A Wicked Thing in 3 GIFs!

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Guys. Guys, guys, guys. Guess what?

A WICKED THING is out TODAY!

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Happy birthday to it!

A WICKED THING is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, starting with the kiss that wakes her…

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But Aurora is less *swoon* to find herself kissed by a strange prince and more…

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Which is unfortunate, since everyone is kind of expecting them to be in love and get married and save the kingdom and live happily ever after. But it’s difficult for Aurora to say no to this whole true love marriage thing, especially when everyone around her starts being all…

tumblr_m2358aixbn1rp2zn0o1_r1_250And how can Aurora win when the whole world has changed while she slept?

About the Book

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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 fairy tale.

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.

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.

A WICKED THING is available now!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million | Chapters | IndieBound

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, is available now.

ALL FOUR KIDS: Interview with Livia Blackburne, author of Midnight Thief

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Today we’re lucky enough to be hosting Livia Blackburne, whose debut novel MIDNIGHT THIEF is out now!

MIDNIGHT THIEF was one of my most anticipated reads of the year (seriously, the release date was penned into my diary and everything), so I was really excited to get my hands on it and chat with Livia.

Here’s the official summary:

17566814Growing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs.

But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.

Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease.

When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival—and vengeance—might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra’s past that threatens to reshape both their lives.

And MIDNIGHT THIEF doesn’t disappoint! It’s a classic fantasy, full of adventure and assassins and surprising twists, and I loved every minute of it.

RT: You’ve said that Midnight Thief was partly inspired by your love of Tamora Pierce books. I was a massive fan of her books too! What was your favorite thing about her writing that you wanted to recreate?

LB: It seems like a whole generation of YA authors grew up on Tamara Pierce, doesn’t it? I loved her Song of the Lioness series, and I what drew me to the series was Alanna’s character. I loved how she was a total badass in terms of physical prowess but still had so much to learn about life and love. In that way, I think my main character Kyra is very similar.

RT: Midnight Thief is told from two perspectives: a thief and a knight. Why did you decide to split the book? Was it difficult to write from two very different character perspectives at once?

LB: I split the perspectives out of necessity, because the two of them don’t meet until about halfway through the book. I needed to write from both their points of view in order to convey the story. And it was so hard! Kyra was very easy to write because she is very similar to me, but I lose count of the number of times I rewrote Tristam’s chapters. It was really difficult for me to get inside a guy’s head, and it took many iterations before he came to life. If you want to read a funny story about me attempting to write a male point of view, check out this blog post here.

RT: If you had to pick, who’s your favorite character in Midnight Thief, the one you’re most excited for readers to meet?

LB: I have this unhealthy obsession with James the head of the Assassins Guild, because he such an intriguing and morally ambiguous character. Depending on whether you read Midnight Thief or Poison Dance first, it you’ll have a very different view of him, and I like that. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s drop dead sexy.

RT: How did you go about building the world for Midnight Thief? What came first — the world itself, the characters in it, or the plot?

LB: Midnight Thief started with the idea of a talented girl thief whose conscience gets in the way of her job. I also came up with the idea of the novel’s central plot twist at about the same time. The world building came last, and a lot of it actually came after I sold the book. Much of the lore and scene setting was done at the suggestion of my awesome editors.

RT: You say on your website you started Midnight Thief in highschool, to get out of a mandatory camping requirement. And your characters certainly spend a lot of time adventuring in the woods! Any connection there?

LB: Ha! Maybe not the fact that they spend a lot of time in the forest. I think that just happens a lot in fantasies. But I did get a kick out of the fact that Kyra is a city girl who feels really uncomfortable and out of place in the forest. If you’re looking for a capable fantasy woodsperson, Kyra is not your woman.

RT: You also wrote a prequel novella in the Midnight Thief world, Poison Dance. How was the experience of writing a novella different from writing a full-length novel?

LB: Structure wise, the novella was of course much simpler. There were only two plot threads, and it was a nice bit of instant gratification (relatively speaking) to have something completed so quickly.

The biggest difference for me when writing poison dance though, was the fact that it was written from the point of view of a 25-year-old hardened male assassin — a far cry from the teenage girls I usually write. Getting to James’s head was a big challenge, and I had a great deal of fun analyzing books with badass male characters to get my head into that space. I blogged about that in a series of blog posts I coined Operation chest hair (episode one on love, and two on grief).That whole experience helped me grow greatly as a writer.

RT: Finally, as this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you are afraid of and something you are not afraid of.

LB: I’m horribly afraid of spiders, but not afraid of snakes at all (Well, I have healthy respect for any snake that has of my path, but I don’t get the full on irrational fear reaction I get to spiders.). I’ve always wondered about this, because my parents are scared of both. But somehow, I picked up on one phobia and not the other.

RT: Thanks Livia, and congratulations on the fantastic debut!

About Livia:

liviablackburneLivia Blackburne wrote her first novel while she was a PhD student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she conducted research on the neuroscience of reading acquisition in children. Upon graduation, she switched to writing full time. Livia still blogs about the intersection of literature and neuroscience.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS


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.

