I am so excited about today’s post! Today is my first ARC review + Author Interview for the upcoming release of Happily by Chauncey Rogers.
Happily is a fun twist on the traditional Cinderella story.
If it doesn’t, make it.
Chauncey Rogers shared his new book with me in exchange for my honest review.
Happily is a fun, quick read. I really enjoyed it, though sometimes I had to put myself in a younger mindset. It’s been a while since I’ve read younger fiction, but it was fresh and fun.
And I’m most excited to interview Chauncey Rogers and chat about his latest project!
You’ve written several other writing projects, with older darker themes. How was writing a “happy” story different from your previous darker writing projects?
It was tricky. The mood of the story is a color that seeps through every page, and it was tricky to keep Happily as lighthearted as I wanted without making it feel overly whimsical or without gravity. It was a challenge, but a welcome one.
Favorite Character you wrote in this story? And why?
I think my answer to this changes every day, but right now I think I’d say Laure. She can be a bit whiny at times, but I like who she is beneath her tough yet pessimistic outer shell.
Your favorite original fairy tale and modern fairy tale retelling?
Of the classic western fairy tales, I’d have to go with Sleeping Beauty, mostly just because Prince Phillip (in the Disney animated version) is a total champ, with his dragon-slaying and whatnot.
My favorite retelling might just be A.I., the film from 2001. It’s a retelling of Pinocchio, and while I only saw it once, something about that movie has stuck with me. I think it touched on the oft-overlooked emotions in the Pinocchio story that really make it a beautifully tragic tale.
Is this your first time to write a disability into a story, and how do you work on adding diversity like this into stories?
This was a first, but it was a pretty soft entry into including characters with disabilities. It’s certainly something that I’d like to do more, but it’s also something I want to do right. I wouldn’t ever want it to feel forced or like a box to be checked, either to myself or to my readers. And I think that how it’s done is dependent on individual stories and how it works within that framework.
What challenges surprised you while writing this story?
Getting the right tone. I touched on this earlier, but keeping the story more light-hearted really was tricky for me. I wrote 100 pages of manuscript on a first draft, then had to throw the whole thing out and start again at square one, because the feel of it just wasn’t right. The story that I tossed was good, too, but it wasn’t the story that I needed to tell, I suppose.
If you could change any fairy tale, which one would it be? What would you change about it?
..how to answer this one without spoiling future books?…
I guess I’d change the story of Hansel and Gretel. I’d make the father in it grow a pair and stand up for his kids instead of leading them off and trying to ditch them in the woods.
You wrote this story for your daughter, what has she thought about it?
I haven’t read it to her yet, as a matter of fact. But she’s excited to hear it! I think we’re waiting for the full release on April 3 to start it.
Do you have any future projects in the works currently?
Absolutely! I’ve always got some stuff cooking. I’m slowly editing a space fantasy novel I finished a little while back, working out the kinks and getting it ready for readers. And then I’m drafting up a little something that may or may not be a sequel to Happily.
Some people say authors always have messages written into their writing. Do you plan a message with your books, or does the story create its own message as it comes together? What kind of messages do you hope your book gives people?
I definitely do sometimes plan a message, but they also do happen organically. One thing I wanted to address in Happily is that bad attitudes aren’t actually very cool. I gave Laure a bit of a sour attitude, but I intended to do it in such a way that might annoy readers a bit–not annoy them with the book itself, I hoped, but at least get them to see that negativity really isn’t that great.
I know the number one advice for aspiring writers is to keep writing and reading, but what other advice would you give aspiring authors?
Study the craft. If you want to get better, keep doing it. If you want to get better faster, study it. There are great books on writing fiction. Get them from the library and read them. Take some notes. Practice using them. You’ll get much better much more quickly if you don’t lean entirely on your own faulty intuition.
I hope you enjoyed this interview! I certainly enjoyed thinking up questions and chatting about Happily with Chauncey Rogers.
I hope you get a chance to check out Chauncey Rogers and his new book, Happily!
If you wrote a fairytale retelling, which fairy tale would you retell? How would you switch it around?
Do you have a favorite fairy tale retelling?