I’m participating in the Egmont Last List hop hosted by Cuddlebuggery. Learn more about it here. I’m a huge fan of many of their books, and I’m so sad that Egmont is closing.
I am however, thrilled to bring you an interview with Sarah McGuire, author of Valiant, a retelling of The Brave Little Tailor. I’ve already read (and LOVED) this book, and it is definitely one to pre-order. Keep your eyes peeled for a review closer to the pub. date in April!
A debut fairy tale retelling featuring a strong female character and a daring quest just right for fans of Shannon Hale, Jessica Day George, and Gail Carson Levine.
Saville despises the bolts of velvet and silk that her father loves- he’s always prized them more than he’s ever loved her. Yet when he’s struck ill, she’ll do anything for him to survive, even donning boys’ clothes and begging a commission to sew for the king.
Piecing together a fine coat is far simpler than unknotting court gossip about an army of giants led by a man who cannot be defeated. And they’re marching toward Reggen to seize the throne. But Saville knows giants are just stories, and no man is immortal.
Then she meets them, two scouts as tall as trees. She tricks them into leaving, but tales of the daring tailor’s triumph quickly spin into impossible feats of giant-slaying. And mere stories won’t deter the Duke and his larger-than-life army. Now only a courageous and clever tailor girl can see beyond the rumors to save the kingdom again.
Valiant richly reimagines “The Brave Little Tailor,” transforming it into a story of understanding, identity, and fighting to protect those you love most.
Her debut novel, Valiant, will release from Egmont USA in April 2015. Find her on Twitter, Goodreads, or on her website.
- Valiant is a retelling of The Brave Little Tailor. What inspired you to retell this story, and write Valiant?
I was getting ready to start a new novel for a workshop, and I knew I wanted it to be a retelling. So I pulled Grimm’s from the bookshelf and started looking through it. I reread many tales that I liked, but kept thinking about the Brave Little Tailor (which I had skipped over) because it was one of my least favorite stories. I never liked how the tailor tricked the stupid giants. It seemed kind of cruel to me- like a calculus teacher taunting kindergarteners about not knowing all their math facts. Then, I started wondering what would happen if the tailor was a girl. Because suddenly I knew she’d be girl … and then I knew I had to write this story.
•Could you share a little bit about your path to publication?
I decided in 2006 that I wanted to take writing seriously. So I joined SCBWI, found a critique group, and got to work. I spent years working on a story- a retelling of Cinderella. Every time I learned some new aspect of writing– scenes, characterization, etc– I’d go back through the entire novel and revise. After a while, I felt confident that I could craft good individual chapters, but I was still struggling with how to structure a novel. So I applied to the Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program, and Harold Underdown chose me as one of his mentees! Over the next months, I learned a lot about how to fix the sagging middle. But after I’d done everything I could, I realized it was time to move on and apply everything I’d learned to something new. It wasn’t a traumatic decision– I was ready to move on. To keep my resolve to leave the old story behind, I joined a fantasy workshop with Patti Gauch in May 2012.
I wrote VALIANT over the summer, revised it based on Patti’s feedback, and sent it out to two wonderful agents on the deadline I’d given myself: Valentine’s Day 2013. In the end, both agents offered representation, and I signed with Tracey Adams at Adams Literary two months later. I did yet another round of revision on VALIANT, and then Tracey sent it out for submission. The lovely Alison Weiss (then at Egmont USA) bought VALIANT the first day of the school. (I might have been a slightly distracted teacher that day!)
If you only look at VALIANT, the road seems easy, but I’m absolutely convinced that all the work from the earlier novel made VALIANT possible. And this road isn’t finished! As you know, Egmont USA closed, so I’ll be finding a new home for my writing all over again- there is yet another bend in this road to publication.
• Saville is a great main character! How do you think you are similar to/ different from her? What would you do in her situation?
Oh, I’m so glad you liked Saville!
Saville typically says the things she wants to the first time around- which isn’t a bit like me! (I think that’s one reason I became a writer. It was a chance to “fix” all those conversations where I couldn’t figure out what to say until 3 hours later.) But one characteristic we DO share is that we take care of our own: our families and the people we love. I’m the oldest of four siblings, so maybe it’s the older sister issues on steroids. In fact, I loosely based one scene in the book on a time my siblings and I were outside playing baseball on the street in front of our house. I was fourteen, and I looked over and saw a seventeen year old raise a baseball bat over my six year old little brother. I still don’t remember charging across the road or what I said– I was that furious– but it never happened again.
What would I do in Saville’s situation? I’d definitely take care of Will, and I’d try to save the city, but I doubt I’d be half so witty or self-possessed. 🙂
• Do you have a specific place you like to write? What does your writing routine look like?
I’m a high school teacher with a busy schedule, so I write whenever I can. If there is any constant in it, it’s coffee. And that I try to draft new work over the summer when I have more time to immerse myself in the story. Much of VALIANT was written over the summer of 2012–I’d plant myself on my little sofa and just write. (There’s actually a dent in the sofa cushion.)
During the school year, I like to write at the local Barnes and Noble cafe. It’s a place where I can step away from everything else I need to do and just work. Besides, it’s a bit inspiring to write and wonder if your book will ever be on those shelves. When I have a deadline, I might take a nap when I get home from work, then take care of grading and lesson plans. After that, I write or revise– and I might work on that till well after midnight.
If you want to win a signed ARC of Valiant, then you can enter the following giveaway. Thanks for much to Sarah for offering up the prize! It is open to all North American residents. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks to Sarah for coming by, and to Cuddlebuggery for hosting this!