Tuesday, August 26, 2008

With The Faire Folk

by Nancy

Today we welcome Gillian Summers and her alter-egos, Berta Platas and Michelle Roper, to the lair. Gillian writes the popular Keelie Heartwood paranormal YA series. The first book, The Tree Shepherd’s Daughter, came out in 2006 and was quickly optioned for film, and the second, Into the Wildewood, came out this June. Welcome, Gillian!

Keelie’s adventures take place in an unusual setting but one many banditas and our buddies love. Could you tell us a little about it?

(Michelle) Keelie’s adventures take place in a Renaissance Faire, where the atmosphere lends itself to magical fun. I’ve been attending the Georgia Renaissance Festival for over fifteen years as a mundane and in costume. I love it. You can suspend belief and pretend you’re somewhere else. And as a writer my mind swirls with ideas, and I start going, what if?

(Berta) I'm a big fan of Ren Fairs, too, and I love the diversity of people that inhabit the real fairs. We decided that each faire would have a different theme, as real Ren Faires do, so the first one is pirates, and the second one is Robin Hood. The only thing we didn't add was kissing wenches. We'll have to put them into a future book!

Keelie makes an unusual discovery about her heritage. Can you give our readers a peek without spoiling the revelation in the book?

(Michelle) All of her life, Keelie thought that her one pointed ear was an accident of birth, something to endure, like her very unusual allergy to trees. When she goes to live with her father at the Renaissance Faire, she discovers that he has two pointed ears, and that her allergy to wood is altogether something different. She eventually discovers that her father is an elf, which makes her half elf and explains the one pointed ear. That tree allergy turns out to be something totally different from anything she ever dreamed it would be.

(Berta) We thought the contrast of a mall-loving girl from a big California city getting stuck in the woods with a father she barely remembers would be conflict enough! Then she finds out she's not entirely human, and it answers a lot of questions for her.

Her father’s pet gives Keelie fits. How did you come up with him and his antics?

(Michelle) Knot was based on my cat, Jean Luc. He would stalk me whenever I walked in our backyard. He would stare at something in the woods, his eyes would dilate, and he’d bolt up a tree as if something invisible was chasing him. He’d be walking along minding his own business, then take off in a run like his tail was on fire. I finally concluded the fairies were chasing him. He’d done something to them, and they were after him. That became the basis for Knot and his antics.

(Berta) Jean Luc's antics seem totally normal to me. Cats are so schizo. My cat Blender likes to be ON whatever I'm working on, whether it's cutting out a costume. He loves to trash tissue patterns, wrapping himself into them like a burrito. He enjoys laying across my computer keyboard, checking out everything I put into my mouth, and when he's bored, he swats Woody the golden retriever across the nose. Woody obligingly chases him, and usually is the one who gets into trouble for knocking stuff over. That Knot was more than a mere cat was easy to believe.

Of course, considering that both of you are Georgia Romance Writers, there’s a love interest. But the path of true love doesn’t run smooth here, either.

(Michelle) No, Keelie has some ups and downs with her love life just like any teen girl, except she has to deal with the fact the elf she likes is a lot older than her, even though he looks her age.

(Berta) Keelie's totally new to the romance stuff, and she's surrounded by dashing pirates and hunky guys in armor! Even though she's just lost her mother, she's distracted by the handsome elf who seems to like her right back. In the last book of the trilogy, we were set to say goodbye to Keelie, but then we discovered that our publisher wants three more books, starring Keelie! She's going to be a busy girl, and we have to come up with more Ren Faires and romance.

There seems to be a touch of Gossip Girls or Mean Girls in this series. Was that accidental or deliberate?

(Michelle) I’m the mother of two daughters, ages 26 and 19. I’ve been through the teen drama with them, and I think it’s just a part of life dealing with mean girls. There are going to be girls you like in school and girls you don’t like. I think it’s something our readers can identify with— having to deal with a bully, or someone who is less than nice. You have to find a way to handle it. Keelie does with the help of her new friends and the family she finds at the Renaissance.

(Berta) I remember my teen years very well, and I recall that high school was torture one day, heaven the next, depending on who talked to me, whether my locker jammed, and what heinous glop was served for lunch (and whether I could ditch it without being seen). Mean girls were a part of it, although I was never bothered by any. Gossip Girls and Mean Girls are fun to read because everyone loves a good villain.

There’s also a bit of falconry in Tree Shepherd’s Daughter, while Into the Wildewood features a unicorn. How did you decide which fantasy motifs to include?

(Michelle) Berta and I sat down and plotted out the books. The hawk and the unicorn are an evolution of the characters and settings from the original plots. We talked about what we liked in the Ren Faire, and we both love the Birds of Prey show. Having an injured hawk, like Ariel, who couldn’t live on her own, resonated with Keelie’s situation. When she first arrives at the Renaissance Faire, she feels trapped, and when she meets Ariel, she identifies with the hawk. They couldn’t be free. Keelie wanted her Mom back, and Ariel couldn’t fly. Keelie wants to see Ariel have her freedom.

(Berta) Yeah, what Michelle said. Also, Keelie's magic grows with each book. Maybe by book six she'll be befriending dragons. Just kidding.

In Into the Wildewood, a purple dragon figures prominently. Was there any particular inspiration for that?

(Michelle) Yes, there was a goofy purple dragon at the Georgia Renaissance Festival with big googly button eyes greeting the little kids at the gates. The image of the purple dragon stuck with me as we plotted Into the Wildewood. I kept thinking about Keelie being stuck in a suit like that at the Renn Faire, so I put her in one.

(Berta) And a right smelly suit it is, too!

Keelie’s love of shopping, and the trouble it causes her in Into the Wildewood must appeal to many teenage girls. Don’t you both have teenaged daughters?

(Michelle) Yes! My daughters are older but at one point for a year or so during their teens, malls, shopping, and Starbucks were essential to their social existence. One daughter loved Old Navy, and the other daughter loved Hot Topic, but they always found their way to the bookstore. However, now my thirteen year old son hates the mall except for going to the bookstore.

(Berta) My daughter is 14 and loves the mall, although she's just as comfortable buying t shirts online at Threadless. Her goal is not to look the same as everyone, but to look different, albeit cool. It's a balancing act, and I'm not sure I have a grasp of "coolness" when it comes to clothes. The best part of being a writer as that we can declare an outfit to be adorable, and each reader interprets that her own way!

You’re both members of Georgia Romance Writers and have writing interests beyond Gillian’s. Can you tell us a little about them?

(Michelle) I’m in the midst of revising two young adult novels, Whitney Wilbur Wipes Out and Jessie Fairechild’s Ride, and a middle grade fantasy, Odin’s Code. When I can’t stand writing about teen drama, I sneak off and work on my time travel.

(Berta) We both have so many projects! We're in the same critique book, which is how we ended up partnering on young adult books, so we get to read each other's "other lives." I write Latina women's fiction, and my next book, Lucky Chica, is about a lottery winner and will be out in January from St. Martins. There's more information on my website. I'm currently finishing the edits on a book about an accidental tarot reader, and I'm in the middle of writing a Pygmalion story about a photographer and a faux cowboy. Michelle and I also have a couple of non-Keelie books mapped out. We'll just have to clone ourselves.

Our guests are giving a copy of either The Tree Shepherd's Daughter or Into the Wildewood (winner's choice) to one commenter today. For more about Gillian Summers, visit her website.

Readers, have you ever been to a RenFaire? What did you like or dislike? What do you like about fantasy set in the real world? About teenage characters?

Michelle, Berta, and Gillian will be appearing at DragonCon over Labor Day weekend (www.dragoncon.org). If you’re there, catch them on a panel or at their 10 am Saturday book signing and say hi.


Natalie Hatch said...

have I got him again?

Natalie Hatch said...

AH ha I did, mwhahahahahaa, I wonder what m kids can get up to with him this time.... theres always the dress up clothes, or he could help make mud pies.

Nancy said...

Natalie, you did get him. Congrats. I think the mud pies are an excellent idea!

Natalie Hatch said...

I love the look of your books, and the one pointy ear just sounds great.

Nancy said...

Natalie, have you ever been to a Renaissance Fair?

Joan said...

Natalie, you rooster hog!

Natalie Hatch said...

Nancy I don't even think we have renaissance fairs here in Oz, I'm sure if we do another aussie will tell me. If it's where you get dressed up I'd love to go, but the kidlets get in the way of our fun.

Helen said...

Congrats Natalie have fun with him

Great interview Ladies these books sound really interesting. Teenage years are always such fun I have four children and 6 years between the four of them so they were pretty much teeagers together oh it was fun.

I have never been to a renaissance fair before I don't think I have ever seen them advertised here in Ausralia but they sure sound good I think I would really enjoy going to one.

have Fun

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I love the sound of the books to be sure. I can see my future and I will be broke again!
I would find these in the YA right? I don't think I can get my son to read them but I might have a shot at my daughter. She is 30 now but really just started reading.
I have never been to a fair or anything but have talked to some online friends that live for it.
Michelle, you mentioned that you have attended as a mundane and in costume...I take it a mundane is someone out of costume??
Congrats Natalie, mud pies are always a good choice.

PJ said...

Good Morning! Congrats on nabbing him again, Natalie!

Gillian, Michelle and Berta - glad to have *all* of you with us today! Both books sound fascinating. For what ages would you deem them appropriate? I have two young girls in my life who both love to read. One is a 13 yr old 8th grader and her younger sister is a 10 yr old 5th grader who reads at an 8th grade level.

Will you be at Moonlight & Magnolias in October? I'll be there for the conference and will wait to buy the books until then if you're planning to attend.

PJ said...

Oh, I forgot to say that I've been to many Ren Faires over the years and have enjoyed every one of them. This year I plan to attend the Carolina Renaissance Faire.

Caren Crane said...

Gillian (or Michelle and Berta *g*), welcome to the Bandits' Lair! We are very happy to have you with us today.

Natalie, how about making the Golden Rooster a purple dragon suit? He would totally fit into the blog today! Just no fire-breathing, please.

I LOVE the concept of these books. Not only do I love it, but I think my 14-yr-old daughter will love it as well.

I haven't been to a Renaissance festival in years, but there is a big one outside Charlotte every year. You guys make me want to go! I will be at Moonlight & Magnolias this year. Will you be there? I hope so!

Nancy said...

Natalie and Helen, it's interesting that you don't have Ren Faires there. I wonder why here and not there?

Dianna, I enjoyed these books immensely, and I'm significantly older than either of your kids. Yes, a mundane is someone out of costume--or a non-fan if you're among the comic book set. The dh will be a mundane at DragonCon, though he's participating in a couple of panels.

PJ, we used to go to the Carolina Renaissance Festival multiple times each year. When the boy was little, he couldn't get enough of it. We still go, but he's not so heavily into it now. Once is usually enough these days, though I try to do some Christmas shopping for fantasy-fan friends. Anime has demoted shining armor to a second-tier interest for the boy. I look forward to seeing you at M&M if not at the RenFest.

Caren--the rooster with fire? The mind boggles. Please, Natalie, no fire. *g*

Terry Odell said...

Ren Faire? Years and years ago. Like in the 60's. I remember the huge turkey drumsticks! Yeah, there were guys in tights, but I was newly married then and didn't look much. However, any kind of fair is ALWAYS about the food.

Dina said...

I liked our Ren fair, all the costumes, exhibits and shows.

Anonymous said...

Oh what a fun and fabulous blog/interview today! Thanks Nancy, and thanks Berta and Michelle for visiting! You all have brought two of my favorite subjects to the Lair -- faeries and young adult fiction. :-) I haven't read your work but will throw it to the top of the TBR pile, which is mainly YA right now. (Don't tell anyone, but I find YA to be the most inventive, creative, and exciting genre around right now. ;-) ) I write urban fantasy YA (my first comes out with Hyperion in Fall 2009) and adult romance (WIP is about a faerie, believe it or not!).

I've never been to a Renaissance Fair, but they sound like great fun. I'm not sure I understand the pirate angle though -- isn't that a different era? Not that I'd argue. I love pirates almost as much as I love faeries! And then you throw in a unicorn? Be still my heart!

Can you talk a little about how you'll work between the adult and YA genres? Are you concerned about that at all? Will you use two names? Did the houses have any concerns?

Berta said...

Wow, logged in and I'm amazed at all the comments. Don't you guys ever sleep? Oh, Australia! That totally makes sense now. For some of you. :)

And Natalie, there are ren faires in Australia, about five of them. The Brisbane Medieval Faire and The Abbey Tournament are two of them. Everyone dresses up, and there's always stuff for the kids to do.

Helen - four teenagers at once? I sometimes have a housefull because my kids bring home friends, but I get to send them all home. Well, except for mine.

Dianna, it's great that your daughter's started to love reading. My two oldes sons (in their 20's now, love to read, but my youngest likes comic books and video games. I've never seen him immersed in a book. I hope that some day he'll find an author that inspires him enough to get hooked. My daughter, on the other hand, is currently rereading all of the Harry Potters to "keep her hand in" as she says.

PJ and Caren - the Carolina Renaissance Faire is the BEST because it's in the fall. No bugs, little chance of rain. The Georgia Ren Faire, held in the Spring, inspired much of the mud in THE TREE SHEPHERD'S DAUGHTER. We'll both be at Moonlight and Magnolias.

Nancy - I love to show up in costume at Ren Faires (the Rennies call these folk Playtrons - patrons who play), but not at DragonCon. Too much to see and costumes get in the way. That's because I'd be all corseted and farthingaled, knocking stuff over. Your son wears much more wearable stuff.

Terry - guys in tights. Depends on the guy, right? You're guy was probably better than the others, or else the stars in your eyes made it seem so. Ah, love...

I'll check back later, and Michelle will as well!

Anna Sugden said...

Welcome to the Lair, ladies and thank you, Nancy, for enticing them to join us!

Your stories sound really interesting. As someone who only likes the light woo-woo, they are right up my street.

LOL on the cat - oh yes, all my cats have had that kind of 'chased by fairies' behaviour. What we'd call their 'funny five minutes'.

I've never been to a Ren Faire (I know - bad Brit!) though been to lots of medieval days etc at the various castles here in the UK. Sounds like fun though.

Anna Sugden said...

Well done, Natalie - I'd go for the mud pies.

I really must get a photo of the GR tile in our new kitchen to show you all!

Berta said...

Hi, Kirsten! Great to see another YA author here. I agree about YA being more inventive and fun. The publishers of adult fiction are so much more restrictive about what they perceive to be "marketable." Hyperion's a great house, too. Congratulations!

Pirates are tossed into the Ren Fair mix because so many people like them. There were pirates during the Renaissance, but the ones at the fairs go forward about two hundred years! Why not? It's all about the fun.

Now to your question: Our adult fiction is quite different from our YA, and with different publishers. I discuss these issues with my agent, not my editor, although I'm sure my editors are aware of the other stuff I write, since all you have to do is log onto Amazon to see it listed. It's sort of "don't ask, don't tell."

Readers are another matter. Michelle and I chose to write under a pseudonym partly because we didn't want ten-year-olds picking up one of our adult novels and reading a sex scene or language that would be objectionable (the other reason for the pseudonym was great, self-selected placement in the bookstore stacks. Rowling, Summers. Mwa ha ha!). Kids are smart though, and I've already had a couple of teens email me at my Berta Platas site because they discovered our ill-kept secret and picked up Cinderella Lopez. Darn. More sales.

Can you tell I'm not worried? I don't write erotica, so even my adult books are well, not tame, but not hair-raising. And as you know, a lot of YA deals with raw themes, and are full of realistic language and scenes. Not ours. We've got nine-year-old fans, and eighty-year-old fans. We love them all.

Tell us about your book!

Berta said...

Hi, Anna, and thanks! My cat, Blender, was on a tear last night during our critique group meeting. He walked the second floor banister like a tight-rope walker, making us all catch our breaths, then raced downstairs to annoy the dog into chasing him. We should have named him Mayhem. He also has that disconcerting cat trick of staring at a spot on the wall as if someone were there. It's creepy.

Donna MacMeans said...

These books sound fabulous. My daughter is a hugh YA reader, I'll have to check and see if she has them (her room has more books in it than a Barnes & Noble). They sound right up her alley.

We used to have a permanent summer Ren faire near here. Lots to see. Loved the Shakespearean guy selling insults.
Fun shopping. My kids liked the game where you sit on a log and try to knock your opponent off with huge punts.

The darned thing was expensive though. That's why I've only been once. (and maybe why I haven't noticed advertisements for the faire anymore).

I can see how this would make a fun magical setting, though - thanks for joining us. (and thanks Nancy for the GREAT interview).

Kestrel said...

Hey everyone!
I am very picky about what YA I like, but your books sound so interesting, because one of my first jobs EVER was at a Renaissance Faire.
It was the Virginia Ren Faire, in Fredericksburg, VA (closed now), and I worked for the public relations office. It was my job to wander the faire in costume and get guests to fill out questionnaires about their experience. I was a junior in high school, and in drama, most of my friends were volunteers of some kind at the faire, and it was sooo much fun!
I would totally be a rennie if I could, but my hubby thinks I'm crazy. I have that gypsy spirit, whereas he has lived in the same town nearly all his life. He keeps me grounded. :)
I can relate to Keelie's love story too, I met a boy (he was 20, I was 17) who was an apprentice sword-maker in addition to going to college, and we clicked... He was so darn cute! He looked just like Matthew Broderick in 'Glory'. Probably one of my first loves, it was so romantic, being swept up in the drama of where we met, we talked for awhile after the faire ended, he wanted me to go to college where he went, but I was a silly teenager and long distance relationships don't work when you are that young.
I love the idea of your setting in a ren faire, and I will be looking for those books!

Kestrel said...

For all of you that mentioned the GA and Carolina Faires, do you have any more info on them? I live in upstate SC, and my oldest son enjoyed the faire we went to outside Phoenix (which made no sense at all, people in Elizabethan costume in the middle of the desert? Would have been more believable to pretend we were all on Crusade.)... I would love to take the fam to another faire, maybe hubby might get into it!

PJ said...

Kestrel, I live in upstate South Carolina too! Are you loving this rain as much as I am?

Here's a link to the North Carolina faire.

and to the Georgia faire.


Anonymous said...

Berta, I write YA as Inara Scott and adult as Kirsten, also with the intention of keeping the YA folk from too quickly jumping from one genre to the other (though I admit that when I was a young reader, I was all over the adult romance!). So hopefully that's enough! I was surprised to see that Random House is writing a morality clause into its YA author's contracts. Something to keep an eye on for those of us writing in multiple genres...

My YA is about a heroine with the ability to Make Things Happen just by thinking about them. Problem is, she doesn't know if her power is good or bad. She's got to figure out what's going on at her mysterious new school, and choose between two boys, all in her freshman year of high school. Sort of like X-men for girls. ;-)

rebekah said...

I haven't been to any Ren Faires, but every year I tell myself I'm going to go to the one in Denver Colorado and never seem to make it. I did go to one of those places that puts on a show with jousting and dinner. That was so much fun. I love that they want you to get into it by cheering. I loved it and would like to go to one of those dinners again.

rebekah said...

I haven't been to any Ren Faires, but every year I tell myself I'm going to go to the one in Denver Colorado and never seem to make it. I did go to one of those places that puts on a show with jousting and dinner. That was so much fun. I love that they want you to get into it by cheering. I loved it and would like to go to one of those dinners again.

Michelle said...

Hi Everyone,

Wow! Look at all of the comments!
I'm blown away. Thanks for having
Gillian on your blog ;)

I'm the other half of Gillian, Michelle Roper.

First up, someone mentioned a purple dragon suit for the golden rooster. I say go for it. Your rooster will be stylin'. Dragon suits could become the fashion rage next year.

Natalie Hatch--If you can find a Ren Faire in Oz, I'd say take the kids. They'd loved it. After a faire visit, my daughters, when they were younger were always inspired to pull out their princess gowns(old prom dresses) from the costume box. It fueled their imagination. Whenever I go, I become a big kid, too. It's so much fun!

Dianna--Like Nancy said, a mundane is someone out of costume. It depends on my mood if I go in costume or not to the Renn Faire There are just days, you don't want to wear a bodice, no matter where you're going.

PJ-I'll be at Moonlight and Magnolias. I think your daughters will love Keelie.

Caren--I've never been to the Carolina Renaissance Festival, but I plan on attending this year. The autumn is a great time to go. The Georgia Renaissance Festival use to have a fall faire, and I loved it.

Kirsten--I agree with you wholeheartedly about writing YA. It does let you be creative, imaginative, and have fun.

Anna--LOL at your light woo woo comment. You'll love our cat, Knot.
My oldest daughter is a vet student, and having a kid that is a vet student, and has always wanted to be a vet entails having strays dragged home, who need a home. At one time, I had seven cats. Yes, seven cats! I felt like I was getting a head start on my old lady cat collection. So, with seven cats, there was feline hijinx twenty-four seven. These days, I'm down to two cats, Ryker, a narcisstic Maine Coon, and Woodstock, a bipolar yellow tabby.

Terry--They're still serving up turkey legs at the Ren Faire. In fact, they'll serve anything on a stick, even mac and cheese.

I'll answer more later. I homeschool my thirteen year old son, and it's time to check his Algebra.

Nancy said...

Terry, the turkey drumsticks are still around! Some of the guys in tights, except for the jousters, of course, well . . . let's just say other attire would be more flattering.

Dina, we usually spend the day when we go, because there really is so much to see and do. Also, as Donna points out, just walking through the gate is expensive. Now that the boy doesn't qualify as a child, it's a bit more expensive.

Kirsten, as Berta notes, the history at Ren Faires is what one might call "flexible." The armor isn't exactly period, either--at least, not at our fair. I suspect the jousters would rather not melt. It can still be hot in NC in October.

Kestrel, I'll bet that was a fun job. I worked at an amusement park one summer (polyester costumes--ugh, hot!) and enjoyed the job, though I didn't find romance there. LOL on the desert description!

Berta, some people in the lair do not sleep. But you can't tell anyone. It's a secret. As for costumes, yours are much too gorgeous (she has won prizes for them at costumers' guild competitions, y'all), not to mention accurate, to wear into the dirt and chaos of RenFaire.

Anna S., we're waiting for that picture.

PJ, thanks for providing the links. Maybe we'll run into each other.

Thanks to everyone who liked the interview.

jo robertson said...

Welcome to the Lair, ladies, in all your incarnations! Nancy, what great interview questions.

I love the concept of your Wildewood books. Can you tell us anything more about the movie options?

I adore Renaissance Faires. We are very near to Novato, California, where there's an annual faire done beautifully and I used to take my drama students there. I also live close to Ashland, Oregon, where Shakespeare's plays are performed every season. I adore anything Renaissance.

I'll certainly put your books at the top of my to-read list. They sound delightful.

Congrats on the chook, Natalie.

Nancy said...

Rebekah, I went to the Denver RenFaire when we were out in Colorado one summer. It was a lot of fun. I've often wanted to go to one of those medieval dinners, but the timing has never worked out.

Michelle, I don't envy you algebra. It was my nemesis.

Joan said...

Sorry to have fussed and then left...midnight you know.

Welcome to the lair Berta and Michele! Your books sound so wonderful and I can just imagine throwing in the one pointed ear/half elf equation into teenage angst, LOL.

As to Ren Faire's...have always thought about going but never made it. I'm kind of holding out for a Rome faire....


Michelle said...

Donna--I agree with Berta, it's wonderful you're daughter loves to read so much. My daughter's room could rival Barnes and Noble, too.

Kestrel--What a great job to have as a teenager. It sounds like it was a magical time for you.

