Interview with Alethea Kontis

Blue-Princess-300x225New York Times bestselling author Alethea Kontis is a princess, a goddess, a force of nature, and a mess. She’s known for screwing up the alphabet, scolding vampire hunters, turning garden gnomes into mad scientists, and ranting on YouTube about fairy tales.

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. Her latest novel in the Woodcutter Sisters series, Dearest, will be released on February 3rd, 2015.

Born in Burlington, Vermont, Alethea currently lives and writes in Florida, on the Space Coast. She makes the best baklava you’ve ever tasted and sleeps with a teddy bear named Charlie. You can find Princess Alethea online at: / @AletheaKontis

Why did you want to write Enchanted (the Woodcutter Sisters books)? (Btw I’m SO glad you did!)
There are a couple of ways to answer this question.

1.) I have always loved fairy tales. ALWAYS. I grew up with them. Not the Disney Princesses (we didn’t own a VHS until sometime in the mid-80s), but the actual, honest-to-goodness-and-badness fairy tales by Grimm and Andersen and Lang and Carroll and all the ones in between. Sometime around the age of 11, I was bored and asked my mother what to write. She said, “Go write me a new fairy tale.” And I haven’t stopped since.

paperback cover2.) I promised myself I would write the novel when the story got out of hand. The story was called “Sunday,” and I originally wrote it as a challenge for the Codex Writers Group. (The challenge was not, as many believe, to cram as many fairy tales in to one story as possible–I challenged MYSELF to do that.) As the story blossomed in my head, the world just kept getting bigger and bigger…until finally I made myself a deal. I told myself that it would be okay to edit out the more in-depth parts so that I could complete the story for the challenge, just as long as I wrote the novel afterwards. The “short” story was 10,000 words long and took third place in the contest. It was later published in Realms of Fantasy magazine. Six years later, Enchanted was released.

So which Woodcutter Sister is closest to you?
In a way, they are all me. Sunday is me as a writer and an introvert and a girl who just wants a boy to love her. Saturday is me as a tomboy…I refused to wear skirts until I was 30. Friday is me as a fairy godmother…I swear I fall in love with everyone I meet. Thursday is me as Queen of the World, who seizes her own adventures and knows exactly how to get along with Mama. Wednesday is the poet in me…poetry was my first love, and I wrote mostly poetry until I got serious about novels. Tuesday is the artist in me, and the person who grieves the most when I am kicked in the teeth by the Universe. Monday is me as the big sister, the one who won’t think twice before stepping in to save the world, at any cost.

First time you saw one of your books in a bookshop, what did you do?
I think the first book to physically come out with my name on the cover was Elemental, the science fiction & fantasy benefit anthology I edited. My first bookstore signing was at Forbidden Planet in London. So to say I was on Cloud Nine is the ultimate understatement…and I’ve been trying to get back to London ever since!

You’ve probably been asked this before but what’s your favorite fairy tale and what’s the one you hate? Why?
My favorite fairy tale is “The Goose Girl.” I love that the princess’s mother is a sorceress, I love that she has a horse that talks beyond death, I love Conrad the nosy goose boy, I love the clever King, and I even love the evil maid and how she names her own retribution.

The one I always liked the least was “Snow White.” She was such a passive wimp that the end of the fairy tale (the red hot iron shoes) didn’t fit her character. It just never made sense to me. So I fixed it. It’s called “The Unicorn Hunter.” <grin>

If you could, what would you want to ask your readers?

Lol…seriously, I have no idea. I’d probably ask what their favorite fairy tale is. Bruno Bettleheim said that your favorite fairy tale tells a lot about who you are as a person. I don’t know WHAT it says, exactly. But I still find it fascinating. Like tarot cards.

Luna: *gulp* mine is Allerleirauh – not sure if I should be worried now.

17155793Continuing on the fairy tale theme, what would you do with three wishes?

  • I would wish for power over gravity.
  • I would wish for everyone in the world to have an injection of self-confidence and a good night’s sleep (which I maintain is how we will achieve World Peace).
  • I would wish for the genie to be free of the bottle.

Tell us something about yourself that not many people know.
I ate two dates today. I love dates.

What’s the perfect cure to a bad day?
Watching a Jane Austen movie…or some similar period drama.

I’m giving you a free platform to talk about anything – GO:
Buy my small press books! Beauty & Dynamite and Wild & Wishful, Dark & Dreaming are my two small press books, and I really need help spreading the word about them! B&D is a memoir…blogs and essays from when I started out as a Baby Writer in the Big World of Science Fiction & Fantasy…and boy did I have some adventures! Ever wondered if magic existed in real life? Well, it does in mine.

WWDD is a collection of my non-fairy tale short stories that I put together at the request of my friend JT Ellison, because she thought they needed to be out in the world. So there they are! Please check them out and share the love!

What happens next?
I am working on a secret project that I can’t tell you about or I’d have to kill everyone…and then who would be around to buy my books? So keep your eyes peeled for that. In the meantime, while I’m staying with my parents, I’m trying to convince my dad to be a guest on Princess Alethea’s Fairy Tale Rants. I think he’d make a great Big Bad Wolf, don’t you?


Quickfire Round

Tea or coffee?
Tea. Preferably something black and citrusy, or Constant Comment, if I’m with Leanna Renee Hieber.

What word describes you best?

Do you ever re-arrange book displays in bookshops?
Not anymore. I’ve worked in too many bookshops.

One thing you couldn’t write without?
My mind

The last book you read?
Jude Deveraux’s FOR ALL TIME

Favorite fairy tale retelling (be it book, movie or TV)?
The Tenth Kingdom (TV miniseries)


When no one is watching do you dance?
Oh, hells yes. Every day.

Biggest highlight since being published?
Winning the Gelett Burgess Award for Enchanted. Gelett Burgess (The Goops) was one of my favorite authors as a kid, and I didn’t even know that award existed until I won it. I still can’t believe it.

Please can you come to the UK? *puppy eyes*
Forbidden Planet wants me as soon as I can come back! And my friend Mary just moved there and I’ve promised to visit…so look for me maybe next summer? I CAN’T WAIT. I miss England. I have history with that country. (But you have to read Beauty & Dynamite to find out how…)

And finally, what is the question you wish people would ask and never do?
I have had people ask me (though infrequently) about Charlie, the teddy bear I always mention in my bio. But no one ever asks his real name! I did share it with USA Today, though…you can find that (and a picture of Charlie!) click HERE

Luna: He’s adorable!

You can read my reviews of Alethea’s Woodcutter Sister Series by clicking on the titles below.
Everyone of them is a 5* review because they are amazing. ♥

Enchanted #1
Hero #2
Dearest #3
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