Introducing: Stray with Elissa Sussman + Giveaway

March 5, 2014 cover reveal, elissa sussman, fairy tales, fantasy, food in books, giveaway, Kate 123

There’s something so exciting about seeing a friend realize a lifelong dream. I’ve known my friend Elissa for five years, and she has always been passionate about smart entertainment for young people (she worked on Tangled and The Princess and the Frog, you guys!), so when I heard that her first YA novel, Stray, was going to be published by HarperCollins (it hits stores October 7), I lost my freaking mind. As one does.

I’ve been able to see the fascinating process of what a first-time novelist goes through unfold in front of me at our weekly coffee dates, and one of the things Elissa was most excited about was the cover, because that’s the part that’s completely out of the writer’s hands. Every week I’d ask her if she’d seen the design, and every week the answer was no. Until last week. And you guys, it was worth the wait. This cover is freaking amazing.

Elissa sat down with me to give us an exclusive look at the cover design, as well as to chat about fairy tale adaptations and the importance of diversity in YA. But first things first: let’s take a look at that cover!

 

Stray HC C

WHAT! Look at it! The dress! The mist! The forest! The flowers! The dress! It so perfectly captures the wistfulness and longing of Princess Aislynn as she tries not to stray from The Path. (The DRESS!)

And now, our interview with Elissa:

I really, really love this cover. What can you tell us about it?

It’s so pretty and spooky, isn’t it? I was really lucky in that my editor asked if I had any ideas for the cover. Since I’m a Pinterest fiend, I had a collection of images that I thought could work. The marketing team ended up really liking one of them and contacted the artist who had created it to see if she’d be interested in making some adjustments. She ended up reading the book and incorporated a lot of elements of the story into the image. I could not be more thrilled with the final result and feel that it really captures the feel of the book.

It definitely captures that dark fairy tale feel. I love that, because Stray is based on fairy tales, but not in a way that hits specific benchmarks from a specific story–unlike, say, Ash or The Lunar Chronicles.

Absolutely. I’m a huge fan of retellings and love both Ash and The Lunar Chronicles, but I wanted Stray to feel like it existed in a fairy tale-inspired world, without feeling too tied to a particular story. I was especially influenced by the musical Into the Woods, as well as the mini-series The 10th Kingdom. While Into the Woods embraces the dark, often-forgotten parts of fairy tales (like how Cinderella’s step-sisters cut off parts of their feet to fit in the glass slipper), The 10th Kingdom takes a more playful approach, creating a world where the fairy tales we know are historical events. Both weave together familiar stories to build a new one, which was my intention for Stray.

One of my favorite things about Stray is that there is just so much diversity. We hear a lot from fantasy authors about how hard it is to incorporate non-white characters into high fantasy and fairy tales because of the European basis of so many of these stories. Did you have trouble with this?

I have to admit, Stray wasn’t as diverse in its early drafts. In fact, most, if not all of my characters were white. My reasoning was, well, I’m drawing a lot of inspiration from the European version of these fairy tales, so “historically” it wouldn’t make sense for there to be people of color.

But during this time, the BBC came out with their series Merlin in which Angel Coulby, a bi-racial woman, was cast as Guinevere. It resulted in a really interesting debate online, but I specifically remember reading a post by Sarah Rees Brennan  reminding us that Camelot, although inspired by Medieval Europe, is a fantasy world. There is magic and dragons, but include a person of color and suddenly people start crying for “realism”.*

Reading that I realized it was pretty silly to hold onto an argument of “historical accuracy” in a story where women get their loving hearts removed when they become Fairy Godmothers.

I ended up treating the manuscript like a film and essentially went back and “re-cast” most of my characters. Unless there was a specific reason for a character to be white, I rewrote their description. Like in Merlin, our concept of race or racism doesn’t really exist in Stray. Since the people in Aislynn’s world are divided solely by class, having a person of color would be more important or meaningful to the reader than it would to the character.

Because of that, I struggled with finding the balance between indicating the color of a character’s skin and belaboring the point. And since it’s a fantasy world, I had to be careful about the language I used and did my best to avoid the often reviled comparisons of dark skin to chocolate or wood. I worried that unless I implicitly stated otherwise, most readers would assume that the character, like yours truly, was white.

I can’t say if I succeeded, but hopefully I didn’t screw it up too terribly.

