MFT Guest: Interview with Eilis O’Neal and Giveaway of The False Princess

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.

The Giveaway:

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 

To Enter:

Tell us what your favorite fantasy (or series) is.  Don’t forget to leave contact info! 


For the schedule of The Favorite Things event check out the schedule post.  And make sure you head over to My Bookish Ways to see what she has going on today as well!
Thanks for subscribing!


  1. Well, does my own fantasy book count? Just kidding…My absolutely most favoritest book is a fantasy-Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I have a little author crush on her…
    The False Princess sounds really good! Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. My favorite fantasy novel is actually a collection of three short stories: Lips Touch Three Times.

    Great interview, and the story sounds AWESOME!

    Thanks Eilis and Candace!


    Cavernem AT gmail DOT com

  3. For Fantasty series I love Robin McKinley’s books. Pegasus was amazing

    Thank you for the giveaway! I have beenwanting to read the false princess.

    terilhack at yahoo dot com

  4. Oh gosh, I really can’t pick. I am just gonna say the first one that comes to my head – Nightshade!


    ilikethesebooksblog (at) gmail (dot) com

  5. I absolutely love The Seven Kingdoms series by Kristin Cashore. Can’t wait for Bitterblue to come out. Thanks for the giveaway!

    candicerjames (at) gmail (dot) com

  6. Thank you for the wonderful interview and chance to win the giveaway. If I have to pick a favorite fantasy series it would have to be the Sword of Truth series, which I just recently read – I love getting involved with the new worlds and always want to know what will happen next.


  7. I have a LONG list of fantasy series that I absolutely love, but I’ll keep it to three (so as not to bore ya’ll).

    The Inheritance Cycle- Christopher Paolini.
    Green Rider- Kristin Britain
    Harper Hall trilogy- Anne McCaffrey.


  8. Man that is a tough question, but I will narrow it down to one, the Kate Daniels series. There is magic, scary vampires, hot werewolves and one of my favorite female characters ever. Not much more I can ask for LOL! I obviously need to get a start on this Sword of Truth series, sounds like a hit :) Great giveaway and interview. The excerpt alone has me itching for it. Thank you :)

    drharleyquinn87 (at) gmail (dot) com

  9. Oh dear, there are so many wonderful fantasy series! I have loved the Lord of the Rings forever but at the moment I am addicted to the Mortal Instruments, plus there is everything Patricia C. Wrede or Tamora Pierce ever wrote…do I have to pick just one???
    Thank you for the great interview and giveaway!


  10. I like Kristin Cashore’s works as well, but my all time favorite fantasy author for YA is Tamora Pierce…she just has a way of making the characters and her worlds jump out at you :)

    hense1kk AT cmich DOT edu

  11. Thank you for hosting this giveaway!

    Even after all this time, Harry Potter still takes the cake when it comes to fantasy.

    withinpages @ hotmail dot com

  12. Besides the usuals: Harry Potter, Twilight, Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Mortal Instruments, Sword of Truth, etc., I love the House of Night series :)
    jwitt33 at live dot com

  13. I absolutely love the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima. And actually, I love the HP series. I just read them for the first time in January (is that weird??) but I fell fast and hard. :) I have been looking forward to reading The False Princess for months now! :)


  14. I enjoy fantasy books, but don’t read them enough. YA seems to be a hotbed for fantasy though, as you said Ellis, and I love that. I read mostly YA and I’ve found the fantasy to just be spectacular. I’m looking forward to reading The False Princess and seeing just why Kiernan and Philnatha were your favorites to write.

    My favorite fantasy book is…hard to figure out. Chime by Franny Billingsley instantly comes to mind and for series I’d say Harry Potter for sure!

    Thanks for the giveaway.

  15. My favorite fantasy series is The Song of Fire and Ice by George R. R. Martin! The world is so engrossing and there is so much going on, you feel like you’re there. It is also the most emotional book series I’ve read in a long time. You cannot get attached to ANYONE!

    Thanks for the giveaway!


    eliweibley AT gmail DOT com

  16. I have so many fantasy series as favorites, but my top, top favorite would have to be The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima. The books in the series include, The Demon King and The Exiled Queen. The Gray Wolf Throne is going to be released on August 30, 2011, so I can’t wait.

  17. I’d have to say The Hunger Games is my favorite series at the moment…since I just finished it. Of course that will change with the next series.

    aliciacald at gmail dot com

  18. Thanks for the awesome giveaway! This event is incredible O_O

    I think my all time favorite series is The Hunger Games, but my favorite fantasy series is The Iron Fey =D

    thebookishtypereviews AT gmail DOT com

  19. Oh gosh, I don’t think I could narrow it down to a single favorite fantasy book/series. I love so many. Vivian Vande Velde’s books are definitely up there though, along with Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith.

    I’m so, so happy to hear that we’ll probably get to revisit Thorvaldor! I loved the world and the characters in it. :)

    thank you for the giveaway!
    imagesandwords at optonline dot net

  20. My favorite fantasy(s)

    Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

    Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George

    Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

    Eragon series by Christopher Paolini

    wordslikesilverblog at gmail dot com

  21. Favorite fantasy? Well, maybe it’s cliche but I’m totally going to have to go old school on this one…Tolkien. Hands down.

    Thank you for the giveaway! :)

    dani @ refractedlightreviews DOT com

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