Today for My Favorite Things I have the wonderful Eilis O’Neal on the blog. The False Princess was definitely one of the best fantasy books I’ve read this year (or ever!) so I’m excited to get to share it with you all! You definitely have to pick it up if you haven’t already!
Description of The False Princess:
Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia has led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when she learns, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city, her best friend, Kiernan, and the only life she’s ever known.Sent to live with her only surviving relative, a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. Then she discovers that magic runs through her veins – long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control – and she realizes that she will never learn to be just a simple village girl.Sinda returns to the city to seek answers. Instead, she rediscovers the boy who refused to forsake her, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor’s history, forever.
It’s great to have you on for the My Favorite Things Event Eilis! I truly loved The False Princess and it completely satisfied my craving for fantasy. At least for a short while
What made you decide to write fantasy? Did you always know that’s what you would write?
Fantasy novels—YA and adult—make up the majority of what I read, and have ever since I was a little girl. Probably because I would give up something dire—chocolate, maybe—to live in a world where magic was real. Since I can’t, I write about it. Additonally, my love for fantasy ties into one of the reasons I write for younger readers. There seems to me to be a kind of cynicism in “literary” fiction these days, at least in many books written for adults—you can’t talk about love or honor or friendship without a sly kind of eye-rolling. I hate that, and I don’t find that attitude in YA or in fantasy. As for if I always knew I would write it, I actually wrote a YA summer romance novel—complte with boys on motorcycles–when I was 15. But since then, it’s all been fantasy.
Was The False Princess a story that came to you complete, or did it come to you more as you wrote?
Happily for me, The False Princess came with almost all of its major plot points intact, in that I knew the main character, her problem, the mystery of the book, and basically how it would resolve. So I knew the beginning and the end. But I’m a terrible outliner—I often don’t know how the middle of the book is going to go until I’m writing it. And that’s how it was with The False Princess. I knew the high points, but I got to discover the little details as I went along.
What was your biggest challenge when writing it?
One of the biggest challenges was making sure I got all the beats of the mystery right. You have to let out little bits of information, so that the reader is pulled along, but not so much that they figure out what’s going on before you want them to. But you also have to make sure that you give enough that when you do the big reveal, that it makes sense and feels right. Since I have a hard time outlining, that was something I had to make sure I was keeping track of.
How long did it take you to write The False Princess?
It took about nine months to write the first draft, and then another month or two to revise.
Who was your favorite character to write?
It’s probably a tie between Kiernan, Sinda’s best friend, and Philnatha, her wizard mentor. Both for the same reason, though, and that’s that they were really fun to write. I love Sinda, but she’s very serious. Kiernan is very clever and witty—I love his banter. And Philantha is a mess, but a fun one. You never know quite what she’s going to say, but you know it will be a hoot.
Are any of your characters based on real people?
No one in the book is based exactly on a real person, though many characters have traits that are similar to people I know. Kiernan, for instance, is very easy going, like my husband is. In some ways, I fashioned Philantha after my boss, who can seem a bit scattered but is utterly supportive of me. The person who most closely resembles a real person, though, is Sinda. She has a lot of the same issues that I did as a teenager—questions about her role in life, a heavy dose of self-doubt. A lot of her shortcomings mirror my own at 16.
What is inspiring to you? What do you do that gets the creative juices flowing?
So many things! Sometimes I’ll read a line in a book, something that the author mentions but isn’t concentrating on, and I’ll think, “That is so neat.” Or I’ll see an image in a movie, or at an art gallery, and it will inspire a certain emotion in me. Sometimes little pieces of dreams will stick out as interesting.
Do you have a favorite fantasy series?
I do—so many that I love that it’s hard to pick just one favorite. I’ve followed Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series since I was twelve, and I love the books now just as much as I did then. I’m still in mourning that I’ll never get to host another Harry Potter release party. Tamora Pierce’s Lioness Rampant books made me want to write YA fantasy, and Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series has made me an Angophile for life.
Are we going to see more of Sinda and Kiernan in the future? Do you have more books planned to make it a series? If not, do you have plans for any future books that you can share with us?
I don’t have any books planned right now to make The False Princess into a series. That said, I’m still very interested in the characters and the world, particularly some of the supporting characters from TFP. I very well may revisit Thorvaldor, probably with one of the secondary characters as a main character.
Thanks so much for being on and taking the time to answer the questions!
About Eilis O’Neal:
I’m a writer of fantasy and the Managing Editor of the literary magazine Nimrod International Journal. I started writing at the age of three (though the story was only four sentences long). My short fantasy has been published in various print and online journals, and you can find links to some of my stories here. I was born, raised in, and currently live in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Eilis is giving away one ARC (advance readers copy) of The False Princess
Open to US only
Must be 13 or older to enter
Ends July 5th, 2011
Tell us what your favorite fantasy (or series) is. Don’t forget to leave contact info!