AUTHOR: Alethea Kontis
Length: 329 pages
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
Release Date: 8 May 2012
How did the idea for Enchanted come to you?
The idea for Enchanted began as a contest challenge in my writers group (Codex Writers). Our stories had to be inspired by at least one of four “seeds”: “Fundevogel,” “The Princess and the Pea,” the Irish legend of Cú Chulainn, and the nursery rhyme “There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.” I couldn’t choose between them, so I chose them all…as well as all every other fairy tale and nursery rhyme that was suggested.
In the past few years the YA genre has exploded and, short chapters have become a noticeable trend. Did your shorter chapters come about organically or were they created during editing?
The first draft of Enchanted originally contained chapters with an average of 5000 words. I had to cut over 30,000 words before the final draft, but the number of chapters never changed.
What did you come up with first: the characters or the world?
Mmmm…hard to say. I definitely fleshed out the characters first, but they had always lived in a Fairy Tale Land. Part of me has lived in Fairy Tale Land all my life.
Different fairy tales are blended into Sunday and Rumbold’s story? How did you keep everything straight?
My friend Denny hates the word “organic,” but unfortunately I must use it here. When you have a giant brain full of fairy tales (like I do) and you start to write a story, it just makes sense that Cinderella originally met her prince when he was a frog, and that he gave her the golden ball because her brother traded the cow for magic beans. The fairy tale logic flows from one step to another, organically onto the page. I am saved from having to “keep them straight” because the point of Enchanted is that all the fairy tales we know now were jumbled to begin with.
Which fairy tale was the genesis for the idea behind Enchanted?
See question #1 — but personally, I’ve always had an issue with Cinderella. I never bought the true love bit, because they knew NOTHING about each other before that ball. She was just another pretty face in a pretty dress. They had to have met before, somehow…and yet in a strange enough way that seeing her at the ball was like seeing her for the first time. When tied into “The Frog Prince” tale, it just made perfect sense! (To me, anyway.)
Do you have any desire to continue Sunday’s or another character’s story?
Oh, yes. I fully intend to write about all the sisters, backwards through the week. I am fairly chomping at the bit to get to Monday.
Have you always been a writer? If not, when and why did you start?
I started writing and acting right about the same time — at the age of 8. I began writing my first novel in the 7th grade. I was 11.
Do you have a particular writing schedule or routine? Could you briefly describe it?
My friend Nancy Fulda and I were just speaking about this last night! On a perfect day, I go to the gym in the morning when Joe takes the girls to school (I do housework like dishes & laundry while they’re getting ready). I come home and write fiction until Joe gets home from work around 3:30. I take a break when we get the girls, and then chill out and work on bloggy/internet stuff while we watch TV or the girls do their homework.
Not every day is a perfect day…but this is what I strive for.
Where do you write? Why?
I write wherever I can, on whatever’s available. I write on postcards & receipts & envelopes and post-its and the backs of comic books…and notebooks, if the one I carry with me all the time isn’t full yet. I write in the car, and in the shower, and even while I’m asleep. During my official “writing time” I’m usually on the couch or on the porch…our place isn’t big enough for me to have much of an office. Yet.
What is the hardest part of drafting for you?
Putting my Butt in the Chair. I am so distractible. But I’m not ADD–my brain is just going that fast, trying to do everything at once.
How did you originally come to be published? (long road or short?)
Publishing was a short road. (A friend submitted AlphaOops: The Day Went First for me — I’m lucky my name was even on the document!). Publishing a novel was a long, windy & adventurous road…and a much longer answer than this interview would allow.
How do you handle criticism/rejection/bad reviews?
Rejection used to make me cry in a puddle on the floor. It was so heartbreaking and personal. But eventually, sad as it sounds, you lose the romance and see everything as a challenge to take on headfirst. I actually love reading bloggers’ reviews and commenting, thanking them for reading my book at all in the first place. Sometimes, completely random strangers can make really good points or say things that really inspire you.
What is one part of writing craft every aspiring author ought to thoroughly understand?
You are not a writer if you are not writing. Few problems authors have are solved by less writing. Just never stop.
Do you read other authors’ books while you have a work in progress? Why or why not?
I do — I am the official book reviewer for the online magazine Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. The first thing that fell to the wayside when I started writing full time was reading. I wanted to have a way to force myself to read 2 or 3 books a month in the genre I love and grew up in, and taking that job was the perfect solution. I like having an excuse to drop everything and read my friends’ books (or anything by Jude Deveraux) , while staying abreast of trends in the industry.
What is the most rewarding part of writing?
The stories I tell myself in bed at night when I’m falling asleep. They are so wonderful and vivid now.
Are any of the characters or MC modeled after real people?
I am in all of them, of course, and some take elements of other people, like names or hair color or attitude…but there is no one character that I have directly taken out of real life and stuck on the page without…monkeying with it first.
What has been your favorite part of the book launch?
My favorite part was having a chance to perform with Katherine Kellgren, my audiobook reader. She lives in NYC, and she agreed to do the scene with me. We did not rehearse it…and I was SO nervous that I would sound terrible next to her AMAZINGNESS. I started off shaky, but once Katy jumped in everything just fell into place, like all those impromptu Christmas shows we kids on the Court used to perform back in the day. We brought the house down. My friend Mary got the whole thing on her phone (thank you, Mary!!) — you can watch it here: http://youtu.be/nXZ7vYwhvNA
- PBJ or ham & cheese? Sushi
- Coffee or tea? Earl Grey, hot
- Summer or Winter? Spring
- Typing or longhand? Longhand
- Which comes first: plot or character? Character
- Emails or letters? I miss letters.
- Sugary or salty treats? Salty
- Dogs or cats? My teddy bear, Charlie
- Indoors or outdoors? Outdoors!
- Beer or wine? Earl Grey, hot
- Mac or PC? Both, as long as there’s one handy.
- Outline or fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants? A little of both. The car has to have a direction to go in, even if you’re not sure of the destination.
- Coke or Pepsi? Earl Grey, hot
You can buy Enchanted NOW! Visit your local bookstore IMMEDIATELY!
Find Alethea Kontis at the following locations: