Sunday, June 26, 2016

Author guest post: The top 10 fairytales and how they've influenced my life by Chantal Gadoury

It’s a pleasure to welcome YA author Chantal Gadoury to the blog today. Chantal first featured on my blog a while back when her first novel, Seven Seeds of Summer, a retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth was released.

Chantal is clearly an author after my own heart because not only is she a fan of mythology, but with her latest novel Allerleirauh, which is a retelling of the Grimm’s tale with the same name (in some versions, this story is also known as All Fur or All Kinds of Fur), she explores her love of fairy tales, by putting her own spin on the book.

In today’s post she talks about the top 10 fairy tales that have influenced her most and shares her thoughts on how they’ve shaped her love of all things fairy tales.

Before I hand over to her though, here’s some information on the book. 

Allerleirauh by Chantal Gadoury

A King makes a promise to his dying wife to marry only someone with her golden hair. The King finds his eyes are turned by his maturing daughter's beauty.

Realizing her father's intentions, Princess Aurelia decides to sacrifice her life and escapes the Kingdom disguised in a cloak of a thousand furs.

Aurelia enters the Kingdom of Saarland der Licht and is taken under the wing of Prince Klaus.

Aurelia must face herself and her fears in her journey of self-discovery.

Add it to your TBR pile here.

Visit Chantal's Goodreads profile for more information about her.

Over to Chantal! Thanks for stopping by.
The top 10 fairy tales and how they've influenced my life

10. When I was younger, “Sleeping Beauty” was my favorite Disney movie. My uncle made a recording of it for me, so I could have my own copy since it hadn’t been on VHS for so long.

I watched and re-watched that movie so often that it started to have “tracking issues.” (Remember those days when you had to hit the tracking button on your remote control?)

“Sleeping Beauty” influenced my ideals of love, and how magical it could be. I might have even spent a majority of my life hoping I would meet a dashing Prince in the woods, just the way Briar Rose had in the movie.   

9. Who doesn’t love “Peter Pan”? Everyone wants to stay young and have fun. Growing up is just completely overrated, now that I, myself am grown up.

My Dad always was up for watching “Peter Pan” or the Hollywood version “Hook.” I was completely obsessed with this story when I was in what would be considered junior high (I went to school in a Jr/Sr High School, so we were all meshed up together).

For speech class, I read a chapter out loud and I would carry the novel around with me. When the 2003 live-action film came out in theaters, my sister and I went to see it.

The story of Peter Pan and Neverland has become to mean more to me now with the loss of my father. Sometimes I like to think to myself that he’s up there, second star to the right and straight on til morning.

Side note: I recently read a retelling of Peter Pan which was super fantastic. The book is called Unhooked and it's written by Lisa Maxwell. Read my review here.

8. This might not be a real “fairy tale” in the conventional way that we consider them, but “Phantom of the Opera” to me classifies as one. I was in 5th grade when I first discovered Andrew Lloyd Webber’s masterpiece and I was hooked from the Overture.

Some of my classmates were lucky enough to see it through chorus, while I discovered the story via books, the music and the Internet. I remember going to the library and checking out Gaston Leroux’s story, and trying to understand it at that age – I surely didn’t, mind you.

My classmates and I even made a “Phantom of the Outhouse” in which we performed for our classroom and teacher (I, of course, was Christine!).   

7. When I think of “Rapunzel” aka “Tangled,” I think about my last year in college. “Tangled” came out on my 22nd birthday:  November 24th 2010. 

I was a senior at Susquehanna University, where I was studying Creative Writing.

I think it was one of the first times I had a major wake-up-call about my life, and how far I had allowed Disney to influence my ideals of a relationship.

I had grown up with beautiful images of Ariel and Eric, or Belle and the Beast, and thought my life too, would be just as magical. When I saw Flynn and Rapunzel, I really thought I had finally found the “Disney couple” that me and my boyfriend-at-the-time could most relate to.

Flynn had a sense of humor and a certain way of saying things that was more relatable to our generation – to our day and time, rather than the classics that reflected more of their own current times.

I recall my boyfriend-at-the-time saying to me during a fight shortly afterwards, “Chantal, I’m not a Disney Prince. I’m *His Name*” – and I stopped. I seriously paused, hated myself and hated him for not being what I wanted him to be.

 I hated that he wasn’t ever going to be that Prince in the woods, or the Prince who woke me from a slumber. He wasn’t going to offer me a huge, beautiful library or search after me with a shoe. It was a rough time to realize what I had been doing for so long; giving people roles from Disney films instead of accepting them for who they truly were.

