Indie Superstars with the Authors of Of Thorns and Beauty + Giveaway (US Only)
Welcome to YA Books Central's "Indie Superstars" column. This event will spotlight the best and brightest of the indie community.
You don’t want to miss out on these talented authors
This week we’re interviewing Elle Madison and Robin D. Mahle, authors of Of Thorns and Beauty
Welcome to YABC, Elle and Robin!
Caitlin Haines: Can you tell us a little about Of Thorns and Beauty and Of Beasts and Vengeance?
Elle Madison: I think it’s safe to say that growing up we were both obsessed with Beauty and the Beast (or at least the library lol) but we also love putting our own twist on things, so we thought to ourselves, what if “Belle” was more than the “Beast” bargained for? What if she had a twisted story and was there to betray him? That’s where it all sort of began. Then, as they usually do, our characters took our idea and ran with it. We love fairytales, but we also love morally gray characters and putting more humanity into them than expected. Characters that make mistakes and find their way back from them and to a hard won happily ever after.
Robin D. Mahle: ^What she said^ And on a more technical note, these two books mostly wrap up Zaina’s story and her romance, but there are four more books in the series with two focusing on each sister. So you don’t have to wait until the rest are out to binge these...we promise we didn’t leave another massive cliffhanger this time!
Caitlin: What was your favorite story/fairytale as a kid?
Robin: I have loved Ella Enchanted since I was old enough to read it! Before that, I remember really liking The Princess and the Pea.
Elle: For me it was Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty.
Caitlin: How long have you two known each other? How did you decide to write together?
Robin: We are coming up on our four-year friendiversary in May! Elle had been helping me beta read and brainstorm for The Tempest Sea when I talked about starting a new series. I don’t remember whose idea it was, but we decided to write it together, and I’m so glad we did!
Elle: Has it only been four years? No way… It has to be longer than that...right? It feels like we’ve always known each other, but we didn’t start even sharing that we were both book lovers until a bit into our friendship...then, yeah, everything she said. lol.
Caitlin: Who has been your favorite character to write so far? (From any of your books.)
Robin: I would have to say Addie from The World Apart Series. She’s definitely the easiest for me to relate to in terms of her reactions and the way she processes things, but I also just love her sardonic sense of humor and her wry outlook on life. Slipping back into her character feels like second nature to me at this point.
Elle: Ooh, this is tough. I think I should probably say Charlie... I relate more to her, but honestly for me, the side characters always steal the show. I had a blast writing Fia and the thieves. Seeing them come to life on the page was so much fun, and I find I miss them often.
Caitlin: Each week in your Facebook group, you do a bunch of “would you rather” posts. So, would you rather be the main heroine in one of your books or the best friend character?
Robin: Well, I certainly wouldn’t want to be Nell, and I think it’s safe to say no one would want to be Zaina...but I could totally handle being Isla or Addie, so that’s a toss-up. I think I’d go with heroine.
Elle: I could do either if it were between Charlie and Isla. But I think I relate more to Charlie. Plus her journey is so powerful! - And I can totally see myself taking off in the middle of the night in ill-fitting armor thinking I’m blending in and making a mess of things.
Caitlin: What is one thing you HAVE to have while writing? (Foods, drinks, music, silence, etc.)
Robin: Silence, 100%. I forget to eat and hydrate both when I’m writing a lot (I’m either using both of my hands or dictating, and neither leaves room for eating or drinking), and music is too much of a distraction. Now if Elle and I are plotting, wine is a must-have.
Elle: Haha! We are physically incapable of plotting without wine and brownie-batter. It’s inspirational lol! For me, while writing, sometimes I need silence or at least noise of my choosing. If that makes any sense. It’s hard for me to focus if my kids are awake or the tv is on, but sometimes I will play music from one of our books soundtracks and that will set the mood for a certain scene. Also, coffee and snacks are a MUST! I need something crunchy at the ready at all times.
Caitlin: Who is your favorite Disney Princess? Prince?
