Today the Inkpot has the pleasure of bringing you the incredibly talented Alethea Kontis, author of Enchanted and it’s sequel, Hero. I am a huge fairy tale fan so when Enchanted came out last year, I barely waited a millisecond to click buy on my Nook reader. And boy was I ecstatic! I adored Enchanted! I love the Woodcutter family and this fabulous cast of characters Alethea brings to life in her novel. So I was incredibly happy to meet Alethea in person, (she is as fun in real life as her books are!), and have the opportunity to read Hero, which stars the fantastic Saturday Woodcutter.
by Alethea Kontis
Hardcover, 304 Pages
To be published October 1st, 2013 by Harcourt Books
Rough and tumble Saturday Woodcutter thinks she's the only one of her sisters without any magic—until the day she accidentally conjures an ocean in the backyard. With her sword in tow, Saturday sets sail on a pirate ship, only to find herself kidnapped and whisked off to the top of the world.
Is Saturday powerful enough to kill the mountain witch who holds her captive and save the world from sure destruction? And, as she wonders grumpily, "Did romance have to be part of the adventure?"
As in Enchanted, readers will revel in the fragments of fairy tales that embellish this action-packed story of adventure and, yes, romance.
Please welcome the enchanting Alethea to the Inkpot today! Alethea, you are like the queen of the modern fairy tale, as far as I’m concerned. Tell me first how you became a writer.
AK - I was born into a half-Greek, half-French family of storytellers, so I've always loved stories. I started reading at the age of three, so I've always loved books. And when we started writing poetry in class somewhere around the age of eight, the world just all fell into place for me. I wrote all kinds of things--greeting cards, pamphlets, mostly poetry--and I submitted everywhere I could find a contest. TV Guide, Reader's Digest, cereal box, Marion Zimmer Bradley Fantasy Magazine...you name it, I submitted. I would keep my rejections in a shoebox, and once a year I would throw away all the rejections (because they made me sad) and start again. Mostly, I wrote stories for my friends. One day, many years later, one of those friends forwarded the story to a friend of her who worked at Candlewick Press...and they called me on the phone and offered me a book deal.
Ello - What made you decide to write these wonderful fairy tale retellings?
AK – Also when I was eight (1984 was a big year for me), my maternal grandmother gave me a giant tome of unexpurgated Grimm and Andersen Fairy Tales. My parents were probably just grateful that the book was large enough to keep me occupied for a while--they had NO IDEA what those stories were actually about.
As a little girl, these stories became sort of a religion for me. I believed in being strong and clever and motivated enough to seek out my own fortune. I believed in putting kindness and generosity out in the world, because I never knew when my path would cross that of an evil fairy. Above all I kept my mind open to the possibility of magic, because I didn't want to miss it when it finally found me. And, in many ways, I think it has.
So when I say that it's a dream come true for me, writing stories in a setting where all the fairy tales come from one family, you know what I mean. The Woodcutter Sister Series are the books I've been waiting to write my whole life.
Ello – And I've been waiting my whole life to read!! Now I have to say that it would be hard for me to pick a favorite character out of the Woodcutter bunch, but I think Saturday tends to edge her sisters and brothers for me. I loved her in Enchanted and was thrilled that she had her own story. Do you have a favorite?
AK – Have you ever read Tanya Huff's The Last Wizard? (Gorgeous book; I highly recommend it.) In the book, the titular wizard has several goddesses trapped inside her head, and she can take on the aspects of each one at a given time. I feel this way about the Woodcutter sisters--in a way, each one is just a different facet of me (even Monday, who is very much based on my eldest sister, Cherie).
Now, there's a character I sort of can't wait to write about...she first appeared in a short story I wrote for an anthology called DEMONS. You can actually still read the story online here for free (they used it as a teaser for the book): http://www.scribd.com/doc/70431258/The-Unicorn-Hunter
Ello – This is so awesome! Thank you for sharing that! And what an unusual romantic interest for Saturday! A cross-dressing hero?! Love it!
