Interviewing Christine Norris, Author of A CURSE OF ASH AND IRON

Check out the schedule of events for both
The Book Rat and A Backwards Story!
Don't miss a second of all the great stuff we have in store for you!
If you post about fairy tales online, share your link here!
Grab some promotional buttons for your blog
and stop back for fun guest posts, exciting author visits, giveaways, reviews,
and more!
Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest

will debut
September 2, 2014!!!

(And the cover will be revealed in May or June!)


An interview with 
Christine Norris

Christine Norris is the author of several works for children and adults, including the Library of Athena series and the Zandria duology. 

When she’s not out saving the world one story at a time, she is disguised as a mild mannered substitute teacher, mother, and wife. 

She has also done several English adaptations of novels translated from other languages. She reached a new level of insanity by attending Southen Connecticut State University Graduate School’s Information and Library Science program, so that someday she, too, can be a real Librarian. She currently resides somewhere in southern New Jersey.

Check out Christine's website and follow her on Twitter and Facebook!

Tell us a little bit about what we can expect when A CURSE OF ASH AND IRON comes out later this year.

It's sort of a hybrid-type story. When I was trying to tell people what it was, it always came out like this "It's a historical fantasy/Steampunk/Fairy-tale retelling." Or "A Historical-Fairy Tale-Fantasy-with-bits-of-Steampunk. I think it's more historical fantasy that traditional "Steampunk", whatever that is. It's a Cinderella story set in Philadelphia in 1876, which was a really important year in the city. It's got magic and machines and all kinds of Victorian-era stuff, but I like that it's NOT set in London. Don't get me wrong, I love London, I just think it's been done to death. 

Please, if I got any of the history things wrong, DON'T yell at me. It's a fantasy! ^_^

What kind of research and world-building went into creating a steampunk fairy tale?

I spent ages and ages on the website for the Centennial Exposition that the Free Library of Philadelphia runs. Looking at maps and photographs and reading about it. And it's really only part of one chapter. Then I did some research into Delancey Place, and Christ Church, and the Academy of Music, and of course FASHION. I was obsessed with the fashion of the late 1870's. I actually bought a coloring book to look at (and, um, maybe I colored it too...) I also had to do some research into the Academy of Music and the Assembly Ball. Because, let's face it, it's not a Cinderella story without a ball. Philly's been having invitation only dances since Revolutionary days, and it developed into the Assembly Ball, which then became the first debutante ball in the United States. They had them at the Academy for years until they moved to a hotel, and I think they stopped doing them sometime around WWII. 

Overall, I looked at a LOT of pictures and read a LOT of articles.

I love that Eleanor's best friend is a Grimm! Can you tell us a little bit about him and their relationship?

Ben's last name is Grimm, and his family owns a bookshop :). It was my own little joke, of course. He's also a stage hand at the Walnut Street theater in Philadelphia, one of the oldest theaters in the country. But his real love is magic--but not the kind you're thinking of. His aspiration is to be a world-famous illusionist and tour the world. When he was little, his mother worked for Ellie's family, and they were unlikely best friends, but something happened that separated them for years, until the beginning of the book. I don't want to say much more because I'll give it away. It's a...complicated relationship.

A little birdie told me that you're currently working on a steampunk Sleeping Beauty. What other fairy tales would you like to retell? Will they all be set in the same world?

I am! And it's set in Philadelphia around the same time as CURSE, but it's very different. I have been thinking about what tale I would like to tackle next. Rapunzel would be interesting. I actually thought about The Snow Queen too. I loved that story when I was a kid, one of my favorites. I really didn't know that FROZEN was that story until I read about it on the DVD case. Um, because I haven't watched it yet...(probably will by the time this interview goes up) Snow White might be difficult, but then again I thought Sleeping Beauty would be hard and it wasn't as hard as I thought. Princess and the Frog might be cool. One of my favorite stories of all time is the Twelve Dancing Princesses. That would be interesting to tackle, I think, as a Victorian Steampunk story.

What is your favorite magical object from any fairy tale? What makes it so special?

Wow, that's a good one. So many things-- Cinderella's shoe, Snow's apple, Red Riding Hood's cape. Sleeping Beauty's spinning wheel. The Frog's golden ball. Powerful talismans in storytelling that even carry over to modern times -- like the One Ring or the silver slippers of Oz. Symbols that mean embody something intangible. 

Okay, lemme think. I don't know if I can pick just one, but Cinderella's slipper springs to mind. I think it's special because it's said to be delicate (made of glass or something else fragile) but able to be danced in all night long. I think that says something. What it says I have no idea, but it says something.

What important lesson(s) have your fairytale characters learned that you wish the traditional fairytale version of the character could have learned from?

Ooo, I so would love to tell you that, but if I did I'd give away the whole ending to the book and I just can't do that. Spoilers!

Play fortune teller: choose one tale, and take us into the future, past where the story ends: does all turn out Happily Ever After? Any unexpected occurrences?

How about this: The Three Bears opened a coffee and breakfast shop called "Just Right," where they serve anyone without golden curls. All the furniture isn't too hard or too soft. ^_^

Quickfire Stuff: This or That?

-Flying carpet or flying broom?

Broom. No idea why.

-Mermaid or unicorn?

Unicorn. Just because.

-Gifted with red dancing shoes or a witch's 'special' hair ribbon/comb?

Um...I think both would be re-gifted right away...

Quickfire Stuff: Would You Rather...?

-Ask the witch's son to assist you in the evil tasks she's assigned or perform a troll's tasks in order to cross his bridge?

Witch's son. I'm sure he knows how his mom is.

-Be woken up by the Town Musicians of Bremen or a fire-breathing dragon who's just discovered you in her gold hoard?

Town Musicians.

-Open and unleash Pandora's Box or unlock and enter Bluebeard's locked doom room?

Wow, that's a hard one. Probably Bluebeard's locked room because, eww, it would be totally gross but there's a chance for escape.
    Author: Christine Norris
     Publication date: Sept. 2, 2014
    Publisher: Strange Chemistry // Angry Robot

    Eleanor Banneker is under a spell, bewitched and enslaved by her evil stepmother. Her long-lost childhood friend, Benjamin Grimm, is the only person immune to the magic that binds her. Even if he doesn't believe in real magic, he cannot abandon her and must find a way to breach the spell – but time is running short. 

    If he doesn't succeed before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, Ellie will be bound forever…