Today I’m very pleased to interview my blogging friend Cheryl Mahoney from Tales of the Marvelous about her new book, The Wanderers. She’s billing it as YA, but I thought that older middle grade readers would love it as well. Stayed tuned for my review of it next week, but for now, I’ll just tell you that I loved it. Be sure to read all the way to the bottom for details on the giveaway!
About The Wanderers…
The Wanderers is a Young Adult Fantasy novel, loosely inspired by fairy tales. It’s the story of Jasper, a wandering adventurer; Tom, a talking cat; and Julie, a witch’s daughter. They pursue quests and fight monsters, such as a sea serpent, an ogre, and a very dangerous Good Fairy. There are a lot of elements from familiar fairy tales…but generally with a bit of a twist!
You’ve obviously read a lot of fairy tales to be so familiar with them. What were some of your favorite stories or collections?
I have read quite a lot of fairy tales and retellings… Favorite original fairy tales would be “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.” Favorite retellings, I have to give a nod to Gail Carson Levine, Robin McKinley, Patricia C. Wrede and Juliet Marillier. They all write amazing books, drawing from original fairy tales but telling more rational stories with wonderfully strong heroines!
On the other hand, most of the serious fairy tale enthusiasts I’ve known dislike Disney, but you include Disney in your thank-yous. Tell me about your relationship with Disney.
The answer here may be that I’m not a serious fairy tale enthusiast! I have a lot of familiarity with the originals and with retellings, but I know I’m not a scholarly expert on the subject. As to Disney specifically, like a lot of people, I grew up with the Disney movies. My dad in particular is a big Disney enthusiast, so I have quite a soft spot for Walt Disney (and I do believe Disneyland is the happiest place on earth!)
I have issues with some Disney movies (but I have issues with some of Grimm and Perrault too…) I watch a lot of the old Disney movies and groan at the snap romances and helpless heroines—but, for good or ill, Disney’s interpretations of the fairy tales are what a lot of people are most familiar with, or at least heavily influenced by. I think that makes them a very relatable source to use for inspiration in a retelling—especially one like mine that pokes some fun at the sillier sides of fairy tales.
And I must admit that Marj’s constant shedding of sparkles was partly inspired by the fairies in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. You ever notice those women have sparkles flying out of their wands, not just when they’re casting a spell, but all the time? It would make such a mess…
Most of Jasper and Julie’s adventures echo, but don’t copy, specific fairy tales, except for the Twelve Dancing Princesses. I can tell from the end that your next book is going to feature those princesses – but why that story in particular?
That’s a great question because there’s actually quite a story behind it… This was a fairy tale I got attached to later on in life—I don’t really remember noticing it particularly until about five years ago. Then there seemed to be an explosion of retellings, some I found by chance and some I started seeking out. Every retelling I’ve been able to find shares a common feature—the king is well-meaning, and the princes are monsters carrying off the princesses. But then I was reading the original Grimm story (not for the first time, but somehow it suddenly struck me) and I got absolutely stuck on one line: “each prince danced with the princess he loved best.”
I started rereading the story again, and for the first time it dawned on me that Grimm never says the princes are monsters. And, just by the way, there’s a king in here who’s chopping heads off! Now I ask you: who’s really the villain in the story?
At that point I clearly had an inspiration, but I was focusing on The Wanderers, so it became a chapter in this book…only then I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was more of the story to be told. So—the companion novel was born!
As you know, I was a bit nervous about Tom the talking cat before I read the book (although I did end up enjoying him.) Why did you decide to put him in?
I’m so glad you enjoyed Tom! I have to say, you’re the first one to see a talking cat as a draw-back (or at least, the first to tell me that!) Unfortunately, unlike the question above, I don’t have a clear answer to why I brought Tom into the story. The idea of a novel about a wandering adventurer percolated in my brain for years before I ever started writing it, and I don’t remember anymore when or why a talking cat joined the story. It was probably his idea! And I think it is true to say that he just is part of the story, and I can’t really imagine that there was ever a direction to go that wouldn’t have included him.
Tell me about your decision to go with self-publishing rather than traditional publishing.
I’ve looked at traditional publishing, and with the right opportunity, I wouldn’t refuse it now! At the same time, over the past couple years I heard more and more from other writing friends about the opportunities in self-publishing, and I got excited about that as a route to go. Ultimately, I decided that I could spend (most likely) a very long time trying to break into traditional publishing, or I could make a foray into self-publishing and start getting my stories out to readers. I’ve loved sharing my novel—and I’ve found that I enjoy all the control that self-publishing gives too!
Thank you so much for the interview, Cheryl! Congratulations and best of luck with your book!
Giveaway Details: Cheryl is offering one e-book copy (any format) of The Wanderers for a lucky reader! Please leave a comment with your favorite fairy tale or fairy tale re-telling by December 26th, 2013. One winner will be drawn randomly from the comments.