I’m hopeless when it comes to covers — dramatic, colourful, the kind that make me stop and go ooooohhhhh, they’re our my first view of a book before I even turn to the blurb (Anyone who doesn’t cover a book by it’s cover, I think is a liar, but that’s another story). So when I saw the cover for Ravenous and actually did go oooooh, I knew I was hooked. There’s something lonely but determined about the girl on the cover — Greta, when I finally tore myself away to read the blurb — which made sense, because she’s going on a journey to face her Grimm-like nightmares.
And that right there — a fairy tale retelling — was the icing on the cake. Yes, I’m way beyond middle grade reading, but I can appreciate a beautiful cover and a fairy tale retelling!
MarcyKate Connolly was kind enough to answer some questions about her work for me.
MarcyKate, what kind of reader were you as a kid?
Voracious! I read everything I could get my hands on. I started reading Shakespeare and Poe in 3rd grade because my older brother was in college majoring in English literature and I’d sneak into his room and steal his books. (Yes, I was that bratty little sister). I especially loved fantasy, fairy tales, myths, and legends.
What would you like to see more of in books for kids today?
Unique perspectives and unusual heroes/heroines.
Monstrous and Ravenous have elements of fairy tales in them. What is it about fairy tales that still grabs kids, do you think? And adults, for that matter?
There’s a timelessness to them, I think, that appeals to a broad spectrum of people and ages. Fairy tales appear all over the world and many of the same basic story types are told and retold in cultures all over the world (for example, there are hundreds of renditions of Cinderella!).
When I got the initial idea for Monstrous, the first line popped into my head (“I will never forget my first breath”) and I had to wonder who would say that and why. The worldbuilding spun out from there and it was just such a perfect fit for Frankenstein.
Ravenous was more intentional. We had Monstrous out submission to editors and I really loved Greta’s character and wanted to write about her more. Since her name was already so close to Gretel, it made sense to use that fairy tale. And I got to combine it with one of my favorite figures in Russian legends – Baba Yaga.
What did you find was unexpectedly difficult about writing Monstrous and Ravenous?
The editing process, really, but in a good way. You work so hard on polishing a book before it gets to your editor or goes out on submission, and yet there is still so much more work to be done. It takes some getting used to, but the collaboration and insight from editors is invaluable and really does make a book so much stronger!
What advice would you give any author venturing into writing for ages 8-12?
Read, read, read! I thought Monstrous was YA when I first wrote it, but thankfully my brilliant editor realized it was more suited to MG. Reading more books written for that age range was very helpful. I know other authors have kids in that age range and can use them as sort of pre-beta readers.
I read in an interview recently, that you count The Dark is Rising as your favourite series – I squealed out loud when I read that because THAT is my favourite series too! When did you first read this series? What about it captured your imagination?
Oh YAY!! I’m so glad to hear that – too often I tell people it’s one of my favourites and they’ve never heard of it and that just makes me sad. I first read it in elementary school and I fell in love with the way it took old legends and myths and made them new. The whole world Susan Cooper crafted is just wonderful, and those books still hold up on re-read years later. Love them so much!
What’s next for you in 2015?
I have a few fun events coming up (Bookitcon in New Jersey in August and Bar Harbor Book Festival to name a few), and then preparing for Ravenous coming out in 2016!
So there you have it — a new book for the middle-grader in your life. Or you know, you can read it yourself. But, I digress! To find out more about MarcyKate, check out her website.