Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke

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Friday, June 10, 2011

An Interview with Author Melissa Lemon

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Melissa Lemon, author of the upcoming Cinder and Ella.  Our chat about fairy tales, princesses and clumsy husbands leads me to believe I have more in common with Cinderella than I thought!

Cinder and Ella
What were your favorite fairy tales as a young person?
     "Cinderella was my favorite, the reasons being that she’s not a princess (neither am I) and I always seemed to be cleaning."

Did you ever find fairy tales to be scary, funny or serious?
   "All of the above!  Each one holds a bit of seriousness—something tragic has happened or is happening.  Fairy tales have to be scary to hold our suspense and interest.  And a little laughter makes the ride even more enjoyable."

Did you ever learn anything from fairy tales?
   "Each fairy tale has something to teach.  Snow White taught me that kindness wins hearts.  From Cinderella I learned that hard work, a positive attitude, and perseverance pay off.  And Alice in Wonderland helped me realize that falling into holes is not such a good thing."

Why do you think fairy tales are still around and still being read today?
    "I think they represent something from our childhood that we loved and that we can go back to again and again and nobody will think we’re crazy for doing so.  There are so many things we do as kids that we’re expected to give up.  You might think I’m bizarre if you see me sitting in a corner playing with dolls and talking to myself (something my 4 year old does all the time) or if I run around in circles screaming at the top of my lungs (something my 6 year old does when I let her).  Reading fairy tales is perhaps the only thing from our childhood we’re allowed to hold onto."

Why should young people still be interested in fairy tales?
    "Fairy tales bring together people of all ages and cultures.  They provide an escape from reality while teaching us about it.  In short, fairy tales are AMAZING and POWERFUL.  Who wouldn’t want to read them?  (They’re also fun to write as well.)"
Melissa Lemon
In your opinion, why has there been such a resurgence of retellings of fairy tales lately?
   "I think it is because we love them so much and we want to make them fit into our world the way we know it.  It has been fun to see all of the supernatural and paranormal twists taken on these timeless stories.  It makes them accessible and entertaining for new generations."

You have retold the story of "Cinderella" from another perspective.  What made you decide to split that into two different people?
    "I’m not sure.  It probably comes a little from my middle child syndrome.  I am #4 of 5 in my family and have the perfect personality to go unnoticed--quiet, independent.  Even in school I knew what it was like to be the good, diligent, quiet one who never needed anything."

It seems as if you favored the character of Ella more so than Cinder.  Why is that?
   "I think there are two reasons.  One is that more happens to Ella.  Cinder starts as the proactive one but that quickly changes and Ella decides to take everything into her own hands.  It worked well with the plot to follow Ella on her adventures rather than to stay at the castle with Cinder.  It may also be because I understand Ella more and relate to her better.  Cinder is entirely too nice for me to relate to."

Why did you decide to make the "Prince Charming" character NOT a prince and such a klutz? (I loved that about the book, by the way!)
   "Okay, my husband is going to kill me, but he gave me the idea.  My head is in the perfect range for an accidental flying elbow from time to time.  He has stepped on me and whacked me with things as well (all on accident…I think).  Let’s just say I would never let him help me off of a horse, but I love him anyway.  Making the prince evil was a part of making this story different from other retellings.  And who doesn’t love (I mean hate) an evil prince?"

Where did you get the idea for the life connection to trees?
    "I only wish I knew.  I have a life long love of trees—climbing them, hugging them (aspens are the most huggable), being around them, looking at them.  They are a part of my life and I feel a connection to them, so I guess that opened the door for the idea."

What are your future book plans?
   "That is a loaded question.  I have so many ideas it is difficult to keep them straight.  I am currently working on a YA science fiction.  I would like to do somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 more retellings (3 for boys and 2 more for girls).  I may break into the middle grade market at some point since my kids will be there for a while and are great at helping inspire ideas.  I guess the short answer is that I want to keep writing for a very long time."

For more information about Melissa Lemon, check out these links below:
Melissa's Facebook Fan Page
Melissa on Twitter
Melissa's Author Blog
Melissa's Author Page on Goodreads

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