A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Today on Author Allsorts, I’m interviewing Rose Mannering, whose debut novel, ROSES, publishes today.
I was lucky enough to read an ARC of ROSES, an imaginative re-telling of a classic fairytale with rich world-building and brilliantly realised characters. Thank you Rose for sharing your world with me and finding time for an interview.
‘As the gates clicked shut behind them, she heard the distant roar of a beast.’
She bears no name. Her silvery appearance is freakish to the numerous inhabitants of Sago, the cosmopolitan capital of Pevorocco in a fantasy realm. With her mother vanishing at the instance of her birth, she is sent to live with the cruel, rich Ma Dane, where she is punished daily for something, though she knows not what. Tauntingly named Beauty, she flees Sago in a violent uprising that sets out to massacre all Magics and journeys to the furthest point of the country.
But Beauty cannot hide in the grassy Hillands forever. Before long, the State officials find her and threaten to take her back to war-torn Sago where death surely awaits. In a midnight blizzard she escapes them, running into a deep, enchanted forest to a great and terrible beast who will bargain for her life.
But can Beauty accept Beast? Eternity is a long time.
ROSES is inspired by Beauty and the Beast. Can you tell us what attracted you to that fairy tale and about the genesis of the book?
Beauty and the Beast has always been one of my favourites because I think it’s the most believable fairy tale. ‘A beast and an enchanted castle believable?’ Okay, well maybe not that part, but I’ve always had a problems with the whole love at first sight thing. I think Beauty and the Beast has the most realistic depiction of love of all the fairy tales – a love that grows over time as two people get to know one another.
The book is set in a richly imagined magical world. Can you tell us a bit about Pevorocco and how you approached world-building?
One of my favourite things about reading fantasy novels is diving into different worlds. I love world building! With Pervorocco and the rest of the realm in ROSES, I tried to create a world that I would like to read about. I used my experience of Delhi in India, the traditions from Brittany in France and the landscape of Wales for various parts of the book. Describing the surroundings was one of my favourite parts and I just hope that it translates well to the reader.
Did you have a scene that was your favorite to write?
The whole time I was writing I was dying to get to that last scene. I won’t say what it is because I don’t want to ruin the ending, but all the time, I had that last moment on my mind.
It’s a great scene! (No spoilers here.) Tell us a bit about your writing routine for ROSES. Are you a plotter or pantser?
I’m a pantser, but not always. I’ve actually tried to write ROSES many, many times over the years and once I got as far as 40,000 words in (eek!) before stopping because I knew something wasn’t right. So when I started it this time, I felt like I knew Beauty and the other characters really well and the story just kind of unfolded and became a mixture of everything that I had created before.
Amazingly, you are a student as well as a writer. How do you manage to combine writing with studying?
A lot of my friends at uni have part time jobs so I treat my writing in the same way (when I can). I’m currently in my last year at uni and I don’t think that there’s going to be much time for writing for a while! But I can’t wait to get back to it when I finish my degree. I find writing relaxing and I love it so much that I can’t help but do it and even now, I find myself opening up a word document in the library when I’m supposed to be doing something else…
What are you working on now?
At the moment I’m at an in-between stage. There has been talk of a sequel to ROSES which would be wonderful because I always envisioned it as part of a series, but I’ve also got a picture book out next year which I am incredibly excited about! The Spotty Dotty Daffodil will be published by Skypony in springtime with amazing illustrations by the very talented, Bethany Straker. I can’t wait!
My all-time favourite book when I was younger was I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith because I found it so relatable (and I was desperate to live in a castle). However, I devoured tons of fantasy too and then re-devoured them over and over. I loved (and still love) Terry Prachett, Robin McKinley and Ursula Le Guin.
Helen Douglas has written stories for as long as she can remember. Her debut novel, AFTER EDEN, publishes in November 2013. The sequel, CHASING STARS, will publish in June 2014. When she’s not writing, she can be found hiking in the woods or on the beach. She lives in Cornwall with her husband and family.