This week’s author interview is with my awesome friend J.M. Sullivan, author of Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles!
Intro: What’s your name, what do you write, where can readers find you on social media? And just for fun, if you could be any mythological being, what or who would you be?
Hi! My name is JM Sullivan and I write retellings! My debut novel, Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles is a Dark Fantasy retelling of Alice in Wonderland, and my current WIP is a SciFi retelling of Peter Pan! If this sounds like your cup of tea, you can follow me on Twitter or Instagram @_JM_Sullivan or on YouTube on my Author Confession channel. As for mythological beings: I think I’d have to go with a fairy! It would bring my sparkle game to a whole new level!
- What got you interested in writing/ When did you become SERIOUS about writing?
I have always been interested in writing, even at a young age. My parents were both teachers and fostered a love of reading in me, which turned into telling my own stories as soon as I could write. I’ve written several short stories, and even began a couple of novel projects, but, I didn’t become serious about my writing until I got the idea for Alice. It hit me like a ton of bricks and the way it fell into place, it was just like ‘I have to write this.’ After that I made the commitment to finish the draft by the end of 2016, and instead, I finished it in three months. The rest, as they say, was history! 😉
- What inspired your book?
THE WANDERLAND CHRONICLES is a mash-up of two of my favorite things. Fairy tales and horror. I was thinking about retellings and the ideas behind them when I thought about the Red Queen’s iconic line, ‘Off With Their Heads!’ Well, my husband and I had recently been on a zombie kick, and as any good zombie-buff knows, the only way to stop the undead is by chopping off their heads. It was too perfect not to use!
- What is the book about?
THE WANDERLAND CHRONICLES follows the story of sixteen-year-old Alice Carroll as she tries to navigate the wilds of Wanderland to save her sister from succumbing to the Momerath Plague. Unfortunately, outside the safety of the Sector, momerath aren’t the only danger waiting for her and she must fight to survive or both she—and Dinah—will be lost forever.
- What are the characters like?
Since it’s a retelling, I tried to make all of the characters reflect their counterparts in Carroll’s story in at least some way. You can expect to see all of your favorite Wonderland residents in ALICE, including a few new faces! I’ll give a couple of examples of the traits I partnered with my characters, but you’ll have to read to find the rest!
Alice: Curious, has a strange habit of talking to herself
Chess: Has a tendency to disappear then mysteriously turn up again.
Bug: Terrible chain smoker. Also a conspiracy theorist
Dr. Waite R. Abbott: Extremely nervous pharmaceutical doctor. Most likely suffering from PTSD.
- Who should pick up your book and why?
Of course, I would love to hear what Lewis Carroll fans think about THE WANDERLAND CHRONICLES, but ALICE was written for retelling fans everywhere. If you enjoy fairy tales, especially twisty ones—I think this just might be a book for you. If you aren’t familiar with retellings but you enjoy action, suspense, and just a dash of horror this could just be your gateway book! 😀
- Favorite quote from your own work?
Well, I don’t know how impressive this line will be without context, but it’s one of my favorite lines in ALICE.
“That’s easy, Alice,” he said. His amber eyes melted into hers. “It’s the first rule of chess: always protect your queen.”
Once you read, you’ll have to tell me what you think. 😉
- Traditional or Self-publishing? Why?
ALICE is represented by Pen Name Publishing, which is a small but traditional publishing company. I knew that I wanted to be represented by a publisher because I wanted as much help as I could get to share Alice with the world. Even though self-publishing is a completely viable option, it is HUGE (kudos to all you self-pubbed authors!!). It wasn’t something I felt confident that I could do well enough to give Alice justice. And after jumping into the publishing world, I definitely think I made the right choice.
- If you could only write in one genre for the rest of your life what would it be and why?
Well, at least for the foreseeable future, I’m planning on sticking with retellings! If it takes me forever to get them out, then I’m totally ok with it. I love retellings because there are so many incredible classics out there and countless ways that they can be reimagined. I love finding ways to blend the old and the new and see what the final project turns out to be. I guess you could say, I’m Hooked.
- Name one book that affected the way you write?
The Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce was definitely a game changer for me. It was the first retelling I ever read that took a darker turn on the fairy tale rather than following the ‘standard’ light-hearted re-imaginings I’d seen. I loved what she did to Little Red Riding Hood and how it made for a gritty, thrilling adventure. I knew if I ever wrote a retelling (which happened a long time after I originally read the series) I wanted it to be something more than just Fantasy, and her books showed me it could be done.
- Three authors you recommend and why?
Well, based on my previous answer, if you are a retelling fan, definitely check out Jackson Pearce. Her work is great. Marissa Meyer is also another retelling queen, and her Cinder series? Off the chain. So, between those two, your TBR easily just added six books. If you aren’t really in the mood for fairy tales, I would recommend Richelle Mead. She is an excellent author with a broad range of books. Although she’s most famous for her Vampire Academy series, her Bloodlines series (which is a spinoff from Vampire Academy) has really taken off as well. BUT my favorite book of hers is actually a little less-well known—tragic, I tell you—and it is the Age of X series. It’s aimed at an older audience (I’d say New Adult/Adult), but the storyline is incredible. Definitely one of my favorite series!
- If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
If I could change one thing about the world, I would have people be nicer to each other. It makes me so sad to see so much hate everywhere. I understand that our world and the people in it are not perfect and obviously that not everyone is going to feel the exact same way about things, but we don’t have to tear each other apart about it. Honestly, seeing some of the things that are going on just make my heart hurt. So, if you every need a little happy, come see me. Because even though I’m just one person and my impact may be small, I’ll do whatever I can to help the world Sparkle On.
- What do you believe is your main purpose/motivation as a writer?
For me, it’s all about my readers. As I said above, sometimes life just sucks and we need an escape. If my book can provide that reprieve or fantasy for someone and make their day seem just a little better, I’ll consider it a success.
- What’s a favorite moment you’ve had with a fan/someone who’s read your work?
Gosh there are so many! I love meeting and interacting with my readers; it’s one of the best things about being an author! But I LOVE when people send me fan art of characters from Wanderland. It’s so cool too see what their representations of the characters and story are. It’s like their work breathes in a whole new life to ALICE and it is so fun to see!
- One fun fact most people don’t know about you?
Ummm… well, I don’t just like to write, I also love to sing. I’ve performed in several theater productions and have been a vocalist for several praise bands!
- One piece of advice you would give to new writers?
Be kind to yourself! I think more often than not the reason we writers feel the need to give up is because we beat up on ourselves so often! Having an inner critic can be good to help stretch your work and yourself, but don’t give the nasty little guy so much reign that he completely derails you. Just remember, someone needs your words. To get them out there you have to write them!
Thanks for all the awesome advice J.M! What’s your favorite retelling? Share in the comments and don’t forget to grab your own copy of Alice from Amazon!
As always, keep making magic, word weavers!