Greetings! I'm a 20-year-old writer (wow, it's weird to write that, my birthday was only just the other week!), who loves fairy tales, myths, legends, and especially my God. I'm the oldest of four, homeschooled my whole life, and have been writing for most of it. I also have an invisible rocket in my back yard in which I take frequent trips to the moon.
For anyone who doesn’t know, the Bookania Quests are based on/inspired by fairy tales. What got you to start liking fairy tales in the first place? What is your favorite one?
I blame that on my mother. She used to take my sister and I on walks around the block, telling us various tales, embellished in her own personal style. (Our mother's an amazing storyteller). When I finally began reading the tales for myself, I was somewhat disappointed to find that they didn't include everything my mother's versions did, but I still loved them nonetheless.
Favorite tale. That changes almost daily (sometimes hourly). I tend to go for the obscure ones, though. Such as “Casperl and the Princess,” on which my short story “Woodcutter Quince” is based; “The Jolly King's Daughter,” which is also known as “The Little Good Mouse,” and “The White Cat,” which actually held that place for the longest time running, as it was our favorite story to get our mother to tell to us.
On a similar note, what is your favorite fairy tale retelling?
A few years ago, I would have instantly spouted off Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. However, while it still holds the place of favorite Cinderella retelling (closely followed by the as-yet unpublished Secret of the Hazel Tree by Kirsten Fitcher), I'm not certain it can hold the place of favorite over all. I also adore the retellings in her Princess Collection; Ever After High, and Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale; Cinder and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer; The Cinderella Theorem by Kristee Ravan; and The Frog who Would Be Prince by Norm DePloom.
So many options, so many great retellings that I have read. Please don't make me choose.
My Kingdom For a Quest is largely about Arthur, who first made his appearance in Do You Take This Quest? What inspired the insertion of Arthurian legends into Bookania?
That's complicated. You see, while I was working on the first two books of the series, I was involved in the YWP NaNo forums, particularly in a chatroom of sorts where a few of us authors would hang out with our characters. A few of members also stole characters from TV shows and RP'd with them, including a girl who had Arthur from Merlin. Despite the fact that I've only ever seen half an episode from the show, one of my Bookania Characters (one that I haven't officially introduced yet, but I'm really looking forward to writing with) developed a crush on him, and proceeded to insist that her love interest have something to do with King Arthur. So I obliged – Arthur was his ancestor 300 years back.
I got Sew published, and it was doing really good, but I kept running into brick walls with writing Take and wasn't even past the second chapter, so I did what I always do in this situation and took the story to my mother. I read it aloud to her, and when we got to the part where Shira is pinning Robin to the wall, mother commented on her motive. Apparently, there was a whole bunch of BACKSTORY there that I hadn't even guessed at. (Nature of said backstory is spoiler territory, however). While discussing this backstory, and its possible repercussions (including the fact that it seriously messed with a subplot I had tried to put in Sew), we realized that it created an opening for an Arthur character.
On one hand, I really liked this, but it messed up a lot of my planned plot, especially the fact that I had an Arthur already worked into the world. Well, no matter, I'd also recently discovered a Robin Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White who were living 300 years ago. I decided that Bookania had a repeating history.
I have to ask, will we see plenty of Robin, Robert, and Eric in this next book? And the book after that? I don’t really want to say goodbye to any of them.
You will see lots of Robin and Eric in Kingdom – Eric's even a main POV. However, Robert informed me that as the crown prince of Locksley, he really needed to get back home, and since this whole war thing wasn't really his style, could he please be exempt? He's in two chapters.
In book four … um … you'll see a lot of Robin. Robert will get into a few chapters, probably in the second half (haven't written them, but I do know that he's important.) Eric though. He and Robin Hood get kidnapped. The current plan is that he'll be in the interruptions!
Honestly, I sat down once to figure out what it would take to get Robert to go on a quest again, and it involved me removing pretty much every ally he had and stacking the odds against him so high, it'd be impossible for him to win. He's never going to officially leave the series, I do know that, but he's never going to be a main character, save in short stories.
Which of the Bookania characters would you most like to spend the day with?
Maryanne. I haven't introduced her yet, but I've done pre-writing with her, and she's such fun. She'll be the main character of several installments, and she can get herself in out of more trouble …
Let’s talk about writing. I get writer’s block quite a bit. What do you do when you get stuck?
I go work on something else, read a book, take a walk, play a computer game, run around like a crazy person in my backyard, fix supper, realize my room is in desperate need of cleaning, knit a scarf …
Basically, anything I can to get away from my story. Eventually I'll come up with a way to break through on my block, or else guilt will drive me back to the story and I'll just push through it.
I really like to drink tea while I write. Do you have any special drinks or snacks for writing? Any specific Bookania ones?
Um, I snack on whatever I happen to have on hand, which right now involves a lot of chocolate, because of after Christmas sales. I really like tic-tacs, and popcorn's always great. As for drinks, I usually just stick with water, though I'll occasionally heat some water and fix myself some tea or hot apple cider. I'm picky with my teas though, preferring vanilla or strong fruit flavors.
Nothing specific to Bookania, however.
What is your favorite part of writing?
Either the plotting stage or the rewriting. I love plotting because the story's still pristine and perfect in my head, and I like rewriting because I already have my blazed trail, and now I get to polish the story.
On a final note, do you have any advice for someone, like me, who would love to write a fairy tale retelling, but doesn’t know where to start?
Start with a fairy tale. Whichever you choose to retell, find as many versions you can, including other retellings. Immerse yourself in the story until you find its heart, and then make it your own.
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Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairy tales and twisting them in new and exciting ways. She's been practicing her skills on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years, "Finish your story, Kendra", is frequently heard at family gatherings. Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children's tales that also glorify God and his Word. You can read more about her on her blog, knittedbygodsplan.blogspot.com.