Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Day 2: Getting to know Elizabeth Bunce!!!

Today we get to know this week’s debut author Elizabeth Bunce. Elizabeth is the author of the delightful book A Curse Dark As Gold.

Check out her fabulous teaser video HERE. Then come on back to learn more about Elizabeth!

2k8: So, where do you do most of your writing? What's it look like?

Elizabeth: I work on a laptop, so I am an all-terrain writer, which means I can work in bed, in my office, next to the floor-to-ceiling windows in the dining room... What's that? Take the laptop somewhere, like a coffee shop? Well, that would require me prying myself from my home and braving the snow and sleet and yuck that is a Kansas winter, or the suffocating heat and humidity of summer. No, no, I'm much better off here at home where I can enjoy the bucolic sounds of my dogs defending the homestead from roofers and postal carriers.I actually, um, work in my pajamas, so I try not to have photographs taken then, but I do have a couple of images that represent where I was mentally while writing CURSE.

I kept these up as my desktop wallpaper, and they really brought me into to Charlotte's world of Stirwaters and the Gold Valley. Unfortunately, I don't have any information about them (titles, dates--besides what I can tell from the costumes--etc). I especially love the interior shot--I'm completely fascinated by the small child under the spinning frame.

2k8: Can you tell us how the book came about? How did you begin writing it?

Elizabeth: I'd been curious about "Rumpelstiltskin" for a long time--wondering why the heroine, unlike so many fairy tale protagonists, is nameless, and why the story is named for its villain; wondering why a story that seemed so unfair had such resonance for me, etc. Late in the summer of 2002, all those thoughts started to bubble to the surface for me, and I started playing with ideas of what I could make of the character and her story. As a needlewoman, the idea of spinning straw into gold thread was a natural one, and it sparked the idea of turning the grist--grain--mill of the fairy tale into a textile mill. Charlotte and her family developed out of the research I did into period milling, and the events of the fairy tale, which I had to reconcile into scenes that seemed possible in a "real" world. I'd been writing most of my life, and this wasn't my first retelling--but fairly quickly I had a pretty good idea that I was writing my first publishable novel.

2k8: And how did it find a publisher? Give us the real dirt!

Elizabeth: I actually found my editor through a critique at an SCBWI (Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference in Arizona. My parents had recently moved to Tucson, so it seemed like an opportunity that would be silly to pass up--I could visit them and invest in my career at the same time. I was researching the faculty online, and I found an interview with Cheryl Klein, where she talked about editing THE SINGER OF ALL SONGS, a book I had recently read and loved. When Cheryl compared SINGER to one of her favorite childhood books--my favorite childhood book, Robin McKinley's THE HERO AND THE CROWN, I knew I had to meet her! She actually did something they tell you editors never do: she asked for the manuscript on the spot.

2k8: Did anything surprise you or caught you off guard when you were writing your book?

Elizabeth: Wow. Actually, one of my favorite moments came when I was doing some very early research for the story--still working out who the characters were going to be, what everyone's names were, etc. Now, remember: this is a story about a mysterious man with magical spinning abilities. I was touring a 19th Century woolen mill museum near where I live (Watkins Woolen Mill State Park in Lawson, Missouri), and the tour guide led us through a room of machinery very similar to the ones in the painting. She paused and said, "These machines are called spinning jacks, and the men who operate them were called jackspinners." I remember stopping in my tracks. Jackspinners--Jack Spinner! Of course! The perfect name for my Rumpelstiltskin character! I just looked up at the ceiling, and said, "Thank you!"

2k8: Imagine you have an offer from your dream press to publish your dream book, no matter how insane or unmarketable it might be (though of course it might not be). What story do you want to write next/someday and why?

Oh, gosh--there are so many! I have ideas for my next nine books, and since I write incredibly slowly, I expect that will take me well into old age (I'm 33 now. I did say slowly!). Some of them are dark, like CURSE; some of them are retellings; some are original fantasies. But the one I'm not completely sure I can pull off--but would love to try--is a graphic novel version of "Cinderella" with a big twist to the plot.


Erin said...

The jackspinner story is so cool...and I love the picture of Stirwaters!

gabe said...

Love hearing the story behind the story. Can't wait to read the book.
All the best.

N.A. Nelson said...

Wonderfully informative and enjoyable post. Thank you.

Barrie said...

What an interesting post! Love the photos!