Thursday, September 26, 2013

Diane J. Reed talks Fairy Tales & OUAT Fandom

Carey: One of my most favorite YA reads of this year was the quirky, imaginative story Robin in the Hood by Diane J. Reed. In addition to being a kick-ass author, Diane has interviewed numerous Once Upon A Time cast members about the hit show-which is so cool! I’m thrilled to have her here today to talk fairy tales and fandom.

CC: We always start with the same curiosity: What book spoke to you most during your teen years?

DJR: I loved so many books! But I have to say my favorite was When the Legends Die by Hal
Visit Diane:
Borland, a novel about an orphaned teenage boy from the Ute tribe in Colorado in 1912 who struggles against assimilation into white culture & tries to preserve his heritage against all odds. It speaks deeply to issues that affect teens in every culture: feelings of alienation, issues of identity, and how to navigate the future as an adult. Thomas Black Bull's story of self-determination pierced my heart and his courage remains an inspiration to this day. Because of that novel, I realized that books can do more than entertain—they can actually be lamplights to help guide our way. Dystopian novels are all the rage right now in YA fiction, but for Native American teens at the turn of the last century, the total annihilation of their culture was all too REAL! If you love dystopian fiction, consider picking up When the Legends Die to see how a character stood up for the integrity of his spirit when the prevailing culture preferred him to be on a reservation or dead.

CC: Do you have a book (or books) that you reread regularly? If yes, what book and why?

DJR: One book I read regularly is Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman. This particular book is a collection of short stories and her lyrical writing is exquisite! She's truly a master of the craft. She also delves into the waters of magic realism and I LOVE how she depicts the mysterious & magical aspects of life that sometimes we can only sense through the quiet whispers of our spirits. She's also the author of Practical Magic—a hugely fun book about witches, written long before the current paranormal craze, and it was made into a fantastic movie! I believe I've watched that film 100 times, and I even designed my kitchen after the one in the film. Can you spell O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D? Did somebody mention "spells"? ; )

CC: What YA novel or novels have you read recently that you most want all your friends to read?

DJR: I came awfully late to this party, but I adore Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl! It's just so beautifully written and I love the teen narrator Ethan Wate's insights into life. I also really enjoyed Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan with its wonderfully smart spy heroines and Doon by Carey Corp & Lorie Langdon with its unique blend of magic & history that impacts present-day teens.

CC: Aww – thanks for the DOON shout out! What made you want to write teen fiction? Is there any link to the stories you read growing up?

DJR: I simply love the vulnerability and need for courage that all teens experience. It's an amazing, magical time where you're deciding who you really are and who you want to become—and that takes GUTS! You can wimp out and put one foot after the other by following the life that may have been "prescribed" for you, OR you can dig down deep, search your soul, and go against the grain. It's a perilous age for everyone and I love examining the choices people make. One book that really influenced me growing up was National Velvet by Enid Bagnold about a teen girl who poses as a boy so she can enter her horse in the most dangerous steeplechase race on earth: The Grand National. Many jockeys and horses have died in that race, but she refuses to let anything stop her. Like The Hunger Games, every time I read a book about teens who muster up extraordinary bravery, I'm hooked!

CC: Tell us about ROBIN IN THE HOOD. Where did the inspiration for this story come from?

DJR: Yowza—believe it or not, I once held a job in a juvenile detention program that was the last stop for teen boys before they turned 18 and faced decades in prison for federal crimes. We're not
talking about whistling too loud in the choir here. These teens had to be convicted a minimum of 8 times each for crimes like grand theft auto, arson, rape and murder. Dangerous doesn't begin to describe them, yet there were a couple of master thieves who caught my attention because they were doing it to provide for their impoverished families. Sure, they were tough as nails on the outside—but they would sacrifice their very lives for their loved ones, and way down deep they had hearts of gold. These kids were rare, but once you met one you'd never forget him. I wanted to write a book that did a kid like that justice, and showed how he was actually the caregiver & provider in a situation that was stacked against him. I also grew up in an affluent area (even though we were middle class), and I've lost count of how many "emotional orphans" I met in high school. These were kids who looked rich & beautiful on the outside, but the truth was that their wealthy, social-climbing parents totally ignored them & simply wrote checks in lieu of affection. So I began to wonder: What would happen if a rich girl's family hit the skids she decided to rob banks to take care of them, only to run smack dab into a poor boy from "across the tracks" that was doing the same thing? Despite their different backgrounds, they have the same goal, so they might actually become partners in crime—and so much more...

CC: How closely does Robin in the Hood mirror the original Robin Hood story?

