Today we would like to welcome back Grace Draven to the blog. We’re huge fans of Master of Crows which features an anti-social mage who is tempted to succumb to darkness but ends up falling in love with the woman who may save him. Her most recent book, Entreat Me, is a retelling of Beauty and The Beast and is out now.
Bookpushers: Grace, thanks so much for allowing us to pick your brains. Firstly, congratulations on another wonderful release.
Always happy to be here, BP. And thank you! I didn’t think I’d ever get Entreat Me shoved out into the daylight, but the day finally came. I celebrated with Tex-Mex food and a good margarita. J
Bookpushers: Why did you decide to write a Beauty and Beast retelling; what drew you to this particular fairy-tale?
I love the framework of the story and all its renditions. It’s my all-time favorite fairytale. I think it represents the very best of humanity—hope and redemption, even in our darkest hours. I’m too cynical to think everyone or every action can be redeemed, but I’d like to think most can. That’s why the story appeals so much for me. I think all of us have facets of beauty and beast inside of us. The fairytale just personifies it.
BookPushers: Ballard was so multi-faceted. He may have had the face of Beast but he was so level-headed at times and others very rawr, especially towards Louvaen. Do you find it more dificult to create a character that strays away from the usual archetype?
Sometimes. It depends on the scene or the moment. On the other hand, the usual archetype doesn’t work for that scene or moment and straying is the way to go. I loved writing Ballard because he was a challenge. As much as I adore the volatile, razor-tongued Silhara, I didn’t want him to make a second appearance in another book under a different name. I wanted Ballard to be as strong and as tough, but that strength had to manifest in other ways—perseverance, powerful protective instinct, pragmatic patience. His character had to work with the heroine I paired him with as well, and I’d like to think this type of personality matched with someone like the iron-willed Louvaen. Parsing it out like this now, I’d say straying from archetype was the least of my worries.
Bookpushers: Do you have anymore future fairy-tale retellings in the work?
Not for the foreseeable future. Readers might recognize certain fairytale elements in subsequent work, but Entreat Me is the only one I’ve sat down with and said “I’m going to try my hand at a fairytale retelling.”
Bookpushers: We also heard you have plans for a sequel to Master of Crows. Are you able to give us any details about it, and when it will be released? *muppet-flail*
LOL. When I finished writing Master of Crows, I felt Silhara’s and Martise’s story was finished, and I think in the more epic scale of a novel-length story, it is. However, I wanted to continue writing in the world I’d created, and I admit I missed these two. I’ve started work on a short story sequel with Silhara and Martise as the central characters who will face an adversary I can’t wait to sit down and write. I can hear one of my editors now saying “Are you suuuuurrre this will be a short story?” She knows my writing habits very well. Entreat Me, at 123k words, was originally intended to be a 30k-word novella. I’ve paved freeways to Hell with my good intentions. I can only say I plan to publish this short story this year. I’m afraid if I gave a more concrete date, I’d be right back here with many apologies and excuses as to why I’ve had to delay for the 13th time. I do have a title—The Brush of Black Wings.
Bookpushers: Romance (yay) is a strong core in all of your fantasy books. Do have any plans or desires to write outside of a traditional fantasy setting?
I have a short story I’m contributing toward a group project. I can’t say anything more about the project itself just yet, but my story is a contemporary romance. Because there are no fantasy elements that usually appear in a Grace Draven book, I’m writing it under the pen name Annabeth DenBoer. Every other project though is strictly fantasy romance. It’s the subgenre I think I write best in and one I enjoy the most.
Bookpushers: Your worldbuilding is always so in-depth and the imagery is so vivid. How do you plan and build your worlds?
I used to play a lot of D&D when I was in college. Everything I ever learned and currently apply to my world building techniques I learned from the cleverest, most imaginative, diabolical dungeon master who ever lived—my brother Rick. He ran his games with two principals: 1) ground the fantastic in the mundane so that it becomes unexpected and 2) everything has a price. Once Upon A Time’s Rumplestiltskin doesn’t own that one. It’s the spine of a structured D&D game. I apply both those principals to my world building. In Master of Crows, Silhara of Neith is a powerful sorcerer, but those spells cost him something every time he casts them. Some cost more than others; some have backlash effects. Nothing is free. He also suffers from chronic bed hair, doesn’t do mornings and has a psychological issue with oranges. It all boils down to cost and ubiquity—two things every one of us is familiar with in our modern age.
Bookpushers: What are some of your favourite romances to read?
Even though I prefer to write almost exclusively in fantasy romance, I’ll read across genres. My favorites are older books. Mary Balogh’s The Pearl is still at the top of my list. I also loved The Faery Bride by Lisa Ann Verge and The Prince of Swords by Ann Stuart.
Bookpushers: Unlike traditional fairytale romance tropes with the heroine (princess) waiting for the hero (prince) to rescue her, your heroines seem to be the rescuers for their tormented heroes. Why did you you decide to flip things around?
I think that stems from personal observation. Except for one instance, every “rescue” event I’ve ever witnessed or been party to—be it physical, emotional, or mental—has been spearheaded or directly performed by a woman. That doesn’t mean all I’ve known are weak men. Far from it. I know a lot of courageous, admirable men (I’m married to one). I’m just hugely fortunate to know some incredibly powerful, amazing women too.
Bookpushers: If there was a fantasy or an alternative world that you would love to live in which world would it be and what characters or people would you like to live and interact with?
I’d love to live in Middle Earth’s Rivendell; however, I’d have Elric of Melniboné over for dinner and a chat.
Bookpushers: If Entreat Me was a movie who would you cast for your primary characters?
Richard Armitage and Claudia Black. No one can smolder or play tortured like Armitage, and Claudia Black is one of the most beautiful women on the planet.
Thank you so much, BP! Always a pleasure and a privilege.