It’s fitting we follow Alex Kava last week with Alethea Kontis, since Alex introduced us. At the time, Alethea lived in Nashville and worked at Ingram. She was an important person to meet, because she was the buyer for our publisher. Big, big deal. And how the universe works – I had no idea Alethea worked for Ingram, but we were already friends on Facebook, outside of the construct of publishing. Still, I was totally blown away when she came to a signing of mine, at the now, sadly, defunct Sherlock’s books in Lebanon, TN.
That afternoon goes down in history as possibly the most fun signing ever. Mostly because I had to sit at a table for three hours, and Lee sat with me for 2.75 of them. We talked. We clicked. We merged. We talked of dreams, and where we wanted our careers to go. She went home and made a painting that is on her business cards. I’d like to think I had something to do with it.
We came out of the afternoon as fast friends, and have seen each other through so much since then. The cool thing is, Alethea is an absolutely amazing writer. Fiction, non-fiction, essays – you name it, she does it. My favorite of hers is the Woodcutter Sisters – which she told me about that fateful afternoon, her plans she had to write a series of fractured fairy tales featuring the seven daughters of a seventh daughter named after the days of the week. The books are ingenious, full of excitement and wonder and if you haven’t read them, you’re in for a treat. And did I mention she’s a princess? Yeah. She really is.
I bring you my darling Alethea. Take it away, Princess.
Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?
"Laura Palmer" by Bastille
Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?
77 emails, rebuilding my new house that still doesn't have a kitchen sink, and revising TRIXTER, the upcoming Woodcutter novella.
What’s your latest book about?
DEAREST, which came out February 3rd, is a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's THE WILD SWANS, with a little THE GOOSE GIRL, A WEAVE OF WORDS, TRISTAN AND ISOLDE and SWAN LAKE thrown in for good measure.
Where do you write, and what tools do you use?
I write wherever I can, with whatever I can, and on whatever I can...which sometimes means scribbling on the back of a Starbucks receipt with an eyeliner pencil while at a stoplight. Ideally, I'd like to be at home in a chaise lounge with my Mac Powerbook and a giant cup of tea that never gets cold...but that doesn't always happen.
What was your favorite book as a child?
I started reading when I was three years old, so this is an incredibly tough question to answer. I suspect it's a toss-up between ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, THE GOOP TALES by Gelett Burgess, and Ogden Nash's CUSTARD AND COMPANY. And then of course THE COLLECTED TALES OF GRIMM AND ANDERSEN...but my grandmother didn't give me that book until I was eight.
What book are you reading now?
Sarah Addison Allen's FIRST FROST.
What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?
Writing is like having hours and hours of homework every single night...only you really love school.
I told a starry-eyed girl this at a book signing when she asked me, "What's it like to be a writer?" Upon hearing my answer, she made a face like she'd just sucked a lemon. And I felt like a HUGE nerd. Not that it made what I'd told her any less true...
What do you do if the words aren’t flowing?
Every time I sit down at the computer, I give myself permission to write crap. I tell myself that it's fine if it stinks, just as long as I'm moving the story forward. The act of just putting words on paper gets the creative juices flowing. And the next day, it doesn't usually seem so crap after all. But I still have to give myself permission, every single time.
What would you like to be remembered for?
Bringing happiness to the world. Inspiring people to see magic in their lives. And reminding people that fairy tales existed, long before Disney.
New York Times bestselling author Alethea Kontis is a princess, a fairy godmother, and a geek. She’s known for screwing up the alphabet, scolding vampire hunters, and ranting about fairy tales on YouTube.
Her YA fairy tale novel, ENCHANTED, won the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award in 2012, was nominated for the Audie Award in 2013, and was selected for World Book Night in 2014. Both Enchanted and its sequel, HERO, were nominated for the Andre Norton Award.
Alethea's second book in the Woodcutters Series, HERO, is now available in paperback. And here's a little more about her newest book, DEAREST, which just hit store shelves in hardcover!
Readers met the Woodcutter sisters (named after the days of the week) in ENCHANTED and HERO. In this delightful third book, Alethea Kontis weaves together some fine-feathered fairy tales to focus on Friday Woodcutter, the kind and loving seamstress. When Friday stumbles upon seven sleeping brothers in her sister Sunday’s palace, she takes one look at Tristan and knows he’s her future. But the brothers are cursed to be swans by day. Can Friday’s unique magic somehow break the spell?