An Interview with Anne Blankman, Author of Prisoner of Night and Fog

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Today, the Fearless Fifteeners are lucky enough to be hosting Anne Blankman, whose gorgeous and heartbreaking debut PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG is now out!

Here’s the official summary:

17668473In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG isn’t always an easy book to read. At times, it’s dark and terrifying, as any book about Nazi Germany should be. But it’s definitely worth reading, especially by people who loved CODE NAME VERITY and THE BOOK THIEF. Its a read-all-in-one-go, heart-in-your-throat, terrified-for-the-characters, unable-to-stop kind of book, and it’s worth every second.

RT:  Where did the initial idea for Prisoner of Night and Fog come from?

AB: The idea came to me after I learned about Geli Raubal, Hitler’s beloved half niece who shared his luxurious Munich apartment. I couldn’t stop wondering what it must have been like to be a young girl growing up within the Nazi elite’s inner circle–and if it would have been possible to break free from it. Although Geli is a character in Prisoner of Night and Fog, I knew I needed the freedom of a fictional protagonist, so Gretchen Müller was born. Once I figured out how I could open Gretchen’s eyes to what was really happening all around her, I started writing.

RT: What influenced you while writing Prisoner of Night and Fog? Were
there any songs, books, movies, paintings, or anything like that that colored the story you were writing?

AB: I always have to listen to music when I write. Prisoner of Night and Fog has an official playlist and you can listen to it for free here: http://www.epicreads.com/blog/reading-playlist-prisoner-of-night-and-fog/

RT: In order to write Prisoner of Night and Fog, you had to get inside the head of a character who at least initially believes that Hitler is a good person. Can you tell us a bit about the experience of that?

AB: It was very hard! At first, I was scared to write from the perspective of someone who initially cares for Hitler–I was concerned that people would think I was a Nazi. But I knew that if I wanted readers to go on this journey with Gretchen, they needed to understand where she’s coming from.

In order to write the beginning, before Gretchen starts questioning her Nazi beliefs, I absolutely could not let myself think about the Holocaust. I tried to keep my mind rooted in the events of 1931, so that I was concentrating only on the things my characters know about.

RT: What was the most difficult part of writing the book?

AB: Figuring out how to portray Hitler, no question. The more I researched him, the more I realized that the man I thought of as Hitler–the hate-spewing, shouting politician–was only a part of a very complicated man. This will sound almost obscene, but Hitler could be very charming. He fancied himself a bit of a ladies’ man, and loved giving courtly, old-fashioned compliments to women. He was smart. He loved opera and dogs, and he was a crack shot. When he was a soldier during WWI, he took tremendous risks with his own safety to deliver messages.

The more I investigated, however, the more convinced I became that Hitler was deliberately evil–I say deliberately because I think he knew what he was doing was wrong and he chose to do it anyway. So what I tried to do was fit together the different pieces of this fragmented man into one cohesive, realistic whole.

RT: You did a lot of research on 1930s Germany for Prisoner of Night and Fog. Did you stumble across anything particularly interesting that didn’t make it into the book?

AB: Hitler loved Walt Disney cartoons. Absolutely loved them. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was one of his favorites. And he used to go around whistling “Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf?”, the tune from the Three Little Pigs cartoon. (Incidentally, he liked to call himself Herr Wolf!)

RT: Was there anything about the story that surprised you as you were writing it? Any unexpected plot-twists, characters who weren’t what you thought they were?

AB: I didn’t surprise myself while I was writing Prisoner, but I was shocked by some of the historical details I uncovered. It’s too spoilery to reveal the one that upset me the most, but I’ll give you a hint–it’s two words, the first beginning with a “C,” the second with a “G,” and it has to do with Gretchen’s brother Reinhard. If you’ve already read the book, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Most readers, when they get to that part, will probably think I made it up, but I promise it really existed.

RT: Can you give us a hint about what you’re working on next?

AB: I’m working on revisions for Prisoner of Night and Fog #2. I’m not allowed to say much yet, not even the title (which I love!), but I can tell you that Gretchen and Daniel are the main characters again. There’s even more danger, romance, and murder this time around.

In between edits, I’m drafting the third book on my contract. It’s a standalone YA romantic historical mystery and features a new cast of characters and setting. I’m ridiculously excited about it!

Thanks so much for having me, Rhiannon!

RT: Thanks so much for joining us, Anne, and congratulations on your amazing debut!


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About Anne:

A native New Yorker, Anne Blankman now lives in southeastern Virginia where the hot summers haven’t killed her yet. For several years, she has worked as a youth services librarian. Prisoner of Night and Fog is her first novel.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS

 

 


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.

ALL FOUR KIDS: An Interview with Sharon Biggs Waller, author of A Mad Wicked Folly

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Today we’re interviewing OneFourKidLit author Sharon Biggs Waller, whose debut novel A MAD WICKED FOLLY comes out today!

Here’s the official summary for A MAD WICKED FOLLY:

A Mad Wicked FollyWelcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist—a nearly impossible dream for a girl.

