ideas take life in Words
A blog following the works (and shenanigans) of J.E. Klimov
I have an amazing guest today as part of the Just-Us-League Volume 4 blog tour.
New to my site or haven't heard about the Just-Us-League?
The Just-Us-League is a group of friends dedicated to the craft of telling stories (including myself). We come from all over the world–America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. With different backgrounds, different styles of writing, and a variety of preferred genres, our fiction ranges from fantasy to sci-fi, from horror to romance, and more. The one thing we have in common is storytelling. We bonded over our writing, and our love of putting words onto a page to entertain is what makes us truly happy.
The Just-Us-League has had a successful track record, releasing THREE anthologies thus far: fairytale retellings, super-hero/villain, and horror-themed.
Fairytale retellings was such a smash, and JLA is doing it again!
Today I have Kelsie Engen,
one of the eleven authors participating in JLA 4:
"Of Legend and Lore: A Collection of Fairy Tale Retellings"
She was kind enough to chat with me about her contribution to this anthology: "Three Nights"
(among other fun Q&As)
1. What inspired your retelling?
Part of what inspired my retelling was the fantasy series I’m currently working on, which I’m dubbing “The Canens Chronicles”--at the moment, at least. It’s inspired by Snow White, along with other fairy tales, but in a bit of a Marissa Meyer’s move, I’m less strict about adhering to the story in my series than I am in “Three Nights.” Disclaimer: there are no cyborgs in any of my retellings. [Julian's comment: Aw, man!!!] But for “Three Nights,” I did steal my created world from "The Canens Chronicles"--although this story takes place prior to anything happening in my series. A bit of author’s indulgence, I suppose, using this as an opportunity to write some backstory without it being regular ol’ backstory. To be honest, I’ve always found “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” a bit of a bore. I mean, it just seemed so odd . . . but in the context of my series and world, it worked amazingly well. And I even found the story a lot of fun to write, surprising myself.
2. What was the hardest part of writing it?
The hardest part was the creation of characters that weren’t too confined by the fairy tale itself. Fairy tales so often leave the characters underdeveloped and stereotyped. But that’s what I love about retellings: the characters so often get fleshed out in ways that I never expected. It really makes the fairy tales come to life.
3. What short stories have you written for a JLA before (and which JLA)?
I participated in the first JLA of fairy tales, penning “The Bear in the Forest,” a retelling of “Snow White and Rose Red.”
4. How did this experience differ from your previous JLA story(ies)?
I made SW&RR a bit--okay a lot--more modern of a setting, a thing I rather regret now, as I’d love to tie it into the finale of my fairy tale series. Chances of doing that without using time travel would be extremely tricky. Although that would create an interesting twist . . . I suppose it’s something to think about, as none of them are published yet, but I wouldn’t hold out much hope for that scenario! But really, SW&RR was an easier story for me to write, as the characters already felt more fleshed out to me. “Three Nights” required more work for me to connect with Silvanus and Bianca.
5. What other fairy tale would you like to rewrite?
Oh several. I’m horrible about the names of fairy tales though unless they’re popular ones. But I have a half-finished “Psyche” retelling that needs copious amounts of work . . . I also wouldn’t mind tackling “Beauty and the Beast,” but it’s been done so much that I fear it wouldn’t be special enough. But it’s certainly not off the table. Personally, I’ve always loved the Sleeping Beauty tale, but I prefer to write female protagonists, and she spends an awful lot of the story asleep for me to use her viewpoint, although it presents an interesting challenge.
6. Do you prefer a HEA? [Julian's comment: Aka. Happily ever after]
It really depends on the story for me. While happily ever afters are nice, in a realistic fiction book, they’re often not what I want and feel too contrived. ...It depends somewhat on the genre in question. For a fairy tale, I could go either way. I love a good dark fairy tale, but I also love the sweet happily ever after tales. I guess I really didn’t answer that question . . . Okay, try again. It totally depends on the story and how the author has set it up.
7. How do you combat writer’s block?
By pretending it doesn’t exist. I’m a firm believer that if I sit down to write, it’s my fault if the words don’t get written. I don’t wait around for the muse or the “right time.” I don’t have time for that--not with two small children to feed and keep alive.
8. Are your a “pantser” or “plotter”?
I usually have an idea of where I’m going, and as I’ve grown as an author, I’ve become more of a plotter. However, even when I have a detailed outline, I deviate from it far too much and too often and have to rework my outline. A lot of things just don’t occur to me until I’m in the midst of a scene, and then a total game-changer occurs for my plot. It makes outlining both frustrating and challenging. So in recent WIPs, I’ve leaned toward outlining just the major plot points and then filling in more of the gaps as I write.
9. Favorite original fairy tale?
I’ve always found there to be something super sweet about the original “Beauty and the Beast” where the Beast would ask Belle to marry him every night . . . It’s both heartbreaking and romantic.
10. Favorite adapted fairy tale? (Disney, movie, or book)
While I love Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” Tchaikovsky's music in Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” has always captivated me. So I’d have to go with “Sleeping Beauty.”
11. If you could meet one author, alive or dead, who would it be?
Is it too cliche to say Jane Austen? I mean, one of my all-time favorite books is Pride and Prejudice, so I think I’d have to say her. Although I wouldn’t say no to meeting Alexandre Dumas either, as long as I get an interpreter so I don’t have to attempt to converse with him using my non-existent high school French skills.
12. What is your non-writer alter-ego (aka day job)?
Mother, wife, homemaker, and editor.
13. What is your spirit animal?
Um . . . never had one. I guess if I had to choose, a cat, because they are perfect writing companions. Except not one of the cats I own, because he’s just obnoxious.
14. Who is the biggest supporter of your writing?
Definitely my family. My husband, parents, sister, and grandma are all super supportive of my writing. It’s especially sweet of my grandma--who doesn’t usually read fiction--that she buys all my books and reads them and shares them with her church book club. She’s an avid reader and devours them within a day. She’s so sweet and encouraging about it too, it’s heart warming.
15. What is the biggest obstacle to your writing?
Definitely kids. I mean, I love them, but it’s amazing how distracting they are . . . On the other hand, they can certainly light a fire under you when it comes to your “free” time and how you spend it. You find out exactly how important writing is to you when you only have nap times to yourself.
16. What other projects are you working on?
Currently I have several projects in half-finished states. There’s a woman’s fiction novel called “Broken Time” about a woman who lost her police officer husband in an ambush. [Julian's comment: I got to see some bits & pieces of it, and it's fantastic!] I also have my Canens Chronicles series, which is currently made up of 4 books, and is about three-quarters written. Then there’s my fairy tale retelling of “The Psyche,” which needs some drastic work--I started that just pantsing it, and it shows. Also the JLA #5! Which happens to be another fairy tale retelling, but this of “The Dirty Shepherdess.”
17. Oxford comma, yes or no?
Absolutely, unequivocally, and--unregrettably--yes.
[Julian's comment: Ditto]
Thank you, Kelsie, for stopping by! Please check her website out and keep an eye on "Three Nights" when you pick up a copy of "Of Legend and Lore", released on 2/26/18.