Zara Quentin Interview
1) What fairytale(s) have you chosen to retell and why?
Queen of Clockwork (https://www.amazon.com/Queen-Clockwork-Wonderland-retelling-Fairytales-ebook/dp/B081XZNMZH/ ) is the first of four books set 18 years after the hapy ever after of the Alice in Wonderland story.
These four books can be read as a standalone series but are also part of an epic 52-book Kingdom of Fairytales series, set in the after ever after of twelve different fairytales. I wanted to be a part of this amazing project with J.A Armitage and a bunch of other authors, because it is a really different way of bringing these stories to readers—one book per week, one chapter per day, for a whole year. It’s possible for readers to follow along with the story in real time.
When I came on board at the beginning of the project, I chose the Alice in Wonderland story to retell, because I love the craziness of Alice in Wonderland, as well as the silliness and the imagination of the original version. The original story provides plenty of latitude to take it and make it your own.
2) What makes your story unique?
In my story, Alice is a secondary character as the story focuses on her daughter, Miss. Ivy Rowntree. Ivy is an inspector charged with upholding the city’s strict esthetic code, a legacy of the late Queen of Hearts. Her true passion lies with making pocket watches—she’s never met a watch she couldn’t fix, or a puzzle she couldn’t solve. I love Ivy—she’s smart, she can’t leave a puzzle alone, and she won’t stop until she finds the answers she’s looking for.
The genre is steampunk—a sub-genre of fantasy inspired by 19th century Victorian-era industry and steam-powered machinery. As a reader, I love steampunk and I’ve always wanted to write a story within the sub-genre. An Alice in Wonderland retelling really lends itself to steampunk—the characters have impeccable manners and style, the world contains plenty of crazy inventions, but the story retains the craziness and silliness of the original, and I’ve added a dash of magic, too!
3) What was your favorite fairytale growing up and why?
When I was young, I loved the Disney version of the Little Mermaid. I remember watching it when it first came out (that probably dates me!!) and I wanted to be Ariel. I loved the romance, but mostly I loved the world-building and the idea that whole cities of mermaids existed under the sea. However, instead of the way the movie ended, I wanted the prince to be granted a tail and go to live under the sea with Ariel, not the other way around!
4) Who was your favorite villain?
Villains are often underappreciated, but I love a well-done villain! I’m always interested in the backstory of a villain—I love to work out what makes them tick. As a villain, I really like the Queen of Hearts, because she’s unpredictable, illogical, flippant and whimsical, with absolutely no regard for the lives of others. To me, this seems like a very dangerous combination. It’s hard to outsmart someone when you don’t know what makes them tick, or what they will do next, or what they will do to the next person who might just be in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a writer, it is fascinating to imagine her backstory and why she would have become the way she is.
5) Is this a standalone or do you have more books planned?
There are four books in the Queen of Clockwork series:
These books can be read as a standalone series, but is also part of a larger Kingdom of Fairytales story that started with Queen of Dragons (a Sleeping Beauty retelling): https://www.amazon.com/Queen-Dragons-Sleeping-retelling-Fairytales-ebook/dp/B07YF55N8S/
I’m not done with fairytales yet! I’m also releasing another book next year in 2021 as part of Enchanted Kingdoms: a limited edition twisted fairytale anthology (https://books2read.com/enchantedkingdoms/ ). This set contains 20 retellings of different fairytales by different authors. I’m contributing a retelling of Aladdin. I’m really excited for about this project as I get to work with another bunch of great authors and proceeds will go to Puzzle Peace United, a children’s autism charity.
Zara Quentin is a YA fantasy and fairytale author of female-led stories of action and adventures set in fantastical new worlds, usually with a sprinkle of magic and a dash of romance. Zara loves reading, travelling, strong coffee and dark chocolate. She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children, and can often be found exploring the wonderful worlds of her imagination.
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“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”