Elizabethan costumes in the desert. The actors must have been roasting in those costumes

Kirsten--Your YA book sounds great Interesting info about the morality clause. That is something I haven't heard about.

Rebekah--I've been to a jousting dinner show, too. I loved the hunky knights.

Jo--Thanks for welcoming Gillian, Berta, and me to the lair. It's been a wonderful and delightful experience getting to know the Banditas.

I would love to visit Ashland, Oregon. I was doing research and came across the Shakespeare plays held there.

What is the name of your faire in Novato, California?

Joan--A Rome faire! Chariots, centurions, and Caesars all in one place--it's a concept that might catch on.

Berta said...

Kirsten, your books sounds so good! I can't wait to read it. I'm sure I've seen your name at one of my favorite hangouts, the teenlitauthors yahoo loop. For any of you that may want to write for young adults, that's the best loop ever, full of marketing info, guest agents and editors, and lots of patient folk who answer any all questions. Free to join to whoever cares to! There are 400+ members, 98% of them just lurk.

And that morality clause is definitely cause for concern. I'm heading out to Google right now to find out more.

Berta said...

Ah, Michelle appears, fresh from Algebra and her Houdini Husky. Last night she told us the adventures of her Siberian Husky, Raven, an adventuress who despite an upgraded pen with a doggie condo and a stage, still digs out every chance she gets, and lingers at the front windows, laughing, so that the family gets a good look at her escapee self.

PJ said...

>>>PJ, thanks for providing the links. Maybe we'll run into each other.

Nancy, that would be fun! :) If you live on the north side of Charlotte chances are I could run into you at a number of places. I'm in Huntersville at least one weekend every month.

Esri Rose said...

Congrats, Natalie!

I have to say, I think those are the prettiest book covers I've ever seen, and they sound GREAT.

I've been taking a break from the Faire for a few years, mostly because our summers seem to be hotter. I was always a mundane, but also always dressed up. The sense of another world is really strong there.

Esri Rose said...

Actually, it occurs to me that these books would make great presents for my niece. Kewl.

Esri Rose said...

Oh, I see I was never a "mundane." I thought that meant someone who didn't work at the Faire. Cool! I'm not mundane!

Esri Rose said...

Berta: I never met a Husky who wasn't an escape artist. And the dang things can jump like deer.

flchen1 said...

Wow, neat post today! I've never attended a Renaissance Fair, but all the costumes and the possibility for stories is so intriguing! And I love the manifestation of her half-elf nature--one pointed ear! These sound like great reads!

Congrats on the GR, Natalie--is he having fun with the kids?

Christie Kelley said...

Wonderful interview! I love Ren fairs. We have a great one in MD that should be starting this weekend. I promised my kids we would definitely go this year since we missed last year.

Nancy said...

Jo, glad you liked the interview! You hit on the question I left out--what's up with the movie?

Joan, there's a book that might interest you. It's not Rome Fair, exactly--more like Westworld in Ancient Rome. The Imperium Game by K. D. Wentworth is about live-action roleplaying set in ancient Rome that goes slightly wrong. It's out of print, but I imagine it's available used.

PJ, September is nuts for me, but let's touch base at M&M. I can get to the Huntersville area.

Esri, the dh loves being a mundane. He described DragonCon to a friend as involving people wearing costumes or "appropriately decorated t-shirts" and proudly proclaimed his mundanity. I think the generalized, intense eccentricity occasionally gets to him, but he deals pretty well and loves people-watching as long as he can retreat once in a while.

Fedora, give the fair a try when you get a chance, and let us know how it was. And they are, as you suspect, fabulous books.

Christie, do you find RenFaire food prices to be in the Disney ballpark? Ours are cheaper than the WD vendors, but not by a lot.

jo robertson said...

Berta and Michelle, are the Wildewood books really appealing and appropriate for nine-year old girls?

Any flags? Thanks.

Louisa Cornell said...

I agree with Joan, Natalie is becoming the GR kidnapper of choice! Maybe he LIKES playing with the kids!

How funny that these books should be featured today. Our local bookseller, Tammy at The Bookbasket, has a display of them at her store and she says the kids in town are snapping them up. My niece, Alex, is 14 and I am always on the lookout for something new and wonderful for her to read. These sound very much up her alley!

I love the elf with one pointed ear. Too cute and definitely a source for teenaged angst.

The setting of the Renaissance Fair is wonderful. So many possibilities. When I was teaching I took my students to the Georgia Renaissance Fair on a number of occasions. It really is a great fair and the kids had a ball. It was responsible for may thought-provoking discussions back in the classroom and even some heated arguments about what would and would not have happened in the Renaissance.

I still have the medieval battle axe I ordered from one of the craftsmen who attended one year. It is a magnificent piece and hangs over my fireplace.

Oh and the food is always fantastic! Come to think of it, I need to talk to Tammy and get a group together to attend the Georgia fair again.

