Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up as a homeschooler in Los Angeles, reading all the fantasy and mythology I could lay my hands on. I got a degree in Medieval English from Oxford, but now I live in Seattle and work with computers.
I’ve been writing regularly since I was about twelve, but I’ve been telling stories all my life. One of my earliest memories is telling my mother endless, epic stories—a new installment every day—while drying dishes for her. There was only one story that I ever actually finished, and I was very proud of it. The heroine was a princess trying to escape the murderous plots of her aunt and uncle, Lord and Lady Pudding. Also I think there was a mermaid in it somewhere.
In your own words, tell us a little bit about your book?
He’s the evil, immortal ruler of her country. She’s trained all her life to die destroying him. And he may be the only person in the world who’s ever understood her.
Can you tell us about the characters in your book? Who is your favorite?
The main character is Nyx Triskelion, who’s known all her life that her father’s foolish bargain doomed her to marry Ignifex, the prince of demons. And all her life, she’s trained to die destroying him. Nyx believes wholeheartedly that her mission is noble and necessary. She also hates her father for sacrificing her and her sister for having a chance to live. And she hates herself for not wanting to die saving the world, and for hating the family members who are pretty much helpless. (Did I mention that Ignifex is nearly omnipotent?)
And then there’s Ignifex himself, who uses his godlike powers to make bargains with mortals—bargains that always go hideously and ironically wrong for the mortal. Or the mortal’s friends and family, or random innocent bystanders. It’s not good to live in his country. Nyx arrives on his doorstep expecting a sadistic monster; what she gets is a snarky trickster who is much more interesting in teasing her than tormenting her, and who seems to understand the resentment in her heart. Which makes her start to wonder who, exactly, her husband really is.
The third inhabitant of Ignifex’s castle is Shade, who is literally Ignifex’s shadow—but who can move on his own, and take human form at night. He is Ignifex’s servant, bound to obey his every whim, but he helps Nyx when he can . . . while telling her not to trust him. He’s quiet, gentle, and a very good kisser, and Nyx starts to suspect he was not always a shadow.
My favorite is definitely Nyx, because I’ve always loved bad girls! Which is good, since she narrates the book so there is a lot of her.
What makes your book different from other books out there in the same genre?
It contains the phrase “lief or loath” (an archaic way of saying “willing or unwilling”), which I have been waiting to use in a story since I was fourteen years old.
But aside from being written by an ENORMOUS NERD, what makes it different? Well, it’s not just a retelling of Beauty and the Beast; it’s a multi-fairytale fusion. And one of the main elements in the fusion is not exactly a fairy tale; it’s the myth of Cupid and Psyche. I haven’t seen any retellings of that story since C. S. Lewis’s TILL WE HAVE FACES.
Plus, instead of being a good girl/bad boy romance, it’s a bad girl/bad boy romance. I don’t think that’s very common.
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?
I really like listening to music when I write—every project has a playlist—and sometimes, if a song is really working for a scene, I’ll play it on infinite repeat. Which is why I spend a lot of time writing in my bedroom with the door shut.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
J. R. R. Tolkien, who is classic for a reason.
Laini Taylor, who makes me weep crystalline tears because my prose isn’t that pretty.
Tim Powers, who is one of the reasons I am addicted to writing novels with eight million Weird Things smashed together.
R. J. Anderson, who writes very thoughtful and unusual YA/MG novels.
Hiromu Arakawa, who wrote the most epically epic manga in the history of epicness (also: amazing female characters).
What are you reading now?
For the first time since college, I am rereading the Iliad, Homer’s epic poem about the Trojan War. It is almost, but not entirely, unlike the movie TROY. It is also pretty much the first stop in the history of Western literature, and it’s strange and brutal and beautiful. And despite being very alien sometimes, it is also very human.
What advice can you give to struggling writers?
Don’t be dignified.
When I was in my early teens I wrote a lot of terrible, terrible stories, because that’s what you do when you’re starting out. But my terrible stories were also very melodramatic. When I started to claw my way towards better writing skills, I became very ashamed of my earlier writings, and I decided that the melodrama was part of the problem. So I spent years trying to write stories that were dignified. And it’s not that the time was wasted, because I was writing, and it’s not that the stories were all bad, because they had their good points. But they were resoundingly mediocre.
And then one day I thought, “Forget this. I’m going to write a book that’s crazy and melodramatic and completely embarrassing.”
So I did. It was the most fun that I’d had in years. That book was not CRUEL BEAUTY. But writing it made me realize that if a book isn’t melodrama, it’s dead on the page for me. (When writing, that is. I’ve loved reading plenty of books that are perfectly respectable.) And that realization was what gave me the courage to write CRUEL BEAUTY.
So my advice is: forget dignity. Write what you love.
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund HodgePublished by HarperCollins on 2014-01-28
Genres: Family, Fantasy & Magic, General, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.
Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.
With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.
As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.
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