Today we're excited to chat with Elana K. Arnold, author of Damsel. Read on for more about Elana and her book, plus a giveaway!
Meet Elana K. Arnold!
Elana K. Arnold grew up in Southern California, where she was lucky enough to have her own perfect pet—a gorgeous mare named Rainbow—and a family who let her read as many books as she wanted. She is the author of picture books, middle grade novels, and books for teens, including the National Book Award finalist What Girls Are Made Of. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. You can find her online at www.elanakarnold.com.
A dark, twisted, unforgettable fairy tale from Elana K. Arnold, author of the National Book Award finalist What Girls Are Made Of
The rite has existed for as long as anyone can remember: When the king dies, his son the prince must venture out into the gray lands, slay a fierce dragon, and rescue a damsel to be his bride. This is the way things have always been.
When Ama wakes in the arms of Prince Emory, she knows none of this. She has no memory of what came before she was captured by the dragon or what horrors she faced in its lair. She knows only this handsome young man, the story he tells of her rescue, and her destiny of sitting on a throne beside him. It’s all like a dream, like something from a fairy tale.
As Ama follows Emory to the kingdom of Harding, however, she discovers that not all is as it seems. There is more to the legends of the dragons and the damsels than anyone knows, and the greatest threats may not be behind her, but around her, now, and closing in.
A Chat with Elana K. Arnold:
1. What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
DAMSEL was born from rage. The #MeToo movement has been a long time coming, and DAMSEL is my attempt to sort through my feelings about rape culture, misogyny, and gaslighting in a fairy tale setting.
2. Who is your favorite character in the book?
I think the Queen Mother is my favorite. She’s complicated and has seen things. Also, she keeps a tremendous number of pet cats.
3. Which came first, the title or the novel?
Almost always, for me, the story comes before the title. DAMSEL is no exception. Though in retrospect this is the perfect title for this story, it took a while to get there.
4. Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
The things I’ve experienced are mine to exploit however I wish to use them in my work. Sometimes I hear people say things like, “This isn’t appropriate for teen readers,” or, “We’ve had enough sexual assault stories.” But the world has filled each of us with a specific well of experience. Each of us owns those experiences. We do not have to be quiet, even if our truths make other people uncomfortable. It’s my job to write the best, truest stories I can write. It’s not my job to make other people comfortable.
5. What do you like most about the cover of the book?
This is the most gorgeous cover I think I have ever seen. The designer, Michelle Taormina, had such an amazing vision, and Vault 49 created a glowingly beautiful image. What I love most is that all the elements featured in the cover art are specifically meaningful. When a reader closes the book at the end, she will look at the cover in a different way.
6. Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
There are several scenes that involve the damsel’s pet lynx. For various reasons, these were really hard and emotional to write.
7. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
When I’m drafting, I imagine I like revising more. When I’m revising, I think fondly of drafting. 8. What would you say is your superpower?
I lack guile. That is to say, I take people at their word; I don’t assume secondary motivations. This is both a good thing and a bad thing; it’s good in that it allows me to be eternally optimistic and open-hearted, and it’s bad in that I can get hurt when people don’t live up to my expectations of honesty and forthright behavior.
9. Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
10. Is there anything that you would like to add?
Readers, if you are old enough to pre-register or register to vote, please do so. We are right now in the midst of a story that future generations will tell. Join me in being an active, passionate shaper of how that story turns out. Vote in the midterm elections if you can, and talk to the voters in your life about the issues that matter to you.
By: Elana K. Arnold
Release Date: October 2, 2018
One winner will receive a copy of Damsel (US only).