Month: March 2013


We took a spring break trip to the Northern Neck of Virginia last week, searching for signs of Henry_Misty spring, birds, and the ponies of Chincoteague. Long ago I was a little obsessed with Misty of Chincoteague, though I am really, rhorseseally not a horse person. I loved it so much that I read all the other Marguerite Henry books (none quite lived up to Misty).

The National Seashore at Assateague Island, where the ponies live, is accessible from two states, Virginia and Maryland. We were staying the night in Chincoteague, so we went in from the Virginia side. There were lots and lots of birds, and finally, at a great distance, a pony sighting — a group of five roaming through the sandy scrub. Still, that wasn’t enough for me.  I was ready for a closeup.

In the morning we set out for the Maryland entrance to the park. It was freezing cold and snowing a little, so we weren’t feeling too hopeful. But…



Ponies sticking their heads into cars, sashaying across the road as if they owned it (which they sort of do), clipclopping down the bike path. Mistys here, Stormys there. It was a Marguerite Henry-lover’s dream.

100_6562.2(Spoiler fact alert: We learned, to my shock and consternation, that these are not really ponies. They are horses, stunted from their meager diet of scrub, and bloated from their excessive water-drinking because of the salty diet. And they BITE. But I still loved them.)



Just in case you were wondering, the Pony Swim and Pony Penning Days still happen. You can read about them here.

The Next Big Thing

It’s my turn to do The Next Big Thing Blog Hop! If you don’t already know, it’s an idea originating in Australia that celebrates what children’s/YA writers are working on or what they have coming up next. I was tagged to participate by the wonderful Shelby Bach, one of the very first manuscript readers for my very first children’s book, The Thirteenth Princess. Of-Witches-and-Wind-198x300She has her own new title coming out in July, Of Witches and Wind.  You can read about it here. And she’s asked me to answer The Next Big Thing questions about my own upcoming book.


What is the working title of your next book?

The working — and final — title is Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters. Remarkably, this book has had the same title since its first moment.SBDaughters HC C.email2 Here’s its beautiful cover!

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It came from a brainstorming session with my then-editor, Maria Gomez. I had a contract for Princess of the Wild Swans and an “as-yet-unnamed fairy tale,” and we were tossing ideas around at lunch. She was the one who said, “What about something like…Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters?” I fell in love with the title, and the ideas sprang from that. Not the way I usually work!

What genre does your book fall under?

Middle grade fantasy, or fairy-tale retelling. For 8-12 year olds (or older, or younger) who love fairy tales and adventure.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I used to imagine various Fannings playing princesses in the film versions of my books, but 600full-dakota-fanning 936full-elle-fanning theyquvenzhane-wallis-65th-annual-cannes-film-festival-02 just keep growing up. Now I think Quvenzhane Wallis would make a fabulous Luna — she’s the difficult younger sister in the book. And if she has an older sister…well, there’s my Aurora!



What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

What if Sleeping Beauty’s terrible curse was passed on to her children?

Who is publishing your book?

HarperCollins Children’s Books.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Probably about six months. But that was really just a start. Characters came and went, changed ages and hair colors, moved up and down in rank; settings emerged from the sea and disappeared again…only the plot stayed the same.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

This one isn’t really a retelling of a fairy tale, it’s an original tale. But it’s inspired by “Sleeping Beauty,” so I’ll mention some of the fairy tale retellings I admire enormously — Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl, Robin McKinley’s Beauty, and Edith Pattou’s East.  I don’t know if Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters can compare, but it aspires.

beautyeastgoose girl

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My sister and our relationship were a large part of the story’s inspiration. Not that we’re exactly like Luna and Aurora (I hope not, anyway — I’d be the extremely difficult  Luna in our version), but I think the book is as much about sisters as it is about magic. I wanted to show the ups and downs that all sisters have in their relationships. My princesses torment each other, but they also have each others’ backs.

Kaz and DZ

(This is a very old and kind of scary publicity photo for a book my sister and I wrote together.  We had our makeup professionally done. Can you tell? I think that the fact that we co-authored books and didn’t kill each other is a testament to the bonds of sisterhood.)

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

There’s magic, a curse, good fairies and bad, princesses, a cute boy, a voyage and a quest, danger, and sisters. I hope that list includes something to intrigue any reader!

Thanks for checking out my new book! Be sure to stop by the blog of Erin Jade Lange, author of the critically acclaimed Butter, who allowed me to tag her for next week (Wednesday, March 20). Her blog is here. And check out my co-blogger for the day, Mindee Arnett. And in addition, when I asked to tag Shelley Moore Thomas, author of the fabulous Seven Tales of Trinket, she told me that she’d already been tagged and asked to tag me instead! You can read her Next Big Thing answers here.


Hooray for the Bubonic Plague! (Not really. But sort of.)

In November, middle-school students Kathryn and Jenna interviewed me for a cv_082259076Xdocumentary on the bubonic plague outbreak of the 1340s. It’s their entry for the National History Day competition, which you can read about here.  They were knowledgeable and skillful interviewers. They gave me chocolate. And now…


They have won FIRST PLACE in the local National History Day competition! Let’s have a round of applause!


Plague-victims-from-the-14th-CenturyNext, they take their documentary to the state level. And then…well, I’ll keep you posted!