*Also for anyone who wants to argue that there were no people of color in the Medieval Europe that inspired Camelot, I will send you to this amazing tumblr. Additionally most of the fairy tales we recognize as European have roots in many other cultures – variations on the story of Cinderella, for example, have been found all over the world.

 

Stray Synopsis

Epic and provocative, STRAY is an original fairy tale in which magic is a curse that only women bear and society is dictated by a strict religious doctrine called The Path.

Princess Aislynn knows all about the curse. Its magic is a part of her, like her awkward nose and thin fingers. It’s also something she can’t control. And girls who can’t control their abilities have a tendency to disappear. So for her own protection, Aislynn is sworn into the order of Fairy Godmothers where she must spend the rest of her life chaste and devoted to serving another royal family.

Tasked with tending to the sweet, but sheltered Princess Linnea, Aislynn also finds a reluctant friend in the palace gardener, Thackery, who makes no secret of his disdain for her former life. The more time they spend together, though, the more she begins to doubt the rules she has observed so obediently. As Aislynn’s feelings threaten to undo the sacred vows she has taken, she risks not only her own life but Linnea’s as well. With the princess engaged to a devoted follower of The Path, there are some who would do anything to keep Aislynn from straying.

Stray will be published by Greenwillow Books on October 7, 2014.

Pre-Order Links

Powell’s | IndieBound | Amazon | B&N

 

 

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ElissaSussman_by_JohnPetaja

About the Author

Elissa Sussman is a writer, a reader and a pumpkin pie eater.  Her debut novel, STRAY (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins), is a YA fantasy about fairy godmothers, magic and food. She received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College and in a previous life managed animators and organized spreadsheets at some of the best animation studios in the world, including Nickelodeon,  Disney,  Dreamworks and Sony Imageworks. You can see her name in the credits of THE CROODS, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG and TANGLED. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her boyfriend and their rescue mutt, Basil.

You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

 

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Win a copy of STRAY and a $50.00 giftcard to the independent bookstore of your choice!

Thanks to our friends at Greenwillow Books, we are offering one lucky reader an ARC of the book, plus a $50.00 gift card to the independent bookstore of her choice.

To enter, all you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form and leave a thoughtful comment below, telling us what you love about fairy tale retellings or why you think diversity in YA lit is important.

Open to US residents aged 18 and older, or 13 and older with parental permission.

 

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Isn’t Elissa wonderful? And how beautiful is that cover? I’m completely obsessed with the dress. I want to sew those sleeve streamers onto everything I own.

 

 

Kate

 

 

 

 

123 Responses to “Introducing: Stray with Elissa Sussman + Giveaway”

  1. Jools

    I love fairy tale retellings, so I’m always looking for more to read. I’ll definitely be adding Stray to my TBR pile. Otherwise, one of my favorite related groups of novels loosely based on fairy tales are the Elemental Masters series by Mercedes Lackey. Magic, fairy tale elements, and historic England etc., what’s not to like! Anybody else read that series?
    Jools recently posted…Starry Sky Whale

  2. Danielle Richardson

    I LOVE a good fairytale retelling, and I wish I could get my hands on more of them. One of my favorite books is Entwined by Heather Dixon, which is retelling of The 12 Dancing Princesses. I’ve always had a thing for fairytales and the wonder they inspire.

  3. Sheree

    I like fairy tale retellings, but I’m more intrigued by the originality of this book. I like the idea of taking these archetypes and doing something cool and new with them.

  4. Emma

    I love that Elissa is writing a fantasy/fairy tale that isn’t just a retelling. Not that I don’t love retellings, but I do like to read something new every once in awhile.

    My favorite fairytale is definitely the original Beauty and the Beast (it’s also my favorite Disney movie, too).
    Emma recently posted…Hidden Covers

  5. Brittany T

    Thank u again ladies for spotlighting a new fabulous book that I will soon get my greedy little hands on. Seems worth the wait. I really enjoy retellings since I loved fairy tales so much as a little girl. I enjoyed Cruel Beauty and my absolute favorite though it’s not quite a repelling is The Splintered series by AG Howard. Alice in wonderland is my absolute favorite.
    Brittany @ Please Feed the Bookworm
    Brittany T recently posted…♡WHAT I GOT WEDNESDAYS!♡

    • Kate Bond

      Cruel Beauty was so freaking good. Ugh. I want to read eighteen books in that world with those characters.

  6. Tracey

    I do love the cover. It’s what caught my eye on Goodreads. I’ve been dying to read more fairy tale retellings. Stray sounds like a wonderful read. Diversity all the way.

