What’s up people?
I had the honor of interviewing J.M. Sullivan about her debut novel AND I’ve added a giveaway because I loved her book, and a lot of you might as well!
About the Author
J.M. Sullivan is a Science Teacher by day, and an author by night. Although known to dabble in adulting, J.M. is a big kid at heart who still believes in true love, magic, and most of all, the power of coffee. If you would like to connect for a healthy dose of sparkle and positivity, you can find her on Twitter or Instagram @_JM_Sullivan.
Q. A good place to start is by telling us a bit about your debut novel, Alice: the Wanderland Chronicles
ALICE is a YA Dark Fantasy retelling of Alice in Wonderland… with an undead twist. It follows the story of sixteen-year-old Alice Carroll as she leaves the safety of the Sector to find an antidote to save her sister from becoming one of the momerath. Along the way, she enlists the help of the charming but flighty Chess, his friend Bug, and even the Red Queen. But Wanderland is a long way from home, and as Alice is quickly learning, momerath may not be her biggest threat. Will she overcome and save her sister? You’ll have to read to find out!
Q. Are you planning more than one book with Alice, and if so, how many?
The first part of this question is easy to answer. Absolutely! I am actually working on drafting the sequel to Alice right now. The second part of your question is a little trickier. Originally, when I started thinking about Alice, my idea was to follow Carroll’s set up and do a two-part story to retell Wonderland and then Through the Looking Glass (in the interest of staying true to the story). But as I’ve started drafting and Wanderland has taken on a life of its own, it is looking like this version of Alice could turn into a trilogy. I have been very conflicted about this WHOLE thing, so for now, I’m just going to follow the story and see where it takes me!
Q. The characters from Alice in Wonderland are very well-known and beloved. Were you nervous about recreating them?
ABSOLUTELY. One of the most nerve-wracking elements of writing retellings is knowing that you are working with stories that people have grown up on. It adds an extra sense of responsibility, I think, because you want to stay true to the original while at the same time creating something completely unique. It’s one of the reasons I worked so hard to stay true to Carroll’s original story as I could. Not in the sense of following the same storyline, but I wanted to work in as many character and world references as I could. So, while Wanderland is definitely not Wonderland, I think (and hope!) the twists and turns put in will make ALICE a story that Carroll’s fans will enjoy.
Q. Are there any other stories that inspired this book, besides Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland?
I wouldn’t say stories, but as I was writing the momerath scenes I definitely referenced some of my favorite zombie films for research. Resident Evil, World War Z, and I Am Legend all got some extra playing time during the drafting period! 😉
Q. What is one of your favorite books\authors? (You may choose more than one of you must)
Oh gosh, the list could go on and on, but I am going to stick to just one and choose Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. It was the first book I got to pick out for myself at the bookstore and also my first introduction to retellings. It is a magical spin on the Cinderella story, and the way Levine intertwines the classic but creates something completely new is absolute perfection. Author Goals for sure!
Q. Have you read any other Wonderland retellings? Which one was your favorite?
So many retellings. I’ve enjoyed all of them. It’s so interesting to see what another author picks up on and includes in their reimagined version. I think if I had to pick the one I enjoyed the most was Heartless, by Marissa Meyer. Although it isn’t technically centered on Alice, I loved how she built Wonderland into her story on Cath’s rise to becoming the Red Queen. The story was fun, her characters were incredible, and her references were brilliant. But, after reading The Lunar Chronicles, I didn’t expect any less!
Q. If you had to choose a career besides writing, what would it be?
Teaching! In fact, that’s what I’m doing now. While writing is my passion, I love being able to work with my middle schoolers every day. They are such a fun group and they absolutely keep me on my toes! Guess it’s probably part of the reason I love the YA genre so much! 😀
Q. Do you listen to music when you write, and which song would you say puts you in the mood for writing\reading The Wanderland Chronicles?
Yes! I have to have music playing in the background while I write or I absolutely cannot focus. For each WIP I have, I make a different playlist. Alice’s playlist was filled with more angsty music to help get the feel for the darker world I was creating. But if I had to give specifics, I’d say Castle by Halsey and Mad Hatter by Melanie Martinez had the highest play counts of all the tracks.
Q. Almost finished! Any last advice for people wanting to write their own retellings?
I think this advice has more to do with personal taste, but if you are going to do a retelling, make sure it’s a true retelling. To me, using a popular story to snag readers but then only ‘delivering’ by using a character name is like cheating on a test. Remember, the people who read retellings are doing it because they love the story. I’m not saying you have to make every single character exactly the same or that you must throw every single iconic quote into your book. If you do that, it will be hard to make the story your own. But, as you’re building your world, think about your readers. Don’t disappoint by making empty promises, use the magic to weave something completely brilliant.
I’m giving away a brand-new Ebook copy of Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles! This giveaway is open to everyone!
A little bit more about the book…
Ever since the outbreak of the Plague, life hasn’t been easy, and for seventeen-year-old Alice Carroll, it just got worse. Her sister, Dinah, has contracted the ‘un-deadly’ Momerath Virus and without a cure, will soon be worse than dead. She’ll be momerath.
Alice must leave the safety of the Sector and venture into Momerath Territory to find the antidote – if it exists. Chasing a rumor about a mysterious doctor with the cure, Alice falls down the rabbit hole into Wanderland, where ravenous momerath aren’t the only danger lurking.