{Interview} Stacey Jay, Author of OF BEAST AND BEAUTY

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Check out today as I review OF BEAST AND BEAUTY!

OF BEAST AND BEAUTY will be available on July 23rd, 2013, 
but you can pre-order your copy now!

Stacey Jay is a recovering workaholic (or at least working hard at recovering) with three pen names, 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 (for real) and yoga instructor.

Follow Stacey on her blog and Twitter.
An interview with 
author Stacey Jay

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.

If you could merge any two fairy tales (introduce the characters, combine the worlds, etc), which would they be and what would result?

That is a very interesting question, one that will be answered in my 2014 young adult book from Delacorte which I am not at liberty to discuss just yet. But it was FUN to write I tell you. Fun, fun, fun!

***(Um, does anyone else want to know more right this second?  I can't wait until the release announcement comes.  I already want to add it to Goodreads, and I don't know anything about it...)

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.

This or That?

Tower or Dungeon?


Evil Queen or Wicked Witch?

Wicked Witch. Magic for the win.

Hans Christian Andersen or the Brothers Grimm?

Grimm. The Grimmer the better!
Would You Rather...
Have a prince who makes out with your, um...corpse, essentially, or a prince who can only remember who you are by your shoe size?

What a delightful choice *prune face*. Can I choose to come back as a zombie and chew the prince's face as he moves in for a kiss instead?

Ride in a pumpkin carriage (sticky) or climb a hair-rope (tiring) to get where you're going?

Hair rope. I've been needing to work on my upper body strength.

Be cursed with blindness (Rapunzel) or knife-like pain when you walk (Little Mermaid)?

Another delightful choice! I'm going to choose blindness because I am a complete wimp when it comes to prolonged pain. I've had a sore throat for five days now and I'm near the point of flinging myself from the roof to escape the need to swallow my own spit. Total wimp.

Thank you so much, Stacey! 
After this interview, everyone will not only be looking forward to this summer's release for OF BEAST AND BEAUTY, but next year's book as well!
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

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

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.