  7. Ranee

    I have loved fairy tales for as long as I can remember. Whenever I write myself, I tend to reach for a new way to retell a fairy tale. I often grab books of Grimm and Perrault tales to reread and immerse myself in. I, personally, think that Cinder was well-done and such a unique retelling. I would love to read Stray! First of all, I love the cover! I also particularly liked that the author didn’t try to tie to any one fairy tale, but chose to give it an overall fairy tale feel. I’m very intrigued by this and would love the change to read it!
    Ranee recently posted…Review of The Winner’s Curse

    • Kate Bond

      I thought Cinder was done really well, too. I like both straight retellings and new fairy tales, but I’ve been leaning toward the latter lately just because the market feels so saturated with the former, you know?

  8. Shauna Williams

    I love fairy tale retellings. Our bookshelves have quite the collection of fairy tale themed books lined up. I think that my love for fairy tale retellings came from when I was a Fourth Grade teacher and one of the areas we covered in reading and writing was fractured fairy tales. I spent quiet a few years collecting as many fairy tale retellings as I could. I still love them today and so do my own children.
    I also love the cover art and the story behind how the artwork was chosen. So great! This book sounds wonderful and I look forward to reading it!
    Shauna Williams recently posted…Good-bye, Bumps! Talking to What’s Bugging You Book Review and Free Printable

  9. beth j

    Diversity ……honestly not something I thought about a lot until two years ago when my grandson ( the love of my life) was born. I think I am very liberal and loving and caring , however having a biracial grandchild gives me a whole New perspective.
    I can’t wait to read this book.
    Beautiful cover;)

    • Kate Bond

      It’s funny… You don’t notice it until someone in one of the left out groups mentions it, and then you see the lack of diversity EVERYWHERE. My little sister and I saw Frozen together, and while I thought it was lovely, the fact that everyone onscreen at all times was white really, really bugged me.

      Lack of diversity may be my #1 pet peeve. I’m pretty annoying about it.

  10. Kari j

    This book sounds amazing. I love recreations of fairytales and I really want to read this one because it is not just a compilation of a bunch of fairytales but itis almost its own fairytale.

  11. Wendy

    oh I love Elissa & can’t wait for her book. I love that she had a hand in the cover! I love that there is diversity. I think more diversity is similar to awesome female characters on TV. until we aren’t talking about it, it needs to continue to happen.

  12. Rachel R

    Loved the interview and I’ve already pre-ordered the book. It sounds lovely, and I’m really excited to read an original fairy tale (though I also love retellings).

    And I loved Angel Coulby in Merlin!

    • Kate Bond

      I love both, as well, although I’ve gotten a little bit tired of retellings only because I’ve read so MANY lately. My favorites are retellings like Six-Gun Snow White and Cruel Beauty, which completely take the story apart and ask what it would be like for a woman who was in that situation.

  13. Ashley Strader

    I am very excited to read Stray – and what a beautiful cover! I love fairy tale retellings. There is something so universal about the stories and themes, and I like that your conversation with Ms. Sussman included reference to some fairy tales originating in other places besides Europe. Also, anyone who can reference the show Merlin is someone I want to check out!

    • Kate Bond

      I am embarrassed that I still haven’t watched Merlin at all–there’s just SO MUCH tv out there, you know?

  14. Larissa

    Ooooo this one seems to have a lot of potential. I love a good fairy tale retelling (: It’s interesting how this one has an more fairy tale atmosphere.I also like how it seems Elissa will include the more darker side of the classic tales. I do enjoy the Brothers Grimm’s works. I also love that this book has a diverse cast of characters. Stray does seem like a book to watch, thank you for putting it on my radar! (: I now can’t wait to read it.
    Larissa recently posted…DNF Review: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

    • Kate Bond

      Yeah, it’s interesting to see fairy tales written by women, because I sometimes feel like the men who wrote them originally just absolutely did not understand how women think (or THAT they do), and I think that seeing the classic fairytale world from a female perspective can be BLEAK, but in a really delicious way.

  15. Gabby

    It is not just the pretty cover, that’s for sure! … That wasn’t supposed to sound sarcastic. I love books that could be dark—especially when it comes to fairy tales.

    • Kate Bond

      I feel you.

