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?
You can’t just write a novel once—I can’t, anyways. It takes a whole lot of removing and rewriting and editing, especially if one wants one’s book to be a decent one. I wrote almost two whole drafts for Genevieve of Alea, but within that some sections saw more drafts than others. Chapter One was one of these sections, counting four drafts altogether. This is Chapter One, Draft One, written over April 14-22 of 2016. Some of it is surprisingly good, surprisingly to me anyways. You’ll notice that some of the book blurb is from this. However, it’s also very bad! I’ll just note that my heroine does now enjoy dancing; and that I would rather you read the final Chapter One to decide if you want to read this, than the other way around.
My great grandmothers are named Isabella, Eleanor, Dawn and Rapunzel – but you might know them better as Belle, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and, well, Rapunzel. Also, my Grandma Bianca is Snow White, and Grandma Adeline and my mother were the beauties of ten kingdoms. That honor now belongs to my eldest sister. All these fairytale heroines in my family may not seem like a bad deal at first glance, but all that princess-ness creates expectation that the daughters of the royal house will live up to their foremothers. It’s not like they’re long gone legends of centuries past, either – all of them are still alive, and have aged very well. In fact, they are all remarkably beautiful elderly ladies with personalities to be reckoned with. The lovely-princess expectation is not limited to a vague and indirect ‘society’; my mother and father, and grandmothers and grandfathers, and great grandmothers and grandfathers, and even my four sisters, all expect each of us young princesses to be models of royal perfection. I’m the only one left out in the cold.
All I wanted for my seventeenth birthday was to go out riding by myself. That was all. No big party, no ball, no jewels, no stuffed peacock, no obscure manuscript. Well, that was because I knew that my grandfather had collected all the obscure manuscripts there were to collect. Still, the point remains. I didn’t want anything fancy for my birthday. Nothing outrageous. It wouldn’t even require any effort from anybody else. All it would take would be for me to go down to the kitchen, early in the morning, armed with my father’s approval, and get some food. The cook’s fetching bread and cheese for me would be the climax of other people’s involvement. Then I’d go out to the stable, get my horse, groom her, put her saddle on, and ride off. I wouldn’t even trouble a groom. So effort was not an objection.
No, objections were made about propriety and safety. Which I thought—and said—was ridiculous. After all, I was seventeen, or would be by the time I was taking a ride on my birthday. True, I was a girl, and a princess, but that wasn’t nearly as important as everyone in the world except me seemed to think it was. To my knowledge, not a band of robbers, not a pack of wolves, not an assassin, had done anything very notable in Alea for at least twenty years. And that was a lifetime! My lifetime, anyway.