DJR: Robin in the Hood is meant to tread lightly within fairy tale territory, but also to mix it up a little & provide a more modern, "edgy" feel to the legend. So instead of Robin being a guy, I decided to depict the character as teenage girl who makes the decision to rob from the rich to give to the poor. And most certainly I was playing with the Sherwood Forest concept when I created Bender Lake—a boondocks haven for those who are running from the law as well as their exes! Also, the motley group of characters who appear at Turtle Shores Trailer Park mimic Robin Hood's band of Merry Men outlaws in a comedic way. But unlike the original Robin Hood, who is an expert marksman and always noble of purpose, my Robin steals out of desperation at first, but then begins to develop a real heart for the unfortunate people around her that galvanizes her into more noble endeavors.

CC: Both your YA and adult books are modern day fairy tales. Why do you suppose fairytales continue to be so popular?

DJR: Because they're TRUE! You can often tell "soul truths" in fairy tales that you somehow can't quite comprehend any other way because life is so complicated and mysterious. For example, I read an archaic version of Cinderella recently where one of the stepsisters cut off her big toe to fit into the glass slipper. The prince thought she was the real deal & hoisted her onto his horse for a ride back to the castle—but she left a trail of blood behind her the entire way. NOTE TO SELF: If you're dating someone who leaves a trail of blood in their wake, no matter how much they try to smooth talk you, they're NOT the real deal! I love how fairy tales aren't afraid to illuminate the dark recesses of the human spirit as well as the noble victories.

CC: You are very active in the ONCE UPON A TIME (OUAT) fandom. Tell us a little about what that’s like?

DJR: You know, I sort of fell into it. I loved the show and began following @OnceUponAFan on twitter as a result. The creator of the fansite, Gareth Hughes, later asked me if I would like to write a couple of articles on the origins of fairy tales for the website, which I thought would be fun. He liked my work and when the occasion arose, he asked me if I would mind interviewing the cast & creators of the show. Of course I said yes! From there it snowballed and to date I've done 11 interviews with the cast & writers of ABC's hit show Once Upon a Time. I'm hoping to do interviews for their new spin-off Wonderland this fall as well : )

CC: Do you have a favorite OUAT character or storyline?

DJR: Well who couldn't love the enduring battle between Regina, played by Lana Parilla, and Rumpelstiltskin, played by Robert Carlyle? The actors are SUPERB and I think I could happily watch them read the phone book! Every second they are on screen is a thrill for me. So talented : )

CC: We’ve got a lot of aspiring authors visiting our blog. Would you share with them your path to publication? (And any words of encouragement would be great additions *s*)

DJR: My biggest advice is to just start writing and get your books out there as fast as you can to start building platform and fans. Don't wait for traditional New York publishers to "approve" of you or your teachers or mother to say it's good enough—go Indie if you have to. You'd be stunned at how much audience you can gain if you work hard, constantly refine your craft, and go for it! The real test of how worthy your work is comes down to the readers who are eager for more. Get out there on Wattpad or write for fansites, or better yet, load up your work on Kindle and sell it. Somewhere out there are hearts that are willing to read your stories. Be bold, be confident, and keep writing!

CC: What’s next for you?

DJR:  I just finished a fun & irreverent fairy tale book for children called The Boys Who Farted and Flew (because sometimes magic gets stinky ; ). I'm now working on the sequel to Robin in the Hood where Robin and her boyfriend Creek go to Venice in search of her long-lost mother.

About Diane J. Reed: I was the kind of teen who hitchhiked her way out of church camp to go play pool with strangers, then picked the cutest guy to go make out on the beach. Since that time, I moved to the Rocky Mountains & I write books that are infused with enchantment, where characters dare to break through boundaries and believe in true love. I have a soft spot for artisans & outlaws of the heart, those of us who burn brightly to live each day as a gift—because it is! I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to visit my website or message me on Facebook or Twitter (@DianeJReed) to share the whispers of your spirit.

Thanks Again Diane. I will be eagerly awaiting your fantastic OUAT interviews and the next installment of Robin & Creek in la bella Venezia!

Until next time! 

Carey Corp is the author of DOON, Brigadoon reimagined, co-written w/Lorie Langdon. Book 1 coming 8/20/13 from the new YA imprint BLINK (a division of Zondervan/HarperCollins)

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Kimberly said...

I have paused PRACTICAL MAGIC a gazillion times to see that kitchen again and again. I'm so jealous that you have a kitchen like that!!! Lol.
I, too, have always held a fondness for "outlaws of the heart". :-) I loved your story about your juvenile detention program experience, and that must have played such a part in writing ROBIN IN THE HOOD. I have got to get my hands on that book! It sounds like a book right up my alley. Thanks for visiting!

Diane J. Reed said...

Thank you so much, Kimberly! And with October upon us now, even more reason to obsess over Practical Magic! Hope your Autumn is magical : )