      I love a dark fairy tale. My first two fairy tales were the original Little Mermaid and Rumplestiltskin. When I saw the Disney version of Little Mermaid, I was VERY confused.
      Kate Bond recently posted…Side Effects May Vary: Review

    • Kate Bond

      Yeah, A lot of my favorite stories, in any genre, are built on the bones of an existing narrative structure. Fairy tales seem especially good for that.

  16. Jessica Cooley

    Wow, beautiful cover. I was skimming through recent post and didn’t even read the title when I saw this beautiful cover – I just clicked in because WOW! Love it! The story sounds soooo good. This is going on my to read list.
    Jessica Cooley recently posted…Cress Book Review

  17. Natasha

    My favorite fairytale retelling is Sisters Red by Jackson Pierce.
    Thanks for the chance to win!

  18. J. Oh

    The premise is intriguing, and I’m so grateful for an author who understands the importance of diversity in YA. I’m Asian-American and I love reading YA, but it was only after years of reading YA that I one day thought: “Wait, almost no one in any of the books I’m reading about actually looks like me.” And the thing is, I’ve been fortunate in other ways–I might not have blonde hair, but there are lots of skinny/slender girls in YA, and that’s something I understand well–and it makes me wonder how authors can be still more inclusive. It might be unrealistic for an author to deal sensitively with race, disability, socioeconomic class, weight, beauty, etc. all in one novel, so I can easily understand wanting to shy away from mentioning things you can’t handle with great care and depth. But, on the other hand, the mere fact of including them would, I feel, be so encouraging for many who have never seen people like themselves included in their favorite books.

    I don’t mean to opine about not being able to relate to a character who looks different–I’ve related to many a white protagonist for many reasons other than skin color, just as I’ve related to many male characters though I am female. And yet if I were to read a good YA book set, not in Asia, but in America, with a main character who was Asian, I feel like that would be so special for me. Certainly rare, at this point, although I’m sure some of it must exist.

    • Kate Bond

      Yeah, I get frustrated that I don’t see myself in literature outside romance and YA, and I’m a thin white girl. I can’t imagine reading book after book with NOBODY who looked like me.

      STRAY is interesting, race-wise, because it takes place in a magical fairy tale land, so she can’t describe people as being Asian or Indian or whatever; she has to find ways to convey skin tone and eye shape (because if she says a girl is pale with black hair, we’ll all still assume white) that aren’t obvious and silly.

      Some good YA books with Asian protagonists or love interests, in case you haven’t read them:

      Unspoken (this whole series) by Sarah Rees Brennan
      Legend (the whole series–the male lead is Asian) by Marie Lu
      The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna
      Quicksilver (sequel to Ultraviolet–it’s the male lead in this one, too) by RJ Anderson
      Stormdancer (whole series) by Jay Kristoff
      Eon (whole series) by Alison Goodman
      Cinder (whole series, Asian prince love interest) by Marissa Meyer
      Clockwork Angel (whole series; one of the two love interests is Asian)

      • J. Oh

        It’s true–and movies can be a lot worse, though that’s probably one of many reasons why I often stick to movies geared toward children and young adults, as well.

        I find that really interesting too, and I’d definitely be interested in hearing more from her about the challenges of writing that way. I’ve also been working on such a novel for a few years now (nowhere close to ready for publication), and it’s really tricky. Sometimes I wonder if a name is enough–Asian last names, for example?–but there can be a lot of ambiguity with that, and, for example, a lot of African-Americans usually have last names that couldn’t necessarily be distinguished from those of white people. But not having read a ton of books that do a good job of representing characters of different races and describing them well so that I understand what they’re saying but don’t feel like they’re hitting me over the head with it or being stereotypical, I’m at a loss as to how to proceed. I want to find a way to include non-white characters without making A Big Point about it, and that also seems difficult. It seems like this is what Sussman is doing as well, and I’m curious to see how she handles it. (I appreciate novels that address race head-on, but I’d also be curious to see some that just incorporate it without necessarily having a specific agenda.)

        Some of those books are on my to-read list, but there are a good many I haven’t heard of before! Thank you for the thoughtful reply and recommendations, Kate. I can’t wait to read these.

        • Kate Bond

          Remember when the HUNGER GAMES movie came out and a lot of white people were freaking out online, saying they didn’t cry when she died because she was black and other awful things like that? Because the description in the novel was subtle? Sigh.

          One of my favorite things about Mira Grant’s PARASITE is that the main character has an Asian love interest for absolutely no reason at all. He just happens to be of that ethnicity. I hate that stories default to straight white male unless something else is specifically required–like a ninja, or a gangbanger, or someone with boobs.

