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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

An Interview with Stephanie Burgis and E.D. Baker (Blog Tour)

The Hiding Spot takes on two authors of fantasy and fairy tales today in a dual interview! Stephanie Burgis and E.D. Baker talk about new novels, which will be devoured by middle grade readers, and writing!

Stephanie, I love the premise of The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart: a fierce, driven dragon is transformed into a human girl! What inspired the idea of this book? How many books will there be in this series? 

Stephanie Burgis: I first had the idea one night as I was lying in bed waiting to fall asleep – I heard Aventurine’s voice in my head, speaking the first two lines of the story. (“I can’t say I ever wondered what it felt like to be human. But then, my grandfather Grenat always said, It’s safer not to talk to your food – and as every dragon knows, humans are the most dangerous kind of meal there is.”) 

I loved it so much that I jerked upright in bed, opened up my laptop, and started typing, frantically trying to keep up! So I didn’t get to sleep for quite a while that night, after all. :) 

There’s a second book in the series coming out from Bloomsbury next year, and there may well be more in the future – we’ll see! Each of them is a standalone magical adventure with a different heroine, and they’ve been so much fun to write. 
This book will be well-loved by chocolate lovers. Was this aspect of the book motivated by a personal interest in chocolate? Did you conduct any chocolate-based research for the novel?
SB: Yes! I adore chocolate, and the research for this book was delicious. Since Aventurine’s world is loosely based on late eighteenth-century Germany, I decided that the chocolate-making process should be accurate for the time period – which means that it was quite different from the way that chocolate is made nowadays. I spent a lot of time reading 18th century cookbooks and researching different recipes and methods, and I loved it. You can find a whole page about it on my website, actually (including recipes that you can use at home): More About the Chocolate  
E.D., this new book comes 15 years after The Frog Princess. Why did you decide to return to this story after so many years?

E.D. Baker: I wrote The Frog Princess Returns to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the publication of The Frog Princess. As the first book I'd ever had published, The Frog Princess has always held a special place in my heart. I love the characters in it, too, and thought it would be fun to revisit them.
Do you recommend that readers read The Frog Princess before picking up this new book, or do the stories largely stand alone?
EDB: I tried to write all of the books in the series so they would stand alone, although I think readers new to the series would enjoy learning more about these fun characters. That said, I think that even people who have never read a book from the Tales of the Frog Princess would enjoy The Frog Princess Returns
Tell me a little bit about your writing process: Do you outline? Start at the beginning? The middle? The end? 
SB: I tend to start with a firm idea of the opening conflicts and my heroine’s voice. Then I figure out a (very) vague idea of the ending I’m aiming toward, and set off from there into the unknown! So for most of the book, I’m experiencing the adventure (and finding out what happens next) right along with my heroine. 
EDB: I wrote The Frog Princess without an outline, although I've since learned how much an outline can help. I always use outlines now because they help to organize my thoughts and keep me on track. I start with a broad outline which tells the basic plot of the story. Then I expand it, adding more of the larger plot points. Next I write a chapter outline which can be anywhere from a sentence or two per chapter to a much more detailed description of what will take place. Even this outline isn't set in stone, however, and I often change it as the story progresses and I learn what has to happen next.
Inspiration comes in many forms. Share three people, places, or things that inspire your creativity.
SB: I love visiting my local castle (there are actually two castles within 15 minutes of my house here in Wales, but my “local” one is the 11th-century castle in the center of town); walking around the nearby woods when a carpet of bright bluebells is spread all around me; and telling stories with my two kids, who always have fabulous ideas. (As I was writing the first draft of The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, I told the story of Aventurine’s ongoing adventures to my older son every day! He always had great questions, and the book ended up dedicated to him.) 
EDB: A lot of my scenes come from places I have visited. For instance, I was a girl scout and loved to go camping. On one camping trip, we went on a splash hike where we walked in a stream to a small waterfall. I thought the waterfall was lovely and have used it in the garden belonging to the fairy Sweetness and Light in The Wide Awake Princess series. 

