I recently read Cinderella Is Dead and really enjoyed it so I was so happy to get the opportunity to interview the author, Kalynn Bayron! A huge thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing for helping to make it happen. Cinderella Is Dead is an awesome young adult fantasy; a Cinderella retelling I thoroughly enjoyed and would definitely recommend. You can find my full review here.
Let’s get onto the author interview!
1. Hi Kalynn, a huge congratulations on the publishing of your novel, Cinderella Is Dead! How would you describe your experience and what it feels like for your book to be out into the world?
It’s been an incredible experience so far! A little surreal at times, but overall it’s been amazing. I’ve seen some great fan art, beautiful Instagram photos, and I’ve received a few letters and emails that brought me to tears.I am so happy to see this story resonating with readers and I appreciate all the support
2. I absolutely loved the concept of the post-Cinderella world in Cinderella Is Dead. What inspired the idea?
I think it’s always fun to imagine what happens after the “happily ever after”, and because I’m a huge fan of fractured fairytales, that felt like a good place to start. Most of my work starts with a question and in this case it was, “What if everything we thought we knew about the Cinderella story was quite simply…a lie?” With that in mind, it felt like the best way to approach this story was to have it take place in a world where Cinderella was a real person, where her story was taken as fact and not fiction. I wanted to create a society where people were beginning to question the fairytales origins and its lasting impact.
3. Was doing a lot of research into the original tale of Cinderella part of your writing process? If so, did you find anything interesting about the tale that most readers wouldn’t know?
I did a lot of research into older versions of Cinderella. I wanted to see what had changed, what had stayed the same, and how the narrative evolved over time.
I think most people might be surprised to know that there are similar, Cinderella-like stories from all over the world and that a few of them are thousands of years old. Some of the threads we recognize from Cinderella, have been present all along—villainous women, damsels in distress, a prince or king coming to save the day. I think those tropes have staying power because they speak to larger issues of societal norms and expectations. The tales are largely stagnant in their messaging because, as much as we like to tell ourselves things have changed, we still cling to a lot of dated ideologies. Researching the Cinderella fable gave me a better understanding of how influential fairytales can be and that they are not simply “children’s stories”, they are tools that can be used to push a specific narrative.
4. In Cinderella Is Dead, Sophia is just a passionate and determined character with a kind heart, were some of her personality traits influenced by yourself or someone else?
She’s a mix of lots of different things and influenced by different people in my life. I think I share some of hr tenacious spirit. I see the influence of my oldest daughter in her, too. They are both determined young women who refuse to make themselves small.
5. This book had so many important themes, especially about women helping each other, tearing down the defined categories set upon us by society that I really enjoyed. What else do you hope readers will also get out of it?
I hope that readers will be encouraged to ask questions, to seek out the truth for themselves. Mainly, my hope is that readers who haven’t had much representation in YA fantasy will feel seen.
6. The cover of the book is beautiful, did you always picture Sophia on the cover wearing the Cinderella-blue dress?
Yes! And I love the covers so much! Sophia wearing the iconic blue dress (her mother’s idea) is symbolic of the role this society has forced on her. It’s a beautiful dress but it is not the one Sophia would have chosen for herself. It represents the choice she is initially denied.
7. Was writing Cinderella Is Dead different in its process compared to your previous manuscripts? What’s your routine when writing a novel?
My writing process evolves with every new project. I’m excited because I’m about to start drafting a new book and I’m going to try some new things. But new stories almost always start with a bullet point list of scenes, plot points, and characters. In the past, that’s when I would start drafting, but lately I’ve found a more structured outline very helpful. I still need some flexibility, because plot lines are always shifting, but for me, an outline allows me to be more productive. After that, it’s about putting my butt in the chair and getting in the words! I try to write whenever I can and because of COVID and my kids being home during the day, I’ve found myself writing late at night or very early in the morning.
8. For the readers who are also aspiring writers out there hoping to get their own novels published, what are your top 3 tips for finishing a novel and getting published?
Finish the novel. It sounds simple and obvious, but it can be easy to go back and start revising before you’ve finished. Finish the draft. No matter how messy or terrible it is. Finish it, and then focus on making it better.
If you’re shooting for traditional publishing, and you have a finished manuscript, I’d recommend getting your query letter together. Drafting an effective query letter can be harder than writing the book! Even if your manuscript is fantastic you have to be able to boil it down to a punchy, effective pitch.
Do your due diligence when researching agents. It can be tempting to say yes to the first offer but you have to make sure you and the agent are the right fit. This is a business and the only thing worse than not having an agent, is having a bad one.
9. I personally loved this book and I hope we get more from Sophia’s story in the future, but in general, what’s next for you?
I have a YA fantasy out next year that is equal parts Little Shop of Horrors and The Secret Garden. I’m super excited about it! And I’m not opposed to revisiting the world of Cinderella Is Dead at some point, but we’ll see what happens.
Thank you so much for joining me on this Q&A!
Kalynn Bayron is an author and classically trained vocalist. She grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. When she’s not writing you can find her listening to Ella Fitzgerald on loop, attending the theatre, watching scary movies, and spending time with her kids. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas with her family.
I loved this interview and Kalynn’s answers. I’m super excited to read her newest novel coming out next year and what else we may get from Cinderella Is Dead‘s world. What did you think of the interview? If you’ve read the book, did you also enjoy it?
Until next time,