Christina Henry, author of The Chronicles of Alice series, has just released the second and final book in her duology, Red Queen, and I’m thrilled she was able to stop by and answer some questions about the book! I also have one copy of Alice, the first book in the series, to give away to a U.S. reader, so don’t forget to enter at the end of this post!
I loved Henry’s dark version of Alice in Wonderland (you can read my review of Alice here), and I can’t wait to get started on the sequel. Meanwhile, please welcome Christina Henry to the blog!
BB&B: Many authors have tackled the story of Alice in Wonderland. What is it about this classic tale that led you to write The Chronicles of Alice series?
CH: One of the most influential fantasy stories of all time is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I’ve written before that Alice and her story have become embedded in our cultural memory in such a way that people who’ve never read the original story feel as though they must have.
We just know the story of Alice like we know the story of Little Red Riding Hood or Snow White. Language from the book has even become embedded in our lexicon – think about how many times you’ve said “I fell down the rabbit hole”.
Alice’s story is so iconic and has such a fairy-tale-like, almost mythical quality that I wanted to dip into that sandbox to create my own Wonderland (or in my case, more of a Nightmareland) and shape my own version of Alice.
Alice’s journey in the first book Alice is extremely dark. What can readers expect to find in Red Queen? Is the story just as dark?
The story is still dark, but in a different way. I think about ALICE as a survivor’s tale – in the first book she’s survived and overcome the traumatic experience that defined her life up to that point. It was important to feel Alice’s past looming over her for the duration of the book.
In RED QUEEN, I was interested in exploring what happens after you’ve survived. How do you re-define yourself as a person? Who is Alice now that she’s escaped the City? Alice has to learn how to be a new self, and the main quest of the book is Alice finding that self.
The tone and structure of RED QUEEN have a bit more in common with traditional European fairy tales mixed with Carroll’s influence.
Red Queen is the conclusion to the series. So, what’s up next for you? Are you currently working on anything that you can share with us?
I just finished writing LOSTBOY, which is an origin story of Captain Hook. I always wondered why Captain Hook stays in Neverland harassing these kids instead of just leaving and being a pirate as good pirates do.
There’s also an undertone of casual violence in the original story that’s really shocking when you consider that these are children running about and killing pirates.
I think of LOSTBOY as a kind of cross between PETER PAN and LORD OF THE FLIES. I hope that readers will have a lot more sympathy for Hook after reading this book.
You are also the author of the long-running Black Wings urban fantasy series. How hard was it to shift gears from writing urban fantasy to writing Alice and Red Queen?
It was a pretty seamless transition, surprisingly. I always want to push myself with every book and be a better writer. I felt that I’d told all the story I wanted to tell in the BLACK WINGS universe at that time and luckily my editor was willing to take a risk on a different kind of book from me.
Series writing can be very challenging – it’s tough to keep things fresh and keep the characters evolving over the course of so many books. It was a challenge to switch to ALICE but I loved being able to write something completely different.
I love hearing what kinds of books authors read themselves. Have you read anything good lately? And do you feel reading works by other authors is important to your growth as a writer?
I will read literally anything that stands still long enough for me to read it. I am a really nondiscriminatory reader – I like all kinds of fiction and I read a lot of nonfiction, too.
Lately I find myself reading a lot of mysteries set in exotic (to me) locales – the Siri Palboun series by Colin Cotterill (set in Laos in the 1970’s) is a favorite of mine. I also love Michael Stanley’s Detective Kubu books (set in modern-day Botswana) and Tarquin Hall’s Vish Puri series (set in contemporary India). I like the mental engagement of a mystery plus the feeling that I’m learning about different cultures and places.
Stephen King famously said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” I certainly believe that the more widely you read the better a writer you’ll be.
Please tell us three things about you that can’t be found on your website.
- The last TV show I watched regularly was DEADWOOD (which went off the air in August 2006 – I’m not much of a TV watcher),
- I’ve read all of Agatha Christie’s books at least three times apiece, some of them many more times than that,
- My favorite movie of all time is JAWS.
Thank you so much for answering my questions!
CHRISTINA HENRY is the author of the national bestselling BLACK WINGS series (BLACK WINGS, BLACK NIGHT, BLACK HOWL, BLACK LAMENT, BLACK CITY, BLACK HEART and BLACK SPRING, Ace/Roc) and the two CHRONICLES OF ALICE books, ALICE and RED QUEEN (Ace Trade). She enjoys running long distances, reading anything she can get her hands on and watching movies with samurai, zombies and/or subtitles in her spare time. She lives in Chicago with her husband and son.
Ready for the giveaway? Simply fill in the Rafflecopter below. One U.S. winner will be randomly selected on August 20th. Good luck!