Kestrel said...

pj, thanks for the links, I'm trying to figure out which faire might be closer to home, I appear to be smack dab in the middle since I'm in Greenville...
I am absolutely LOVING this rain, though I am not looking forward to having to mow the yard again *sigh*...

p226 said...

I went to a ren faire. Bought a sword. It rusts in a corner. About once a year I coat it in CLP to slow the rusting... but meh. It's an outmoded weapon.

I kind of liked the ren faire atmosphere a little. But, then you had folks that take it way too far. They get a little "too" into their characters. I had a guy launch into a medieval tirade about the inappropriateness of my wife's attire. (short shorts). He was joined by a little lackey in their derision. So I had before me, two confrontational $%^^#$%$%^s armed with swords. They edged perilously close to finding out just how outmoded their choice of weapons are. Finally, some harsh words convinced them that The King's Fashion Police were about to be in over their braided heads.

But! Not all of my ren faire experience has been so negative. We went to another one about a year later, and the atmosphere was a lot more tolerant of "out of character" folks such as my wife and myself. That one was actually pretty neat. They had some craftsmen doing various things the old school way. Blacksmiths pounding out swords and armor. Rope makers. Carpenters using wooden pegs/nails. An old fashioned coin press. Weaving. You name it.

We spent some serious money at that one. And the experience was pretty cool.

Cheri2628 said...

I actually live close to where the Georgia Renaissance Festival is held, and we try to go every year. It is so much fun! The people who work at the festival wear great costumes and are always in character. The food is great, and the shows are hilarious. It runs for 8 weekends, and many of the buildings are permanent. My sons have gone on school field trips there, too. It is fun to escape into another time for a while.


Jane said...

Wtg, Natalie.

I've never been a RenFaire, but I would love to go to one someday. I always think of jousting and I'm picturing scenes from "A Knight's Tale."

p226 said...

I just wanted to come back and say how much I like the cover for "The Tree Shepherd's Daughter."

I'm not sure why, but that image really speaks to me.

PJ said...

Kestrel, you're closer to the Faire in Charlotte. It takes me approx. 1 1/2 hours to drive from Greenville to Exit 25 on I-77 in Huntersville, which is the exit to take for the Faire. If you stay on I-85 and take exit 52 or 55 to the Faire it's about the same distance. Plus, the traffic going from Greenville to Charlotte isn't nearly as bad as driving through Atlanta.

Michelle said...

Esri: You're right, huskies are escape artists supreme. I have
two huskies, Raven and Arwen.

Raven is on the skinny side, and she can squeeze herself into tiny places, dig in tight places, and ta-da--she's out.

Arwen is a full-figured girl, so she can't squeeze into the tiny places like Raven. Arwen tattles on Raven by howling. There's a definite 'woo' Arwen yodels, which means "Mom, Raven's out, again."

Christie Kelley--You definitely should go to the Maryland Faire. From what I understand, it's fabulous.

Jo--I do have a flag. There is a scene where Keelie goes to an after hours party at the Faire.A pirate touches Keelie inappropriately on the breast. It's quickly handled.

This situation with Keelie at the party is minor compared to sexuality and other controversial issues in some YA's. This scene was something Berta and I had debated and discussed. We finally put it in and handled it in a positive way.

Layered in all the fun and zaniness of the faire is a teen girl, who has just lost her mother.Part of Keelie's character arc is accepting her father and his world while dealing with her grief.

It's very important when you write YA--you must never write down to your audience.

Lousia Cornell--I love hearing the books are flying off the shelves. Huzzah!

I think it's awesome you have a medieval battle ax hanging over your fireplace.

Berta said...

Louisa: Tammy at The Bookbasket is my hero! I think I shall look her up and send her chocolate.

Esri, you're here, too! You're a Noodler AND a Bandita! Hugs!

Jo: We've had one fan write to us who had just turned nine! It really depends on the maturity of the child. Keelie's just lost her mother, and is grieving, and angry about her situation, stuck at the Ren Faire with the father she barely remembers. That part, I think, would be more disturbing than the one brief teen moment at a tent party where a wine bottle is being passed and "something" is being smoked (we never say what) and Keelie sits next to a pirate who almost touches her breast before her older girlfriend realizes what's happening. Tame stuff in the YA world, and it happens quickly.

Cheri: The shows are hilarious, and sometimes bawdy. I love the washerwomen.

Jane: A Knight's Tale was much closer to the Ren Fair look than it was to the real middle ages. I think they deliberately went for that vibe.

Berta said...

About the movie deal - the producer is a Canadian whose plan included a short commercial release followed by cable TV showings and DVD sales. Alas, the writers' strike has apparently hit him hard, and he had trouble with the financing. So our little series is back on the media block, and we've been assured by our agent that once the third book comes out it will be much more attractive to producers, since the whole story arc will be available. As I recall, the Potter films didn't happen until after books three or four, so maybe that's the way it's done. Anyway, there's already been more interest, so we just take the money and smile.

