I love fairy tales. I grew up with the Disney versions, and then when I was in college I started reading the originals, and it was like a revelation, because here were these amazing stories with a lot of the fantastical elements I remembered . . . but they were also violent, twisted, and dark. You still get your happy ending (unless you're a character in a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale), but the path is a lot more treacherous than it is in the Disney versions. Which is not to knock the Disney movies. I still love those stories and those characters. I wouldn't even say they're less "authentic," because the Brothers Grimm altered the tales they collected (goodbye sex, hello violence), Charles Perrault's "Sleeping Beauty" takes a different turn than the Italian version, and so on. Every teller changes the tales to suit their own taste and their audience. The Disney versions are part of our culture--they've claimed a place in a lot of hearts, even if the sharp edges have been filed down--and that's definitely something I want to play with when I'm writing about fairy tales.
I like to look at the dark aspects of wish fulfillment. Things that we imagine would be so wonderful . . . like, "I wish life was like a fairy tale." Well, okay, that sounds nice--but have you read some of those tales? Take Snow White, for instance: she's basically exiled from her home and has to depend on the kindness of strangers, she endures four murder attempts, and then when her stepmother finally succeeds in poisoning her, the dwarves put her body in a glass coffin, a prince shows up, takes one look at her and decides she's so beautiful he's going to bring her corpse home with him. Uh . . . that's not creepy at all. She does get her "happy ending," but I doubt anyone who wishes their life was like a fairy tale is wishing for a life like that. But what if you had that? What if your life was like a fairy tale?
Maybe one day. I would certainly love to write more Beau Rivage books! It all depends on publisher interest and/or my having time to write them. There was supposed to be a third Beau Rivage book that told Layla's story, but then the original publisher of Kill Me Softly and Tear You Apart shut down, unfortunately, and the Layla book was canceled. (That was a sad day in Beau Rivage. Even Rafe shed a tear, since this was his chance to finally be a main character.) Kill Me Softly and Tear You Apart have a new publishing home at Lerner, but the status of Layla's story remains uncertain. We'll see what happens!
If you'd like to help my chances of getting to write another Beau Rivage book, here are a few things you can do: 1) buy a copy of Kill Me Softly or Tear You Apart, 2) tell other readers about the books (tell your friends, blog or tweet, leave a review on Goodreads or Amazon, etc.), 3) borrow Kill Me Softly or Tear You Apart from the library or request that your library order the books if they haven't already. Anything that gets the word out and shows there's an audience for this series.
Oh, and don't forget to stop by the Stories section of the website for some free Beau Rivage short stories!
My imagination tends to be sparked by really random things. One tiny detail--like a word I run across at exactly the right time--will start building a story in my head. Sometimes I'll know what kind of story I want to write, but it won't come together until that random detail enters my life and everything clicks. I would say (if you're feeling blocked and looking for advice): don't put too much pressure on yourself to come up with an idea. But always be open to the story your imagination really wants to tell. Let your mind wander. Your story is floating around there somewhere.
When I was a kid I got hooked on the X-Men cartoon, proceeded to spend all my babysitting money on comics, and even wrote/drew a shoddy X-Men rip-off comic called The eXcuses, in which Professor Xavier enlists Jubilee to train a new teen group of superheroes, including Dogboy (a kid who was part dog), En Passent (a guy who was obsessed with Gambit . . . and had the same hair), and a telepathic girl whose costume was based on the tacky aerobics outfit I wore whenever I wanted to dress up as a superhero. So my love for superheroes goes way back.
With Dull Boy, I knew I wanted to write about superheroes, and while the idea was in its early stages the phrase "all heroism and no play makes X a dull boy" popped into my head. And I thought, hmm, yeah, actually . . . if you were busy trying to (secretly) be a hero, your friends would probably think you sucked. I think my favorite thing about superheroes (aside from having powers) is the way being so extraordinary is both a blessing and a curse--and then the bond that develops between people who have these abilities, and either don't know what to do with them, or don't know what to do with themselves. Someone who feels alienated and alone becomes part of a team, and the thing that made them a freak is the thing that makes them valuable.
Not without a healing factor, no.
No, there will not be a sequel--and not because I'm an evil person who wants to deny you more books. I'd always intended to write a sequel, but, unfortunately, it wasn't in the cards, and I've moved on to other projects.
But if you liked Dull Boy enough to want a sequel . . . thank you. That means a lot to me. I hope you'll enjoy some of my other works too.
Copyright© 2015 Sarah Cross