is published on February 12, 2019 by Ace.
: Welcome to The Qwillery. What is the first piece you remember writing?Leife Shallcross
: Somewhere in a box I have a story I wrote and illustrated when I was about six called The Princess and the Ghost
. It involved hidden treasure. I first tried to write a novel when I was about 15 – that one never got finished, but I still have it, all in longhand in old exercise books left over from school.TQ
: Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?LS
: Definitely on the pantser end of the spectrum, but I’m finding it more and more useful to challenge myself to learn how to plot better.TQ
: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?LS
: Ugh. Plotting. See previous answer. It’s the kind of thing that makes all my procrastination instincts kick in. But when I actually force myself to sit down and do it, I always end up enjoying it.TQ
: What has influenced / influences your writing?LS
: Probably mostly the books I read during my formative years. I love stories where the world is so vibrant and immersive it becomes a character all on its own, and I love lush, descriptive language and understated, dry-as-bones humor. Authors who really inspired my love of story and language in my youth include Jane Austen, Tanith Lee, M M Kaye, Joan Aiken and Diana Wynne Jones. But then, there’s so many incredible authors writing today that continue to inspire me.TQ
: Describe The Beast's Heart using only 5 words.LS
: Enchanting, slow-burn, fairy tale romance. (I definitely didn’t cheat, hyphens are allowed.)TQ
: Tell us something about The Beast's Heart that is not found in the book description.LS
: In my tale, Beauty has two sisters and they get their own stories.TQ
: What inspired you to write The Beast's Heart? What attracted you to the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast?LS
: Firstly, I love that Beauty and the Beast
isn’t an insta-love story. They spend quite a lot of time getting to know each other before Beauty realizes she’s fallen in love with him, and I love a slow-burn romance. Secondly, I love the idea of the Beast’s enchanted castle being this magical hidden world at the heart of the forest. When I started writing this story, it was mostly a way of losing myself in a fairy tale and getting to hang out in a magical chateau with ensorcelled gardens. Pure self-indulgence.TQ
: Do you have any other favorite fairy tales?LS
: This is like asking me to name my favorite kind of cake! There are so many delicious kinds! I am definitely partial to a Cinderella story. Catskin
is one of my favorite variants on the theme, and if you want a stunning version of that, the Sapsorrow
episode of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller
TV series from the late 1980s is wonderful. Then there is a great Norwegian fairy tale called Tatterhood
where the main character is a princess who slouches around in a ragged hood, rides a goat and beats up trolls with a wooden spoon for fun.TQ
: What sort of research did you do for The Beast's Heart?LS
: So, so much! I’ve been intimately familiar with the fairy tale since I was a child, so my research was mostly about the setting I chose, being 17th Century France. It was lots of weird, bitsy stuff, like 17th Century cutlery, clothing, food, nutcrackers, wedding customs and French names. For example, forks were not really in common use in 17th Century Europe. They weren’t unheard of, just not common. So you won’t find any forks in The Beast’s Heart
. I also had to do a bit of research on fireworks.TQ
: Please tell us about the cover for The Beast's Heart.LS
: I can’t tell you how much I love the cover. It makes me think of 17th Century tapestries, and the roses are so very fairy taleish. The artist is Lisa Perrin, and she has done a bunch of other book covers and quite a bit of illustration. Her work is so beautiful. I’m just thrilled and honored to have it on the cover of my story.
: In The Beast's Heart who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?LS
: The hardest character was definitely Isabeau (aka Beauty). Because it’s his story, I spent so much time in my Beast’s head and had to stop at one point and deliberately move out of that space to see the story from her point of view. She’s got an awful lot going on, but the story is so centered on the Beast, I found I hadn’t paid enough attention to her motivations and drivers and she was coming across as a bit of a cipher. The easiest character was probably Claude, the younger of my Beauty’s older sisters. She’s lovely, but she’s not a complicated person.TQ
: Which question about The Beast's Heart do you wish someone would ask?LS
: Question: Fanfic: yes or no?
LS: Dear God, yes! I have a kind of bingo list of author goals and that’s definitely on there. Having the privilege of someone enjoying my story world so much they write fanfic just so they can spend more time in it would just be too exciting.TQ
: Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Beast's Heart.LS
Quote 1: Enchantments and dreams: I suspect they are made of the same stuff. They each beguile the mind and confuse the senses with wonder and strangeness so all that was familiar becomes freakish, and the most bizarre of things intimate and natural.
Quote 2: There is always a way to break a curse.TQ
: What's next?LS
: I’m working on another fairy-tale-themed story - this one is based on Cinderella
, but my Cinderella has faked her father’s death in order to get him out of his disastrous second marriage and then she gets caught up in a nefarious plot that threatens the crown. I’m also working on a series set in 18th Century London with runaway heiresses and dissolute viscounts and magic and murder. Lots of fun.TQ
: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.