The author of Into the Wild and Out of the Wild recently contacted me to let me know about her latest book, Ice. As a result, I was able to get a free copy of the book and publish a review of it before it was released on October 6. Another exciting result is that Sarah agreed to give me an interview, albeit in the emailed-back-and-forth format that passes for an interview in the Blogosphere. So here are my Q's and her A's. Thanks, Sarah!
RF: What attracted you to writing a book based on "East of the Sun and West of the Moon"? Did a particular version of this grandmother tale inspire you?
SBD: I love this fairy tale. It has everything one could ask for: a fearless heroine, true love, an impossible quest, and a talking polar bear. The version of the tale that I fell in love with was collected by the Norwegian folklorists Asbjornsen and Moe, translated to English by George Webbe Dasent and illustrated by the amazing artist P. J. Lynch.
I veer rather far from the original tale in my novel ICE -- it's set in present-day Arctic and incorporates a lot of elements not in the traditional story -- but at its heart, it is still a tale of a fearless girl, true love, and an impossible quest across the frozen North.
RF: Besides your study of folklore, what research did you do to prepare for writing ICE?
SBD: I did a TON of research on the Arctic. I read every nature book, survival guide, polar bear book, explorer memoir, etc. that I could get my hands on. My favorite was A Naturalist's Guide to the Arctic by E. C. Pielou.
RF: How closely do you identify with Cassie, your main character in ICE?
SBD: Not at all. She dives into freezing oceans, jumps off mountains, and walks through blizzards. I, on the other hand, am a total coward and not very fond of the outdoors. (Too many bugs!) I loved writing about her, though, and living vicariously.
RF: Tell us a little about the path that led you to write novels based on folklore.
SBD: Folklore and fairy tales are everywhere. The images have such a grip on our imagination and on our way of seeing the world. To me as a writer, they're irresistible. So many reader expectations and so much cultural baggage to play with!
RF: Do you have other folklore-based novels planned? What can you tell us about them?
SBD: My next novel is called TIGERLILY, and it's coming from Simon & Schuster in fall 2010. It's about magic at Princeton. It isn’t folklore-based, but it does have were-tigers, talking-gargoyles, dragons, and hot college boys. I've very excited about it!
RF: What values or message do you want to get across to your readers? Or, do your books have a purpose besides to entertain?
SBD: Story comes first. Always. That said, I'm sure my worldview seeps into all my work. ICE, for example, is about true love -- the kind of love you work at, not simply fall into. Real love.
RF: In order of priority, who is the "target audience" you intend to write for?
SBD: I write for me -- or people like me, who want magic, adventure, and love in their books. I don't write for a particular age. In fact, I think it's a mistake to alter your style or tone or themes to fit a particular age reader. Just be true to the story and the characters and your own heart, and the rest will take care of itself.
RF: What writers and books do you consider most influential on your work and outlook?
SBD: I love fantasy. These days, I read YA fantasy almost exclusively. Some of my favorites are Tamora Pierce, Diana Wynne Jones, Diane Duane, and Patricia C. Wrede.
I love the optimistic worldview that you find in so much of YA fantasy, the little-guy-can-triumph and true-love-conquers-all kind of attitude. That attitude matches my outlook and informs my work. I’m definitely a glass-half-full, don’t-give-up kind of person.
RF: What do you think of your contemporaries, such as Michael Buckley and Delia Sherman, who are writing books based on similar material?
SBD: I love their work! Michael Buckley's Sisters Grimm books are wonderful, clever and fun, and Delia Sherman's Changeling is a must-read for anyone who has ever set foot in NYC. I'd also recommend Juliet Marillier's Wildwood Dancing and Elizabeth C. Bunce's A Curse Dark as Gold.
There are a ton of wonderful YA books out these days. It's a very exciting field to be a part of!
Thanks so much for interviewing me!