Blog Tour: Hero


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Setting Sail on a Fairy Tale Adventure*

*Family Welcome



Author Interview

I am thrilled to be able to welcome Alethea Kontis to my blog today!!! I read Enchanted last year and loved it, so I was very excited to get to interview her and review Hero for this tour, which releases today.

What was your inspiration and how difficult was it to pull these different fairy tale pieces together and work them into your stories?

I have been accused many times of "cramming all the fairy tales into one book like it was some sort of challenge"--and indeed, it sort of started out that way. The original short story (technically novelette) "Sunday" was an entry in my writing group's fairy tale contest in 2005. We were only required to include three tales or nursery rhymes from a selected list but I'm so well-versed (ha! pun totally intended) in all of them that they all fit together into one family like some crazy piece of John Nash collage art. In order to finish the "short" story, I had to promise myself that I would later go back and write the book about these characters. "Sunday" was published in Realms of Fantasy in October of 2006.

(Here's a link to the original illustration that went with the story in the magazine-- still my favorite illustration of Sunday and Rumbold to date: http://www.grimstudios.com/SGrimandowebPage/FrogPrince.html)

I always like to see what fans create based on books they've loved! Thanks for sharing.

I love how your damsels in distress seem to end up as their own heroes as well, but at the same time have strong male characters who play opposite them and contribute to their happily-ever-after. I really appreciate this balance because I think that’s how relationships should work - with both partners being strong and making each other better. Was this something intentionally done or was it something that developed as you wrote and as your characters developed?

I think it's an organic process-- my characters come from me, and my knowledge and experience of the world, so my characters are typically more "realistic" about their expectations. They are flawed, like me, and like me sometimes they have to work for their happily ever after. And, like me, sometimes magic just happens...and they must choose to go with it, or fight against nature. (I typically go with it.)

I also think as people that our experiences, while unique, are still similar on a global scale. I was a girl who grew up feeling very alone, even when surrounded by friends--turns out, this isn't such a rare thing after all, it's just something that never really got discussed in contemporary literature. I feel very lucky that I get to address the sort of characters and situations that modern day teenagers can relate to...and yet keep it in a fantasy setting. (SCORE!)

You wrote a couple of children’s books before Enchanted was published. What influenced your decision to switch genres or did you always want to write this series in the YA genre?

Enchanted was very much the book I always wanted to write. All the other books I've done have been great opportunities and I've loved every minute of them (and still do!) but YA fantasy is where my heart is. I've been an avid reader since the age of three, which means I was a pretty genius, hyper-aware little kid. I wanted magic to happen in my life possibly more than any other little girl in the whole wide world...barring that, I wanted to one day write books like the ones in which I escaped every day after school. And now I do.

I just have to ask, what is your favorite fairy tale and fairy tale princess and why?

Yay! I love answering this question. My favorite princess is the main character in "The Goose Girl", who is tricked by her evil maid into switching places once they arrive at the palace of her  betrothed.

Like many of the Grimms' fairy tale princesses, the Goose Girl is fairly passive and doesn't really take charge of the situation, but she is surrounded by clever people (like Conrad, and the king) who become her unknown allies and work to see that justice is done without forcing the Goose Girl to betray her oath. Also, she talks to the severed head of her horse every day on the way to work like it was something people did all the time. This scene freaked a lot of kids out, but I loved it--it was something that made the Goose Girl unique and special.

"Ah, Falada, there thou hangest."
"Ah, Queen's daughter, there thou gangest.
If thy mother knew thy fate,
her heart would break with grief so great."

She wasn't just a princess--she was the daughter of a sorceress. To me, that's always been pretty darned awesome.

When you want to read a happily-ever-after fairy tale, what do you read?

Ooh -- good question. My all-time favorites are The Darkangel Trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce and William Goldman's The Princess Bride...but technically, neither of those count as "happily ever after" books. Next in line would probably be Sharon Shinn's Samaria series, which *do* have happy endings. Jovah's Angel is my favorite, but I definitely recommend reading Archangel first. Of course, there's also Ronia the Robber's DaughterThe Neverending Story, McKinley's Beauty, and Howl's Moving Castle...I have an entire shelf here of titles I've been re-reading since I was 12. And they're all still fabulous. 


Thank you, Alethea, for stopping by! Feel free to do so anytime. :)



Hero (Woodcutter Sisters #2)Hero
(Woodcutter Sisters #2)
by Alethea Kontis
YA Fantasy
Hardcover, 304 Pages
October 1st, 2013 by Harcourt Books                  

Summary

Rough and tumble Saturday Woodcutter thinks she's the only one of her sisters without any magic—until the day she accidentally conjures an ocean in the backyard. With her sword in tow, Saturday sets sail on a pirate ship, only to find herself kidnapped and whisked off to the top of the world. 

Is Saturday powerful enough to kill the mountain witch who holds her captive and save the world from sure destruction? And, as she wonders grumpily, "Did romance have to be part of the adventure?" 


As in Enchanted, readers will revel in the fragments of fairy tales that embellish this action-packed story of adventure and, yes, romance.





