Interview with Pepper Thorn, author of Princess Rose and the Crystal Castle!

I reviewed Princess Rose and the Crystal Castle a few weeks ago, and today I’m lucky enough to welcome the author to my blog!

*What inspired you to write Princess Rose and the Crystal Castle?

Princess Rose and the Crystal Castle has an interesting story behind it. I did a lot of babysitting as a teenager. The family I sat for had three small children and, being the conscientious person I am, I wouldn’t let them watch TV until after dark. Dark in the southern summer comes late. Often we would sit in the shade on the back porch telling stories. I let each child choose one element for the story and then I simply started talking as we all waited to see where it would go. Those stories wouldn’t have fared well against an English teacher with a red pen, but the kids loved them and they made they made the long, hot days pass faster. The only one I still remember was about a princess who lived in a castle made of glass.
After I was all grown up and writing real, not-off-the-top-of-my-head stories I thought about that princess and her glass castle. I thought about all the retellings and reworking of fairytales and all the books inspired by fairytales I had read over the intervening years. And I wondered, what would that story look like if I were telling it now?

The answer is, a lot different. First off the Crystal Castle (no longer actually made of glass) belongs to the dark, handsome prince who uses his magic to steal away Princess Rose after she turns down all of the princes desperate to marry her. Second, Princess Rose carries a strange and dangerous curse that makes everyone she meets fall in love with her. And last but not least, nothing in the Crystal Castle is quite what it seems: not the handsome prince, not the mad king she never sees, not even the silent page who becomes her only friend. But there is still a dragon, sort of. 🙂

*Where is your favorite place to write?

I love to write outdoors. There’s this nice, shady spot on my front porch where I like to write in the summer and a sunny one, at the other end, where I write in the spring and fall. In the winter I curl up in the big, cozy recliner next to the window in my library. I open the windows and snuggle under a blanket with a cup of tea, a cat or two, and my iPad.

My house is in a woodsy neighborhood and there’s a little stream running between the next house and mine. Instead of listening to music, I listen to the wind in the trees, the rustle of small creatures in the leaf litter, the soft sound of water trickling over rocks, birds chirping. My favorite is when it rains. I love the sound of rain.

*What did you find most challenging about writing Princess Rose and the Crystal Castle?

I originally intended for princess Rose to be very short, bedtime story length, and written in a traditional fairytale style. Both of these plans flew out the window almost as soon as I started writing. By the time I finished, it was a nice middle grade novel length and no more traditional than I am. So I had to go back and rewrite the first chapter several times. It was difficult to find that balance between my writing style and that distant, objective voice of a traditional fairytale. I needed to ease the reader out of that fairytale comfort zone while still staying true to my “once upon a time” beginning.

*If you could meet any literary character, who would you pick?

When I was young I would have said Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables. I had an imagination to match hers but I wasn’t proud or fierce like she was. She sounded like so much fun, like she’d make a great friend. I dressed up as her for Halloween one year. Sadly, no one got it.

Now, though, I think I’d rather meet Lilly Potter. Even though she’s dead before the series starts she has a huge impact on everything that happens. She has to be the most loved and loving character in all of literature. Harry lives because of her love. Slughorn gives up his shameful secret to honor her memory. Snape ultimately gives up his life protecting the son she died for. Remus, Petunia, everyone talks about her with such love and respect. Someone like that is always worth meeting because they change your life for the better.

I’d also like to meet Lois MacMaster Bujuold’s Miles Vorkosigan. He’s like a force of nature that sweeps everyone around him along in his wake. That could be a bad thing, especially with such an eccentric character in such an oddly strict culture. But Miles is also one of those people who can do what is necessary while still remaining a genuinely good person. I doubt you could meet him without getting drawn into some adventure.

*Have you been influenced by any particular writer’s style?

I first read The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis when I was very young and it blew my mind. I loved that series growing up and read it over and over again. By the time I graduated high school I owned three copies of each book and knew them backwards and forwards. Those stories made me feel that anything was possible and that has definitely influenced my work.

*What is your all-time favorite book?

That’s too hard. There are so many great books out there. I could never choose just one.