          I hope you like some of those books! Good luck!

      • shay

        Here are a couple others that would fit this list:

        Gilded by Christina Farley (I think. I know it incorporates Korean mythology)
        Prophecy by Ellen Oh
        The Fold by An Na
        Since You Asked…by Maurene Goo
        The Language Inside by Holly Thompson (this one doesn’t actually have an Asian protagonist, but is about a white teen who grew up in Japan and moves to America and her struggles adjusting to the culture. Love interest is Cambodian)
        shay recently posted…Top Ten Popular Authors I Haven’t Read

  19. Paige Garrison

    I’m a sucker for a good fairytale-esque novel. They are my weakness. Plus, I love the idea of Fairy Godmother’s as this nun-like order. Plus, I love the cover!

    • Kate Bond

      I know, the fairy godmother thing is really cool. I love the idea that either you’re a princess who marries and has babies of you’re a nun, and there’s not much of an in between. There’s something so deliciously HANDMAID’S TALE-ish about it.

  20. Cristina Russell

    wow, that cover is STUNNING! I wish all YA books could get such beautiful and thoughtful representations.
    I love fairy tale retellings, but love an original fairytale even more. I love the idea of weaving a tale throughout and around the old tales while creating one that stands all on its own, beside them. It seems like such a labor of love and…so much fun! And they certainly are fun to read. :)
    I think diversity in YA is imperative, and I love to see more and more of it. I can only hope that someday it’s not even a conversation we have, but rather just a natural part of the genre (& all others), as it should be.
    Cristina Russell recently posted…Sigh

    • Kate Bond

      Re: the cover… I know. Elissa’s really lucky that they listened to what she had to say and took her input. Kudos to the people who made that decision.

      Original fairy tales are fun for me because my brain almost rebels against them a bit at first, you know? I love them so, so much.

      And I agree that this needs to stop being a conversation we need to have. Boy, does that need to happen. It’s a shame that it seems that the only way to get it to that point is to be so annoying by having the conversation over and over ad nauseam until people finally do it to make us shut up.

    • Kate Bond

      Yeah, it’s fun to have a new one. I love the old ones, but I love reading new stories. New new new.

  21. Alice

    Fairy tale retellings always intrigue me, but I love that this has the feel of fairy tales without being based on any specific one. I also love the background as to why Elissa recast her characters to make them more diverse. I definitely appreciate that and think it’s important to have more diversity in our literature. I grew up on Western fairy tales and Disney, but it always kind of sucked (even if I didn’t specifically realize why) when none of those characters looked like me.
    Alice recently posted…What’s Up Wednesday (28)

    • Kate Bond

      Yeah, Frozen and Tangled kind of upset me because there was just no good reason for there not to be people of color in them. I get that they like to make everything in their worlds fit a specific style, which is usually tied to a geographic region, but it’s just silly at this point.

      They also have a tendency to hire white actors to voice non-white characters, but only allow whites to play whites. It’s all pretty much a bummer.

  22. prerna pickett

    I LOVE fairy tale retellings, and this sounds very original and up my alley. My favorite has to be Beauty and the Beast! And the cover gorgeous. Can’t believe I hadn’t heard anything about this story until now!

  23. Melissa

    I love fairytales. I like seeing the different directions authors take retellings and I love original fairytales. I’m excited to read Stray — it looks very interesting. I tend to read a lot of fantasy and had not really thought about the fact that most characters are white. They are, and there should be more diversity. I tend to assume characters are white also if there is not a good description just because I’m white. I agree that having a description would be necessary but it would be a fine line not to belabor it as she said.

    I’m really looking forward to reading it. And the cover really is lovely.

    • Kate Bond

      Yes, I was complaining that a book had no non-whites recently, but then I paged back through and realized skin color was only specifically stated to be white in two of the, like, 20 characters. No one else’s race was mentioned. I felt like such a jerk.

      Once you notice that there aren’t enough non-straight, non-white (and frequently non-male) characters, you can never go back. You’ll notice it in every freaking book you read.

