Author Chat with Jennifer Donnelly (Poisoned) Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we're excited to chat with Jennifer Donnelly author of
Read on for more about Jennifer and her book, plus a giveaway!
Meet Jennifer Donnelly!
Jennifer Donnelly is the author of A Northern Light, which was awarded a Printz Honor and a Carnegie Medal; Revolution (named a Best Book by Amazon, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, and the Chicago Public Library, and nominated for a Carnegie Medal); the Deep Blue series; and many other books for young readers—including Lost in a Book, which spent more than 20 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. She lives in New York's Hudson Valley.
From Jennifer Donnelly, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Stepsister, comes a fairytale retelling that'll forever change the way you think about strength, power, and the real meaning of "happily ever after."
Once upon a time, a girl named Sophie rode into the forest with the queen's huntsman. Her lips were the color of ripe cherries, her skin as soft as new-fallen snow, her hair as dark as midnight. When they stopped to rest, the huntsman took out his knife . . . and took Sophie's heart.
It shouldn't have come as a surprise. Sophie had heard the rumors, the whispers. They said she was too kind and foolish to rule -- a waste of a princess. A disaster of a future queen. And Sophie believed them. She believed everything she'd heard about herself, the poisonous words people use to keep girls like Sophie from becoming too powerful, too strong . . .
With the help of seven mysterious strangers, Sophie manages to survive. But when she realizes that the jealous queen might not be to blame, Sophie must find the courage to face an even more terrifying enemy, proving that even the darkest magic can't extinguish the fire burning inside every girl, and that kindness is the ultimate form of strength.
~ Author Chat ~
- What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
A question, one I’ve wanted an answer to ever since I was little.
Poisoned is a retelling of Snow White, and the thing that scared me the most about Snow White when I was little was not the evil queen, the witch, or the poisoned apple. It was that mirror. It spoke. And the queen listened to it. She believed it. She gave it so much power. I wanted to know who was inside the mirror. Writing Poisoned revealed him. It showed me exactly who he is and what he wants. And it’s not good.
But there’s a way to fight him, and as my main character – Sophie – learns, it’s with kindness. Sophie is the evil queen’s daughter, a princess. Being kind isn’t easy for her. In her stepmother’s court, being kind carries risk and requires courage. Sophie has to battle hard throughout the story to not give into the voices who tell her that only a queen who rules through fear and cruelty can hold her throne. One early reader of Poisoned called her a Kindness Warrior, and I love that description. In Sophie’s long-ago world, and today, in our own modern one, being kind can often feel like its own form of defiance, of rebellion.
- Who is your favorite character in the book?
I love all the characters, even the villains. But my favorite is Sophie. She’s a gentle girl, one with a kind heart. She’s ridiculed and criticized for being who she is, but discovers – with the help of an archer, a grave-robber, a tall spider, a small dog, and a dangerous, shadowy brother and sister – that kindness is a strength, not a weakness, and that the very thing that makes her all wrong, is exactly what makes her perfect.
- Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel. Always. I’m so bad at short things like titles. Flap copy. Synopses. I’m wordy. I need two or three hundred pages to roam around in to really feel happy.
- Do you have a favorite writing snack?
It was chocolate. Tons and tons of dark chocolate. But I’m cleaning up my act. It’s high time. So now it’s dried fruit. And carrots sticks. (God help me.)
- Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer
from then to now?
It took me a looooong time to write and publish my first book. Over a decade. I got up early, at 4:30 am, to write before I went to work. I wrote on weekends and vacations. After I finished the book, I found a wonderful agent – Simon Lipskar at Writers House – and together we worked on slimming the manuscript down and tightening the story. When we were done, we submitted it to a lot of different publishing houses….and then I got rejected by every single one of them. I was so depressed. At that point, I’d put over a decade into the book, cobbling together an existence out of freelance work, watching all my sane, sensible friends get ahead in their chosen careers, giving everything I had to my writing. I was crushed, ready to pack it in, but Simon talked me down off the ledge, and re-submitted the manuscript a few months later and it sold. Finally. The advance wasn’t riches, not be a long shot, but I didn’t care. My book was going to be published and that’s all that mattered. Those long hard years taught me a very valuable lesson and it’s one I want to share with aspiring writers: No one can ever guarantee that you’ll get published, but one person can guarantee that you won’t – and that’s you, if you give up. So don’t. Never quit. Believe in your gift. Believe in yourself.
- What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love that the shiny red apple is exploding! That image perfectly captures the idea I’m trying to get at in my fairytale retellings – the idea of shattering the old interpretations and conclusions and coming up with new meanings, new endings, new possibilities. That apple, to me, symbolizes all the poison that others try to tell us about ourselves. They hand us a poisoned apple and what do we do? We take it and bite right into it. I’m hoping that Poisoned will instead convince readers to shatter the apple into a million pieces.
- What’s on your TBR pile?
Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean, The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan, and I’m excited to read Bill Konigsburg’s upcoming novel, The Bridge.
- What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?
I recently re-read, and re-loved, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. So eerie, beautiful and unsettling. Maggie makes me believe impossible things.
- What’s up next for you?
I’m currently working on another fairy tale retelling, and mulling about four other unruly, impatient story ideas – each jostling each other, trying to push and shove each other out of the way in a bid to be told first.
- Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
If I was drafting, I’d say revising, and if I was revising, I’d say drafting. It’s all so damn angst-ridden.
- What would you say is your superpower?
Getting turtles out of the road before they’re run over by cars. The sweet little box turtles are easy to deal with. The snappers present a challenge.
- Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
My local chapter of the Audubon Society. They educate the public on the beauty and importance of birds, and rehabilitate wounded birds. When I’m stressed or dispirited, I go to their preserve and hang out with the birds whose injuries prevent them from being released back into the wild. There’s a vulture with whom I have long conversations, a fierce one-eyed hawk, and a stunning and clever raven. I love them all.
By: Jennifer Donnelly
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: October 20th, 2020
Three winners will receive a copy of Poisoned (Jennifer Donnelly) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*