Monday, September 14, 2009

Blog Book Tour: An Inteview with Joy Preble, author of Dreaming Anastasia

Today I will be interviewing Joy Preble, the author of Dreaming Anastasia.

Marya: Where did the idea for your remarkable book come from?

Joy: Dreaming Anastasia began with Anne. Or more precisely, Anne’s voice. I had this idea about a girl who was in history class and she was bored and her teacher wasn’t really doing a good job of teaching about the Russian Revolution. I didn’t even have a name for this girl yet, but she was smart and kind of snarky and possibly – in that original version – a bit of a trouble maker. Mostly what came to me was this girl who wanted something exciting to happen to her. So I suppose she got her wish

Marya: Why did you decide to bring Baba Yaga, the Russian fairytale witch, into the story?

Joy: Interestingly, the original version did not include Baba Yaga! But my agent and I kept discussing the idea that something was missing; here was this story that was based on the Russian Revolution and the Romanov assassination but the fantasy elements didn’t have an authentic Russian nature to them. So I essentially decided to do a re-write. And I just had a feeling that Russian folklore and fairy tales would bring me what I needed, so I read and read and within a very short time, I’d found the Baba Yaga stories. Baba Yaga seemed the perfect magic foil for Anne and Ethan and Anastasia – she is strong, unpredictable, impossible to actually do away with, and no one in the fairy tales encounters her without coming away changed. It seemed right both organically and metaphorically for what was happening for all the characters in the story, especially – not to give too much away – for certain characters who crave change but can’t have it

Marya: Have you always had an interest in the Romanov story?

Joy: Yes! I think I was in junior high when I picked up a copy of Robert K. Massie’s biography, Nicholas and Alexandra. I was hooked. There’s just something so gloriously and horrendously tragic about it all. This pretty, pretty family who had everything and then lost it all in the political upheaval of the times. And that crazy Rasputin who was so strong that they poisoned him and then shot him and finally had to drown him to get him to die! Plus of course, Anastasia herself – so young and feisty and funny. I can see why so many people just continued to hope that she hadn’t died in that basement that horrible day. I guess all of the passion of that story stuck with me and eventually it came out as Dreaming Anastasia.

Marya: In this story, the power of “blood’ – as in family connections – is strong. Is this something you believe is true outside of your story?

Joy: A very interesting question! Hmmmm…. I guess my answer is both yes and no. No in the literal sense. I don’t think anyone really inherits greatness or evil or that kind of thing. I do think we’re probably a combination of both nature and nurture and that while we have certain inherent traits, we do choose what we become to most extent. That being said, I find that for me, the power of family is strong. I do like knowing the people to whom I’m connected – the ones who share things with me at the most primal level. But I don’t think it takes blood for that. Some of the people I’m closest to aren’t blood relatives; they’re the “family” I chose – close friends; my tribe so to speak. But in terms of the story – I was very much working with the idea that what we do for the people we love is a very powerful force. And certainly for the European royal families, there was always a deep sense of the importance of blood. Beyond that, I guess I could start into the whole blood is important for the feminist aspects of Dreaming Anastasia, but I think that’s another topic entirely

Marya: When you began the story did you know it was going to end the way it did?

Joy: You know, you’re the first person to ask me that! And if I’m going to be honest, I will say that I very much struggled with the ending, especially the more I got to know and love my characters. For those who’ve read, you know that there are obviously two distinct possibilities for the ending. I did work out how the story would be both ways. But ultimately I feel I chose the ending that made the most sense for the characters. That being said, I will tease you by saying that if I get to write the sequels, you may find more surprises in store. That’s all I can say right now.

Marya: You are part of 2k9, a group of writers who are bringing out their first books in the year 2009. How has the group helped you with your book?

Joy: Oh my gosh, how didn’t they, would be the better question? I am constantly telling everyone how lucky I am to have these 20 other writers all going through this journey with me. Each and every one of them has become a friend and a writing colleague. We help each other with everything from morale to promotion and all the stuff in between. And when we do get together in person – it’s crazy wonderful. (Okay, Kathryn Fitzmaurice (The Year the Swallows Came Early) may disagree because she had to drive around Chicago with me behind the wheel getting lost and blowing through some toll booths (I didn’t see it; really. That’s all I’m saying. It was dark. It was raining. I’d eaten too much dessert) but beyond that these guys are just amazing!

Marya: Are you writing a new story at the moment? If you are, are you finding that your writing process is different this time around?

Joy: I’ve just finished two other novels that I hope you will all get to see at some point and I will say that while my general creative process is still the same, I have developed a much more accurately critical internal editor after having gone through editorial revisions with Dreaming Anastasia. The copy edit process in particular was an eye-opener to me. My editor had said, “Oh, it won’t be much. Your writing is very clean.” And then I took a look at what the team had to say… You find out your weaknesses – such as my desire to use too many stylistic fragments and my copy editor’s love of adding dashes. But I did love the discussions we had in the Word comment bubbles. It got quite lively late at night!

Thank you Joy for a wonderful interview. You can visit Joy on her website to find out more about her work and her book. Please visit the other bloggers who are partcipating on this tour.

Teens Read Too (8/17)

Through the Wardrobe (8/29)

Class of 2k9 (8/29)

Story Siren (8/31)


The Book Resort (9/1)

Marta’s Meanderings (9/2)

Babbling About Books (9/3)

A Passion for Books (9/3)

Day by Day Writer (9/4)

Neverending Shelf (9/5)

YA Books Central (9/6)

The Book Obsessions (9/7)

Dolce Bellezza (9/7)

Books & Literature for Teens (9/7)

Shelf Elf (9/8)

The Shady Glade (9/8)

Debbie’s World of Books (9/9) (9/9)

Ultimate Book Hound (9/10)

Lauren’s Crammed Bookshelf (9/10)

Sarah’s Random Musings (9/11)

Cindy’s Love of Books (9/12)

Presenting Lenore (9/12)

Always Riddikulus (9/12)

Jenn’s Bookshelf (9/13)

Carol’s Corner (9/13)

A High & Hidden Place (9/14)

Looking Glass Review (9/14)

Karin’s Book Nook (9/14)

Shooting Stars Magazine (9/15)

Library Lounge Lizard (9/15)

Book Journey (9/16)

The Book Pixie (9/16)

The Compulsive Reader (9/17)

Bildungsroman (9/17)

Booking Mama (9/18) (9/18)

The Written World (9/19)

Hope’s Bookshelf (9/19)

Book Nut (9/20)

Hope is the Word (9/20)

Zoe’s Book Reviews (9/21)

Homespun Light (9/21)

Teen Scene magazine (9/21)

Galleysmith (9/22)

Once Upon a Bookshelf (9/22)

Café of Dreams (9/23)

My Friend Amy (9/23)

The Brain Lair (9/24)

Ms. Bookish (9/24)

Lori Calabrese Writes (9/25)

Mrs. Magoo Reads (9/25)

Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm (9/26)

Fantasy Book Critic (9/26)

Into the Wardrobe (9/27)
In the Pages (9/27)

Beth Fish Reads (9/28)

Reverie Book Reviews (9/28) (9/28)

1 comment:

Kathryn Fitzmaurice said...

great interview!! I loved this book!