  24. Natalie Crown

    1. The cover is lovely

    2. A fairytale world? Yes, thank you.

    3. Elissa, you are gorgeous as well. I know that’s irrelevant, but really.

    4. SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU MENTION ANGEL COULBY. There was also an instance on the show Once Upon a Time where a black man was cast to play Lancelot – and farrr too many people had an issue with that. It makes no sense to me. That said, I am also glad that you acknowledged how it was a default for you to write a white cast of characters. I feel as though some people are afraid to admit this? I had to do the same recasting with my own group of characters a few years back and it is difficult to find the right balance. One of the main characters in my novel is black, yet the number of people that are shocked by this even after reading it is insane. It is mentioned in the text, but I tried not to harp on about it. It’s tough to get the balance, that’s for sure.

    I’m rambling and I’m at work so I can’t spend time checking this comment! Haha. Looking forward to reading!
    Natalie Crown recently posted…Is Creative Writing a waste of time?

    • Kate Bond

      She is really, really beautiful. Not that it matters, blah blah. But she is.

      And I think it’s important to be open and honest about this stuff–if people who write diverse casts talked about needing to go out of their way to do so, more writers might try to incorporate non-white characters, you know? I really admire you guys for your frankness about this.

  25. Christina R.

    LOVE that it’s a fairy tale about fairy Godmothers! Usually they take a lesser role, but in this case it’s all about what makes them fairy Godmothers!

    I think diversity is so important in stories, not only racial diversity, but also diversity that has to do with sexual orientation and even people struggling with physical or mental problems.

    LOVE that there’s diversity in this one!! :)

    Thank you :)

    • Kate Bond

      I will say that this story contains several types of diversity, not just racial, but going into specifics will put us in spoiler territory.

      And it really is important–not just so that minorities get to see themselves reflected in the stories, but also so that white kids see non-whites in those roles and learn to stop automatically assuming all main characters are white.

      And the fairy godmother thing is BRILLIANT.

  26. Kim

    Influenced by The 10th Kingdom?!?! 14 year old Kim’s enchanted little heart just burst with excitement.

    I lol forever at people who vehemently argue that you can’t have POC in Fantasy because “Europe blah blah blah.” It’s fantasy. You can do whatever you want. Those arguments are just racist.

    I can’t *wait* to read this. YA romantic fantasy? MY FAVORITE! With diversity? Give it to me now.

  27. Jennifer

    Wow, the cover looks amazing. :) And I absolutely LOVE fairy tale settings! Def adding to my to-read list.

  28. K.

    I have a love-hate relationship with YA covers. I hate most of them. But this one is genuinely really quite beautiful. You’re right — the dress! The delicacy of it is gorgeous. Kudos to the artist.

    More importantly, however, is (obviously) the book’s inclusion of non-whites. Not going to get too into it, but I just want to express my appreciation for her out-of-the-box choice of incorporating diversity into her characters. This kind of thing shouldn’t be a novelty anymore in this day and age. And I totally understand her struggle in not over accentuating their colour. Like I said, it shouldn’t have to be a point. It should just be.

    • Kate Bond

      I know. It was kind of serious content for a cover reveal-type post, but I really love when she talks about that stuff, so I wanted to make sure to include it here. It’s pretty cool that the main character isn’t white, and no one in the story comments on it, and no one in the story cares, feels empowering.

  29. Erin

    I haven’t read very many fairy tale retellings, but my favorite thing about them is how you can see the bones of the original tale, even if the retelling is, say, set far in the future with a cyborg as the main character.

  30. Blythe Harris

    I loved the part of this where Elissa expressed her concern in describing her POC character. Especially the part where she says she was afraid readers would implicitly assume a character is white if they’re not given much or any detail. Which is what I really appreciated about She Is Not Invisible, which I know Wendy has read. I’m also really excited for the movie adaptation of Into the Woods coming up in 2015, I think? Also really excited for Stray, of course. I’m all about fairytale retellings at the moment.
    Blythe Harris recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday – Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless

    • Kate Bond

      YES, Blythe. My pet peeve, description-wise, is the too-much-cream-in-coffee one. Grrrr.

      And I realized recently that I was upset with an author for writing an all-white book, when only two characters out of about 20 had been described. Oops. Completely my own fault.

      Into the Woods is going to be an epic movie. I hope. I will be so upset if it sucks.

    • Kate Bond

      Yeah. It really says something about her that she, as a white girl, thought about it and created a diverse world with a non-white main character.

  31. Caitlin C.

    This sounds so cool! (And Angel Coulby was awesome on Merlin. I don’t know why anyone called about the so-called “realism.”)

