Author Chat with Tara St. Pierre (Some Kind of Wonderland), Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we're excited to chat with Tara St. Pierre author of
Some Kind Of Wonderland.
Read on for more about Tara, her book, plus an giveaway!
Meet Tara St. Pierre!
Tara St. Pierre has been writing for over two decades, but her muse only sporadically provides inspiration. Her laptop is filled with incomplete manuscripts and other plot outlines, and she feels blessed when one finally pushes its way through to completion--no matter how long it takes!
She enjoys classic science fiction movies and television shows. When driving, she sings along with the radio loudly and off key. She prefers tea over coffee, spring over autumn, vanilla ice cream over chocolate, and caramel over hot fudge. Though she lives by herself, one of her two cats enjoys cuddling with her.
Meet Some Kind of Wonderland!
Sometimes we all need an escape down a rabbit hole.
Since her parents’ divorce, Allyson’s only source of comfort and refuge has been within the pages of Alice in Wonderland, which her father used to read to her every night. Now a quiet and shy teenager, she auditions for her school’s production of the story, despite having no previous acting experience. But no one knows Alice like she does—she’s memorized every word—and she believes that getting the part is the only way her father will return for her.
Instead, she is enlisted as an assistant to the stage manager, and she runs afoul of the drama queen cast in the role she desires. Shuffling between a full deck of actors, a fidgety time-obsessed director, and an over-caffeinated costume crew, can Allyson navigate the bizarre world of high school theater? And how will her mother feel when she finds out it’s that story?
As fiction merges with fact and her present reality uncovers past memories, what curious things will Allyson discover—and how much will she grow—along the journey through her own kind of Wonderland?
~ Author Chat ~
Q1: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
A1: I’ve loved Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for as long as I can remember. In college during my junior year (almost 30 years ago), I took a creative writing workshop called “Writing Longer Fiction.” I had a unique idea to reimagine Alice in Wonderland in the setting of a high school drama club putting on a stage production of the story, where every character that the main character encounters would be based on a character from Wonderland. At the time, I didn’t have the main character’s central arc fully figured out, but I knew that I wanted to pay homage to the source material, so I dove right in.
Q2: Which came first, the title or the novel?
A2: On the first day of the Longer Fiction Workshop I took, we had to briefly describe the project we would be working on that semester. I said that I was planning a retelling/allegory to Alice in Wonderland, and an intrigued classmate asked what I meant by it. I said that I wasn’t completely sure but it would be some kind of Wonderland. Someone else in the class started singing the chorus to the 70s song “Some Kind of Wonderful,” and that became the working title. As I read, re-read, and researched the source material, I realized that Lewis Carroll twisted several songs—such as “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”—in his story, so I decided I would as well with my title. So to answer the question, the basic idea came first, followed by the title, followed by the novella I wrote for class, which many years later ultimately led to novel.
Q3: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
A3: It depends on the project. For my previous YA novel Mirror Me, it was definitely the drafting. That was one of the quickest, most organic writing experiences I’d ever had, almost like I wasn’t an author but a conduit for the narrator’s story. But since Some Kind of Wonderland went through several drafts decades ago, this time revising was more enjoyable. My original novella was only about 26,000 words, far short of a novel. I revised it in several ways to make it novel length, most notably changing the narrative from the original third-person point of view to the first-person point of view of the main character Allyson. After all, it’s her story—her journey to come to terms with her parents’ divorce years before the main events of the novel—and part of the revision was really fleshing what happened back then through flashbacks to her eight-year-old self.
Q4: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
A4: The original novella wasn’t broken into chapters. When deciding to revise it to novel length, I divided the story into twelve chapters, each named after the chapters from Lewis Carroll’s book (mostly, though not exactly, in the same order). There’s a flashback in each chapter, and those flashbacks didn’t exist in the original draft. They’re told from the viewpoint of younger Allyson, which was a challenge, but there’s one in particular—made even more emotional by what Allyson learns in the present—that was a challenge. I won’t reveal any spoilers, but it’s in Chapter X, The Mock Turtle’s Story.
Q5: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
A5: The scene that got the most positive feedback from my beta readers was in Chapter VII, A Mad Tea Party. I transposed the Mad Hatter and March Hare to the Costume Crew of the play. Though this was definitely a fun scene to write, and I’m overjoyed that they liked it—and hope that readers will too—I’m most proud of a scene earlier in the story. In Chapter V, The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill, Allyson is asked to fill in on stage for Alice because the girl playing her is late for rehearsal. In the original third-person narrative, the scene was straightforward, but once I revised the book to first-person narration, I could write in from the standpoint of Allyson imagining she’s in Wonderland instead of on stage in rehearsal.
Q6: Who is your favorite character in the book?
A6: After spending time in the narrator’s headspace, Allyson holds a special place in my heart. In many ways, this is my most personal novel so far. However, now that I’m much older than when I first came up with the idea, I can relate much more to Allyson’s mother. In many ways, this is her story as much as it is Allyson’s, and writing about her both in the present and in flashback, especially in Chapter X, has given me a deeper appreciation for her. Honorable mentions go to Chelsea (Allyson’s best friend), Patrice (a girl in the play who can’t get Allyson’s name right), and Chef Tony (based on the Duchess’s cook, the one Wonderland character I couldn’t figure out how to incorporate into the original novella but am thrilled I found a way).
Q7: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
A7: Words of wisdom from one of my college writing professors: A story is never written; it’s rewritten. Obviously, that’s true given the long-term circumstances of this novel, but as I’ve published a few novels now, I truly understand what she meant. I encourage my beta readers to rip my manuscripts apart. I would much rather know the places in the story that don’t fully work than receive only praise. Sure, I want them to enjoy my work, but a writer can’t look objectively at their own work because they’re inside it. Their honest feedback is a crucial part in revising the story where the ultimate goal is to make it the best it can be. Although, to strive for perfection isn’t the goal, as nothing is. Eventually, the story needs to make it out into the world.
Q8: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
A8: First off, a huge shout-out to my amazing cover designer, Tatiana Vila. As an indie author, I have creative control over my product, and that includes cover design. I don’t have those kind of skills, so commissioning a great graphic designer is what I’ve had to do. Though I found the image on a stock photo site, how she cropped it and added that particular font for the title in that particular place made me extremely happy. Seriously, I credit her for making a gorgeous cover. But what I like about the image is how symbolic it is of the story on several levels. It starts with a girl dressed in an Alice-like skirt, stocking, and shoes. She’s standing on some kind of wooden platform—a stage, perhaps—yet she’s so much larger than everything else. Alice grows in Wonderland, and Allyson has great personal growth in the story. The title has Wonderland in blue, which is one of two color motifs in the story, but the positioning of the font with the swoop of magic seems to take the shape of a top hat like the Mad Hatter. It’s simply stunning.
Q9: What’s up next for you?
A9: First, a little break from writing—and a chance to catch up on some reading—because after finishing something and putting it out there, I need some post-partum time to reflect and recharge. Then I’m going to look through the various pieces of writing on my laptop to find the next novel. I’ve got some other novellas I wrote shortly after graduating college, and I’ve got various first chapters or so of other ideas I’ve come up with since then. And then there are several outlines or character sketches that could give birth to the next story. But I look forward to jumping down that next rabbit hole!
Some Kind Of Wonderland
By: Tara St Pierre
Release Date: June 10th, 2021
Three winners will each receive a copy of Some Kind Of Wonderland (Tara St Pierre) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*