Hello everyone! We have a very special guest today, my buddy Dawn Laraimore. Not only do Dawn and I share the same brilliant agent, Marietta Zacker, and publisher, Holiday House, but her debut middle grade novel, IVY'S EVER AFTER hits the streets THIS Saturday, May 15th! So, in honor of her looming debut, we are going to talk to Dawn about Ivy, her take on writing for the wee ones and her road to finding an agent! She also has a nice surprise for you! She'll be giving away a signed copy of Ivy's Ever After. Just leave a comment and you're entered! The winner will be announced this Saturday--contest closes at midnight on Friday, so leave your comment ASAP! Let's get this party started!
All right, Ms. Dawn, in a nutshell, what's IVY'S EVER AFTER about?
IVY is my version of a fractured fairy tale for middle-grade readers. According to tradition, Princess Ivy is to be locked in a white tower guarded by a dragon. The prince who slays the dragon and rescues her will, of course, win her hand in marriage. The problem is Ivy doesn't want to be rescued. And Elridge, the rather unferocious dragon sent to guard her, most definitely doesn't want to be slain! Neither wants anything to do with Romil, an unscrupulous prince from the frozen North who will be the doom of them both. And so IVY'S EVER AFTER is a fairy-tale-with-a-twist in which the princess and the dragon actually team up to thwart the handsome prince. I think it's a lot of fun, an adventure with a sassy heroine and a light-hearted, humorous tone. You can read Chapter 1 on the Ivy's Ever After website (if you have a low screen resolution and only see the menu, be sure to scroll down), and watch the book trailer here.
What are your tips for making a fairy tale into something unique--something that's not already been done to death?
I love fractured fairy tales, which are fairy tales where some element of the traditional story is changed. As entertaining as stories of old can be, I think it's quite obvious to modern readers how outdated some of the mentalities behind these tales can be. I think it's a lot of fun to shake things up and revisit these stories with modern sensibilities in mind. If you're interested in creating a fractured fairy tale or retelling of a traditional story, try challenging some element of the story that you find archaic or superficial by today's standards--the role of female characters, the focus on wealth or materialism, the emphasis placed on beauty and good looks, etc.
How do you think writing for kids varies from writing for adults? How do you make it work?
I love writing for middle-grade readers! They are such an imaginative and fun-loving audience. When writing for kids, I think it is important to keep in mind that many members of your audience are going to have a much shorter attention span than your average adult. For this reason, I think kidlit typically needs to be faster-paced than stories geared toward adults. Focus more on the external (action and events) than the internal (emotions, inner dialogues, etc.). This keeps things moving. Not that you can't have quiet moments of inner reflection, but you're probably going to lose the interest of a lot of middle-grade readers if your characters spend a lot of time doing nothing but thinking. And humor helps--kids love to laugh!
Was it hard for you to find an agent? What advice can you give to writers who are in the process of finding one?
My journey to finding an agent was pretty straightforward--I just kept sending out queries until someone made an offer of representation, lol. It was a lengthy process, as it is for a lot of writers, and involved a fair number of rejections, which are never fun to get. I feel so incredibly lucky to have ended up at a literary agency I love! Finding an agent is all about finding someone your story resonates with, so do your research. Visit agents' websites, read interviews with them, find out their likes and dislikes. An agent who hates horror is obviously not the best match for your slasher novel. Find books on the market that are similar (but not too similar) to yours--and then find out who represented them. This is usually pretty easy to do by reading the acknowledgments, visiting the author's website, or simply Googling. That agent might be a good match for you. Above all, don't get discouraged and don't give up!! Rejections are inevitable, but what one agent dislikes about your manuscript could very well be what the next agent loves about it.
Dawn, thanks so much for giving us the skinny on Ivy, you, not to mention giving away a free signed book! w00t! Reluctant dragons rule! :)
Well, that's it kiddos! Please be sure to check out Dawn's uber cool website and way awesome book trailer and for goodness sake, buy Ivy's Ever After! You won't regret it--it's fantastic!
Keep writing and be sure to enter the contest for your signed copy of Ivy's Ever After, ends Friday at midnight so enter NOW!
xoxo -- Hilary
Thanks Hilary for posting this interview.ReplyDelete
Dawn, I love the sounds of this! I love the idea of twisting the fairytale and putting modern twists on it.
I mean honestly, what girl in her right mind wants to be locked up in a tower until she gets married? That's a parents fantasy. Lol!
I can't wait until this comes out, and I'd buy your stuff before Disney any day!
Great idea! The book sounds wonderful. I'll be sure to look for it on the 15th :-)ReplyDelete
What a fabulous flip of an age old story! i can't wait to read it!ReplyDelete
It's great to see that there are still new authors getting published. Gives me hope! :DReplyDelete
Hil great interview! I'm SO SAD you got to Dawn first! Lovely publisher-sister, you're coming onto my blog too, right?ReplyDelete
And -- do I get to comment once for myself and once for the possums?
The book sounds great and I love that cover! Great interview.ReplyDelete
I love the cover too! Very cool, Dawn!ReplyDelete
Hilary! Wonderful interview! I love the book cover. I hope I win the book! I loooove books! *drooling*ReplyDelete
Forget the kids, I want this one for me, LOL. I love fractured fairy tales, and this one sounds like a lot of fun, Dawn.ReplyDelete
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Very good, informative interview. The imaginative twist of tale of this old story sounds facinating! Be nice to win it but I will read it regardless.ReplyDelete
OMG, can I say I LOVE the premise? LOVE! Even if I don't win, I'll be keeping an eye out for this one.ReplyDelete
Great interview, too!
Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse
Great interview, Hilary. I've never heard the term fractured fairytale...interesting. :)ReplyDelete
Thanks for stopping by my blog and offering your kindness...
Woo hoo! Congrats Dawn! =) Sounds like a great book. =)ReplyDelete
I saw this title in my local bookstore already! It looks great and I will be sure to pick it up soon. Thanks for your insight, Dawn; I have a "fractured fairy tale" in a drawer...I knew it wasn't quite right, but wasn't sure what to do with it, but reading this interview gave me some good ideas!ReplyDelete
And thanks for general awesomeness, Hilary, as usual. :)
This book sounds like so much fun. I'd love to read it. I like to play around with fractured fairy tales, too. It really is way to let your imagination fly.ReplyDelete
I love fractured fairy tales and I think my seven-year-old daughter would like this book.ReplyDelete
Congratulations on your book.
I love fairy tales! Sounds like a fun one. Totally on my to read list. :)ReplyDelete
Thanks, everyone--I'm so very excited about IVY making its way out into the world!!ReplyDelete
And huge thanks to Hilary for featuring me on her fabulous blog--you rock, lady!
And Jen, of course I'd be honored to visit your blog anytime :)
Hmm, this looks interesting. I found your page off of goodreads.com I hope I win a copy!ReplyDelete
Great interview. I adore fractured fairy tales too -- so I can't wait for Saturday. :)ReplyDelete
Dawn, thanks for being so encouraging. I write mid grade fantasy and would love to read your book. Good luck.ReplyDelete
this was great - thanks hilary!ReplyDelete
I LOVE the way kidlit authors stick together--thanks for a great interview Hilary and Dawn! Two more days... I can barely wait!!ReplyDelete
The book seems so cool! Thanks for this chance!ReplyDelete
sounds like a great book!ReplyDelete
great contest too. :)
Cool trailer! Love those visuals!ReplyDelete
Wonderful interview Hilary and Dawn. You two are amazing! Can't wait to get both of your books in my hot little hands.ReplyDelete