An Interview with Jim C. Hines (author of THE STEPSISTER SCHEME)

Welcome to A Week of Cinderella! Grab some promotional buttons for your blog HERE and stop back all week long for fun guest posts, exciting author visits (because, after all, Marissa isn't the ONLY author with a kick-ass Cinderella to celebrate!), giveaways, reviews, and a blog tour stop for CINDER!

Jim C. Hines has several published novels, including four featuring fairy tale heroines Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty.  Rather than writing about traditional fairy tales, Jim delves into older, more obscure retellings and creates a trio of gals who know how to kick some serious butt! 


Jim has his own website and blog. He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter @jimchines.

I previously reviewed the first book in the quartet, THE STEPSISTER SCHEME, here, and will be reviewing the rest of this series in April for Fairy Tale Fortnight.  Look forward to it! ^_^

An interview with Jim C. Hines 

I love the fact that THE STEPSISTER SCHEME is centered around such a rare re-telling of Cinderella. I never knew there was a version where a stepsister attempted to assassinate our favorite ash girl! Could you tell us more about how you came across the story and what made you decide to retell it to a mainstream audience?

My retelling is set immediately after the events of the fairy tale. A lot of my backstory came from Aschenputtel, including details like the stepsisters cutting off part of their feet to try to fit into the slipper and the doves attacking the stepsisters and stepmother at the wedding. As for my "What came next" story, that started with my daughter. Years ago, she was going through a princess phase, and our house was full of princess merchandise, everything from pajamas to toothpaste. In some of the movies and even moreso in the merchandise, the princesses often seemed rather passive. I wanted to see princesses taking charge of their own stories, so that's what I wrote.    

How did you come up with the idea of mixing together so many rare fairy tale retellings and turning three traditional fairy tale heroines into such kick-ass adventurers?

I like teamwork, and I don't really buy into the idea of the lone wolf hero who triumphs on his or her own. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and what I love about my trio of heroines is that they complement one another. Each one is pretty tough on her own, but put them together, and that's when they really kick ass!

Cinderella started out as my least favorite of the three princesses, but you really developed her as a character and she grew so much as a person. As a writer, how do you balance the evolution of a character?

As a general rule (there are always exceptions), I think protagonists need to grow and change. At the beginning of the book, Danielle (Cinderella) was still feeling overwhelmed following her marriage to the prince. She's gone from a slavegirl to a princess; that's enough to freak anybody out. Add to that her stepsisters plotting against her and her introduction to Snow and Talia (Sleeping Beauty), and she has a lot to absorb. For this first book, I wanted her journey to be about coming to understand her new role, and finding a sense of connection and family with her fellow princesses and Queen Beatrice.

What was your favorite part about writing your quartet?

From day one, I've been most excited about the characters. Whether it was realizing that Talia's fairy gifts made her the perfect ninja/assassin or the secondary characters like Captain Hephyra the dryad and Trittibar the shrinking fairy ambassador, I had a blast writing these characters and their stories.

Which of your three central heroines was your favorite to write about and why?

I love them all, but I'd probably go with Talia. She's got a pretty straightforward approach to most problems, which I enjoy, but she's also got a great deal of depth and conflict which she tries to keep hidden. I loved getting to explore those conflicts more closely in book three. The choices she made weren't always happy ones, but they were the right choices for her. Also, she fights a troll with a fork, which was awesome to write!

Jim, thank you so much for taking the time to stop by for A Week of Cinderella despite your looming deadline!!  I  loved reading your responses!


  1. I have never heard of these books, but now I have! I love anything that has to do with fairy tales! You know the theory of one hero or heroine saving the day is so true. No one can do it on their own. I like that idea!

    You know what I never bought into-"Happily ever after"!


    1. I haven't finished reading them and will be reviewing the rest for Fairy Tale Fortnight in April, but I love how unique and fun they are! They're massmarket paperbacks, so they're pretty cheap, too.

      He goes back to old, gritty tales, and these truly affect the way the princesses are as human beings!

  2. I've had these books on my TBR for a while now, but this interview makes me want to run out and read them NOW. Fantastic! I love the sound of the princesses and how they work together. I'm also curious about that fork fight. :P

    1. You must! They're really, really good! I'm reviewing the rest in April for Fairy Tale Fortnight :)

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