Denise Mealy | The Children’s Book Review | March 13, 2019
Welcome to The Children’s Book Review, Brigid! We’re so excited to have a chat with you here at TCBR. Your latest book, A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY, just came out at the end of January and is already a NYT Bestseller. Congratulations!
Let’s dig in and talk more about this exciting take on Beauty and the Beast, you and your writing process.
Let’s start with the book! Can you tell us a little about A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY?
Brigid Kemmerer: A Curse So Dark and Lonely is about a girl named Harper who is kidnapped and whisked away to the fantasy land of Emberfall, where, if she wants to have a chance at getting home, she has to help Prince Rhen break a curse that turns him into a monster at the end of each season.
Your protagonist, Harper, has Cerebral Palsy. Can you tell us how you came to write about the condition, and how it influences Harper’s character?
When I was growing up, I was close friends with a girl named Erin. We grew up riding horses together. She has CP, but it never stopped her. When I was designing Harper’s character, I knew I wanted to look at the idea of curses, and how sometimes what seems like a curse to one person might not be a curse at all to someone else. I hadn’t read a book with a character with CP, and Erin agreed to help me springboard my research, and that was how Harper got her start.
A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY reinvents the tale of Beauty and the Beast. What led you to remake the classic, and how did you aim to update it so well with progressive ideas and inclusiveness/diversity?
I’ve always loved the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast, but I always found myself wondering about the people in the kingdom. This was their prince, right? Weren’t people wondering what had happened to the royal family? Who was ruling everyone? Who was taking care of the kingdom? Once Harper escaped the enchanted castle, I got a chance to explore what might have been happening—and how the prince needed to look beyond his own curse to try to fix it. From there, it was just a matter of taking a modern eye to a medieval fairy tale.
Let’s talk about your process. How long did it take for you to write A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY? Are there more books coming (and when can we read them?!). And do you have any strange or fun writing quirks?
I first started Curse in 2012, but my publisher at the time wasn’t interested in fantasy, so it was banished to a dusty corner of my laptop. In the beginning of 2016, I was feeling very down about my writing, and my husband encouraged me to work on something “just for fun,” so I pulled out Curse and started over. I sent it to my agent and she loved it, and it sold rather quickly on proposal—which almost never happens! It took me a long time to write. First, I wrote 85,000 words in third person, and I just didn’t like how it was going, so I scrapped all of it and went back to the beginning. Then, the book was too long when I finished it (around 145,000 words), so I worked closely with my editor to cut some scenes (a lot of scenes) and add some new ones to speed up the pacing. I joke that I wrote 300,000 words to get it down to the 116,000 in the final published book, but I think that might actually be true! The sequel is called A Heart So Fierce and Broken and it’ll be released in January 2020.
What inspires you to create a new book or series? What are you writing next?
I draw my inspiration from everywhere. Right now I’m getting ready for the release of Call It What You Want, which got kickstarted when I began thinking, “What if I did Robin Hood in a modern day high school?” It’s not fantasy, and when a former rich kid starts stealing from his old friends to help kids who need money, he runs up against some really deep moral questions. I can’t wait for everyone to read it. It’ll be available in June 2019.
When you’re not writing, what do you do for fun?
I like to lift weights. About 18 months ago, I discovered CrossFit, and it changed my life. I have never felt so strong or so capable, and that’s not something I ever thought I would say at the age of 41.
What books are on your bedside table?
Right now I’m reading (and loving) EMMIE AND THE TUDOR KING, a time travel fantasy by Natalie Murray, due out June 2019.
If you could go back and tell your teen-self one thing, what would it be?
Don’t stop writing!
Thank you so much for joining us today, Brigid!
Thank you so much for having me!
Written by Brigid Kemmerer
Publisher’s Synopsis: In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.
Fall in love, break the curse.
It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.
Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.
Break the curse, save the kingdom.
A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.
“There have been a number of Beauty and the Beast retellings, but author Brigid Kemmerer’s dark and progressive take on the classic is unique and exhilarating.” —Denise Mealy, The Children’s Book Review
Ages 14+ | Publisher: Bloomsbury YA | January 29, 2019 | ISBN: 978-1681195087
About the Author
Brigid Kemmerer is the New York Times bestselling author of More Than We Can Tell, Letters to the Lost, and the Elementals series. She was born in Omaha, Nebraska, though her parents quickly moved her all over the United States, from the desert in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the lakeside in Cleveland, Ohio, and several stops in between, eventually settling near Annapolis, Maryland.
www.brigidkemmerer.com | @BrigidKemmerer
This interview—Brigid Kemmerer Discusses A Curse So Dark and Lonely—was conducted between Brigid Kemmerer and Denise Mealy. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with Beauty And The Beast Books, Brigid Kemmerer, Disabilities, and Fairy Tales.