An Interview with the Author: Emma Vanderpol of Genevieve of Alea

Today, I’m excited to be sharing a very special post with you—an interview with Emma Vanderpol, author of Genevieve of Alea, a fun new novel with a joke-cracking princess heroine, a noble hero, a brave dog, a huge black dragon, a realio-trulio villain, and the villain’s griffin sidekick. I was very glad to learn that Emma could do this interview with me! I’ll use italics in our conversation, and Emma will use plain face.

Thanks for joining me for this! Let’s just start with: What was your favorite part of the book to write?

The thanks are to you—I’m really glad to be on here!

I had a lot of fun writing the scene in Chapter Seven where Jenny’s trying to figure out how to get out of the wood and lists a bunch of possibilities. (“Modification to possibility C: use a smoke signal so that people would know where I was, and then wait until I got rescued. Refutation to the modification to possibility C: a fire? That would be really nice! Maybe, while I was waiting, I could even make strawberry pudding in a bark pot and serve it to my rescuers when they arrived.”)

What was the hardest thing about writing this book?

I’m going to go with the writing. Now, I see you getting ready to switch on those italics—I mean that it wasn’t usually very hard writing it; what was hard was getting it written. Sitting down and doing the work. Besides overcoming sloth, though, it was hard coining names—I used Old English words and stuck them together in new ways, but that wasn’t any guarantee of quality. For a long, long, time, for example, the Scundthell was called the Awiergelendan until Mom, while editing, finally protested formally and scribbled in our manuscript-for-editing, “The name is painful.”  And as I texted my grandma, “logistics are tiresome.”  Also, action scenes and describing King Cerdic and the dragon well were hard. Besides, I can’t seem to remember names properly—in my first draft, Allan’s horse was called Odin. In my second draft, I changed that to Winnan, but just this March I caught myself thinking of the horse as Odin.

How long did it take to write this book?

There are a lot of ways to answer this question. The largest range is from about April 12, 2016, when I wrote the first snippet—from Jenny’s arrival at Aunt Stella’s—to December 12, 2018, when I pushed the “publish” button on Amazon for the print version of the book. This included 32 months, two drafts, three ages 14-16, and over 130,000 words of writing. (Don’t worry—as I say, that included two drafts, besides a good deal of editing; it came out at 66,624 words.)

And what is your favorite part now that it’s finished?

Oh, the pain! I don’t know!

Just pick something.

Mean interviewer!

Pick something.

Okay. Fine. I’m sappy, so I like the proposal and the epilogue.

Aww!  That’s just fine, Emma—I definitely have my sappy moments too!  But that mention of editing above got me thinking—what part of the story did you write over the most times?

That would be either the beginning of Chapter One or the proposal. I think that between both drafts, I have four or so versions of each. As a romantically-non-experienced author, this was the story over the course of which I figured out writing a decent romance scene—the early versions of the proposal are pretty painful! Chapter One has changed a lot over the last two years, too: the first version of it began “My great grandmothers are named Isabella, Eleanor, Dawn and Rapunzel – but you might know them better as Belle, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and, well, Rapunzel.”

Wow, that sounds like it would have ended up to be a rather different story! What’s your favorite type of ice cream?

Does that have anything to do with this discussion?

Does that matter?

Um, maybe not.


I’m like Allan, I evade and counter-question when I don’t want to answer.

Is this a lead-up to saying that it’s pumpernickel flavor?

No, no—mostly, I’ll go with whatever ice cream you feed me. (But not pumpernickel. I’d rather have rye any day.) Some of my favorite flavors are anything involving chocolate and anything involving caramel, though. Also mint chip and cookie dough and the kind of peppermint that has little bits of peppermint sticks in it are really good.

I see now why there’s so much prolixity in the book. Can you believe that you’ve finished it?

No! to take the question in its rhetorical, conversational sense. Yes, in the literal sense—considering the evidence, I don’t feel that I have any other options. But it still seems totally crazy! It’s incredible and wonderful and mind-boggling and unbelievable that I’ve done writing it and discussing it with Mom and editing it and tinkering with it, and it’s actually out there now!

Emma and I have a lot to say to each other! We felt like we could have gone on and on for the rest of our lives, but at some point we had to stop, or we’d be left talking to each other without an audience. Well, that does happen a lot. But it’s time to shut up shop here—so find out more about the book here or head on over to Amazon to check it out.  Leave a comment if you have any other questions for Emma!