We have a lot of fantastic authors at OneFour KidLit and are excited to introduce them all to you. Today, we’re talking to Rosamund Hodge, author of SUNDERED. One author, four questions. Here we go!
What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?
It’s a Beauty and the Beast reimagining about a girl promised since birth to marry the demon who rules her country. All her life, she’s trained to die destroying him. But when she’s finally delivered to him, he doesn’t hurt her. Instead, he begins to attract her, while his magical, ever-shifting castle enthralls her. She also finds that his shadow is a living creature, and she becomes convinced that it’s really the last prince of her country, magically trapped as a slave. But if she’s to free the prince–or herself–she has to discover the truth of what happened to her country nine hundred years ago.
When I started writing SUNDERED, there were three things I really wanted to do:
(1) Write a completely shameless loved melodrama. I’ve always loved melodrama, but I spent years trying to write stories that were dignified, until I realized that if I’m not stupid crazy in love with a story, what is the point?
(2) Write a Victorian England/Greek mythology mash-up. I’ve loved Greek mythology all my life, and I have long believed that Beauty and the Beast is just another form of Cupid and Psyche. (Seriously, it is. And East of the Sun, West of the Moon is the halfway point between them.) I knew that I had to meld those stories together. But I also felt that a proper melodrama should have a goth Victorian aesthetic. So SUNDERED takes place in the world where a pseudo-Greco-Roman empire colonized pseudo-England and was never driven out. (Bonus: I got to include household gods.)
(3) Write an angry heroine. When I was a teenager, I struggled a lot with keeping my temper. So I always loved it when books featured female characters who were angry, who were sometimes wrong in their anger and did wrong things because of it–but who were still sympathetic and got to find happy endings.
And that’s how I came up with my heroine, Nyx. She hates her father for making the bargain that doomed her. She hates her twin sister for being the one who will survive. But most of all, she hates herself, for being so reluctant to save everyone.
She also hates her husband. But of course, that quickly gets complicated.
Hey, you’re getting published! How’d that happen?
Blood, sweat, and tears.
(Just kidding! I never actually cried.)
The idea for SUNDERED came to me one evening in September 2010. For the next few months, I wrote like a madwoman, and then I started revising. On May 30, 2011, I decided I was done and started querying agents.
And kept querying. Over the next seven months, I was rejected by 62 agents and started to convince myself that I was the worst writer in the whole world. Even in my saner moments, I was seriously considering that I should just trunk the novel.
But then one afternoon, as I was wasting time on the internet, I ran across somebody saying that there was a new agent named Hannah Bowman at Liza Dawson Associates. I jumped to query her; after a few revisions, she took me on, and she’s been wonderful ever since. We worked on more revisions for a little over a month; Hannah sent SUNDERED out to the editors in mid-March, and it sold to Sara Sargent at Balzer + Bray two weeks later. I’m still trying to believe it really happened.
What are you most excited about in the debut process?
I think what I’m most excited about is when I finally get to see a real, physical copy of my book on the shelves of a real, physical bookstore. I have only been dreaming about that since I was eight years old!
But I’m also really excited about when we unveil the cover art for SUNDERED. I love cover art as a genre, and in the last ten years, YA cover art has become really amazing. I have seen the preliminary design for SUNDERED’s cover, and it is everything I hoped for.
What inspires you to write?
When I’m actually putting words on the paper, music inspires me a lot, and each of my projects has a playlist. But when it comes to getting the actual ideas–for me, stories come from other stories. As soon as I read a book or watch a movie, I start thinking, What if this happened instead? How would it feel to be that character? I don’t like this ending; there has to be another way. This bit is awesome; I must reuse it. I wish somebody from this story could talk to the people in that one.
I’ve mentioned that SUNDERED was inspired by years of thinking about the background fairytales/mythology. But the way it all came together is this: I was watching Disney’s THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG. One of the delightful little details in the movie is the evil witch doctor’s shadow, which moves about on its own and sometimes seems to be afraid of him. It’s like his shadow is his prisoner, I thought, and instantly I knew that I was going to write a story about a girl forced to marry a supernatural husband who is evil, and whose shadow is an independent person who becomes the girl’s friend. Two months later, I had a first draft.
|Rosamund Hodge loves mythology, Hello Kitty, and T. S. Eliot. After earning a master’s degree in Medieval English from Oxford, she moved to Seattle to get a job with computers. Her debut novel, SUNDERED–Greek mythology meets Beauty and the Beast–is due out from HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray in Winter 2014. Her agent is Hannah Bowman at Liza Dawson Associates