I was able to speak with Teresa Richards, author of Emerald Bound, a young adult dark retelling of the princess and the pea fairy tale. After the interview, read on for more info about Emerald Bound and enter the *giveaway* for a signed copy of the book!!
How did you come up with the idea for Emerald Bound?
I’m cringing as I admit this but, honestly, the spark that started Emerald Bound was from a dream. In the dream, I had to save a friend who’d been taken captive, and a gemstone under her bed had the power to hold her there.
So weird, I know.
When I woke up, the gem under the bed immediately reminded me of the pea in the fairy tale, The Princess and the Pea. I’ve always loved fairy tale retellings and the idea of twisting up The Princess and the Pea intrigued me because I hadn’t seen it done before.
My creative juices went to work and I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. The story unfolded and grew and morphed into something I was so excited about. Seeing it come to life on the page was a ton of fun.
Who is your favorite character?
Garon is my favorite, simply because he was a surprise. As in, he was not in my original plan for the book.
Gasp, right? Now that he’s here I can’t imagine the book without him.
I knew I wanted to have a love interest in there somewhere, but I wasn’t sure who it would be or when Maggie would meet him. In the chapter where she literally runs into him as she’s fleeing the scene of her attempted crime, my original plan was to have her run back to her car and come up with a new plan. But she turned the corner and suddenly, Garon was there, in my head and on the page. It just happened. One of the best kinds of writing surprises.
As soon as he showed up, I knew he was a keeper.
Did you base any of your characters on real people?
Yes and no.
None of my characters were based on real people on purpose, but several of them seem to have bits and pieces of my favorite people woven into them in different ways.
Some of my characters share characteristics with people I know, or they might share certain life experiences that have shaped them. And sometimes they might just talk the same.
For example, my fourteen-year-old son was reading Emerald Bound and at one point exclaimed, “Wait, am I Tanner?”
He was reading a part where Maggie’s brother, Tanner, drinks directly out of the kitchen faucet without using a cup. Maggie tells him to get a cup and Tanner says, “What for?”
I didn’t write this scene specifically with my son in mind, but it’s highly likely that I had that exact same conversation with him the day I wrote that scene, because we have that conversation on an almost daily basis.
So characteristics from people I love often creep into my fictional characters, sometimes without me even realizing it.
Describe your writing process.
For my first drafts, I just sit down and write. The only thing I need is my laptop and complete silence. I often go to the library so I can concentrate on my writing without getting distracted by all the other jobs around my house that need to get done, but I like writing at home, too.
It’s a little different when I’m editing or doing rewrites–I can work on those almost anywhere, and I bring my laptop everywhere I go so that whenever I have down time (usually while waiting for one of my kids to be done with an activity I’m picking them up from) I can stay busy.
Sometimes I even leave my laptop out on the kitchen counter so I can tweak sentences in the down times while making dinner.
Who are some authors who have influenced you?
Maggie Stiefvater, A.G. Howard, and Rae Carson through their awesome writing, and several others like Lori Goldstein, Brenda Drake, and Diana Urban through their support and advice to beginning authors.
What made you want to become an author?
I’ve always loved to read, and writing has been an outlet for me since my earliest years of writing away a bad day in my journal. But it wasn’t until I’d spent several years raising babies and yearning for a creative outlet that I decided to write a book.
I wrote my first serious novel in three months and it was a magical, wonderful, amazing time. During that time, I didn’t think about anything but my book. I’d be pushing a kid on the swings and daydreaming about my characters, or doing the dishes while planning plotlines in my head, or driving my kids around and working out the perfect metaphor for my next scene.
In the end (after attending a writers’ conference, spending a year or so querying, and receiving a mountain of rejection letters), I realized that initial book wasn’t good enough to be published. But it had a ton of heart. And writing it made me realize I wanted to do this writing thing for real.
I started researching publishing, reading craft books, joined a local critique group and the online writing community, had a couple of short stories published, and tried again with Emerald Bound.
What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?
Everyone says this, but that’s because it’s true: Keep at it. Don’t give up.
That doesn’t mean your first book will be published. Or even your second or your fifth. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from reading other people’s success stories, it’s that every writer’s path is different.