I’d honestly be hard pressed to even choose a favorite author. I always say its Marion Zimmer Bradley. I love her Darkover novels, especially the Renunciate books. But Anne McCaffery also has that same perfect balance between a rich, unique world that keeps you coming back book after book even when all the characters change and strong, very human characters that you identify with right away.

For a sense of the otherworldly and a story where you never know what might happen next, because truly anything can, I can always rely on Patricia McKillip and Neil Gaiman. I love that darkness that edges every word. They have a way of taking the everyday and twisting it, without you even noticing, until its disturbingly alien. And their prose is simply beautiful.

*Fun fact about yourself?

My five favorite things in the world are my husband, my cats, books, chocolate, and routines. I think that routines make life interesting.

I start every day with a cup of tea. I have several pairs of the same set of shirt and pants, in a variety of colors, that I wear to work every day. All the pieces match each other so I don’t have to think about what I’m going to wear. All I have to do is pull something off the hanger and put it on. I eat the same thing for lunch everyday and a cup of tea when I get home.

I try to turn as many of the little nothings that we all do everyday into a routine as possible. That way I don’t have to waste my mental energy on things that aren’t important. I’m not a naturally organized or efficient person. My routines let me save as much energy and creativity as possible for my writing.

Thanks so much for answering my questions!
I highly recommend checking out Princess Rose and the Crystal Castle. It’s a great, fun, quick read!

5 stars · fiction · young adult

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson


Author: Laurie Halse Anderson [also wrote Twisted]

Pages [hardcover]: 2

memorable quote:
Who wants to recover? It took me years to get that tiny. I wasn’t sick; I was strong.


“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia’s mother is busy saving other people’s lives. Her father is away on business. Her step-mother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia’s head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way—thin, thinner, thinnest—maybe she’ll disappear altogether.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the National Book Award finalist Speak, best-selling author Laurie Halse Anderson explores one girl’s chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia.


I really, really love everything Laurie Halse Anderson writes. I’ve read around four of her books so far, and I’m working on getting myself the rest. Whatever she decides to tackle-be it a serious issue like this, or a happier tale, she certainly brings everything she has. With great characterization, a fantastic and lyrical writing style, and a heart-wrenching story to tell, Wintergirls is one of my favorite books.

I love the writing here. Full of imagery, it feels like it should be written in verse instead. Lia often sees things in a way different from everyone else; because that’s the way she thinks, or because of her disease. I think the constant pressure and anxiety of something like anorexia was captured wonderfully in the main character. The supporting ones were great in their own ways as well, even the ones that only haunted Lia in her memories.

While at times it felt like I could get lost in Lia’s internal monologues and the story fell away from me, they were still worthwhile and served a purpose. I think it’s important to be able to feel for the characters of a story, which Anderson certainly makes you do, and to try to imagine yourself in their shoes.

Because of its serious topics, Wintergirls isn’t for everyone. I think it’s important for anyone who can to pick up a copy . . . even if they aren’t a teenage girl. There’s a lot that can be learned from novels like this.

INSIGHTFUL. 5/5 stars

I read this book a while ago, and reread it now because someone requested I review it. Thanks, Sky!

3 stars · Fantasy · fiction · series · young adult

The Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark by Ridley Pearson

The Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark

Author: Ridley Pearson

Kingdom Keepers #1

Pages [hardcover]: 326

favorite characters: finn & amanda


In this fantastical novel, Disney’s Magic Kingdom suddenly becomes a bit eerie. Finn Whitman and four other teens have been hired as Disney World guides, but with an odd twist: With cutting-edge technology, they have been transformed into hologram projections capable of leading guests around the park. What begins as an exciting theme park job turns into a virtual nightmare as Finn and his pals attempt to thwart an uprising by a menacing group of Disney villains.


I started out this book with great hopes and was left wishing for a little more. I loved Peter and the Starcatchers which was co-authored by Ridley Pearson, and I love Disney in general, so I figured I would give Disney After Dark a shot. The premise was good, though it still left much to be explained, and I think the execution of the plot fell short of its mark.

