{Interview/Giveaway} OF BEAST AND BEAUTY Author Stacey Jay

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An interview with 
Stacey Jay

Stacey Jay is a recovering workaholic (or at least working hard at recovering) with two small children, and a passion for playing pretend for a living. She’s been a full time mom-writer since 2005 and can't think of anything she'd rather be doing. Her former careers include theatre performer, professional dancer, poorly paid C-movie actress, bartender, waiter, math tutor, and yoga instructor. 

In her very limited spare time, Stacey enjoys cooking elaborate dinners and eating them very slowly, dressing up in costumes with her sons, and drinking wine with her husband. She loves to hear from readers and personally answers every single email she receives.

Visit Stacey's website and blog, or send her a message on Twitter and Facebook!

***The second half of today's interview includes 
questions first seen in an interview on 
A Backwards Story March 30, 2013.***

I was surprised to find a sci-fi slant revolving around the characters' descendants stepping forth onto a new planet that would ultimately force everyone to evolve over time. How did you come up with this backstory and flesh it all out, ultimately creating the history of the sheltered Smooth Skins and the banished Monstrous?

From the beginning, I knew I wanted the story to take place on another planet, a small planet where first and third world characters would be forced into close contact with one another. I was also working under the assumption that there is no escape from the problems humanity creates for itself. So, basically: Even if humans were to get a chance to start fresh on another world, playing by new rules, we would just screw things up all over again. I personally think the only chance for a better future is for idealistic, big-hearted people to instigate major changes in the way humanity does business. The alien world helped me to underline that aspect of the story.

Are you able to tell us a little about your upcoming 2014 fairy tale mash-up yet now that OF BEAST AND BEAUTY is out?

I’m not supposed to say much, but I can give a hint: It’s a “Grimm” meets Game of Thrones adventure quest story with a delicious hero and one of the best romances I’ve ever written. It’s a little lighter in tone than OF BEAST AND BEAUTY and has a bit more humor. (I think my readers who have been jones-ing for more Megan Berry stories will enjoy this one.)

What was the easiest scene to write in OF BEAST AND BEAUTY? The hardest?

The easiest—The prologue. It came to me all at once. I woke up dreaming the first line and ran downstairs to my office to type it all out. 

The hardest—The scene when Gem finally returns to his people in the desert. I don’t want to give away spoilers, so I’ll just say that that one ripped my heart out. Many tears were shed during the writing (and even the editing).
First, you retold Romeo and Juliet, now it's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, and then you're onto another retelling next year! What is it that draws you to write retellings, especially ones in such dark, unique ways?

My inspiration was different for each story—the Romeo and Juliet reimagining sprung from a long-standing hatred of Romeo. OF BEAST AND BEAUTY was inspired by weaknesses I perceived in one of my favorite fairy tales (why didn’t Beauty HATE the Beast longer after he took her prisoner, for example), and my 2014 book idea was triggered by wanting to take a passive fairy tale female’s daughter in a completely different direction. As far as why I’m drawn to retellings in general, I think I enjoy playing with our cultural mythology, giving stories a more humanist, feminist slant than many had in the past.
Were there any elements you wanted to include in OF BEAST AND BEAUTY that were cut out or unable to be worked in that you can share with us?

No. Which is weird! I usually have so many “lost scenes.” But this time my editors and I were really on the same page. There were no major rewrites or elements cut from the story. I’m hoping that’s a good thing… I suppose my readers will let me know!

Beauty and the Beast has always been one of my all-time favorite fairy tales. What inspired you to write a retelling of this tale?

I've always loved Beauty and the Beast, too--unconditional love, a mysterious castle with a gigantic library, what's not to love about that?--but I had my problems with the story, as well. First off, I had never read a version of the story that addressed the rage I personally would feel if I was imprisoned by a bully who had locked up my father for trespassing/stealing his roses/some mild offense that varies from story to story. 

So I wanted to write a reboot that dealt with the intensity of "Beauty's" anger, as well as addressed the inequality of falling in love with someone who is holding you prisoner. But I'd had my fill of "powerless girl falls for powerful boy" stories, so I flipped the script and made my female the "Beast" who is in a position of power and my "Beauty" a boy. And then I basically poked at the notion of what makes one a beauty or a beast until I had a story I was really excited to tell. 

It's still a Beauty and the Beast retelling--readers, especially close readers, will recognize the peasant woman who curses the beast and other key moments from the traditional Beauty and the Beast story--but there are surprises as well. I really hope my readers enjoy it. I'm proud of this story and that's not something I say lightly.

It intrigues me that Princess Isra is blind. I want to read this even more! Was it harder to write about a disabled character? What was your inspiration?

It was difficult to write a blind character, especially in the early drafts. I really had to slow down and put myself in her body and imagine what it was like to experience a world that is not disability-friendly without being able to see. But that's why I decided to make Isra blind. In order to "see" her society clearly later in the story, she needs to have been kept ignorant by a combination of her disability, her family, and her society. But her blindness turns out to be a gift that allows her to diagnose illness in her culture in a way a person firmly entrenched and accepted by that culture wouldn't be able to, so it was necessary and worth the hours of tweaking descriptions to make sure they were in keeping with a unsighted person's perception of their world.

Someone gives you a key ring and says you can open any door you want, save one. Then they leave you alone with all those keys and doors. What do you do?

Oh man, so hard! It depends on the person who gave me the keys. If it's someone I trust or a nice stranger, then I don't open the door that's off limits. But if it's someone who arouses my suspicion/oppositional defiant disorder, then I totally go Pandora and open the forbidden door.
Most overrated fairy tale?

Cinderella. She's saved from her life of hard labor because she's pretty and has a small foot. Blah.

Check out the rest of the interview from March for a fun version of This or That? and Would You Rather...? Fairy Tale Style!

Stacey, thank you so much for stopping back for another visit with us! I always love having you hear and am looking forward to hearing more secrets about this new "mystery" novel!

O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Stacey Jay
Release Date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers / Random House

In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret... 

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds. 

Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe. 

As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.


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  1. I am SO excited for Of Beast and Beauty. I love reading about Stacey's inspiration for why Beauty and the Beast and why she made the flip :)

  2. I love fairytale retellings and this one sounds extremely interesting. Great interview.

  3. I have this one on my wishlist!

  4. Great interview! The book sounds interesting, I can't wait to get my hands on it. Thanks for the chance to win.

    Ann@Blogging E-books

  5. Loved this interview! Her reasons for writing re-tellings is great ;D This is definitely up for my next book purchase!

    1. Oops, was signed into my other account! It's Angela BTW ;)


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