Greetings! Are any of you fans of fairytale retellings? Well, Bethany Atazadeh is the author of an amazing fairytale-inspired series–and I had the opportunity to interview her! I’m so glad, because I had a wonderful time reading her answers and I think you will too.
Have you always been interested in fairytales?
Absolutely. I grew up on Disney’s version of fairytales! The first retelling I remember reading though was The Lunar Chronicles, which was also the series that inspired me to try writing again.
The Lunar Chronicles is amazing! Are there any other fairytales you want to retell in the future?
I have a few favorites that didn’t fit the current four-book-series. Those would be fun to retell. I could probably continue writing retellings as long as people wanted to read them lol.
I know I’d want to read them! Are there any underrated fairytales you would like to see more retellings of?
I haven’t seen any Pocahontas retellings yet – that would be so cool! I really wanted to include that one in my series, but I couldn’t get the storyline to fit.
You had to do what was best for the series. 😉 Which character in The Stolen Kingdom is the most difficult to write?
Funny enough, I’d say Arie. A lot of the other characters are so different from me naturally, so they feel easier to write. While Arie is more similar, so I have to work harder to make sure she’s her own person versus an imitation of me. I don’t want to write myself into every story, so I have to take time to make sure she’s different from me and well-rounded.
I can totally relate. Great protagonists are hard to write, especially when they’re similar to you. Which character in The Stolen Kingdom is the most fun to write?
Gideon for sure! He has so much depth and also his magical abilities are fun—I feel like I‘m still getting to know him but he also feels real to me. He’s so easy to write.
Powerful, mysterious characters are really fun! What was your favorite setting to create in The Stolen Kingdom series so far?
Hmm, probably the Mere underwater world. I don’t really plot my worlds beforehand, I’ve become a “pantser” in that area, and so it was really fun to discover the world as I wrote The Jinni Key.
It was really cool to read about! I loved the little details that made the world seem real. Do you find happy or sad scenes the most difficult to write and edit?
I haven’t noticed that either of those are harder or easier to write or edit honestly. The hardest scenes for me are the ones where I know that I have plot holes/issues, but I haven’t yet figured out how to fix them. Those drive me crazy!
Unsolved plot holes are such a pain. What was the most important thing you learned while writing your last book?
To take my time. I wanted to do “fast releases” or “rapid releases” of this series, so that readers wouldn’t have to wait to find out what happened. While I did write the first draft of the whole series, I didn’t realize how much more editing they would need. (Or maybe I did, but I just thought I could do it faster.) It was doable but it made for a lot of sleepless nights, which is not the type of author life I want to have. Now I’m realizing that if I take extra time, it lets me (and the story) breathe between edits. It lets me step back long enough to get some distance and see if it’s working. The whole experience is more fun because it’s less rushed. It’s important to enjoy the journey and not just race headlong toward a destination lol!
That’s advice I needed when I wrote my first book. Are there any common pieces of writing advice you disagree with?
I’ve always felt frustrated whenever I hear a phrase that starts with “your story has to have ____.” Whatever it is. Whether it’s a style thing, a character or world thing, a preference based thing, expectations put on us by readers, or even little stuff like a specific number of chapters… All of those things might be good, and there might be good reason for them, but sometimes breaking the “rules” makes the best art. Like how chapter one in The Cruel Prince by Holly Black has one sentence. I love that! It’s always good to learn the rules, but a story doesn’t “have to” have anything in my opinion: take creative license and write the story YOU want to tell! If anyone ever tried to tell me my story “should have” something, I’d tell them, “No, that sounds like a story YOU need to write.”
Yes, if every story contained the same elements they wouldn’t be unique! You’ve talked about how The Lunar Chronicles inspired you. Just curious… which is your favorite ship?
Haha that’s so funny because I mentioned it in the beginning. Hmm, I’m not picky, so I have a lot lol… One of my faves is definitely Kestrel and Arin in The Winner’s Curse. That’s a really underrated series! I also enjoy Jude and Cardan from The Cruel Prince series. 🙂
I haven’t read either of those series, but I also have a lot of ships! Arie and Kadin being one. 😉 Thank you so much for joining me today!
About Bethany Atazadeh
Bethany Atazadeh is a Minnesota-based bestselling author of YA novels, children’s books, and non-fiction. With her degree in English with a writing emphasis, she coaches other writers on both YouTube and Patreon, helping them write and publish their books. Bethany is obsessed with stories, chocolate, and her corgi puppy, Penny.
The Stolen Kingdom
How can she protect her kingdom, if she can’t protect herself?
Princess Arie never expected to manifest a Jinni’s Gift. When she begins to hear the thoughts of those around her, she hides it to the best of her ability. But to her dismay, the Gift is growing out of control.
When a neighboring king tries to force her hand in marriage and steal her kingdom, discovery becomes imminent. Just one slip could cost her throne. And her life.
A lamp, a heist, and a Jinni hunter’s crew of thieves are her only hope for removing this Gift–and she must remove it before she’s exposed. Or die trying.
The Stolen Kingdom is a loose “Aladdin” retelling. Set in a world that humans share with Mermaids, Dragons, and the elusive Jinni, this isn’t the fairytale you remember…
Have you added Bethany’s books to your tbr yet? You won’t want to miss out–these books are going places.
Also, story contest entrants: don’t forget to submit your stories by the 12th!
Have a beautiful day. 🙂