After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse—or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?

I feel so lucky that I got to read A MAD WICKED FOLLY early. I fell in love with it pretty much from the first page, and stayed up until 4am because I simply had to finish it. It’s lush and thought-provoking and emotional and addictive, and I can’t wait for everyone else to discover how fabulous this book is too!

RT: A Mad, Wicked Folly is a novel about a young artist attempting to find her place in restrictive Edwardian England against the backdrop of the Suffragette movement. What was your initial inspiration for the book? An idea, a character, a song, a painting?

SBW: My first inspiration for the story was the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst in Victoria Tower Gardens in London.  When I lived in England I used to walk by it and I’d think about what life was like for women and teenage girls during the suffrage movement. What if you wanted to be something other than a wife and mother and then be told you couldn’t do it because you were a girl? I couldn’t get this idea out of my head but I was told that historical fiction wasn’t selling, so I didn’t pursue the story.  When I moved back to the US, I decided to write what I wanted to write, regardless of the market, and Vicky’s story started to take shape.

RT: In A Mad, Wicked Folly, Vicky’s favorite painting is A Mermaid by John William Waterhouse. What was it about this painting that made you connect it to Vicky?

SBW: The theme of mermaids kept popping up while I was writing the story. I really think mermaids and the women’s movement had a lot in common.  Mermaids are independent and carefree beings, living their lives as they want to.  Yet, they are looked at with suspicious and cast as these wanton creatures out to destroy men.  When I thought about what Vicky’s favorite painter would be I knew it would be Waterhouse because he was around during the Edwardian era and was considered a modern Pre-Raphaelite.  I knew that Vicky would have to find inspiration through works hung in the RA because it was a place she could get to on her own.  I’ve always loved the painting A Mermaid but I didn’t know that it’s housed in the Royal Academy of Arts.  When I discovered that it had hung there during my book’s time period I knew it had to be Vicky’s favorite.  It fit perfectly into the story for so many reasons. Sadly, the painting isn’t out on display at the RA anymore.  At least it wasn’t when I was there a couple of years ago, so I’ve never seen it in real life.

RT: Do you have a favorite painting? Is it the same as Vicky’s?

SBW: It is!  It’s A Mermaid.

RT: The novel features a few real people, such as the Pankhurst sisters. How did you go about researching their personalities and their lives? And were any of the other characters inspired by real people or stories from the time?

SBW: I started by interviewing a curator at the Museum of London.  She was very helpful and she answered so many questions for me.  I looked through the museum archives and read a lot of letters and looked at photos. It was there that I learned about Sylvia and how she was the WSPU’s main artist.  I bought several books about the Pankhursts in the museum, including one called Sylvia Pankhurst, A Maverick Life by Shirley Harrison, which is where I got a lot of information about her life and how she felt about her art and women’s rights.  I also had the good fortune to talk with her granddaughter, Dr. Helen Pankhurst.

The character of Lucy Hawkins is modeled on two American suffragettes: Alice Paul and Lucy Burns.  Both women were living in England during my story’s timeframe and were part of the WSPU.  Alice Paul was said to be very brusque with women who weren’t taking part in the movement, and so I gave Lucy Hawkins that same type of personality.  By the way, Iron Jawed Angels is a great film about Paul, Burns, and the American suffrage movement.  I highly recommend it.

RT: You’re American, but you spent a few years living in the UK. What inspired you to write about the English Suffragettes, rather than the American movement?

SBW: The English movement was much more militant than the American movement.  Although Alice Paul was force-fed and women were arrested, it was nothing like what the Brits went through, so there was a lot of drama built in already.  The Brits had the added tension of class structure, as well, but ultimately the story was set in the UK because Vicky is British!  : )

RT: If Vicky were at Hogwarts, what house would she be sorted into? And what house would she think she should be sorted into?

SBW: Oh, I love this question! I think Vicky would be sorted into Slytherin, simply because the house is all about ambition and resourcefulness.  And Slytherins will do anything to get what they want.  That’s certainly Vicky! But she would probably assume she’d be sorted into Ravenclaw because of the creativity and wit required of that house.

RT: As this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you’re afraid of, and something you’re not afraid of.

I’m terrified of clowns.  Absolutely terrified of them!  I won’t even look at pictures of them.  I’m not afraid of snakes.  I used to be a park ranger and I ran programs about them, and I even had a live milk snake as a visual aid.

Thanks so much, Sharon! Congratulations again on a fabulous debut!

About Sharon:

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Sharon Biggs Waller grew up around artists and developed a passion for Edwardian history and the Pre-Raphaelites when she moved to England in 2000. She did extensive research on the British suffragettes for her novel, A MAD, WICKED FOLLY when she wasn’t working as a riding instructor at the Royal Mews in Buckingham Palace and as a freelance magazine writer. She also writes non-fiction books about horses under her maiden name, Sharon Biggs. She is a dressage rider and trainer and lives on a 10-acre sustainable farm in Northwest Indiana with her British husband, Mark.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS | FACEBOOK

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.

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.