But if you really love writing, and you can’t imagine keeping your stories inside you, then it’ll be worth all the time you invest in learning how to do it right. It will be hard, and it will probably make you cry a few times. But it will also be one of the most rewarding journeys of your life and you’ll make some great friends along the way.
The writing community is so, super supportive. Published authors are eager to share their knowledge because, in almost every case, someone once did the same for them. Everyone starts at the beginning.
Thank you Teresa!!
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Fantasy, Romance, Suspense
Evernight Teen Publishing ~ 83,000 words
A princess, a pea, and a tower of mattresses. This is the sliver that survives of a story more nightmare than fairytale…
Maggie Rhodes, high school junior and semi-reformed stalker, learns the tale’s true roots after a spying attempt goes awry and her best friend Kate ends up as the victim of an ancient curse. At the center of the curse lies an enchanted emerald that has been residing quietly in a museum for the past fifty years. Admirers of the gem have no idea that it feeds on life. Or that it’s found its next victim in Kate.
Enter Lindy, a school acquaintance who knows more than she’s letting on, and Garon, a handsome stranger claiming he knows how to help, and Maggie is left wondering who to trust and how to save her best friend before it’s too late.
If only Maggie knew her connection to the fairy tale was rooted far deeper than an endangered best friend.
A part of me died long ago.
It was the part of me that feels, and it was Calista’s fault.
What happened tonight was nothing new—innocent victims welcomed into our home, not knowing they would never leave. I learned long ago I could not help them, so I stopped trying.
But this time something was different. This time I was awake, burning with a gut-wrenching guilt, as the next victims slept downstairs. This time I knew the victims. And they didn’t deserve what was coming.
It had always been hard for me to make friends. I’d been called loner, loser, outcast, and freak. Even still, I remembered Maggie offering to show me around when I first transferred to their school. Through her, I met Kate and Piper. The three of them were always nice to me, while other kids kept their distance and spread rumors behind my back. I told myself I didn’t care—I wasn’t like them.
But being a loner was lonely.
So tonight when I saw Maggie and her friends here, something inside me snapped. Or, perhaps it was the dead piece of me coming back to life. Now I cared desperately about what was happening in the room below mine.
But there was still nothing I could do.
Calista usually lured in victims from out of town to avoid arousing suspicion. Pregnant ones were a particular favorite—easy prey, she called them. But Maggie and her friends came here all on their own. The opportunity was too good for Calista to pass up.
Everyone thought Calista was my mother, but she wasn’t.
Back in my day, almost four centuries ago, Calista had an alternate method of luring in victims. She and her husband, Theodore, advertised for hired help with their inn. The number of parents willing to sell their daughters into a life of servitude in exchange for a forgiven debt or a clean slate was staggering.
My father was one of them.
By the time my mother found out what he’d done, it was too late. There was no escape. I was bound.
My story was well known in this land, whispered as a bedtime tale to ease children into sleep. But, just like any other story passed down through time by rumors and idle gossip, the fragment that survived was woefully incomplete. It began something like this:
There is rumored to have been (once upon a time, of course) a princess, a pea, and a tower of mattresses.
That much was true, though in actuality it was only one mattress, not twenty. The pea was also real, though most would call it a precious stone—an emerald, to be precise.
The gem that sealed my fate was now in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. Calista was furious when she found it missing. She thought I’d stolen it until she remembered my limits. The identity of the true thief remains unknown.
Even though the emerald is no longer in our possession, we are still bound to it, as it is bound to us. Admirers of the opulent necklace where it rests don’t understand it. Like me, the gem is a prisoner, struggling against its fate.
Even now, centuries later, I don’t understand all the details of what happened to me that night. But it began with a troubled slumber on a bed of enchanted emeralds.
About the Author:
Teresa Richards writes YA, but loves anything that can be given a unique twist. Her zombie stories ‘Are You My Mombie?’ and ‘The Zombie Code’ can be found in Z Tales: Stories from the Zombieverse by The Fairfield Scribes.
When Teresa’s not writing, she can be found either chasing after one of her five kids, or hiding someplace in the house with a treat her children overlooked. Emerald Bound is her debut novel.
You can connect with her on twitter @BYUtm33 or at authorteresarichards.com.
Giveaway: 1 signed copy of Emerald Bound!
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