Michelle said...

p226--Thanks for the lovely compliment about out cover. Berta and I love it, too.

Jane--The jousts are fun. I love the movie, "A Knight's Tale".

Berta said...

LOL! The problem with two authors, one blog - we answer questions simultaneously! That "flag" for the first book taught us a big lesson. Although it was a minor event, parents ask us all the time if the book is appropriate for their child, and we dutifully tell the truth.

In Into the Wildewood there's a scene were Keelie gets very frustrated, and then when she's hit in the shins by a kid with a wooden sword, she yells out the "f" word. Our editor, being naughty, encouraged us to put the word in. Go full monty! says he. So we did. Then we got back the galleys and looked at each other, horrified. We remembered the nine year old who loved The Tree Shepherd's Daughter, and we put a big black stripe through the word. Our editor was cool with our decision, and now Keelie curses and gets in trouble, but we'll let each child decide what the word is that gets her into so much trouble.

Beth said...

Welcome to the lair, Berta and Michelle! Your books sound wonderful *g*

I'd love to go to a Ren Faire. We have one nearby but I always seem to miss it. I believe it's held in the fall so maybe I'll get there this year :-)

I'm a huge fan of YA stories. I love how open the genre is to all types of stories and how kids, no matter what their age, can find stories they love *g*

Anna Campbell said...

OK, just popping in quickly to say hello and welcome to Gillian and her alter egos (which in a paranormal universe can be very ALTER!). Just back from the Melbourne RWA conference which was huge fun. No R*BY, sadly, but Untouched did collect the gong for best cover which I thought was lovely. Especially as I ADORE the green monster's artwork. Hope you've all been good (well, as good as you can be!) in the lair in my absence! Missed you guys!

PJ said...

Kestrel, I hope all is well at your house. Check in when you can and let us know you're okay? The last tornado to come through missed me and hit Clemson. There's a lot of damage at the university and in town but, thankfully, no reports of injuries so far. It looks like more of the same heading our way overnight so be careful!

PJ said...

Welcome back, FoAnna! Congrats on winning the cover award for Untouched. That is one gorgeous cover!

Helen said...

Thanks for the info on the Ren Fairs Berta I will be looking out for them.

Welcome back Anna we have missed you I would have given you the R*by but huge congrats on the cover I too loved it.

Have Fun

Joan said...

kestrel and PJ and all other Banditas and BB's in the storms path tonight.

Stay alert and stay safe!

In Kentucky where dark clouds are forming...

Michelle said...

I wanted to say thank you to all the Banditas for letting "Gillian" hang out in your lair.

You guys are wonderful!

Berta said...

I echoe Michelle's thanks. It's been a lot of fun today. Those in the storm's path: stay safe tonight and tomorrow. My neighbor's rain gauge showed five inches from yesterday afternoon until this morning. It's put a dent in our drought, but the tornadoes are frightening. Big hugs to you all, and as Keelie's dad would say, May you grow many rings!

Nancy said...

Y'all were busy while I was gone.

Louisa, the battle axe sounds way cool. I'd go for a sword, but I have no place to display it safely, alas. I look at them every year, though.

p226, you probably take better care of your sword than I would if I had one. I've never been to a Renaissance Faire with obnoxious players--well, not obnoxious in that particular way. Considering what you pay to walk through the gate, getting hassled about your clothes is very bad marketing.

Kestrel, I love the rain when I don't have to be out in it. It does come as a welcome relief after the prolonged drought, of course, whether I have to go out in it or not. Still, that whole Camelot "never rains 'til after sundown" bit has a lot of appeal.

I hope all of you in storms zones stay safe.

Cheryl, and Jane, we enjoy our annual visits to the NC RenFest. The jousting isn't as elegant as in the movies--or as in the boy's storybooks--but once the jousters stop the requisite foolery and get to it, it's pretty impressive. Beth, you should give it a try.

Anna C., welcome back! Congrats on the cover award for Untouched, which is well deserved. That book is gorgeous.

"Gillian," I'll look forward to resumption and eventual release of the movie. Thanks for being with us today.

Dina said...

Yes, I know it is pricy here too. They offer discounts, but usually buy 2, get 1, well that won't help me now. Plus, since it's only on weekends dring the summer, I'm limited to go.

Pat Cochran said...

Hi, Ladies,

So good to have you with us today!
The covers of your books are so
gorgeous, I love them!

I've never been to a Ren Faire, even though we have one annually
at a site an hour or so from Houston. Might just take Honey
and attend this year's edition.

I have granddaughters aged 17 and
10 who just might be in the market
for your books. I'll have see
about getting copies for them.

Pat Cochran

Virginia said...

Great interview, I just loved it. Your books sound fantastic, I would love to read them. I will have to start looking for them and put them on my to buy list.