Needless to say, me and the boyfriend-at-the-time eventually parted ways and remained friends, and deep in my heart, he’ll always be that Flynn Rider who got away. 

6. I remember the first time I ever saw/heard of the story: “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.” I was watching “The Storyteller’s” Hans the Hedgehog and The True Bride. It was a different version of a “Beauty and the Beast” – and I loved it!

There was a day that I came into the High School library and I saw a brand new book sitting on the desk. It looked like a fairytale book, and I was instantly interested in it.

What I didn’t know was that “East” by Edith Patou would become one of my favorite “retelling” novels. To this day, “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” is a story that I’d love to explore and possibly write my own version of.

It influenced me in my story of “Seven Seeds of Summer” – which is really a retelling of the mythology story of Hades and Persephone. (another ‘fairy tale’ that influenced me in my life, I guess – at least a bit.)  

5. I can’t do this entire thing without at least mentioning “Allerleirauh.” 

This story has been with me since my Dad bought me the VHS that had the Grimm Fairy Tale Classic version on it.

Since then, I’ve seen only a few versions that stuck with me, as much as the cartoon did. (Try “The Storyteller: Sapsorrow” – Whoa.)

For the longest time, I tried to find this story on the internet. I had no idea what it was called other than “The Coat of Many Colours” and only ever found the biblical story of Joseph and his coat. It wasn’t until I saw “Sapsorrow” (The Storyteller, yes again)on Youtube, that I took notice of a name: Allerleirauh.

As a child, I had been in love with the idea of dresses made of the sun, moon and stars, when I was playing “Castle” – you betcha bottom dollar, my gown was one of the three, and my Prince was stunned with awe with my beauty. Lol.

When I was in college, I tried to write a version of “Allerleirauh,” and at the time, it just wasn’t a story that was ready to be told, so I waited.

It was always in my plan to bring this fairy tale to life – it’s a powerful story, full of love and danger and some really hard topics that should be brought up in conversation.

 4. “Cinderella” is just one of those stories that I’ll always hold close in my heart. There is a quote that I often use in my life –“For with each dawn, she found new hope that someday, her dreams of happiness would come true” that really summarizes how I feel at times.

It’s a magical story of love and hope.

My love for Cinderella began quite innocently – what girl doesn’t dream of magical gowns, glass slippers and a dashing Prince?

When I saw the live-action version of Cinderella – I was simply transfixed with the story, the imagery and the acting. If there was a fairy tale brought to life, and simply perfect – this was the movie of all movies for me. To this day, “Cinderella” (2015) is simply, my favorite live-action film. 

It sends a great message of hope to me – to be a better version of myself despite the cruelty in the world. You can be the positive to someone’s life, even if you just try.

3. What is Christmas without a tree, presents and “The Nutcracker”? My mom first took me to see this ballet when I was a child, and for several Christmases, it was a tradition to do so. I became so in love with the show and ballet that I begged my mom to let me join ballet!

With a pair of soft ballet shoes and my Princess Aurora costume, I’d dance around the living room, listening to the melody of “The Nutcracker” with one of my Mom’s German Nutcrackers.

I’ve never been able to find a retelling of “The Nutcracker” or see a movie that I completely love – (maybe other than “The Nutcracker Prince” – an animation). The closest I’ve ever gotten to a real Nutcracker “performance” – other than the ones that my Mom took me too back in the day, was at day care.  

2. When I think of “The Little Mermaid”, I think of two events in my life. First – when I was sixteen (shocker) and online dated a boy from California (I was living in PA at the time,) and Second - Tumblr. Ariel has always been a character, much like Belle, that I felt like I related to.

It could be that “The Little Mermaid” was one of the first Disney movies I ever saw, and probably have seen more than any other. Ariel was also 16 when things happened to her, so I determined to be 16 and have things happen to me too (just without trying.)

When I was about to graduate college, I discovered “Tumblr,” and I found people like me – people who loved Disney. They loved Disney so much that they wrote AS the characters. If this wasn’t heaven on earth, I didn’t know what would ever classify as such.

I was actually lucky enough to befriend the coolest Flynn Rider RP’er on Tumblr, who knew a Prince Eric who was looking for an Ariel.

I never had RP’ed before in my life, but I thought “what the heck! I’ll try!” I tried, reached out to them, and they took my offer! I officially became “” Writing as this character made me realize parts of myself that I had never known. I was truly able to “find myself.” I found a strength, a person, a personality – that I had never truly been able to embrace, until I found Tumblr. It was liberating to say the least. Ariel became a personality to me that I always wanted to be, just like Cinderella.  

1. “Beauty and the Beast” is definitely one of my favorite stories. I can recall the illustrations to picture books that I once read as a child, full of bright colors and peacock feathers.

