Wednesday, July 9, 2008
I announced A Curse as Dark as Gold several months ago, and it's one of those books that have stayed on my to-read list, only to be crowded out by books sent by various authors and publishers. I went ahead and asked Elizabeth C. Bunce for an interview anyway, because a number of you seemed really interested in her novel. She kindly consented to answer any follow-up questions that I may have after I do read her novel.
In the meantime, she's given us all some wonderful teasers below!
Please tell us a little bit about A CURSE DARK AS GOLD and about your inspiration for this novel.
My inspiration for this novel was, of course, the fairy tale "Rumpelstiltskin," particularly the miller's daughter and the concept of spinning straw into gold. As a fairy tale enthusiast, I was fascinated that a story about the power of names has an anonymous heroine. And as a needlewoman, I was instinctively drawn to gold thread. My interest in history led me to the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, and those three ideas, somehow, were a natural fit.
Tell us about your favorite scene in A CURSE DARK AS GOLD.
I'm not sure I have a favorite scene, but there are some moments I'm particularly fond of: Charlotte and Randall at the tenterfields, Harte falling from the ladder, the big reveal at the crossroads, Uncle Wheeler's last scene. I think the reasons these spring to mind for me is because they came out almost exactly as I'd envisioned them, in the first draft, and that's always satisfying--to see a key moment almost write itself.
What about any scene that may have given you trouble?
The scene that gave me the most trouble actually didn't make it into the final book. I originally had Charlotte and Randall meet at a very ill-fated dinner party, where everyone was on their absolute worst behavior. I must have written six or seven different versions of the scene, and something about it just never worked. It was a fun scene--lots of awkward conversation, outrageous snobbery from Uncle Wheeler, and scandalous commentary from Rosie--but it involved several characters who were cut from the final story, and it just became cumbersome. So when I finally decided to axe it, it was actually with relief (although my mother did wonder what had become of it when she read the published book!).
Have you completed any other novels besides A CURSE DARK AS GOLD? If so, can we expect to see any of them in print?
CURSE was actually the second novel I finished. The first is another retelling that may or may not ever see the light of day. I've just sold two more books to Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, and the first of those, currently called STARCROSSED, will be published in the fall of 2010.
Please share with us the story of how A CURSE DARK AS GOLD came to be published.
I belong to a wonderful critique group called Juvenile Writers of Kansas City. In 2004, we held our first big conference, where I met my agent, Erin Murphy. Inspired by the conference scene, I started looking for other such opportunities, and learned of an event near my parents' new home in Arizona. When I researched the faculty, I found a wonderful interview with Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books editor Cheryl Klein, talking about a book she'd edited, Kate Constable's wonderful THE SINGER OF ALL SONGS. I had really enjoyed that novel, so I read a little more closely... and when Cheryl said SINGER reminded her of her favorite childhood novel--MY favorite childhood novel!--I thought there was a really good chance she'd connect with my work (and even if she didn't, Arizona's a lovely place to be in November). As it happened, I was right! It took me several more months to finish the novel and get it to Cheryl, and the rest you know.
Please tell us about when you first realized that you are a storyteller, and about any authors who may have inspired you.
I've always told myself stories about imaginary people--when I was in third or fourth grade I drew a series of goofy picture books about best friends (both girls) named Stanley and Pickle Relish (I don't know). When I was about twelve, though, I started wondering why I still had so many odd companions populating my thoughts--hadn't most kids grown out of their imaginary friends long ago? But I couldn't shake them, and I finally put the pieces together when I was a sophomore in high school, and realized that the books that I loved were written by real people, as a job, and that I could do that, too. That was the moment I got really serious about my writing, and started studying my favorite authors for craft, particularly authors who wrote really lush fantasy with an incredible voice, like Peter S. Beagle and Robin McKinley.
Do you have anything else you would like to add?
Thank you so much for this opportunity! I hope your readers enjoyed it.