    • Kate Bond

      It’s stupid. I think some people just can’t see past their narrow worldviews. I don’t think it’s (or, at least, I hope it’s not) malicious. I think it’s more just thoughtless.

  32. ANDREW

    I JUST LOVE THIS AUTHOR , I CAN NOT WAIT FOR BOOK 2 LET ALONE STRAY !

  33. Tara

    I actually read a preview of this book over the summer for DPI, provided by Greenwillow Books, and it sucked not being able to finish it! I can’t wait until it’s released :)

  34. Mary @ BookSwarm

    OMG–I just saw this cover the other day and, between it and the blurb, fell completely in love. I adore fairy tales, especially new ones influenced by the lexicon. Can’t wait to read it! And how fascinating, Kate, that you got the chat with your friend as it all came together! I do love hearing a good debut author story.
    Mary @ BookSwarm recently posted…Waiting On…SNOW LIKE ASHES by Sara Raasch

    • Kate Bond

      It’s so much fun, because I have none of the stress, but I get to learn what the process is like. It really is fascinating.

  35. Katie @ Spirit of Children's Literature

    This is an amazing cover! I had seen a blurb about this book and the cover recently, and was so excited–I think fairy tale re-tellings will never go out of fashion. That dress is amazing! I love fairy tale re-tellings because there seem to be certain themes that are relevant no matter what time period and culture. I think fairy tales that feature diversity is extremely significant, because it highlights similarities among cultures as well as gives a chance to appreciate differences. One of my recently favorite re-tellings is Cinder and I’m about to start Scarlet!
    Katie @ Spirit of Children’s Literature recently posted…The Spirituality of The Winner’s Curse (2014) by Marie Rutkoski

    • Kate Bond

      Oh, I hope you love Scarlet! I liked it MUCH more than Cinder. Wolf is super dreamy.

      Oh! There’s a short story, called “The Queen’s Army,” numbered 1.5 in the series. DO NOT read it before Scarlet. It comes first chronologically, but it completely spoils the entire mystery of what is going on with a major character. Read it AFTER Scarlet.

    • Kate Bond

      This is more of an original fairy tale, using classic fairy tale themes. It doesn’t really read like a retelling, but it feels familiar because it’s told like the classic stories.

      And the dress. The dress. The dress.

  36. Wendy Darling

    SO pretty and moody and water-colory. Plus I need to know what she’s doing–is she communing with the trees? Is she lost in the forest? I MUST FIND OUT!

    Gorgeous cover, I love the quiet feeling and the splash of royal blue.

    • Kate Bond

      I think she’s lost in a dream.

      The splash of blue is my favorite part. Favorite favorite favorite.

  37. Claire

    I absolutely love this cover, and I’m really excited to read Stray. I desperately want to read more diverse stories but for some reason, even within the boundless realms of fantasy, so many authors feel confined by what has come before. Give me Asian and African and Australasian and Pacific Island based fantasy that bends the truths we know.

    I love how you point out that, in fantasy, historical accuracy is a moot point. It’s something I’ve often rolled my eyes at many a time, along with the place of women in fantasy. I’ve seen ‘but that’s how it was back then’ way too many times in instances where stories contain dragons and fae and curses.

    Thank you for writing something like this, I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

    • Kate Bond

      Yeah, I had this problem when I saw Frozen–Like, can there seriously not be black and asian and whatever people in this world? In the world with the talking snowman and rock trolls? It’s just weak.

      I read an article recently about black children in a creative writing class, and they always wrote about white people, because good writing is about whites. We’ve gotta stop doing this to kids.

      • Claire

        Seriously?! I haven’t seen Frozen yet, but I had high hopes.

        “I read an article recently about black children in a creative writing class, and they always wrote about white people, because good writing is about whites. We’ve gotta stop doing this to kids.”

        This makes me incredibly sad… I really do wish there were enough books about people of colour that they felt as comfortable writing about their own ethnicity as any other. Of all the books I’ve read recently, and I know I need to make more of an effort to read more diversely, only one had a main character who wasn’t white, and that was a self-published book. When I choose books, I choose for the story, not for what colour the protagonist’s skin is which, when I read primarily fantasy, tends to leave my reading list wanting.

        • Kate Bond

          Have you read N.K. Jemisen’s fantasy? It’s brilliant, and very diverse (Jemisen is black). I especially loved The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

          • Claire

            Oh no, but that looks absolutely perfect for me! Thank you for the rec, I can’t wait to get into it… when my bank sends me my new card.

