Today I have the lovely and sweet-natured Kirstin Pulioff stopping by to talk about her book, The Escape of Princess Madeline. It is much softer than my usual reading material, being written mostly for girls between gr 5 and gr 8 or so, but the rich descriptions and sincere fairytale feel caught my attention.
Curious about the book and about its lovely author? Read on!
Q: Describe yourself in 20 words or less.
A: Ah man, this is a toughie. I have seen your other interviews and wondered how they did it… here we go, *deep breath*
I dream big, wish on stars, search for rainbows, find treasure in everyday blessings, and live life to its fullest.
Q: Tell us about your novel.
A: The Escape of Princess Madeline is a coming of age fairytale with aspects of adventure, fantasy and romance appropriate for all ages. This is a book that takes a modern approach to the traditional princess story and tackles issues of parent/child conflict, finding your path, and first love.
Q: What got you interested in writing for kids between grades 5 and 9?
A: This age range is very special to me. It’s the age that I really began reading, identifying with characters, and searching for books that spoke to me on deeper level. As an advanced reader, I found myself reading books that weren’t really appropriate for me at that age. Although today there are many more options available, when I started writing, it was with the intention to fill the gap that I felt with my own fantasy adventure.
Q: Madeline is very independent, in spite of growing up in a world where duty rules. How did she develop this trait?
A: The book opens reflecting on the past- the death of the queen and the birth of Princess Madeline and her brother. The King, grief stricken, closes off his emotional relationships, and tightens his reign, determined to keep them safe. Growing up without a mother and under the over-protective rule of her father, Princess Madeline often felt like a damsel in distress. Living under that much control can go either way- a full submission to the rules and duty, or a rebellion to hold onto her dreams.
I tried to make the characters as real as possible, recognizing that there are many sides to each person. For Princess Madeline, I was very careful about balancing the hard with the soft- her stubbornness with intelligence, defiance with creativity, and her strength with vulnerability.
Q: Is Madeline a feminist work or a book about defining your place as an adult on your own terms? A bit of both? Neither?
A: Haha, I never thought of it as a feminist piece, but I do see how some parts definitely fit there. This is a coming of age fairytale that focuses on finding who you are, and the strength to follow that path. A realization that sometimes dreams come with a price and not every Princess needs to be rescued.
Q: Madeline's father is a very mixed character, with some very sympathetic and very unpleasant traits. Was he inspired by anyone in real life?
A: No one in particular. I tried to create the fumbling relationship between a father and a daughter- a relationship that is built on love, but buried under layers of misunderstanding and over-protectiveness. Over the length of the book, details are unveiled that explain his behavior and open a different level of depth to the character.
Q: Madeline is pretty light-hearted as things go, though it has a couple of more fearsome elements. How dark is too dark for young adult fantasy?
A: That is a hard line to define. The age range and maturity levels that are covered under young adult are widespread. And with a large spectrum, there needs to be a variety of what is offered. For as many dark pieces, there should be equally light and safer alternatives.
In any story, there needs to be a good sense of drama, danger, and a clear antagonist, but the depth of the details and the darkness of theme need to reflect the audience it is intended for. I think there is a tendency to over expose kids today as the lines of violence and sexuality seem to keep dropping.
My books fall into the younger range of young adult fantasy- the upper middle grade, tween, and younger young adults. It was important to me to make sure this book was family friendly, with clean language, and that the dangerous situations were told in a very “Disney-esque” way.
Q: What do you plan to write or publish next?
A: I am currently working on the final touches to the sequel, “The Battle for Princess Madeline,” due out May 2013. Now that she has the future of her dreams, how far will she go to protect it? I also have ideas for the third book, some potential short stories, and collection of twisted tales.
It’s a flood gate of ideas, once you open it, it is hard to stop. J
Q: Which foods do you absolutely hate?
A: Ugg.. I cringe even thinking about them. I hate olives. Black, green, pickled, stuffed, you name it- just gross.
Q: Which book have you read lately that was most outside your comfort zone?
A: The latest book I have read outside my comfort zone was a paranormal erotic romance by Travis Luedke, The Nightlife: New York. I never really entered into that realm before, but I can see the charm and seduction of those books.
Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Don't miss any of the good kind of crazy. Find me on Twitter, Facebook, and on Tumblr. Watch out for my fantasy-themed spring: interviews with fantasy authors, content related to fantasy films and reviews, and some political commentary--the phuquerie you've come to expect from me. Keep checking back to see those surprise posts, too. This is your darling SciFiMagpie, over and out!