I live on a small farm. Many of the animals in my stories are based on animals we own. Although Eadric's stallion, Bright Country, was based on an old stallion belonging to a neighbor, the rest of the horses in my stories are based on our horses. I love Newfoundlands. Edda, the troll dog in the Wide Awake Princess series, is based on my Newfies. We have always had cats in the house as well as barn cats outside. The cats in my series are based on our cats. We have goats as well; someday I'll have to have a goat or two in one of my stories!

I'd have to say that I've found some of my inspiration in Wikipedia. The entry about Baba Yaga prompted me to come up with A Question of Magic. Looking up weird wedding customs gave me some great ideas for the goblin wedding in the Fairy Tale Matchmaker story, The Magic Match, which will be out in the fall. (I love the wedding; it was so much fun to write!) 
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Name a notable book that provided you with a hiding spot.
SB: I have vivid memories of reading Jane Eyre with a flashlight while curled up inside a big sea chest when I was a kid! I loved escaping into such a different world, full of intense emotions and adventure.
EDB: When I was young, my favorite book was The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. My aunt gave me the book, and I recall feeling so sorry for Sarah that I stopped reading it. When I told my aunt that I'd had to set it aside, she told me that Sarah's life would get better. I was so relieved when it did.
What can readers look forward to next?
SB: The next book in this series will be about Silke, Aventurine’s best friend, and it will come out from Bloomsbury in 2018. It’s still officially untitled, but I’ve been referring to it as my spies-and-fairies book, which should give some clues! :) I also have a fantasy novella for adults (“Snowspelled”) coming out in September, and I’ll be writing a tie-in short story about Aventurine and her friends sometime this year.

Newsletter subscribers always see those tie-in stories first, so please do consider signing up to my newsletter here.
EDB: So many things! I've written the seventh book in The Wide Awake Princess series, but we don't have a title for it yet. Its due out spring of 2018. I've written four books in the Magic Animal Rescue series for younger readers. The first two books, Maggie and the Flying Horse and Maggie and the Wish Fish, came out this spring. The next two, Maggie and the Flying Pigs and Maggie and the Unicorn, will be out in the fall. The fourth book in The Fairy Tale Matchmaker series, The Perfect Match, will also be out in the fall. I've also written the first book in a new series, More Than A Princess, which is due out in the winter of 2019. I have a lot of other stories that I want to write – some will be about princesses and some will not, but they will all have their own kind of magic. If readers want to receive postcards when a new book comes out, they should go to my website and sign up on my mailing list.

More About the Books

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart
Aventurine is the fiercest, bravest dragon there is. And she's ready to prove it to her family by leaving the safety of their mountain cave and capturing the most dangerous prey of all: a human. But when the human she finds tricks her into drinking enchanted hot chocolate, Aventurine is transformed into a puny human girl with tiny blunt teeth, no fire, and not one single claw.

But she's still the fiercest creature in the mountains -- and now she's found her true passion: chocolate! All she has to do is get herself an apprenticeship (whatever that is) in a chocolate house (which sounds delicious), and she'll be conquering new territory in no time...won't she?
The Frog Princess Returns
Fans of E. D. Baker's The Frog Princess, rejoice! Fifteen years after the original, Princess Emma, Prince Eadric, and all the beloved characters are back for another magical adventure from popular author E. D. Baker.

Two weeks after Emma's birthday, Prince Eadric -- having been turned from a frog into a human again -- is still in Greater Greensward. One day, a beautiful princess named Adara arrives at the castle in Greater Greensward for a visit, claiming to be Emma's distant cousin. But Adara has other motives that threaten Emma and Eadric's blossoming romance.

Meanwhile, something is very wrong in Greater Greensward. Crops are dying, streams are drying up, and large sections of trees in the enchanted forest are withering -- all because the Fairy Queen has disappeared. Without her, there is no peace in the magical kingdom, and dangerous foes threaten to take advantage of her absence. Only brave, tenacious Emma with her knowledge of the land can restore order . . . but first she must set out on a journey unlike any before.

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