I spent time in my mother’s lap, watching the movie over and over again. When I was older, I read and reread Robin McKinley’s “Rose Daughter” and “Beauty” to the point that the High School Library’s copy almost became mine!

During my 6th grade year (after missing Phantom of the Opera) I was able to go see the Broadway show of “Beauty and the Beast” in NYC, and the cherry on top was seeing it with my Mom.

I think it’s pretty obvious I feel most relatable to Belle because of her love for books. She is really the Princess for all the book worms. This story has always been with me because of how easily I could slip myself in Belle’s shoes. I lived in a small town and felt misunderstood. I read for fun and didn’t take enjoyment in the things that the other children did.

I was also fat/chubby and by default, that meant I was picked on for my size. I felt like the outcast. I knew how it felt to be the Beast and how it felt to be Belle and I took comfort and hope in the future someday that someone would look at me and see what was truly on the inside; a girl quite capable of loving someone.

What are some of your favourite fairytale retellings? And which fairytale would you still love to see being retold? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The 2016 CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway children’s book awards judges blog tour: Q & A with the panel of judges

Today I’m thrilled to be part of a blog tour that’s just a little different to the one I normally partake in: The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway judges book tour.

For those who may not be aware, the CKG book awards is one of the biggest book awards in the UK, and in the run up to announcing the winner, and as part of the tour, a few of us have been given the opportunity to grill some of the judges about the awards, the books that have been nominated and how the awards have influenced their reading choices over the years.

Special thanks to Matt for allowing me to be part of the tour!

The winner will be announced on Monday, 20th June, so keep your eyes and ears peeled to newsfeeds everywhere.

Thanks to all the judges who took time out of their busy schedules to answer these questions!

The CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards is one of the UK’s most prestigious awards given to authors and illustrators.

What do you think it is about these awards that sets it apart from others?

The awards are chosen by professionals within the field of Librarianship, unlike many other awards every book is read and reread by judges and the judges undergo rigorous training before they take up the position. Matt Imrie, CKG Judge for YLG London.

There is a wonderful list of books that have been shortlisted for the award this year.

What do you think it is about these specific books that stand out more than others?

The standard of publications generally this year has been high. Choosing the shortlist was not easy and I can honestly say that the list is the strongest ever, in my experience.

Each and every title on both lists are all unique style wise. I have to be honest here, usually for me there are one or two titles that stand out ahead of the pack, but this year each and every one could be the winner. Sioned Jacques, CKG Chair of Judges.

Which book do you hope will win and why?

I always hope the right book wins – this book will be chosen by judges under rigorous conditions of judging.

To choose a lesser book would weaken the awards and bring them in to disrepute, this has never happened and I trust in the judges to always make the right decision! Matt Imrie, CKG Judge for YLG London.
I’m afraid I have signed the Official Secrets’ Act on that one! Each book is a strong contender because of the outstanding quality of the writing.

They all have memorable characterisation, intricate plotting and thought provoking themes. Tanja Jennings CKG Judge for YLG Northern Ireland.

Are there any specific books that that aren’t on this list that you wish were nominated for the award?

And why do you feel that book deserves the recognition?

As a Librarian who is a member of CILIP I have a personal nomination so I can put forward my particular favourites at that stage. So there are no books I wish had been included on the list that weren’t there.  Tracey Acum, CKG Judge for YLG Yorkshire & Humberside.

Let’s talk about diversity in books.

With the growing demand for minority and marginalised groups to be more prominently featured in books, how do you think the shortlisted books fair in terms of meeting that criterion?

Diversity is not on the list of criteria for either of the awards and I think that authors and illustrators may find it insulting if their gender, ethnicity or background was picked up as a reason for the selection of their work rather than their artistic or authorial excellence. Matt Imrie, CKG Judge for YLG London.

The Awards can obviously only reflect what is published and at present the criteria do not take into consideration diversity. However I believe the Awards often reflect diversity and life and this year is no exception.

The Carnegie features a book whose main character is deaf, two books with a homosexual relationships and a book with conjoined twins. I think there’s still some work to be done on reflecting diversity in picture books, and I guess the shortlist reflects this. Sioned Jacques, CKG Chair of Judges.

Finally, has the CKG awards influenced your reading choices over the years? And if so, in what way?

Before becoming a judge, I used to always make sure I read the winning Carnegie book, as well as the shortlists. 

Working in a school library I felt it was important to know what was out there for young adults, and the Carnegie lists certainly provided a wide range of quality, contemporary fiction. Jennifer Horan, CKG Judge for YLG Scotland