Owlcrate Exclusive Feb 2018: The Hazel Wood

**The interview is included in the monthly newsletter sent inside the Owlcrate boxes

What was your inspiration for writing The Hazel Wood? When did you first come up with the idea for the book?

I have all sorts of fairy tale pieces rattling around in my brain from the years I spent devouring fairy tales as a kid. Then a few years back I was reading a lot of Raymond Chandler, and I had this thought that “fairy tale noir” was a genre I’d love to read. I’d already attempted once to write a book about a cult novelist and a dangerous creative wellspring – a failed experiment that took place during NaNoWriMo 2011 – and I decided to revisit some of those ideas in a completely new project.

What did you think when you first saw the cover? Did you have any input in how it was designed?

I had no input – thankfully, as I am in no way a visual person. I didn’t know what to expect, but I absolutely LOVE what the amazing Jim Tierney came up with. I adore the way it weaves in bits and pieces of the lot, and looks kinda classic and old-school fairy tale until you look closer and see the bits of modernity stuck in there: a skyscraper, a coffee cup, a street sign. And I just about plotzed when I found out we were going to have gold and silver FOIL! Now the cover hits that spot in me that still obsesses over sparkly nail polish and shiny notebooks. It’s gorgeous and clever and then BAM! it hits you over the head with bling.

Were the Tales from the Hinterland all original stories you came up with? And do you think these stories will ever be published on their own? We’d love to own a copy!

They’re original, and very much inspired by the rhythms and preoccupations of classic fairy tales. And YES: they are going to be a real thing! I am so, so excited, and having so much fun taking on the writing of the rest of Althea’s dozen dark tales.

What is your favorite thing about the main character, Alice?

We often talk about badass women as being “unapologetic,” as if the feminine default is to apologize – and I kind of love that apology is anathema to Alice. She’s prickly and closed off for good reason, and even though she’s aware that her life would be easier if she were more amenable, she accepts the costs of who she is without resentment or regret.

What is your writing process like?

Generally I write every weekend and a couple of nights a week, and I like to use reading as my runway: I’ll read a few pages or a few chapters of a book that has in some way inspired or speak to what I’m working on, then go from there. For The Hazel Wood, this meant reading Lev Grossman’s The Magicians trilogy, lots of Helen Oyeyemi and Catherynne Valente and Kelly Link, and Philip Pullman’s version of the Grimm Brothers fairy tales.