Awhile ago, I had the fantastic opportunity to read and review Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton, a fantastic story that weaves together mythology, adventure, romance and mayhem into a really excellent book. The book's release date is November 15th (so mark your calendars) but I have the honor of welcoming the author to What Book is That? today for an interview!
WBIT: First off, congratulations on your YA debut! Of all the settings and genres out there, what inspired to create the setting for Tyger, Tyger?
KH:Thank you, Emily!
Tyger Tyger has deep roots in the stories and poems I read and loved when I was a child. The first is Tam Lin, the story of girl who must muster all her courage to save her love who has been taken by the Sídhe.
The second is The Lords of the Grey and White Castles, a fairytale by Francis Brown, Ireland’s blind storyteller: http://www.finnvalley.ie/people/francesbrown/ The Lords of the White and Grey Castles is the story of two children- a girl and a boy- who must travel to the goblin realm to save a loved one who has been stolen by the goblin king.
The third is two of George MacDonald’s books: The Princess and the Goblin and The Princess and Curdie.
And finally, there is just a hint of the goblin from Harold Monro’s poem, Overheard on a Salt Marsh, in a certain water goblin who splashes through the pages of Tyger Tyger: http://thereaderonline.co.uk/2009/10/19/featured-poem-overheard-on-a-saltmarsh-by-henry-monro/
WBIT:Did the finished version of Tyger, Tyger differ from the original one? In what way(s)?
KH: It was very, very different! Once upon a time, I wrote a picture book called Loveleaves and Woodwender. But longer picture books were not selling, so I put Loveleaves and Woodwender in a drawer and forgot all about it…
… until last year when I decided I would like to write an Urban Fantasy, a re-told fairy tale in which the unknown breaks in to modern life. I realized that Loveleaves and Woodwender would be perfect to expand. Not only that, but it fit amazingly well with the Finnian Cycle — Fion Mac Cumhaill was Ireland’s King Arthur — and the stories blended together into the perfect history/mythology for a modern story.
WBIT:What, for you, is the hardest part about writing a novel?
KH:The dreaded line edits. The tiny little nit–picky details that must be attended to after I already know the whole story by heart. Getting through final edits (while new, shiny stories are waiting to be told!) takes real discipline for me.
KH: Creating characters and spinning story. :)
WBIT:Are these aspects different from what other people who aren't writers would think?
KH:I’m pretty sure everybody likes the fun parts—characters and story—and I have never really met anyone who liked line edits. So I think I am pretty normal!
WBIT: What trends or changes are you seeing in YA literature? What story elements are your favorites; that is, what makes a book excellent or unique in your eyes?
KH:I’m (still) seeing a lot of love triangles. I have a theory that the love triangle meme came from harem and reverse harem manga, where it has been popular for a very long time. In fact, I am seeing more and more manga memes in YA books.
I love books in which the world building is so detailed and complex that you are able to completely suspend disbelief. To me, that kind of book is addictive.
WBIT:There are hearty doses of mythology throughout Tyger, Tyger. For folks who are interested in reading more about those stories and characters, do you have any sources or books to recommend?
KH:Two of the books I like are: Alexander Carmichael’s Carmina Gadelica: Hymns & Incantations, and James Macpherson’s The Poems of Ossian and Related Works. MacPherson mixes things up a bit, but it’s all in good fun. George MacDonald’s fairytales are excellent, too.
You can find lots of Irish stories and myths on the net, as well: http://www.luminarium.org/mythology/ireland/
If you are interested in the Celtic Christianity that inspired the character Mamieo, you can find information here: http://www.prayerfoundation.org/celtic_pages_index.htm
WBIT: Tyger, Tyger was a rich and luscious story that grabbed me from page one. What other projects do you have on the horizon and can you share anything about them?
KH: My next project, after book two of Goblin Wars, will be The Legend of the Flying Dachshund, the first book in an early MG steampunk series. After that, I’m going to be pushing new horizons with a “Holes”-esque older MG dealing with suicide, Catholicism, immigration issues and one undead school administrator. I might write a picture book or two; then, it is back to the YA world for the third book in the Goblin Wars...
WBIT: You're trapped in a castle, and the only way out is to bribe the guards with desserts. What dessert would you use to escape?
KH: Turkish Delight, of course!
Thank you so much to Kersten Hamilton for joining us today! If you haven't already made plans to read Tyger, Tyger, then get your hot little hands on a copy when it comes out in November! You won't regret it, and that's a promise.
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