Friday, 4 May 2012

Exclusive Interview with Alethea Kontis, Author of Enchanted

Me : What was your idea behind creating such wonderful fairytale retelling?

Alethea : 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 CĂș 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. I liked the idea that every fairy tale we know (and some we don't) originated from only one family (The Woodcutters) a very long time ago.

Me : How much you enjoyed writing this brilliant fairytale retelling? Would you like to share few of your moments while writing Enchanted?

Alethea : I had the most fun writing the scenes with Sunday and Trix and Sunday and her father. These scenes were most often when I had stories told within the Enchanted story, which made them special. It was also nice to have the bonding moments between Sunday and Trix and her father -- my father is a storyteller, and I am very close to him. Those scenes between Sunday and Papa often made me miss my father so much I had to pick up the phone and call him.

Me : As you have included many folktales and fairytales in enchanted, which one was your personal favorite when you were a kid and why?

Alethea : I had two favorite fairy tales as a child: "The Goose Girl" and "Snow White and Rose Red." I loved Conrad and the clever king in "The Goose Girl" and the karmic justice dispensed to the evil maid (she was asked what she would do to a traitor to the crown...and then the king made that her fate). I loved the Bear Prince in "Snow White and Rose Red." I also enjoyed the sister dynamic in that one--so often two sisters are Good and Evil. Snow White and Rose Red worked together in a far more healthy relationship.

Me : What is the most especial about Sunday that makes her unique from her sisters?

Alethea : Sunday is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter. She is the youngest child in an extraordinary family, so she's very hard on herself. She likes pretty things, and wishes she could afford to be selfish. She's a writer, and therefore an introvert. She loves her family, but sometimes she just feels overwhelmed. As the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, she has a magical gift where the things she writes come true. As it turns out, she's actually much more powerful than that...she just doesn't know it yet.

Me : What was the reason behind naming the seven sisters after seven days in a week?

Alethea : There is a Mother Goose rhyme about the days of the week:
Monday's Child is fair of face
Tuesday's Child is full of grace
Wednesday's Child is full of woe
Thursday's Child has far to go
Friday's Child is loving and giving
Saturday's Child works hard for a living
But the child born on the Sabbath Day
Is blithe and bonny and good and gay

As a girl whose name means "truth" (Alethea = truth in Greek), I understand how sometimes names can also be curses. What if a woman named her daughters after the days of the week simply because she had so many children...but by doing so she cursed them to have the attributes of the Mother Goose poem? That's what happened to the Woodcutter family.

Me : Is there any other title you are currently working on? Would you like to share few words?


Alethea : Also out this month is The Wonderland Alphabet: Alice's Adventures Through the ABCs and What She Found There. It's a gorgeous picture book collaboration I did with Eisner Award winning artist Janet K. Lee -- Janet and I have been friends for a very long time, and have worked together on a bunch of little projects...it's so wonderful that we finally get to have one published. I'm so excited to do book signings with her! The Wonderland Alphabet is an oversized alphabet board book with poems based on Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Me : Would you like to give any message to fairytale loves who are eagerly waiting for Enchanted to release?

Alethea : I would encourage all fairy tale lovers to look beyond the Disney movies and the other films and television shows out there. Get your hands on a BOOK: the unexpurgated Grimms Fairy Tales, or Hans Christian Andersen, or Charles Perrault. See how many colors of the Andrew Lang Fairy Books you have on your shelf. There are so many wonderful stories out there that don't deserve to be forgotten just because Walt Disney hasn't forced them into his Happily Ever After Land. I'll meet you in the Enchanted Wood. See you there!

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