Saturday, September 26, 2015


What does Alias Hook have in common with the books of Sarah J. Maas, Marissa Meyer and Neil Gaiman? They're all featured this week in an article in the glossy showbiz mag, Entertainment Weekly!

Yes, Captain Hook's voyage of conquest through pop culture continues. The occasion for the EW story is the return of the insanely popular TV series, Once Upon A Time, this Sunday night, for its fifth season.

To celebrate this event, EW writer Megan Lewis selected eight books, contemporary novels in the retold classic fairy tale genre, that should appeal to fans of various characters on the show. And since Guess Who is the most popular character on the show, Alias Hook ranks numero uno on the list!

I could not be more thrilled to share these column inches with so many other talented scribes. Not to mention being linked up with such a popular show.

Okay, I've had my issues with OUAT over the years. But I have to give the show credit for helping to redeem Hook from the ranks of pure villainy. According to readers on my Goodreads pages, lots of people picked up Alias Hook because they were envisioning Colin O'Donoghue in the role!

Anyway, my Amazon numbers spiked overnight!

Read the whole article here.

Friday, September 25, 2015


Captain Hook dominated the runway last night on Project Runway. But, then, you know what a fashionista he is!

The designers were taken to see the Broadway musical Finding Neverland (based on the Johnny Depp film), about J. M. Barrie's friendship with a widow and her five young boys, which inspired him to write Peter Pan.

The designers' challenge was to create any kind of outfit inspired by any aspect of the show—they were encouraged to let their imaginations run wild! Predictably, most of them riffed on fairies, clouds, dreams; two outfits were done in shades of Peter Pan green.

But not winner Candice Cuoco. She was inspired by Captain Hook—and she went way beyond scarlet coats and pirate boots. Her favorite part of the play was when Hook tells Barrie to "own the darkness inside him." And so she came up with this very cool and edgy look that's all about embracing contradictions: hard and soft, leather and brocade, darkness and light. The judges loved it!

Owning your darkness and growing from it—my hero in Alias Hook could definitely relate. It's the Tao of Hook!

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Last year, Australian author Kate Forsyth's splendid adult novel, Bitter Greens, retold the tale of Rapunzel from three fascinating female viewpoints—Rapunzel herself, the beautiful sorceress who imprisons her in the tower, and Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de la Force, a real-life writer at the court of Louis XIV who set down one of the earliest versions of the Rapunzel tale.

This year brings us The Wild Girl, which is actually Forsyth's first adult novel (written before Bitter Greens), but the second to be published in the US. In the new book, Forsyth builds her narrative around the very act of retelling, collecting, and preserving the old tales.

Its heroine, Dortchen Wild, is another real-life figure, a girl who grew up next door to the Grimm family in the small German kingdom of Hesse-Cassel during the tumultuous early years of the 19th Century.
Dortchen Wild, 1815

It's Dortchen who's credited with telling Wilhelm Grimm, and his brother, Jakob, many of the enduring folktales collected in their now-famous fairy tale book, Children's and Household Tales (first published in 1812).

Forsyth also builds her narrative around the growing romance of spirited, stout-hearted Dortchen, fifth of six daughters of a severe, upper middle-class apothecary and his frail wife, and Wilhelm, second of five sons of an impoverished widow.

As we all know, the ancient tales so painstakingly recorded by the Grimms are nothing like the Disney versions. Forsyth is interested in the way these symbolic, magic-infused tales reflect the real-life human dilemmas of the people who pass them along over the generations.

She skillfully weaves many of the most extreme cautionary tales of violence, mutilation, and treachery into the equally harrowing real-life events of war (as Hesse-Cassel is occupied by the French and then the Russians), oppression, poverty, drunkenness, abuse, and thwarted love.

In particular, the relationship Forsyth imagines for Dortchen and her cruel father (determined to tame his "wild girl" into obedience) looms over the novel like a black thundercloud, providing some of its most grueling scenes.
Later edition of the Grimms' book, 1865

 Yet the humor and lyricism of the story snippets themselves, along with Forsyth's strong character-building (especially Dortchen and her lively sisters), help to offset the story's darker moments.

The pacing falters a bit in the last suite of chapters. The author seems to be delaying events in the speculative part of her story to coincide with historical dates, and these scenes feel somewhat unfocused and meandering after the smooth tension-building of the rest of the book.

Still, The Wild Girl is an impressive debut. It's not as gorgeous nor as intricately put together as Bitter Greens, but does provide an insightful look at the enduring stories we tell, and how, and why we tell them.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Did'ja miss me?

No, I did not fall off the edge of the world in a leaky pirate vessel, nor vanish in an untimely explosion of fairy dust.

I've been right here, hunkered down over the keyboard, hammering out my latest revision of Beast: A Love Story. And as much as I love this book, and as mind-expandingly fabulous my editor Kaylan Adair's suggestions have been for tweaking it into even better shape, let's hope this really in the last revision!

I don't want to dither around too much longer; I want to launch Beast in all his glory out into the world. But I also want him to be as buff as possible—and really, really ready for his close-up. And so I cobble away, word by word, sentence by sentence, scene by scene...well, you get the idea.

Fortunately, I love to edit. By this time in the process, you have a complete draft to work on, so you know where the plot is going, and more or less how it's getting there. (Let's hope so, anyway. Expect delays if you're still monkeying around with story structure at this late date.)
Be ready to kill, or at least cut your darlings

So now it's time for the more detailed wordsmithing—reorganizing sentences, phrase by phrase, and finding exactly le mot juste (as they say in France—which happens to be where Beast takes place, and where the best-known Beauty and the Beast tales originated). Picking the right word—this is the fun part for me!

But editing also involves pruning, and you have to buck up and be ready to kill your darlings. (Wait, that sentence was perfect! Except, that plot point has now been discarded. Oh, the humanity!) In the best-case scenario, you have the luxury of time (as I've had, this month) to approach this process with a scalpel, not a broadsword. 

Instead of the wholesale slaughter of entire paragraphs (although I've done plenty of that too), you have to select the most important ideas in that great slog of verbiage and find somewhere else to slot them in. In the sneakiest manner possible, of course, so it will look seamless, as if each sentence had never been anywhere else.

Not to be too anal about it, but every word counts. And as I race (okay, crawl) toward the finish line, I want to get as much juice as I can from every single one!

(Above: Illuminated manuscript, pre-1492, found here)