            They don’t care their screw up is getting in the way of my reading habit.

            • Kate Bond

              I left my credit card in my optometrist’s office, and I couldn’t stop by to get it during their work hours for TWO DAYS. it was awful.

              I hope you love Jemisen; she’s a real favorite of mine.

              • Claire

                Gah! Not cool. The hardest part was I found out my card had expired as I was trying to pay for medication my partner needed. I’d been in to the bank a month earlier to make sure it was okay and they said they’d send a new one. They didn’t.

                And I’m really excited to read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. It sounds right up my alley.

                • Kate Bond

                  Oh man, that’s awful. I’m so sorry!

                  And yeah, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is pretty amazing. I want EVERYONE to read it.

  38. erin clark

    I love fairy tale retelling and this one sounds amazing. That cover!

    I can’t wait to read it!

    • Kate Bond

      Yes! And it really is a completely original fairy tale, inspired by the classic fairy tale themes, which I think is great, because I’m getting a smidge tired of the straight retellings we’ve been getting so much of. I like them, but I’m a little bit over it.

  39. Lena @ Addicted 2 Novels

    I’m seriously in love with that cover. It’s eerie and fits the summary so well. Also, I’m totally in love with that little splash of blue. Brilliant!

    I have to say that my favorite fairy tale retelling has to be Cinder by Marissa Meyer, though Scarlet and Cress are not too far behind. SOOOO good.
    Lena @ Addicted 2 Novels recently posted…Review: The Winner’s Curse

    • Kate Bond

      You know, I didn’t love Cinder. I just don’t buy her and Kai. They’re the weak links of the series for me. I prefer Scarlet and Wolf (insta-love and all) and, to a lesser degree, Cress and what’s-his-name. I think Winter and that soldier dude are gonna be my favorites of the series. For sure.

  40. Brenda

    Beautiful cover, love the dress, the color and the spookiness of the mist. Congratulations on its upcoming release.

  41. Savannah

    First off, I’m all for fairytales. I’m you fairytale gal. Second, lovely cover. Looks intriguing and beautiful at the same time. And Hello!, It’s going to be published on my birthday! I think I know a gift I can get myself. LOL
    Savannah recently posted…Review: Me Since You

  42. Amy

    I love fairy tales so I can’t wait to get my hands on this! The cover is amazing .

  43. Ariana

    I’m SO excited to read a book that explores the dark side of fairy godmothers, and I’m even more excited to finally get to read a YA fairytale fantasy that will have DIVERSITY so I can recognize myself in the characters!

    • Kate Bond

      Oh yay! I’m a white woman, and I get frustrated with OUR representation (or lack thereof) in popular media. I can’t imagine being a minority. Particular a female one.

      And the fairy godmother aspect of this book is just fascinating.

  44. Laura

    I am so excited for this book! I love fairy-tale retellings, especially anything that talks about the world behind the fairytales – why they operate as they do, why a fairy godmother or evil queen is even part of the world. So excited for this book!

    • Kate Bond

      Yeah, there’s this nice trend right now–you know, with Wicked and those types of things–of really taking the fairy tales apart, Into the Woods-style, and looking at them from a different perspective, and it’s just so refreshing!

  45. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    1. Into the Woods is my all-time favorite musical (and I love musicals). I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ve heard that the role of the witch was actually written for Bernadette Peters<—–AMAZING.
    2. As an avid watcher of Merlin, I am fully aware of that online debate and rejoice (REJOICE, I tell you), that your friend also saw the absurdity of the "An ethnic Guinevere?!" debate, and seemingly took pains to be more diverse. I didn't know about Sarah Rees Brennan's post, but I'm not surprised b/c she too is awesome.
    3. I want this book. I want it NOW ;) I created a new bookshelf for it on Goodreads (i-burn-i-pine-i-perish).
    Jessica @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Review: Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

    • Kate Bond

      Into the Woods was a pretty important part of high school for me. I was OBSESSED with it like a true Drama nerd.

      The ethnic Guinevere debate made me sad for people who look like the actress. Can you imagine reading a bunch of commentary about how your race shouldn’t be allowed to take part in stories like this? Ugh.

  46. Sophia D

    The cover looks amazing….this is definitely going on my wish list for books!

  1. Win an ARC of STRAY! | Elissa Sussman

    […] sat down with my friend Kate over at The Midnight Garden to talk about my brand new cover, fairy tale retellings and diversity in YA. Head over to the site […]