Tuesday, April 28, 2009

R.J. Anderson Interview


For her release, I have an interview with her. Some of the questions are a bit dated now that the book is out in the world, but we'll pretend it's yesterday and the book isn't out yet.

Here's a description of the book (from amazon) for you, in case you need it:

Forget everything you think you know about faeries. . . .

Creatures full of magic and whimsy?

Not in the Oakenwyld. Not anymore.

Deep inside the great Oak lies a dying faery realm, bursting with secrets instead of magic. Long ago the faeries mysteriously lost their magic. Robbed of their powers, they have become selfish and dull-witted. Now their numbers are dwindling and their very survival is at stake.

Only one young faery—Knife—is determined to find out where her people's magic has gone and try to get it back. Unlike her sisters, Knife is fierce and independent. She's not afraid of anything—not the vicious crows, the strict Faery Queen, or the fascinating humans living nearby. But when Knife disobeys the Faery Queen and befriends a human named Paul, her quest becomes more dangerous than she realizes. Can Knife trust Paul to help, or has she brought the faeries even closer to the brink of destruction?

Talented newcomer R. J. Anderson creates an extraordinary new fantasy world and weaves a gripping tale of lost magic, high adventure, and surprising friendship in which the fate of an entire realm rests on the shoulders of one brave faery rebel.


1) Your book has yet to be released in the US. Laaaame. BUT. It has already been released in the UK! Awesomeness. Has having the book being already released in the UK calmed your debuting author nerves at all?

I don't know about it calming my nerves as far as the US release is concerned, because the packaging/title/readership in the two countries is different, so in some ways it feels like starting from scratch! But I will say I have been thrilled by the warm reception my book's had in the UK, and the fantastic reviews I got from major newspapers like the Times.

2) Out of curiosity- why did the UK get it first? D: Usually the UKians must wait. And we USians, because we are impatient, do not have to wait.

Originally the book was scheduled to come out at the same time in both countries. But publishing moves much faster in the UK – it's a smaller market to cover, for one thing – so even though my UK publisher bought the book six months later than the US, they could also put it out six months earlier. All they had to do was ask my US publisher if that was OK, and… apparently it was.

3) Both versions of your cover are pretty and ~*shiny*~ Do you feel special because you get TWO such fabulous covers? Is there a cover that more accurately represents the ~mood~ of the book? What was your reaction when you saw both of the covers?

They are both gorgeous – I've been so blessed that way. And when I found out that the art for the UK cover was done by Brian Froud, I just about fell off my chair with excitement. But I was also thrilled when I learned that Melanie Delon would be doing my US art, because her work is brilliant. I think both covers reflect different aspects of the book – the UK cover is a good expression of the darker, fiercer elements of the story and of my heroine Knife's character, whereas the US one reflects the more thoughtful, creative side of Knife that develops over the course of the book.

4) Your book has faeries. Yay faeries! Did you do research on faeries to prepare for writing? Was it FUN to research these little creatures? Did you learn anything INTERESTING?

I learned a lot of interesting things! There is a huge amount of faery lore to draw on, and a lot of it is self-contradictory, so as an author you have to pick and choose the elements that are most compelling to you. When I was writing the first draft of the book I relied mostly on my own memory of faery folklore (since I'd read a lot of "fairy tales" and mythology as a child, and also continue to read a great deal of modern fantasy literature to this day). But in later revisions, when I was looking for ways to deepen the story, I found reading books by faery scholars such as Katharine Briggs to be helpful. I've drawn much more directly on folklore for the second book in the series, and I'm pretty excited about the particular Welsh faery legend I've picked to play around with – it's not something I've seen done before.

5) Since you, being a faery writer and all, must be a faery expert, can you give us your professional opinion on what the difference between a faIry and a faEry is?

To my mind, the term "faery" speaks of something rooted in the older legends of the fey folk or fae (thus the "ae" spelling) – it doesn't just mean small fluttery creatures but the whole range of fascinating and sometimes terrifying beings we meet in folklore. Whereas "fairy", the modern spelling, makes me think of the Disney version of Tinkerbell and other similar characters who've sprung up in the last hundred and fifty years or so, who are basically just very small, pretty humans with wings and wands and magic pixie dust. I did want to write about small, winged characters, but I wanted to make plain that they weren't cutesy or wish-granting ones, so I chose the older spelling.

6) What book are you working on now?

I'm just wrapping up work on the second book in the FAERY REBELS series, which is coming out next year. Once that's done I hope to go back to work on a non-series paranormal thriller I'm writing for an older teen audience.

7) Let's pretend you're a faery (assuming you aren't one already.) Tell us all about what you think your faery self would do all day, and if the faery-you has any special powers or skillz.

I am definitely not a faery – my clumsiness is legendary! But if I were one of the Oakenfolk (the faeries in my book), I think I'd probably end up working in the Oak's library, like Campion does in the book. My faeries have no magic, so "special powers" aren't really in the offing, but practical skills are highly prized in the Oak, so when I was finished cataloguing and shelving all the library books maybe I could help out in the kitchen. There's got to be a recipe somewhere that would make squirrel meat taste good…

8) What were you like as a teen?

I read incessantly – at least two or three novels a week, plus a bunch of comic books as well – and stayed up past midnight more often than not, sketching in my notebook or hammering out fan fiction stories on my parents' electric typewriter. My arms were constantly speckled up to the elbow with white correction fluid, because even back then, I was a compulsive self-editor! At school I hung around with all the people who, like me, didn't fit into any particular clique or group – the artsies, the weirdos, the geeks. At lunchtimes two of my friends and I used to go to the bottom of the stairwell and sing traditional Celtic folk music in three-part harmony, and after school I'd be working on an art project or rehearsing with the Drama club. All through public school and into middle school I'd been horribly bullied by the so-called "popular kids", so by the time I got to high school, I'd stopped wanting to have anything to do with those kids or do any of the things it might take to become one of them. Which was actually really freeing and empowering for me, in the end.


Thank you RJ! And once again, congrats on your release! Everyone go buy the book now, as I'm sure it's fabulous.

You can also check out RJ's website, blog, and Twitter.


  1. thanks for the interview rj and khy! i loved loved this book! so excited it's finally out here!!

  2. Awesome interview. I adored this book!