Robin: So even though my favorite movie is Beauty and the Beast, my favorite Princess is probably Jasmine. I mean, she has a pet tiger and a rebellious, independent streak. More than that, though, even though she gets the guy in the end, what she really gets is her kingdom. At its core, her story is about the right to rule her people without a man telling her how, and Aladdin is just a happy afterthought. I kind of love that.
Elle: Yesss to what Robin said about Jasmine!!! My other favorite would probably have to be Rapunzel. She’s a beacon of sunshine and clumsy and adorable, and even though she’s naïve to the world around her, she still finds ways of helping people see the best in themselves. (This is based on the movie of course lol)
Caitlin: This is your second series together, and Robin, you have one on your own. Elle, do you plan to go solo at some point? Robin, do you have more solo projects planned?
Robin: I have a few stories waiting in the wings, but we have so much on our co-writing roster that I don’t know when I’ll have the time. Also, it’s really easy to get spoiled to co-writing, the way that you step away from a project and come back and there are magically three new chapters there. It’s so much easier to get out of ruts that way, to feel less overwhelmed, so I don’t have any burning desire to go back to writing solo any time soon.
Elle: I have talked about doing a few solo projects before, and I know there are stories that I really want to tell at some point, but I also agree with Robin. We have so many projects in the works that there isn’t really time for anything else. Plus, at this point, it would feel really weird not having her there with me while writing. I’ve gotten rather spoiled and find myself dependent on her input and the way we craft our characters together.
Caitlin: If you were an animal sidekick, what would you be?
Robin: Definitely some sort of cat creature. Probably a chalyx, like Zaina’s in Of Thorns and Beauty. Lazing around until I get to growl at people I don’t like sounds about right.
Elle: I mean, I feel like if I don’t say raccoon, our readers will turn on me. HAHA. But really, it would be a tossup between a raccoon and an owl. I think they are so majestic and they’ve always been one of my favorite animals. Plus they can fly, and who doesn’t want to fly?
Caitlin: Can you give us any hints on what other fairytales to expect in the rest of this series?
Robin: The Twisted Pages Series takes elements from several fairy tales, but the major stories we’ll be pulling from are Cinderella and The Little Mermaid.
Elle: Yes! We are so excited to finish this series and share our take on these stories with everyone! We also have a Thumbelina standalone in an anthology for charity right now. It releases this month!! And someday, we will be turning our Rapunzel short story from last year into a full-length novel as well! From there, the sky's the limit.
Elle Madison is a faerie disguising herself as an author in the human world.
When she isn't wrestling her children, she's busy baking cookies for her husband and becoming a regular at every taco shop she comes across.
After hours, when she puts the kiddos to bed, you can usually find Elle working on creating new fantastical worlds or playing Stardew Valley.
Elle enjoys watching the sunset, trying new wines, the occasional raccoon, and being with people who make her laugh.
The name Robin D. Mahle represents a dynamic husband and wife storytelling team. They've travelled the world for both love and war, and a tale began to form between the two of them that just had to be told. One's love of anime and comics collided with the other's love of fiction novels to produce a story with action, captivating dialogue, and riveting prose.
The female piece to the puzzle that is Robin spends her days as a captioner for the deaf and hard of hearing. She loves to read, write, and loves all things Doctor Who. A Marine Corps veteran, her husband homeschools their offspring, lovingly nicknamed Thing 1 and Thing 2. He loves to write and spend time in his garden.They also have three fur babies: a needy Standard Poodle, a portly Mini Aussie, and a Persian Baby Kitty. Their family lives in Colorado after a lifetime of being way too hot in Texas.
You think you know the tale as old as time, but you’ve already got it wrong.
There never was a beauty and a beast, only a girl who was both.
And that girl was me.
Zaina will never be free.
She's forced into an arranged marriage to a Viking King in a castle full of secrets. But she carries secrets of her own, and the scars of her haunted past.
Handed off from one monster to another, she has no choice but to do her best to survive and protect her sisters.
Even if it costs her everything.
A Beauty and the Beast retelling you won’t want to miss, where nothing is what it seems and time is running out.
One (1) winner will receive a paperback edition of Of Thorns and Beauty