AK - Well, when one has a blind witch to play with, one takes advantage of the situation! What better way to play with emotions and stereptypes than a girl mistaken for a boy and a boy cursed to look like a girl? Cross-dressing and costumes are very fairy tale in nature--I originally wanted to name the hero Orsino, after Twelfth Night, but it would have been too obvious. Instead I named him Peregrine, a nod to M. M. Kaye's The Ordinary Princess. (But "Hero" is still technically a Shakespearean character--and a girl, to boot!--so we cross-dressing drama nerds still have the bard hidden there.)
Ello – I did catch the Shakespearean nod, btw. Very nicely done! Now I know we can’t be spoilery, but I have to tell you that I’m pins and needles to find out what happens next – and to learn all about Jack, the oldest brother! Can you give us a wee hint as to what we can expect in the next book?
AK – Beloved is a parallel novel to Hero, chronicling the adventures of Friday and the rest of the Woodcutter crew back in Arilland, in the tragic aftermath of the appearance of Saturday's "impossible ocean." Apprentice seamstress Friday becomes a leader of the children (because that's Friday's thing), and gets caught up in trying to break a curse involving seven swans, a mute girl, and the need to weave seven shirts out of stinging nettles.
I've always loved all the bird-tales ("The Goose Girl" is my favorite) and I have to say...I am SO IN LOVE with writing this book. Beloved is such an appropriate title.
Ello - CAN NOT WAIT!!! Ok, since we are talking about fairy tales and magic and fantasy, I only feel it is fair to ask you a magic question. If you could have one magical talent, what would it be? (and no cheating and saying you’d be a wizard and do it all!)
AK – I'm still waiting on my power over gravity. I think my order got lost in the mail.
Ello – :o) Here's a harder question for you. If you were on a deserted island and could fill a magical suitcase (think Hermione’s purse with the extension charm) with 5 items, no matter how big, what would they be?
AK - Sunday's neverending journal (1) and a pen that never runs out of ink (2), an iPod filled with all my favorite songs that will never run out of battery life (3), sunscreen with no aloe (I'm allergic--4), and the complete works of Rudyard Kipling (5). I actually have a set of the last one that I inherited from the same grandmother who gave me the fairy tales--I've just been waiting on that island.Ello - Ok last question, if you had a chance to talk to your younger teenage self, what one thing would you want to tell her?
AK - You know, I wrote a letter to my younger self for "Dear Teen Me" a while back -- you can read it here, complete with vintage Alethea pictures and secret codes. LINK HERE.
If I only had the chance to pick one thing, it would be the first one on the list: Everything's going to be okay. Sometimes we just need the GPS of our life to reassure us that we're still on the right path, and I would wish my younger self that confidence.
Thank you so much for joining us today, Alethea! Now go finish book 3 of the Woodcutter saga before I burst! :o)
New York Times bestselling author Alethea Kontis is a princess, a goddess, a force of nature, and a mess. She’s known for screwing up the alphabet, scolding vampire hunters, turning garden gnomes into mad scientists, and making sense out of fairy tales.
Alethea is the co-author of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter Companion, and penned the AlphaOops series of picture books. Her short fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in a myriad of anthologies and magazines. She has done multiple collaborations with Eisner winning artist J.K. Lee, includingThe Wonderland Alphabet and Diary of a Mad Scientist Garden Gnome. Her debut YA fairy tale novel, Enchanted, won the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award in 2012 and was nominated for both the Andre Norton Award and the Audie Award in 2013.
Born in Burlington, Vermont, Alethea now lives in Northern Virginia with her Fairy Godfamily. She makes the best baklava you’ve ever tasted and sleeps with a teddy bear named Charlie.
Sept 22 - Oct 17
Fairy Tale Gift Basket (US only): Signed copies of both Enchantment and Hero by Alethea Kontis plus swag!
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