Introducing: Rhiannon Thomas

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Hi, everybody! *waves* I’m Rhiannon Thomas, author of A WICKED THING, an after-the-end retelling of Sleeping Beauty to be released in Winter 2015.

I’m originally from Yorkshire in England, but when I was 18, I moved to Princeton, NJ for college. In the process, I picked up an American accent, a taste for pumpkin pie, and a tendency to spell words without the letter “u.” I now split my time between New York and medieval old York, where I get constantly lost in the narrow streets.

The idea for A WICKED THING came to me while I was still in college and going through a nerdy lit student phase of analyzing and tearing apart the “happily ever after” endings of Jane Austen novels. Halfway through a semester dedicated to this research, I sat down with a friend to watch Sleeping Beauty. “But it’s so weird,” I said to her after the movie finished. “She doesn’t even know the prince.” But at least, in the Disney version, the princess has spoken to him before their happy ending. In most versions of the story, the prince is a complete stranger. How creepy, I thought, to be kissed by a stranger while you slept, and then told this random weirdo is actually your true love. Wouldn’t that be awkward at best? Even if that person would have been your “true love” under other circumstances, being presented with a complete stranger and being told “fate says you must be together!!” would definitely put some pressure on the relationship. Perhaps I’m just a contrary person, but I think it would put me off the whole thing, just on principle.

The more I thought about the end of the Sleeping Beauty story, the more weirdness I saw. In a lot of versions of the tale, the whole castle sleeps along with the princess, but what if they didn’t? The princess would wake up in an entirely different world for her “happily ever after.” And what about the years before she fell asleep? Whatever extreme measures her parents took to keep her safe from the curse would have to have had some effect on her. And how would people react to a princess magically waking up from true love’s kiss after a hundred years? Would they believe in the romance of the whole thing? Would she be hyped up to be something she wasn’t? Or would people be suspicious? I couldn’t get the after of this “happily ever after” out of my head.

But I didn’t start writing it in earnest until I graduated college, moved back to England, and looked around at my suddenly planless life, thinking, “What next?” I knew I really wanted to be a writer, but the idea seemed pretty crazy… yet I had no other big plans while I applied to grad school, so I dove into the novel. It turned out to be the perfect time to write it. Aurora in A WICKED THING is a pretty lost protagonist. She doesn’t know what she’s supposed to do, or even what she wants to do. Her whole world has just changed, and she has no idea how she fits into it. Perhaps it seems melodramatic to compare that to the confusion of being a brand new college graduate, but my own stress and confusion at the time played a huge part in shaping Aurora’s story.

So for that first year out of college, I worked at a bookstore, struggled over my applications to study a PhD in English, and wrote like a maniac. Turns out, I didn’t want to go to grad school. I was just kind of in denial that ‘writer’ was the reckless and unstable way I wanted to go. A year after I graduated, shortly after my 24th birthday, I signed with the amazing Kristin Nelson at Nelson Literary Agency. A few months and a bit of revision after that, A WICKED THING went on submission to publishers, and found a home with the lovely Sarah Landis at HarperTeen a couple of weeks later. I was writing in Starbucks when I first got the news that HarperTeen were interested, and I think my squeals of delight must have scared everyone within a five mile radius. All in all, a pretty magical ending to the whole “omg I’m 23, what do I do after graduation??” debacle, although one I never would have thought might actually happen in those first few post-college months.

Here’s the full summary of A WICKED THING:

A spinning wheel. A prick of a finger. A terrible curse. 

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairytale.

Her family is long dead. Her “true love” is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept. Everyone expects Aurora to marry her betrothed and restore magic and peace to the kingdom before revolution tears it apart. But after a lifetime spent locked in a tower for her own safety, Aurora longs for the freedom to make her own choices. When she meets a handsome rebel, he tempts her to abandon everything for a different kind of life.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her.

With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

I can’t wait to see what 2014 will bring!

SBS130424-RHIANNONTHOMAS-023Rhiannon Thomas grew up in the north of England, but moved to the US in 2007 to study English Literature at Princeton University. She now lives in York, England, where she is attempting to master the art of making her own bubble tea. When she isn’t lost in YA fantasy, she writes about feminism in the media at her blog, FeministFiction.com. Her debut novel, A WICKED THING, will be released from HarperTeen in Winter 2015.
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