Shallee McArthur here today, and I’m the lucky duck who gets to interview Skylar Dorset, who’s book THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS releases today! It’s got all kinds of faerie lore in it, which makes me all kinds of excited to read it. Want to know more?
THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS is the story of Selkie Stewart, who thinks she’s a totally normal teenager growing up in Boston. Sure, her father is in an insane asylum, her mother left her on his doorstep—literally—when she was a baby, and she’s being raised by two ancient aunts who spend their time hunting gnomes in their Beacon Hill townhouse. But other than that her life is totally normal! She’s got an adventurous best friend who’s always got her back and an unrequited crush on an older boy named Ben. Just like any other teenager, right?
When Selkie goes in search of the mother she’s never known, she gets more than she bargained for. It turns out that her mother is faerie royalty, which would make Selkie a faerie princess—except for the part where her father is an ogre, which makes her only half of anything. Even more confusing, there’s a prophecy that Selkie is going to destroy the tyrannical Seelie Court, which is why her mother actually wants to kill her. Selkie has been kept hidden all her life by her adoring aunts, with the help of a Salem wizard named Will. And Ben. Because the boy she thinks she’s in love with turns out to be a faerie whose enchantment has kept her alive, but also kept her in the dark about her own life.
Now, with enchantments dissolved and prophecies swinging into action, Selkie finds herself on a series of mad quests to save the people she’s always loved and a life she’s learning to love. But in a supernatural world of increasingly complex alliances and distressingly complicated deceptions, it’s so hard to know who to trust. Does her mother really wish to kill her? Would Will sacrifice her for the sake of the prophecy? And does Ben really love her or is it all an elaborate ruse? In order to survive, Selkie realizes that the key is learning—and accepting—who she really is.
And now to the interview!
Shallee: I’m fascinated with faeries and faerie legend, so I’ve got to ask first– why did you decide to write about faeries (and ogres!)? How much did you rely on various faerie legends and stories, and how much of the world did you twist to make your own?
Skylar: I knew I wanted to write a fantasy novel, but I wasn’t quite sure what fantastical creatures I wanted to include. I happened somehow to stumble across reading about the Cottingley hoax, in which two young girls at the turn of the last century convinced people that they had taken photographs of real faeries. I loved that particular story of faerie lore so much that I decided I wanted to definitely include faeries in my book. As I let that be known to friends and family, I was surprised by how many hidden faerie-lovers come out of the woodwork with faerie-mythology books they loaned to me. I took some of what I found in the books, but almost everything got slightly twisted in translation, because I went with the theory that humans couldn’t possibly have gotten everything *right* in the stories they were telling. As for ogres and goblins and gnomes and the other creatures that show up, I tended to take the ideas for them from the supporting roles they had in the faerie research I was doing.
Shallee: Your story is set where you live in Boston, and you’ve got deep roots in New England. What is one of your favorite real-life New England places that you worked into THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS?
Skylar: Is it cheating to say all of Boston? I felt, before this book, I had written lots of books (that live on only in the deep recesses of my hard drive!) set in places I considered more “exotic” than the place where I lived. With this book, I was suddenly like, “You love it here. Why not make this book all about how awesome the place where you actually live is?” Probably my very favorite real-life Boston quirk that made it into the book is the lavender windowpanes. Beacon Hill really does have some lavender windowpanes, and I liked the idea of taking them and making them markers of supernatural creatures. The other Boston thing I love that made it into the book is the Bostonian attitude toward the subway. “Only the Green Line is evil” is a joke in the book that my Boston friends insisted I keep through many revisions.
Shallee: You mention on your website that you own a cardboard cutout of the Tenth Doctor from Doctor Who. (Swoon! David Tennant…) Which makes me want to know, what’s one of your favorite Doctor Who episodes and why?
Skylar: Oooh, this is a good question. I have spent more of my life considering what my favorite Doctor Who episode than is probably strictly healthy. I find that, in the end, my absolute favorite is “Tooth and Claw.” This is for purely personal reasons. Basically because I think David Tennant is *adorable* in that episode (SCOTTISH ACCENT, YOU GUYS – AND THAT MULTI-LAYERED LOOK HE’S ROCKING), and I think Ten and Rose are *adorable* in that episode (“Och! Aye! I’ve been oot and aboot!” “No, don’t do that”), and I have basically watched that TARDIS scene at the beginning when he sings “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” to Rose roughly 2794708201087872 times. Plus, on a less shallow note, how much does Queen Victoria rock?
(The rest of my top five, btw, because I just can’t resist telling all of you: Blink, Utopia, The Doctor Dances, Father’s Day. Bonus for The Eleventh Hour and A Christmas Carol, because, yes, I still do watch this show, I’ll just never get over the first few seasons of it. And forgive the list but I LOVE LISTS.)
Shallee: THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS contains a fascinating cast of characters. Who was one of your favorite secondary characters to write and why?
Skylar: Hmmmm. I think it was Will. Will is the wizard who I gave the back story of having founded Boston centuries ago, and once I gave him that back story, I basically became addicted to the idea of everything he’d been through. Who Will Is in one of my favorite games to play with myself. His dialogue is peppered with off-hand references to past events, and I just think there’s so much to him that we don’t get to see, and those are the most fun characters to write, the ones that really do have so much life off of your page.
Shallee: We all know what a long, high-and-low process it is to write a book. Can you share one of your “highs” of writing THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS?
Skylar: I once stayed up late into the night (or the early morning) listening to Andrew Belle’s album “The Ladder” on endless repeat and writing my way through some of the most emotional scenes in the book, and I remember going to bed just so in love with everyone in the book that I couldn’t fall asleep for ages.
Shallee: As if writing the book isn’t hard enough, publishing it can be even harder! What is one thing you wish you knew about the publishing world before you jumped into it?
Skylar: I wish I’d known the stages that books go through before they get published. Not just the straight editing of it but the copy-editing and the proofing, etc. Luckily, the folks at Sourcebooks have been stellar in walking me through this brave, new world!
Shallee: And finally, as we are the Fearless Fifteeners, inquiring minds want to know– what is something you’re afraid of? And what is something that doesn’t scare you at all?
Skylar: Something I’m afraid of: Cockroaches.
Something that doesn’t scare me at all: Spiders.
Shallee: Thanks a million for taking the time to tell us about your book, Boston, and everything else! You can find Skylar Dorset at her website and on Goodreads, and be sure to check out her book at the links above!
About Skylar Dorset:
Skylar’s first story was a tale of romantic intrigue involving two feuding factions of squirrels. Think “Romeo & Juliet” but with bushy tails and added espionage. She was seven.
Since that time, Skylar’s head has been filled with lots of characters and lots of drama. She is delighted to be able to share some of it with all of you now, because, honestly, it was getting pretty loud and crowded in there.
Skylar is a born-and-bred New Englander, which is why Boston was a natural setting for her debut novel, THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS. Skylar shares her home with a cardboard cutout of the Tenth Doctor, lots of Mardi Gras beads from the time she spent living in New Orleans, and a harp she’s supposed to be teaching herself to play. She’d like to get a dog.
|Shallee McArthur originally wanted to be a scientist, until she realized she liked science best in fictional form. Her debut YA sci fi, THE UNHAPPENING OF GENESIS LEE comes out November 2014 from Sky Pony Press. Her other adventures have included wrangling a group of volunteers in Ghana, changing her hairstyle way too often, and raising two small nerdlings with her husband.|