Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Interview with Eilis O'Neal

Hey everyone! So, today I have for you an interview with Ms. Eilis O'Neal, the author of The False Princess which will be out in bookstores on January 25, 2011. Link to the review;

So, without further ado, Ms. Eilis O'Neal!

How long have you been writing?

I started telling stories before I could actually write them down. Starting at about the age of three, I would tell my mother stories, and she would type them out. The first one I ever told her was about a frog who cried frozen tears because winter had come and he couldn’t swim in his pond anymore. It was all of three sentences long. But gradually, I started telling/writing longer stories on a regular basis. Then my mom would type them up, I’d illustrate them, and we’d give them out to my relatives as Christmas presents.

Who or what was your inspiration for becoming an author?

In general, my desire to become an author stems from the fact that I’m a total bookworm and have been since before I could talk. I’m one of those people who can’t go anywhere without a book, because there might be five minutes where I could be reading. So it wasn’t much of a leap to realize that I wanted to be able to write books that affected people the way that many books affect me. More specifically, I read Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness quartet when I was twelve, and those books cemented in me the idea that I wanted to write YA fantasy novels.

What inspired you to write about this particular time period?

I’m a medieval/Renaissance nut. I would love to live somewhere where I could see castles on a daily basis, and my husband and I love to dress up and go to Ren faires. A lot of the fantasy books I read are set in that general time period. So, basically, I just like!

What did you have to research to properly portray the land of Thorvaldor?

One of the things I had to do some extra research on is the dyeing of cloth. Sinda’s Aunt Varil is a dyer, and at the beginning of the book, Sinda tries—fairly unsuccessfully—to learn this trade. I knew that I wasn’t going to be writing a handbook on dyeing, but I wanted the little snippets that I did include to be realistic. So I got books and poked around on the internet until I felt like I had enough basic knowledge that anything I said wouldn’t—hopefully—be too far from the truth.

How long did it take you to write this book from start to finish?

It’s been a few years, so it’s hard to remember exactly. But I think I started the first draft in early January of 2007 and finished it in October of that year. Then I revised for a long time. I think I was shopping it around for an agent by November of 2009. So, quite a while!

What was the publishing process like?

I got my agent the old fashioned way—a query letter and the first five pages of the book. Once he’d decided to represent me, he said there was a new (in the US) publishing house whose first list would come out in the fall of 2009, and that he thought it would be a good place to start. And, to our shock, Egmont USA accepted it! Which is, of course, something that totally does not normally happen, though I’m certainly glad it did. And I’m so glad that Egmont will be publishing the book, because everyone there is great.

How did you come up with the characters of Sinda and Kiernan? Were they inspired by anyone?

I knew that I wanted my false princess to be someone who never quite fit into the “normal” idea of what a princess should be. Someone quiet and bookish, a little shy. And once I had that, I also knew that her best friend would be someone who was very opposite—outgoing and witty, someone who could pull her out of her shell. They weren’t inspired by anyone in particular, though Sinda is probably more like me than anyone else in the book is, so I was able to write her pretty easily.

Who was your favorite character to write?

Of course, I love Sinda. Like I said, she’s the most like me. But I think that the two characters I had to the most fun writing are Kiernan and Philantha, because both of them make me laugh. Kiernan gets to be droll and witty and silly, and Philantha goes off on these weird bunny trails of conversations that are a hoot to follow. Whenever I had to write them, I ended up smiling.

Who was the most difficult to write?

There are several characters in the book who have ulterior motives. I’m not going to name names, because that would give things away, but it’s always hard to write people who are giving one face to your main character, but who you know will make a shift later. You have to not tip off the reader too much, but also lay the groundwork for making that shift plausible, and it can be a dance.

Do you have any future projects you can tell us about?

I do have some future projects, but right now they’re under wraps. Still, stay tuned!

Thank you so much to Eilis for a wonderful interview and, again, remember to look for The False Princess in stores 1/25/11!

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