{Guest Post} "Beyond the Walls of the World" by Author Sarah McGuire

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Look for Sarah McGuire's
debut novel VALIANT
(Based on The Brave Little Tailor)
coming from Egmont USA
in 2015!

Sarah McGuire loves fairy tales and considers them the best way of getting back to Narnia —at least until she finds a working wardrobe. 

She lives within sight of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, where she teaches high school creative writing and math classes with interesting word problems. During the school year, she lives off coffee, chocolate, and afternoon naps that let her write into the night. During the summer, she loves having the extra time to travel and, of course, write.
Follow Sarah on Twitter!
Visit Turbo Monkey Tales, the blog she co-hosts!

Beyond the Walls of the World

by Sarah McGuire

I was the nine-year-old who went straight to the fairy tales section in my library.  I’d sit on the floor beside the shelves and pore over the tales so gorgeously illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman or hunt for the next book in Andrew Lang’s colored Fairy Book collection.

I loved fairy tales. The colors were deeper in those lands, the darkness thicker. It was like standing in front of mountains or the ocean or an approaching storm. Fairy tales brought a sense of awe and “other” that I couldn't find in contemporary tales.

And I loved the happy endings--the world being set right when it was a breath away from tragedy. Tolkien said it best in his essay, On Faery Stories: The fairy tale ending “is a sudden and miraculous grace… It does not deny the existence of … sorrow and failure; it denies universal final defeat, giving a taste of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.”

Small wonder then, that my debut novel, VALIANT, is a fairy tale retelling.

The surprise (to me) was the fairy tale I chose— Grimm’s The Brave Little Tailor. It had never been a favorite of mine— no awe, no breath-taking ending. I loved the tailor’s intelligence, but I always felt a bit sorry for the giants. They were so dumb! It didn't seem like much of victory for the tailor to outwit them. I mean, we wouldn't celebrate a calculus professor acing a pre-algebra quiz, would we? 

But I kept turning the tale over in my mind, trying to make sense of it. Then I realized that the tailor I saw was a girl— a girl! A little later, I discovered why the giants might be so easily fooled.

 And then I had to write the story.

VALIANT sprang from my dissatisfaction with the original tale. But writing the novel let me explore all those things that made me love fairy tales in the first place. So I put my heroine in a wondrous stone city, and I made the giants like storms and mountains and seas.

And of course, there was romance and (I hope!) a breath-taking ending.

I think we’re all pulled to fairy tales for different reasons. For me, they are voyages into the Other, a chance to visit beautiful, terrifying lands.  Their awe, their beauty, and the joy “poignant as grief” kept me reading them, again and again.

It’s certainly why I write them.
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Sarah McGuire
Release Date: 2015 TBA
Publisher: Egmont USA

One brave girl must unravel the truth from centuries-old stories of distrust and fear. 

Saville despises the bolts of velvet and silk that her father the Tailor loves; he’s always prized them over her. Yet, when he’s struck ill, she’ll do anything to survive, even if it means donning boys’ clothes and begging a commission to sew for the king. 

Piecing together a fine coat is far simpler than unknotting court gossip about an approaching army of giants, led by a man who cannot be defeated. Saville knows giants are just stories, and no man is immortal. 

Then she meets them face-to-face, two scouts as tall as trees. After she tricks them into leaving, tales of the Tailor of Reggen’s triumph quickly spin into impossible feats of giant-slaying. But mere stories won’t deter the Duke and his larger-than-life army, or keep them from tearing down Reggen’s walls. 

Now, only a courageous and clever tailor girl can see beyond the rumors to save the kingdom. 

Perfect for fans of Shannon Hale and Gale Carson Levine, Valiant richly reimagines “The Brave Little Tailor,” transforming it into a story of understanding, identity, and fighting to protect those you love most.


  1. Thank you so much for letting me be part of Fairy Tale Fortnight!


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