?

Oh good question. In the more traditional recorded tales (the Grimms', etc) the characters don't have a lot of psychology to them. We get to know them purely through their actions, so on the surface, it doesn't seem like friendship is a huge part of the story. Yet, a big theme in many fairy tales in sacrifice, which I think goes right along with the idea of friendship. Maybe that's part of why fairy tales continue to feel relevant, because ultimately they focus less on magic and more on relationships.   

Yes! And, just like in reality, some "relationships" are saner than others. Your witch, Ilda, is a "crazy with a capital Q" teacher; so who was the craziest teacher you had in real life?

I won't name any names, but I had a science teacher who used to flex in front of the whole class while he was lecturing. He'd literally point at the board and flex his muscles, body-builder style. I don't know if he did it on purpose, but it was completely distracting and pretty disturbing.  

HAHA! (and Yikes!) Last question: Witch's cottage or store-bought goodie, what is your favorite flavor of Jelly Belly?

Definitely watermelon. For some reason, I'm a total sucker for fake watermelon flavor.

Fake watermelon is an epic win! And so is My Epic Fairy Tale Fail, coming March 1st.

Thanks, Anna!

Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. She was named the 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the 2009 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award. Currently, Anna lives outside of Boston with her husband and their adopted black Labrador, Emma. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. Her first novel, My Very Unfairy Tale Life, was released by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky in November, 2011. The sequel, My Epic Fairy Tale Fail, is coming March 1, 2013. Visit her at


  1. Great interview Dawn and Anna. I so admire Anna because she can weave the humor into her stories, which is so hard to do. This sounds like a fabulous sequel. Can't wait to read it.

  2. I am so excited to read this one! Looking forward to the Epicness!


  3. I love seeing you here, Anna! Great interview and I'm looking forward to the sequel!

  4. I haven't heard of this series but it sounds too cute!

  5. Anna, that's so true about fairy tales focusing on relationships. I'd never considered that before. Great interview,ladies!

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