Today, we welcome to our blog, Amie Borst and Bethanie Borst, a mother and daughter writing team whose new novel, CINDERSKELLA, has just hit the bookstores. This unique retelling of a popular fairy tale will be enjoyed by middle-grade readers all the way up to adults.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book, finding chuckles and twists that were not only entertaining, but surprising. If read aloud, this novel would be as delightful to the reader as those being read to. The illustrations by Rachael Caringella fit the voice of the writing perfectly. All in all, a thoroughly delightful book.
How did such an original story become the novel we can now enjoy? That was the question we posed this writing team.
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Bethanie came up with the idea for Cinderskella – the tale of a skeleton Cinderella—when she was nine and bored in school. My daughter has never been a “girly-girl” so creating a fairy tale without a princess, and with something darker instead, seemed natural. In fact, while most parents would have worried about their children telling twisted tales of skeletons and corpses, I didn’t question it at all. I grabbed her arm and said, “Let’s write it!”
Although we had the bones (no pun intended) of the story—it had to fit the basic Cinderella tale: girl with wicked step-mother has to do chores in order to go to the ball—we didn’t have a lot else to go on.
So what do you do when you have a great concept but no idea of how to flesh it out? (Pun intended!)
Well, you plot, you develop characters and you find ways to fit them into the framework of your story. And sometimes you just write. The characters will tell you the story as you go.
We knew that the Cinderella in our story (Cindy) would be younger than most versions of the tale, mostly because Bethanie was so young at the time. We wanted to appeal to her peers. As we started writing, the voice felt so perfect for the middle-grade audience. I’d received input once from an editor who suggested turning Cinderskella into a Young Adult novel with a much older Cindy. Although it would have been very marketable, it felt so wrong. The character we’d created was so true to life it would have been forced if we’d changed her age.
The next thing we had to unravel was how Cindy got this curse. In most Cinderella stories it’s the step-mother who is wicked, but we wanted this story to be unconventional, so our idea was to have Cinderella’s mother be the evil one. Of course, it turns out she’s not so wicked after all. But nothing said we couldn’t deceive the reader a bit!
It wasn’t until I passed the manuscript through my critique group, and they made some fantastic comments, that I realized there was something missing. The skeleton curse had to serve a purpose! In the original version it simply served to show the reader how wicked Cindy’s mom was, but it wasn’t working. Bethanie had suggested that the curse should allow Cindy to visit her mom in the Underworld, but I shot the idea down, thinking it was too convoluted. Turns out she was right, because it was the same suggestion my critique partners had made! Now I tend to keep my mouth shut and just let her do all the plotting!
Once we had all of those things in place, the novel just seemed to take on a life of its own. Characters were born, twists were weaved into the tale and Cinderskella became something we could only dream—a published book!
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Cindy is just a normal eleven and three-quarter year-old. At least until she wakes up one night and finds out she’s dead. Well, she isn't technically dead—she just doesn't have any hair . . . or a nose . . . or skin. Yep—all bones, no body.
Human by day and skeleton by night, Cindy is definitely cursed. And because her mother recently died, Cindy has no one to turn to except a father who’s now scared of her and an evil stepmother who makes her do the housecleaning with a toothbrush. To make matters worse, the Spring Fling dance is approaching, and Ethan, the cutest boy in sixth grade, doesn’t seem to know Cindy exists. Of course, Cindy doesn’t think letting Ethan find out she’s part skeleton is the best way to introduce herself.
While facing such perils as pickled pig’s feet, a wacky fortune teller, and a few quick trips to the Underworld, Cindy’s determined to break the curse—even for a single night.
You can purchase Cinderskella at:
Barnes & Noble http://bit.ly/177L6hM
Add it to your to-read shelf on Goodreads! http://bit.ly/1b4XRal
Now to meet this great writing team!
Amie Borst is a PAL member of SCBWI. She still believes in unicorns, uses glitter whenever possible and accessorizes in pink. She enjoys eating chocolate while writing and keeps a well-stocked stash hidden away from her family. A native New Yorker she currently resides in Northern Virginia with her husband, three children and a cute dog named Lily. She wishes she had a hot-pink elevator with carnival lights to travel the world. But for now, her minivan will have to do.
Bethanie Borst is a spunky 13-year-old who is an avid archer with Olympic dreams, enjoys the outdoors, loves reading and is quick to make lasting friendships. When she is not writing, she swings on a star.
You can follow Amie and Bethanie on facebook at www.facebook.com/AmieAndBethanieBorst
You can find Amie at her blog www.amieborst.com, twitter, www.twitter.com/AmieBorst and pinterest www.pinterest.com/AmieBorst
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