It's Monday, people (somewhere in the world), and today I'm delighted to be participating in The Last List Blog Hop, hosted by Cuddlebuggery. (For those who missed the news, Egmont USA recently announced plans to close, leaving the Spring 2015 releases in a bit of a bind, to put it mildly. The latest is that Lerner has acquired all remaining assets (hooray!), but in the meantime, Egmont USA's Last List has banded together to promote their new releases.)
In any case, I'm very happy that I get to feature Sarah McGuire's Valiant, an utterly charming debut fantasy retelling of "The Brave Little Tailor." I first picked up an ARC of Valiant several months ago just on the basis of "fairy tale retelling" (for those unaware, fairy tales are pretty much my everything) and was NOT disappointed. Complicated main character? Check. Excellent supporting cast (including smooch-worthy maybe-love-interest-maybe-antagonist)? Check. Creative storytelling (a must for retellings)? Absolutely. I was lucky enough to be able to ask Sarah a few questions about writing, Valiant, and the universe. Read on for the secrets, and don't forget to enter the giveaway (North America only, sadly) - you could win an autographed ARC of Valiant of your very own!
RW: I LOVE fairy tale retellings, and I don't think I've ever read one based on "The Brave Little Tailor." What led you to use it as the foundation for Valiant?
SM: I actually didn't like the original tale. Despite the size difference, I hated that the tailor seemed to take advantage of the giants. In some versions, he almost starts the showdown. But as I looked at the story, I had a sense that if I retold it, the tailor would be a girl- which fascinated me. I wanted to better know this girl who inserted herself into a fairy tale I'd dismissed. I think what also drove the retelling was going back to that original pity I felt for the giants and figuring how who they were– and why Saville would face off against two of them in the first place.
RW: Saville is an excellent tailor. If Valiant were an article of clothing, what would it be?
SM: I'd love to say that Valiant would be a beautiful and well-crafted velvet coat, because that's what Saville sews– and surely velvet-coat type stories get starred reviews and sweep readers away to wonderful places, and... (You get the idea.) But I think Valiant is probably closer to the tunic with the special crest that Saville made for Will– a labor of love. At its heart, Valiant explores what we do for the people we love, the people we've decided to protect.
RW: In your NaNoWriMo motivational video, you advised aspiring writers to be kind to themselves and mean to their characters. What's the meanest thing you did to Saville?
SM: Oooohhh! Good question! While I was drafting Valiant, I had to tell myself many, many times to let Saville get in trouble and stay there. There was also the way her father related to her. I really did want to smack the man! And I just recently wrote a bit of meanness, changing something even from what's in the ARC– I went as far as I could with a very vulnerable moment and didn't give Saville a safety net. It wasn't super huge, but it made my editor cry!
However the things that felt the meanest to me in Valiant didn't happen to Saville. There were two parts of the story where I actually cringed away from my laptop because I really, REALLY didn't want to write what happened next. But I did.
RW: What are three things you absolutely need when you sit down to write? (Pen, paper, and computer are freebies.)
SM: Coffee. (Or tea if I'm writing late at night and can't risk too much caffeine.) Earbuds, so I can listen to a playlist while I write. But mainly coffee.
RW: Are you working on any new exciting projects at the moment?
SM: I'd been working on two retellings. (One of them is a companion to Valiant.) But now that Egmont has closed, I'm not sure what will happen. Stay tuned!
Thanks for stopping by, Sarah! I'm very interested to see what comes next for you and Valiant. In the meantime, read on for more information about Valiant, Sarah McGuire, and the giveaway.
MORE ABOUT VALIANT...
Reggen still sings about the champion, the brave tailor. This is the story that is true.
Saville despises the velvets and silks that her father prizes far more than he’s ever loved her. Yet when he’s struck ill she’ll do anything to survive–even dressing as a boy and begging a commission to sew for the king.
But piecing together a fine coat is far simpler than unknotting court gossip about an army of giants, led by a man who cannot be defeated, marching toward Reggen to seize the throne. Saville knows giants are just stories, and no man is immortal.
Then she meets them, two scouts as tall as trees. After she tricks them into leaving, tales of the daring tailor’s triumph quickly spin into impossible feats of giant-slaying. And stories won’t deter the Duke and his larger-than-life army.
Now only a courageous and clever tailor girl can see beyond the rumors to save the kingdom again.
MORE ABOUT SARAH MCGUIRE...
Sarah McGuire loves fairy tales and considers them the best way to step outside of everyday life. They’re the easiest way, at least: her attempt at seven to reach Narnia through her parents’ closet failed. She lives within sight of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, where she teaches high school creative writing and math classes with very interesting word problems. Valiant is her first novel.
MORE ABOUT THE GIVEAWAY...
- To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
- Entrants must be 13 years or order to enter.
- This giveaway is open to North America only. (There are a few international ARCs up for grabs at other stops on the blog hop!)