Friday, April 19, 2013

All About Middle Grade Interview: Liesl Shurtliff (author of Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin)

Guys, I am very excited to welcome debut author Liesl Shurtliff to the blog today to talk about her book Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin. I hope that y'all will give her a very warm welcome.

About the author:

I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah the fifth of eight children. My seven siblings tortured me but I really like them now. I loved dancing, singing, playing the piano and reading books by Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, and Roald Dahl. I also read Grimm’s Fairy Tales so often I wore through the binding.

Every summer my parents piled all the kids in a 12-passenger van, complete with a license plate that said 8SGREAT, and drove to California where we did NOT go to Disney Land. We spent our summers on mountains and lakes and beaches, which is far more magical than Disney Land if you really think about it. (Also our van broke down a lot, which was not so magical.) Some of my favorite memories include hiking, water-skiing, and collecting seashells, sand dollars, crabs, clams and giant starfish.

You can haunt Liesl Shurtliff at-
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1. In twelve words can you tell readers a little about your MC, Rump, and why they should read his story?

Rump is a quirky, unlikely hero searching for his name and destiny.

2. The premise and world of Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin sounds intriguing, but I'm most curious as to why you chose to have Rump's new found gift pull him into a curse.

I think magic is sometimes a little too easy. I didn’t want to have magic for magic’s sake in this story; I feel it should always have a price or consequence, and the greater the cost the better. Rump’s magic doesn’t just come from him. It’s tied to his family and the events that preceded him. So his gift is a little like the things we inherit from our parents, grandparents, etc. We don’t have any say in what happened before we were born, but those things still get passed down and affect us, and not always in a good way. A blessing or a curse. Or perhaps both. Rump’s magic is that way.

3. Which of your characters did you have the most fun writing about? Were there any characters that ended up being cut from the final draft?

I think I had the most fun writing the trolls. I’ll say no more. Don’t want to spoil it! Yes, Some characters I simply combined because they were performing the same function. I vaguely remember a teacher character in a very early draft that I cut.

4. So, Liesl, I'm curious to know...what made you want to do a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin? What about the original tale sparked your interests the most?

The thing about the original tale that sparked my interest, and ultimately lead me to writing my own version, was the unanswered questions and mysteries in the tale, particularly those surrounding Rumpelstiltskin. The tale is called Rumpeltstiltskin, and yet we know next to nothing about him, where he comes from, how he learned to spin straw into gold, or why he wants a baby. Folklorists have some speculations and I’ve read some retellings that are interesting and well done, but none that completely satisfied me in the case of Rumpelstiltskin. I personally feel he’s treated somewhat unfairly in the original version, so I decided to make my own and give the guy a chance.

5. It is always cool to find another fan of the Brothers Grimm. Compared to some of the sugar-coated fairy tale versions, which of the Grimm tales did you find the most shocking? If you had to pick one, and I mean just one, which Grimm Brothers tale would you say is your personal favorite?

The Grimm’s versions are actually pretty mild compared to some others I’ve heard. Some of the most shocking/disturbing ones for me are the earliest versions of the princess tales, such as Sleeping Beauty, where she is raped in her cursed sleep, bares twins, and is then woken by one of the babies sucking on her finger and draws out the flax seed that cursed her. !!! Horrific, nevertheless I think it’s symbolic of how females were largely out of control over their own fates.

Personal favorite Grimm’s tale? This tale is more obscure, but when I was younger I was fascinated by One Eye, Two Eyes, and Three Eyes. I love those freakish elements in fairy tales!

6. I hear that you used to go hiking during summer family vacations, so, have you ever had any dangerous encounters with nature?

Mostly the usual scrapes and brushes with poison ivy, skunks and porcupines. Once I witnessed a seriously awesome moose fight and once my family and I thought it would be a good idea to hike our way into Lake Powell. It was a fifteen-mile hike and we got stranded at the mouth of a canyon. Eventually we were rescued, but I was grumpy.  

7. There are quite a few excellent fairy tale adaptations, any that you would recommend readers check out?

Oh, many. I particularly love Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, A Tale Dark and Grimm and Through a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz, A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce (A loose retelling of Rumpelstiltskin) and The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale.

8. The world has fallen to a robot invasion and only one heroine/hero can possibly save the day, who do you choose? 

Dumbledore. Those robots are gonna fry.

9. Care to tell us about your writing cave (include picture if you want)?

It’s more of a pig sty. I’ll spare the visuals.

10. Any upcoming projects that you can sure with us? 

I am working on two new projects, another MG fairy tale and a YA that I’m not sure how to categorize. I’m not ready to share details on either one quite yet, but hopefully soon! 

Thanks so much for stopping by Liesl and for answering some questions. Cannot wait to read Rump (very excited). Through a Glass Grimmly is an excellent read that everyone should get their hands on, I know because I just read it). 

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff, April 9, 2013. Published by  Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers.

In a magical kingdom where your name is your destiny, 12-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone's joke. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. Rump discovers he has a gift for spinning straw into gold. His best friend, Red Riding Hood, warns him that magic is dangerous, and she’s right. With each thread he spins, he weaves himself deeper into a curse.
To break the spell, Rump must go on a perilous quest, fighting off pixies, trolls, poison apples, and a wickedly foolish queen. The odds are against him, but with courage and friendship—and a cheeky sense of humor—he just might triumph in the end.

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