Darkstars Fantasy News


10. November 2012

Interview with Janette Rallison

Category: Interviews – Darkstar – 16:16

My Fair GodmotherAs a big fairy tale fan, I fell in love with Janette Rallisons first Chrissy Everstar-Novel „My fair godmother“ – which is simply great. I highly recommend this book to all who love fairy tales and romantic comedies.

As this summer Rallisons second Godmother-novel „My unfair Godmother“ came out in Germany, I asked the author for an interview and talked with her about weird working habbits, inspiration and the craziest thing she’s ever done. Enjoy! 

Interview with Janette Rallison

In „My fair godmother“ your main character Savannah had to re-live parts of the fairy tales Cinderella, Snow White and some others. What’s up in store for Tansy, the heroine of your second godmother novel?

Since Chrissy the not-so-competent fairy godmother is involved, you can be sure that things won’t go smoothly for Tansy. When she makes wishes, she finds herself dealing with Robin Hood (who is charming but not as altruistic as the movies make him seem) King John (who is as bad as the movies make him seem) and Rumpelstiltskin (who makes way more sense in my book than he ever did in the original fairy tale.)

How is Tansy different from Savannah?

Savannah is a basically a happy teenage girl who perhaps isn’t living up to her potential because she sees school as a social experience instead of a place to learn things. Life was going great for her until her sister steals her boyfriend.

Tansy, on the other hand, has a chip on her shoulder. She’s never forgiven her father for divorcing her mother and leaving the family, so when she’s sent to live with her father, she’s doubly unhappy. She does well in school except for in English. She purposely fails that class just to tick off her father.

That said, both girls are basically good at heart and do love their families despite their problems.

What inspired you to write the Fair Godmother books in the first place?

I was asked to write a short play for my daughter’s church group. The theme was fractured fairy tales. I wrote a play about a girl who asked her fairy godmother for a prince and got sent to be Cinderella and Snow White—which as you know, would actually not be much fun since both jobs involve a lot of housework.

My daughter was the original Chrysanthemum Everstar. I had envisioned her being a busy, overworked fairy, but my daughter played her as a teenage ditzy fairy and so that’s how she’s been ever since.

I love the way you analyze details of fairy tales within the books, such as Savannah realizing that it must have been winter when Snow White took the apple, because otherwise she wouldn’t have craved it so much. It seems you put a lot of thoughts into it. Are you a fairy tale fan yourself?

FeensommerAs a kid, I loved Fairy Tales. When adults asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said I was going to be a princess. I’m still sad that career option never panned out. I could use a tiara.

I’m also the type of person who wants a story to make sense. I’ve always wondered why Snow White was such a sucker for the evil queen’s gifts. In my story, I had to find reasons for Snow White’s actions—the biggest reason being that Snow White is not all that bright.

Which one is your favorite fairy tale?

That’s hard to say, because I like a lot of fairy tales. I love the moral in „Beauty and the Beast“, the mystery in the „Twelve Dancing Princesses“, and the message in „The Princess and the Pea“. ( I need a comfortable mattress or I can’t sleep. This proves that secretly I am a princess.)

However, when it comes right down to it, I guess I’ll have to say my favorite is „Cinderella“. I’d like to think that when someone is good, pure, and hardworking, they get to go to the ball and marry a handsome prince.

Also that analyzes could come in handy should you ever decide to write a fairy tale fantasy novel (not a mix-up, but a re-imagining). Any plans? (I think I read somewhere that you think about a Cinderella adaption. What is the status quo on that one?)

It’s funny, but while writing „My Fair Godmother“, I came up with a plot idea for a novel length Cinderella story and when I wrote „My Unfair Godmother“ I came up with a plot idea for a novel length Rumpelstiltskin adaptation. I’ve been so busy writing other novels (I also write under the pen name CJ Hill) I haven’t gotten to either of those books yet. But I do want to write them someday.

What about a third Fairy Godmother novel? Will there be one (and if so, which fairy tales will you weave into it)?

I haven’t started it yet, but I’ve been thinking about the plot and trying to work it out. Hopefully I’ll start writing it by the end of the year. Things may change, but right now I’m planning on using „The Little Mermaid“ and „The Twelve Dancing Princesses“.

Snow White and the HuntsmanFairy tales seem to be cool in the tv and movie industry right now. You’ve got tv shows such as „Grimm“ and „Once Upon A Time“ and earlier this year we had not one, but two Snow White movies. Why do you think fairy tales are so popular recently?

Fairy tales are familiar. People already know the basic story and they like those stories. That makes it easier to get an audience, but harder to write a good story. You have to stay within the parameters the story already has, but you have to be different enough that the audience feels like it’s still new and interesting.

