Monday, January 31, 2011

Author Interview: Eilis O'Neal

Eilis O'Neal is the author of False Princess (review), released this year by EgmontUSA. She is answering a few questions about writing and her novel.

Describe your novel in a couple sentences including the following words: extraordinary, fat, raging, pleasant, purple, and love

The False Princess is the story of a girl who goes from extraordinary, very pleasant circumstances to humble, not-so-pleasant ones. Sinda has been raised to think she's the princess of Thorvaldor, but finds out just after her 16th birthday that she isn't. She's just a stand-in for the real princess, and, more than that, she's not needed anymore. After being kicked out of the palace, she also finds that she has magic raging inside her, love complications with her best friend, and a big fat mystery that only she may be able to solve and that has implications for all of Thorvaldor. Also, the cover background is a lovely purple.


Will we see a sequel to The False Princess?  If not, are you working on any other projects?

I'm still interested in the world of Thorvaldor, so maybe someday, though probably with a secondary character as the main character. At the moment, though, I'm working on an unrelated YA fantasy novel.

Sinda goes through some amazing character development as The False Princess progresses. How much of Sinda’s journey can you relate to? What do you hope readers will gain from reading about Sinda’s experiences?

I can relate to a lot of it, actually. In many ways, Sinda is very like me as a teenager. I was shy and felt awkward about some aspects of myself, just like Sinda does. As I got older, though, I became a lot more comfortable with myself, and happy about myself as a person. In that way, Sinda's journey mirrors some of my own experiences--though she's lucky enough to get to that point a little earlier than I did! But that's what I'd like people to take away from the book. That you have to learn how to like yourself, and to be proud of who you are, regardless of what other people think you should be.

Whatever happened to Sinda’s aunt? Does Sinda stay in contact with her? 

Originally, when I was doing my rough outline for TFP, there was a scene in which Sinda went back to Treb and Varil had to help her at a key moment.  As I actually wrote the book, though, that part didn't fit, and so it fell away. It fell away partially for plot reasons, but also because I didn't think Sinda was ready to go back and try to have a relationship with her aunt. It takes until the tail-end of the book for Sinda to really accept who she is, and before that, I don't think she could interact with Varil in a way that would be meaningful. In my mind, though, she probably does try to get to know Varil better after the end of the book, though that may be a year or more down the line.

You have published several short stories, with The False Princess being your first novel.   What prompted you to make the jump into writing a novel?

I've actually been writing novels--or at least trying to--since I was 12. I tried to write my first then, though I only got about 20 pages into it. I finished a novel for the first time at 15--a very Mary Jane-ish summer romance about a girl and a guy with a motorcycle. And there were two finished fantasy novels between that and TFP. While all those were good practice, none of them was good enough to be published. TFP was the first novel I wrote that really gelled. So I've wanted to publish a novel for a long time--it just took a while to get good enough to make it happen.

In The False Princess, Sinda discovers that she not, in fact, the princess, and is forced to live a common life after 16 years of being royalty.  How would you react in a similar situation? What about if you found out that you were the lost/hidden princess? 

I'm not sure I would react as well as Sinda did, especially at the age of 16. I had a hard time breaking rules then, and I might have been more timid about forging my own path. I think I would have done better if I'd found out that I really was a princess. I've always been good at taking on more responsibility, and there would be a lot of that. Honestly, though, either would be a bit tough on me, even now. I have a hard time with change--I even got nervous picking out new paint for the bathroom recently!

Thanks for stopping by Eilis!

Author Bio:
I’m a writer of fantasy and the Managing Editor of the literary magazine Nimrod International Journal. I started writing at the age of three (though the story was only four sentences long). My short fantasy has been published in various print and online journals, and you can find links to some of my stories here. I was born, raised in, and currently live in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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