This is one Q and A session that I was dying to do. When I was in the sixth grade, my teacher had us do a unit on fairy tales. We had to compare and contrast tales from different cultures and see what we found. Bearskin is one that is not very well known but for some reason, it stuck with me more than Beauty and the Beast and other fairy tales of that nature. When I was approved to read this book through NetGalley, I was so excited. I knew right away that I was going to read this book one way or another.
So I read the advanced copy. I was not disappointed one bit. The way Jane Rosenberg Laforge worked this tale was absolutely beautiful. I could not find one critical thing to say about it. As most of you know, I don't buy books brand new. I live in a good-sized town not as big as Seattle but a good sized one. NOT ONE STORE HAD THIS BOOK. I was so upset, I told my husband I was actually contemplating throwing a temper tantrum right in the store. We compromised and instead of throwing an all out hissy fit right there in the bookstore, he bought it for me off of Amazon. I have one shelf (four feet long) that is dedicated to books that I will read more than once. That shelf is almost empty, but this book got a spot on "the golden shelf" (from my 12-year old).
Anyway, I am rambling, when Jane agreed to do a Q and A, I literally squealed in delight. I had to know more about the inspiration behind this book and more about the author. I am very excited to share it with you. Don't forget to check out the links below to the Author's website, my original blog post, and the link so you can get your very own copy. If you love retellings beyond role reversals and the obvious changes, you will LOVE this book.
1. What inspired you to write this story?
A: I've always been curious about World War I. I had two grandfathers, one of whom I knew quite well; he fought in WW2. I wound up learning a lot about that war. But my other grandfather, who was much older and died when I was about six, fought for the Russians in WWI. I didn't know much about that war other than conditions in the trenches were terrible. Writing about that war was one way for me to learn about it. I also have been stuck on the Grimm's Fairy Tale of "The Bearskin" ever since I read it in German during graduate school. I was fascinated by the prospect of getting someone else to do your penance for you. But I really didn't have a way to tie my ideas together until I took a trip to Ireland. I learned there about some of the experiences of Irish soldiers who fought for the British in WWI. Ireland was in the midst of a revolution during the war, and the Irish who returned from the war were considered traitors. They were much like "The Hawkman" in that they had no place to go. Some of them had to leave Ireland permanently. Once I was able to find a homeless and hated soldier in history, I was able to create one on the page I could believe in, and put all of these elements into action.
2. Do you see yourself transforming any other fairytales?
A: At the moment, I don't see myself transforming another fairy tale, because I'm trying to write something that takes place largely in the 1970's, and I'm not sure that really lends itself to a fairy tale. But I heard a fascinating discussion on the radio last week about "Frankenstein," and I'm thinking that story might lend some support to what I'm working on now. It might not work out, though. Fairy tales sometimes tend to be about transformation, and like "The Hawkman," the story I'm working on now deals with transformation. But it's more of a Frankenstein-esque transformation that I'm dealing with now; it's more of a kind of human-made abomination, nothing magical. There are certain things you need to work with fairy tales, certain contrivances, or plot points; a certain sense of romance and possibility. The story I'm envisioning now doesn't have any of that.
3. What was the hardest part about writing this story?
A: I haven't written a lot of fiction so most of the book was difficult! Perhaps the easiest part was the research; I could just read and read and read. Getting it down was an entirely different story. I had to be very careful about rendering the experiences of the characters in the proper language; I didn't want to be using modern language, expressions or sayings or idioms that were just not true to the time period. I wanted to write more about the Boer War, and I read several books about it, but I just couldn't picture how certain things happened in that war--I don't want to say what, because that might give away some of the plot--so I had to leave all that out.
4. Are there any deleted scenes you left out of the book?
A: I may have answered this question in the above answer, but I didn't write anything that I had to delete. I just gave up on a lot of ideas that I wanted to include, but couldn't make work. I wanted to write about a lot more wars, like the Crimean War. I got a tiny bit in about the Boer War but nothing like the scenes I envisioned. I have an ever-so-slight reference to the Spanish-American War in there. But if I wrote as I originally planned, those other wars may have dragged the book down, detracting from the plot.
5. What is something funny or unique about you that not everyone knows about? (nothing embarrassing)
A: I wrote a memoir; it was published in 2014. So I don't think there's anything new or unknown, or even funny or unique that I can reveal here. Certainly, there are plenty of embarrassing things, though most of my friends know all about those. They continue to happen almost every day! So stay tuned!
I don't know about you all but that little hint of something Frankenstein-esque has me pretty curious.
Check out Jane Rosenberg LaForge's website to check out what's new and find out more about her other books.
In case you missed it here is the link to my original Blog post about the book and my review of it.
And last but not least, grab your copy of The Hawkman: A Fairy Tale of the Great War. It is available as an e-book or paperback.