ESSAYS + STORIES
These Words Matter: Peternelle van Arsdale
This is a difficult question for me to answer because there were many books that contributed to me being a reader, but there is one (trilogy) that stands head and shoulders above the rest in turning me into a writer. Allow me to explain….Being a writer was not a lifelong dream of mine. If you’d told me when I was in my twenties that I would one day be a novelist, I’d have laughed. When I was about eight years old, I flirted with the idea of keeping a journal and got myself a white pleather-covered diary with a lock and key. I had the idea that having something so secret and special to write in would magically grant me secret and special things to write about. A secret and special life. Read the full essay.
Retelling the Myth of Medusa for YA Readers
I’ve always had a soft spot for monsters. I’m not sure why that is, but it may have something to do with my church upbringing. I was never convinced that biting the apple, as the snake convinced Eve to do, was a bad thing. And I was intrigued by Satan’s backstory, that he was a jealous and resentful angel—rebellious and questioning of God’s supreme authority. To me Satan seemed . . . curious-minded. Intriguingly skeptical. In the books and movies that most moved me as a child, I saw the monsters as the unfortunate outcasts, rejected by those lucky enough to be born acceptable. Read the full essay.
Such Beautiful Eyes
She read an article in the New York Times, something about the increasing dissatisfaction of her age group. In previous generations, the article said, people her age were at peace with how much money they had. They used to feel like they had enough. But she never had enough. There was never, not ever, enough. Read the full short story in the June 2018 issue of Whitefish Review.
I Like My Fairytales Dark
When I’m asked what kind of novels I write I always say “dark fairy tales.” The “dark” part of that description is key, but at the same time it feels superfluous. Fairy tales were never meant to be bright and sunny, and the classic ones collected and retold by the Brothers Grimm rarely are. Entertaining, for sure. Instructive, sometimes. But not light. Not romantic, not really. Even the fairy tales that end in marriage to a royal are weighed down by desperation. Girls don’t marry princes and kings for love. Read the full essay.
The Five Freakiest Fairy Tales
Somewhere along the way fairy tales got a good name. In the old days, back when fairy tales were first being written down, they were dark, and there weren’t a lot of heroes and heroines. The princesses definitely weren’t bad-asses who knew how to fight. The newer female heroines with battle skills are excellent and I’m all for them—we need more princesses like Merida from “Brave” and fewer like the original Disney “Snow White.” Read the full essay.
How I Learned to Stop Worrying About the Market and Just Write
If I had to reduce to one word what caused me to leave book publishing, it would be this: Dread. There were so many kinds of dread as an editor. Dread of the not-great cover that you’d have to try to convince your author to accept. Dread of the not-great manuscript that might never become as great as you’d hoped. Dread of the terrible sales results for even the books that you thought were great. Read the full essay.
Behind the Book: The Beast Is an Animal
I didn’t write The Beast is an Animal. At least, it didn’t feel like writing: It felt like evolution. Writing the prologue was the spark that started it all. After that the novel grew and morphed and became what it was supposed to be—an animal that I couldn’t have envisioned, but nonetheless makes complete sense. The novel as it exists now wasn’t at all a foregone conclusion when I first wrote the prologue, and yet it feels like it couldn’t possibly have been any other way. Read the full essay.
The Monster Is Coming from Inside the Wall: Giving Our Fears a Face
Alternative fact: I’m a witch. Probably I should be burned at the stake. Or crushed under rocks. Or drowned to see if I float. Or maybe my powers should be harnessed: With my predictive abilities, I can conquer the stock market and give all the proceeds to organizations I support. Go ahead, Republican-controlled congress — take away federal funding from Planned Parenthood. They won’t need your money anymore. They’ll have my witchy money. Read the full essay.