I am honored to have Stephanie Oakes, debut author of The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, here today!
Stephanie Oakes is a teacher and YA author from Washington State. Her debut novel, THE SACRED LIES OF MINNOW BLY (Dial/Penguin, June 9, 2015), about a girl who escapes from a religious commune only to find herself at the center of a murder investigation, is based on the Grimm fairy tale, "The Handless Maiden."
THE ARSONIST, her second YA mystery through Dial/Penguin, is scheduled for publication in fall 2016.
"The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.
And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.
Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it's clear that Minnow knows something—but she's not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in oneself."
1. The synopsis of my book gripped me immediately. How do you come up with a book idea like this?
It was inspired by a fairy tale called “The Handless Maiden.” I love fairy tale retellings, but I hadn’t read too many contemporary retellings. If anyone out there is interested in writing a book but can’t come up with a story, I’d really recommend retelling a fairy tale or myth. It was extremely fun to take an established story and interpret it in a new setting.
2. What was your biggest fear in writing your debut?
I had a really clear vision for the book from the moment I thought of the idea, so I think probably my biggest fear was of not having the skill to make my vision into reality. I’ve learned that that fear—and all of the other fears I ran into during the process—was very normal and something most authors worry about.
3. Your debut is a long book-how would you describe your book in two words.
My book in two words: “dark” and “hopeful.”
4. Who/what are your inspirations when writing?
I get inspired by anything and everything—movies, video games, music, poetry, other people, things I see, things I overhear. Of course, one huge source of inspiration is other writing. Even if what I’m reading for pleasure has nothing to do with what I’m writing, I can still generally take little writing lessons from every book I read.
5. Is there anything that surprised you in writing Minnow's story?
I was surprised that, when writing, characters can develop a mind of their own. I thought I knew where the story was headed, but several characters taught me that the book needed to go in a different direction. I’ve learned that this is part of my process and now I give my characters lots of opportunities to tell me where they want the story to go.
6. Are you currently working on another book? If yes, what can you share about it?
I’m doing revisions for my second book, another YA mystery called The Arsonist, tentatively slated for late 2016. It’s part modern and part historical, and very twisty and turny.
7. This is a question I like to ask all authors who join us here on Little Bookworm Reviews, what advice would you give to aspiring authors?
I’d recommend that aspiring authors cut themselves lots of slack. Writing a book isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. The one thing all published authors have in common is perseverance.
Thank you so much for joining us Stephanie!!
Stephanie is giving away a signed, personalized hardcover of The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly!
Ends December 26, 2015 12:00 AM