My Review

I love fairy tales. I love them as originals and retellings in just about every setting, as long as they're written well, of course. I fell in love with Enchanted, the first book in this series, last year. I was definitely ready to hang out with the Woodcutter family again in Hero

I do have to say that this second book definitely has a different feel to it than the first one did. It is a little more serious and the ending was more open. Of course, that just means I am highly anticipating the next book even more. :)


It took me a little bit to remember who each of Saturday's sisters and brothers were. We see or hear about all of them at one point or another. Even though I didn't remember specifics, I didn't mind because I enjoyed getting to know them again. Most of the times when they appeared in the story were for very short periods of time, but Alethea did such a great job in conveying each of their characters really well in those small moments. This story is really all about Saturday, as it should be.


Saturday is such a great character! She is struggling with figuring out her place in the world and who exactly she is. Her life drastically changed after her sister saved the kingdom in the last book. She's not sure how she fits in this new world and she's tired of being treated as the little sister. I loved that she isn't dramatic, but rather sarcastic. She finds out that she is much more than she thought she was. I also really loved Peregrine! He is a little awkward under the circumstances in some ways, although he has become used to his skin after wearing it for so long. He has a role he must play and he is willing to do it in order to survive. The interactions between these two were fabulous! I loved how Saturday didn't want anything to do with him and how he got under her skin. I loved Saturday's thoughts here:

     To Saturday, falling in love was a nonsense never hoped for. Love and marriage and family would mean the end of her adventuring. She had only just begun to live her life outside the towerhouse. So far, that life had been full of swords and witches and life-or-death decisions. Kissing had no place there.
       And yet, Saturday couldn't bring to mind a tale about Jack in which he'd banished evil or bested a beast without winning the heart of some girl in the end. Saturday sighed. Did romance have to be a part of the adventure? It just seemed so unnecessary and distracting.
(p. 151-152) 
I loved the plot! It was unexpected in many ways and entertaining. I love how Alethea continues to include pieces and references to other fairy tales. She is quite creative. The story felt to me like it should - like a girl thrown into an adventure that she really has no control over, but chooses to be the hero even if she doesn't think she is one.

If you enjoy reading fairy tales or a very creative twist on them, then definitely pick this up!


Content: Clean (There are a few references to the characters being unclothed and a few mild swear words, but nothing that would make this not clean.)

Source: From tour host/NetGalley, which did not affect my review in any way.



Enchanted (Woodcutter Sisters #1)Enchanted
(Woodcutter Sisters #1)
by Alethea Kontis
YA Fantasy
Hardcover, 305 Pages
May 8th, 2012 by Harcourt Books                  

Summary

It isn't easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true.

When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him back into Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland—and a man Sunday’s family despises.

The prince returns to his castle, intent on making Sunday fall in love with him as the man he is, not the frog he was. But Sunday is not so easy to woo. How can she feel such a strange, strong attraction for this prince she barely knows? And what twisted secrets lie hidden in his past - and hers?




About the Author

Alethea KontisNew York Times bestselling author Alethea Kontis is a princess, a goddess, a force of nature, and a mess. She’s known for screwing up the alphabet, scolding vampire hunters, turning garden gnomes into mad scientists, and making sense out of fairy tales.

Alethea is the co-author of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter Companion, and penned the AlphaOops series of picture books. Her short fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in a myriad of anthologies and magazines. She has done multiple collaborations with Eisner winning artist J.K. Lee, includingThe Wonderland Alphabet and Diary of a Mad Scientist Garden Gnome. Her debut YA fairy tale novel, Enchanted, won the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award in 2012 and was nominated for both the Andre Norton Award and the Audie Award in 2013.

Born in Burlington, Vermont, Alethea now lives in Northern Virginia with her Fairy Godfamily. She makes the best baklava you’ve ever tasted and sleeps with a teddy bear named Charlie.



Giveaway

Fairy Tale Gift Bundle: Signed copies of both Enchantment and Hero by Alethea Kontis plus swag!

Runs from 10/22 - 10/17

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sail Away on the 
Fairy Tale Adventure Tour*
*Family Welcome

Sept 22 - LAUNCH
Sept 23 - The Missing Piece at Alethea Kontis
 - Review on Debz Bookshelf
 - Celebration on Deal Sharing Aunt
Sept 24 - Interview with Miss Print
Sept 25 - Interview with Carina Books
 - The Grandfather Pirate on Living a Goddess Life
 - Meet the Inspiration on The Wonderings of One Person
Sept 26 - Review on Shannon's Blog
 - Meet the Inspiration continued on Bookmarks
Sept 27 - Meet the Sister on Leeana Me
Sept 30 - USA Today Happy Ever After Interview
 - Review of Enchantment on Colorimetry
Oct 1 - RELEASE DAY!
 - Release Day at Waterworld Mermaids
 - My Favorite Bit (with Cat Valente) at Mary Robinette Kowal
 - Review at Library of a Book Witch
 - Interview & Review at Tressa's Wishful Endings
Oct 2 - Video Rant at http://www.geekgirlinlove.com
 - The Big Idea at John Scalzi's Blog
 - My Bookshelf on Mel's Shelves
 - Did You See? on Cu's eBook Giveaways
Oct 3 - The Missing Piece on I Am a Reader, Not a Writer
 - Review at Books for Kids
Oct 4 - Podcast with Bennet Pomeranz
 - Review of Hero on Colorimetry
Oct 5 - Hero LAUNCH PARTY at One More Page Books in Arlington, VA
Oct 7 - Character interview with Saturday Woodcutter at I Smell Sheep
Oct 8 - A Twist in the Tail at A Backwards Story
 - Review at JL Mbewe
Oct 9 - Enchanted Inkspot
 - Deleted Scene at Fragments of Life
Oct 10-15 GRAND FINALE

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