Welcome to Author Interview Thursday hosted by the Never Too Old for YA and NA Books group on Goodreads.
Today we welcome Rosamund Hodge to the blog and group!
Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.
With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.
As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.
If you have not read this book yet, what are you waiting for? You can read my review HERE.
So excited to have you here today, Rosamund! Take it away!
1. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else?
Always. I’ve been writing regularly since I was about twelve, but I’ve been telling stories all my life. One of my earliest memories is telling my mother endless, epic stories—a new installment every day—while drying dishes for her. There was only one story that I ever actually finished, and I was very proud of it. The heroine was a princess trying to escape the murderous plots of her aunt and uncle, Lord and Lady Pudding. Also I think there was a mermaid in it somewhere.
2. How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
It depends. I wrote the first draft of Cruel Beauty in just two months, but then I spent another six months revising it before I started sending it out, and after I sold it there were editorial revisions that took . . . months, but those are difficult to count up because we were on a slow edit/revise cycle.
But with Crimson Bound, my next novel (coming in 2015!), it took me fourteen months to write the first draft, and we’ve been on a rapid edit/revise cycle for nearly seven months. Every project is different.
3. How do you come up with themes for your stories?
In theory, I believe that writers shouldn’t try to create a story with A Theme, but they should write what seems beautiful and compelling and fun, and the theme will come naturally.
Unfortunately for my theories, I’m an English major. I can’t get a story idea without starting to analyze it. And thinking about the themes in my stories is actually energizing for me as a writer. So usually the themes arise in a feedback loop where I think, “Ooh, this would be a cool plot point,” which leads to, “Ooh, this plot point implies an interesting theme,” and then, “Ooh, this theme suggests this cool plot point.”
4. How are you able to balance other aspects of your life with your writing?
Coffee. Coffee, coffee, coffee, in large and increasing quantities.
(More seriously: balance is still something that I’m struggling to attain. Mostly I try to be realistic about my limitations for getting stuff besides writing done—no, I can’t study three languages and still turn in my novel on time—while also being realistic about my ability to max out on writing—no, I can’t write for ten hours straight without resting.)
5. What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
The writing. That is the smarty-pants answer, but it is also true. Very few things are as difficult as sitting down to write every single day, whether you feel inspired or not.
6. How many books have you written so far? Do you have a favorite?
Seven or four, depending on whether you count the 40,000-word “novel” I wrote when I was sixteen (technically too short), and whether the 220,000-word epic I wrote in 2009 counts as one novel (my original intention) or three (what I realized it needed to be split into.)
It is hard to pick a favorite because I love them all for different reasons. I do still have a great affection for the epic I wrote in 2009, because while it’s still just a (largely) unrevised mess on my computer, it’s the project that got me writing again after a long dry spell.
7. Where do you write?
I write in a lot of places, but mostly in my bedroom or coffee shops, and I can never decide which I like better. Coffee shops are great because, well, coffee. And going out somewhere to write often makes it easier to concentrate. On the other hand, my bedroom is great because I can crank up the volume on my computer and play the same song 642 times in a row if the muse demands. And sometimes the muse really demands.
8. What kinds of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing?
Don't be dignified.
When I was in my early teens I wrote a lot of terrible, terrible stories, because that’s what you do when you’re starting out. But my terrible stories were also very melodramatic. When I started to claw my way towards better writing skills, I became very ashamed of my earlier writings, and I decided that the melodrama was part of the problem. So I spent years trying to write stories that were dignified. And it’s not that the time was wasted, because I was writing, and it’s not that the stories were all bad, because they had their good points. But they were resoundingly mediocre.
And then one day I thought, “Forget this. I’m going to write a book that’s crazy and melodramatic and completely embarrassing.”
So I did. It was the most fun that I’d had in years. That book was not Cruel Beauty. But writing it made me realize that if a book isn’t melodrama, it’s dead on the page for me. (When writing, that is. I’ve loved reading plenty of books that are perfectly respectable.) And that realization was what gave me the courage to write Cruel Beauty.
So my advice is: forget dignity. Write what you love.
9. What is your favorite book? favorite author? Do you have an author that inspired/inspires you to write?
It’s a hard choice, but I think the favorite book/author award would have to go to J. R. R. Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings. Every time I reread that book, I fall more in love with it.
In terms of inspiration . . . I think Tim Powers and Patricia McKillip have both influenced my writing a lot, especially in the way I write about magic. And Cruel Beauty in particular was really inspired by C. S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces (which made me realize what I wanted out of heroines and myths retold) and T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets (which is beautiful, and inspired a lot of the imagery in Cruel Beauty.)
10. Are you working on anything now?
Yes! I am in the final stages of editing my next novel, Crimson Bound. It’s not a sequel to Cruel Beauty, but it’s also a fairy tale fusion: in this case, Little Red Riding Hood combined with The Girl With No Hands. It has swords, fancy dresses, and terrible, ancient magic. I’m pretty excited to share it with people!
Thanks so much for stopping by today, Rosamund! It was so great having you here. Can't wait for Crimson Bound!