I honestly think „My fair godmother“ would make a GREAT Hollywood romantic comedy movie. Any chance we’ll get a movie version soon?

There are no plans soon, but who knows. Maybe one day Hollywood will want to put Chrissy on the screen.

When did you start writing and how did you realize that you have a talent for it?

I started writing stories before I actually could read. I used to dictate stories to my parents and then to my older brother when they got tired of that job. Unfortunately my older brother didn’t see my genius at the time. I would tell him, „Mary walked into the kitchen.“ And he would write, „Janette is an idiot.“

My teachers in school always told me that I had a talent for writing. A few years ago, I went back and reread a novel I started when I was a teenager. It turns out that my teachers were being kind in their praise. It was pitifully bad writing. Fortunately, I didn’t realize this at the time and I kept practicing. Eventually I got good at it.

Would you share with us how an ordinary working day looks like for you?

My Unfair GodmotherI get up, get my youngest daughter off to school, listen to an inspirational talk while I clean the kitchen and tell myself that I will spend a half an hour answering email. Two hours later, I realize I need to get work done and I go write until it’s time for all the kids to come home from school. (I have four kids still at home) I try to stop writing once they come home from school and be a mom. If I’m on a deadline though, I will often stay in my bedroom writing for as long as I can. Frequently I’m writing into the early hours of the morning.

Do you have any strange habits while writing on a novel?

I can’t think of anything strange. I used to write in all sorts of noise—while watching my kids‘ soccer games, things like that. Now I like to have it absolutely quiet while I write. I’m not as good at blocking out distractions as I used to be.

Why did you decide to write for a teenage audience mainly?

I have daughters who love to read and I wanted to write the sorts of books they like to read. Also I like the genre because it works well for comedy. Anything will embarrass teenagers. For example, it embarrasses them just to have parents. Never mind that all of their friends have parents too, they are perfectly mortified if at any time (in the mall, at the grocery store, in the school parking lot) you happen to let it slip that you are their parent. Horror of horrors! The shame is palpable.

So yeah, you can write about things like a girl being caught at the mall shopping for a bra and it doesn’t take much to turn it into a funny situation. The same thing just wouldn’t work in adult comedy.

And why did you decide to write a fantasy novel after your more realistic novels?

I’ve always liked books with fantasy elements. I actually wanted to write the book Slayers (under my pen name, CJ Hill) for years before I actually did. It’s a book about teens who are descended from a special group of medieval knights and so they have superpowers to fight dragons. Dragons are coming back into the world, and they aren’t the friendly sort of dragons, they’re the type that want to eat you.

I read your blog and I love the way you tell about your (writing) life. How comes you are so funny (and when I say funny, I mean funny in a good way, not the weird way)?

You can look at life and stress out about things, or you can laugh about them. I think it’s easier to laugh at them so I usually try to look for the humor in situations.

What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

As a teen I did some crazy things—most of which I wouldn’t recommend. I remember once catching a ride from the airport to my home town (about an hour and a half trip) with a guy I hardly knew. What was crazier was that it was a winter night, it was snowing and the car had no heat. We wrapped ourselves in blankets and he set candles on his dashboard to melt the ice on the windshield so he could see to drive. As you can imagine, a candle doesn’t heat up a lot of a windshield, so he was basically seeing out of about three inches of his windshield.

That’s one of those times when I think I must have had a guardian angel watching over me, because I was clearly too foolish to make rational decisions.

If you could meet a fictional character – both from your own work or from someone else’s – who would it be and why?

Interesting question. I’d meet Dumbledore so I could tell him the horcrux in The Half Blood Prince was a fake. Not only would I save Dumbledore’s life, he’d probably be so grateful he’d grant me magical powers or something. I’d settle for a house elf. I could really use one of those.

And If Chrissy would show up at your doorstep insisting to be your fairy godmother – what would you wish for (realizing she won’t go unless you make a wish)?

Knowing Chrissy, I should ask for something really simple like a piece of pie. It would be hard to mess that up. But knowing me, I would ask for something like having more time to get things done, and I would be thrown into the Middle Ages. Chrissy just likes sending people there.

Could you please tell us a little bit about the project you are working on at the moment?

SlayersRight now I’m working on the sequel to „Slayers„. My characters are fighting the villain’s men and a dragon. I’ve had to do lots of research on guns, flash grenades, and the layout of the White House.

Sometimes I worry that the FBI will wonder about me and put me on a terrorist watch list. Ah, the sacrifices writers make for their books!

Thank you!

You can visit Janette Rallisons author site here and her blog here.

To visit C. J. Hills website, click here.

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