It’s hard to make Disney boring. With a bunch of classic villains running around plotting to gain power and take over the world, these familiar faces are great antagonists in the story. Yet it takes a while to start off, with nearly half the book devoted to the kids actually finding each other and figuring out what they can do before starting off on this mission to save Disney . . . and the world. While some of the build-up was necessary, I think the rest pulled away at a lot of my interest.

The characters felt a bit bland and weren’t very relatable. At times they wouldn’t act their age, being either too mature or too young for what actual people in that position would do. There were some good moments, but I think this is what cinched it for me. I won’t be continuing with this series.

But I didn’t hate this first book. It captured my interest enough to push me until the end, but didn’t leave me craving more which is what I usually look for in a series. These just aren’t the books for me.



February 2012 Wrap Up

This month flew past! Even with the extra day! Here’s what I read:

The Throne of Fire-Rick Riordan

One Day-David Nicholls

The Scorpio Races-Maggie Stiefvater

Princess Rose and the Crystal Castle-Pepper Thorn

The Fault in Our Stars-John Green

Quaranteen-Lex Thomas

All the Earth, Thrown to the Sky-Joe R. Lansdale

Divergent-Veronica Roth

So many new and awesome books that were instant favorites and had me jumping out of my seat! [to the dismay of whoever happened to be nearby] Mixed in were a few I don’t think I’ll be reading again, but I suppose it all balances out, then, doesn’t it?

Books I purchased : 2
Won in Contest : 2
Borrowed from friend : 0
Checked out from library : 1
Review books : 3
Pages read : 2889

Challenge Status:

Finishing the Series : 0/2
2012 Book Blogger Recommendation : 5/15
The Dusty Bookshelf : 1/15
Fairy Tales : 1/12

An awesome month! But March will be better. Not only because my birthday was two days ago, but because THE HUNGER GAMES COMES OUT THIS MONTH. My heart can’t take it any longer. xD Anyone else excited? How was your February?

4 stars · fiction · romance · young adult

So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti

So Much Closer

Author: Susane Colasanti

Pages [paperback]: 241

memorable quote:
It’s unbelievable how you can affect someone else so deeply and never know.

favorite characters: jack & sadie


When Brooke’s crush, Scott, moves from their suburban town to New York City, she decides to follow him there. Living with her formerly estranged dad and adapting to a new school are challenging, and things go from bad to worse when Brooke learns that Scott already has a girlfriend. But as she builds her new life, Brooke begins to discover a side of herself she never knew existed. And as she finds out, in the city that never sleeps, love can appear around any corner…


Why, why why did it take me so long to start reading books by Susane Colasanti? I’ve had so many people recommend them to me, and just kept pushing it off. Now I regret that, because although I didn’t agree with some of the things the main character, Brooke, did, the writing style was absolutely captivating and pulled me right in.

The plot was simple, but frustrating. What sane person would move just to possibly be a little closer to a boy you say you love but who you’ve actually talked to twice? Uh, no one. I can understand gigantic life chances for someone closer, but . . . This. It was repaired, significantly, by Brooke’s insistence that she would have moved there anyway, because she’s always wanted to live in the city. This was just what pushed her over the edge. If there wasn’t that reassurance, I’m not sure if I would have gone through with this . . . Which would be really disappointing, because I enjoyed the book besides Brooke’s crooked sense of logic.

I flew through this book. It’s not too long, but that’s not the only reason why. As I said before, the writing style was really something I could get into. Not that I want to keep comparing Colasanti to Sarah Dessen-because I’ve heard so many people make that comparison before-but it’s true. They can both capture unique young adult voices that, thrown into what could potentially be bland plotting, still catch my attention and refuse to let go, even after the book is finished.

Because I usually read fantasy or other genres that aren’t sticking plainly to reality (because, really, I get enough of that already), it can take me a lot to like a book in this vein of writing. Which might not be fair to some great authors out there, but it really makes me stand behind the fantastic ones I come across. Susane Colasanti is one of those, and I can’t wait to pick up another of her books. (Hopefully with a better premise. Must read summary before buying.)