1) What is the working title of your next book?
The Light of Embers (VERY tentative)
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
Reading this blog post on A Practical Wedding and then ruminating about it for a few days.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
YA fantasy, fairy tale retelling.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I honestly have no idea who would be Ember, my main character. It's hard because it's important to the integrity of the story that she be very chubby, covered in freckles, and not particularly pretty in a conventional sense. I don't know of enough actresses with lots of freckles, and it's hard to imagine what actresses will look like when they put on the required weight. She's also young, so that narrows the field. Georgie Henley? Maybe Alia Shawkat?
It should be easier to come up with a name for Annie, who is tall and conventionally beautiful but also warm and delightful, but I can't put my finger on anyone.
...I also can't think who would be good for Prince Rian, or for Flossie. Apparently I'm not very good at this game.
I would fall all over myself to have Maggie Smith as Lady Catherine. Harriet Walter would also be great.
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Ember the chubby, freckled, orphaned, and impoverished Duchess of Mellyn, finds a friend in Prince Rian during the year of balls celebrating the prince's coming of age, but at midnight of every ball a mysterious and beautiful woman appears to dance with the prince--and as the year progresses, Prince Rian begins to fall ill.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Once it's done, I'll send it to agents.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
It's in progress--I just finished using NaNoWriMo to get the first 50K, but I'm only a third of the way through my outline. I estimate that the first draft will be 120K, and that the final draft will end up between 80 and 90K. If I stick to my scheduled goals, it will be a total of about three months.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I would compare it to books like Spindle's End by Robin McKinley, Entwined by Heather Dixon, and Sorcery and Cecilia by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermere. I hope, anyway.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
See above--after my ruminations about the article had been going on for a few days, I started thinking about Cinderella stories in popular media, about how girls are taught to wish for/expect a moment in their lives where everyone around them sees them as beautiful, that post-make-over moment when everyone realizes how beautiful they've been all along. Even in movies that are otherwise empowering for girls, in which the girl ultimately wins by being intelligent, or by being true to herself, once she's been made-over she stays made-over, and we're left with the impression that it makes her happier to be pretty in a socially acceptable way. And I think being recognized as beautiful is something that, for girls, is associated with being successful, and we look for that moment in our lives, even though most people will never have it. No matter how often we tell girls that their value isn't in how they look, girls are fed stories about characters who go unnoticed, then get a make-over of some kind and suddenly everyone sees how beautiful they’ve been all along, etc., and once everyone sees them as beautiful THEN they get their dreams, and what does that teach us?
SO I was thinking about all of that, and that led to thinking about how deeply problematic the Cinderella story is, even in its 'empowering' variations, and I started coming up with an idea for a story that would subvert Cinderella. I wanted a Cinderella story with a heroine who dealt with not being conventionally pretty, and who didn't turn pretty. I decided that I wanted a story about love that came out of a friendship rather than 'at first sight'. I realized I'd never read a book about a heroine with lots of freckles--it was always 'a light dusting across the nose', so I gave my heroine full body freckles. I wanted a Cinderella story that didn't villainize female relationships, so I made one of the stepsisters my heroine's best friend, and fleshed out the motivations of the other stepsister and stepmother.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
There's shoe magic. This is legit folklore.