I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off THE STEPSISTER’S TALE Blog Tour hosted by Kismet Book Touring, with an interview with Jane Montjoy – the eldest stepsister. The Grimm’s Fairy Tales are my very most favorite childhood stories, and the Cinderella story is one I have always loved. So I was so excited to read Tracy Barrett’s version of the story, one that not only tells things from one of the “evil” stepsister’s point’s of view, but which casts a different light on the classic tale.
I absolutely adored THE STEPSISTER’S TALE. I loved getting to know Jane, her sister Maude, their mother Lady Margaret, and Will, the woodcutter’s son. And I even grew to like Ella.
I loved the voice this story was told in. It had an authenticity to it that made it feel very much like those fairytales of old. And I loved how many elements of the original that were woven in with a bit of a twist.
As my stop is not a review stop, I won’t go on and on about how much I enjoyed reading it or how much I loved how the author changed things up as regards the Prince. But I will just say that it was a delightful read and one that both paid homage to and was a marvelous retelling of a beloved classic.
In addition to the very awesome interview I conducted with Jane Montjoy, there are some fabulous prizes being offered for giveaway – a copy of the book and swag, as well as a tour-wide grand prize package.
First, though, is some information about the book on tour – which releases on June 24th – along with a few of the places you can find it online.
About The Stepsister’s Tale
Release date: June 24, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook
What really happened after the clock struck midnight?
Jane Montjoy is tired of being a lady. She’s tired of pretending to live up to the standards of her mother’s noble family-especially now that the family’s wealth is gone and their stately mansion has fallen to ruin. It’s hard enough that she must tend to the animals and find a way to feed her mother and her little sister each day. Jane’s burden only gets worse after her mother returns from a trip to town with a new stepfather and stepsister in tow. Despite the family’s struggle to prepare for the long winter ahead, Jane’s stepfather remains determined to give his beautiful but spoiled child her every desire.
When her stepfather suddenly dies, leaving nothing but debts and a bereaved daughter behind, it seems to Jane that her family is destined for eternal unhappiness. But a mysterious boy from the woods and an invitation to a royal ball are certain to change her fate…
From the handsome prince to the evil stepsister, nothing is quite as it seems in Tracy Barrett’s stunning retelling of the classic Cinderella tale.
…with Jane Montjoy
Q. For those who haven’t yet met you could you please tell us a little bit more about yourself and what life was like for you growing up in Halsey Hall with your sister Maude and your mother, Lady Margaret Halsey?
It’s hard to answer this question without sounding like I’m whining or complaining, and Mamma always tells us that ladies don’t complain. But I’ll try. We live in a very old, very beautiful house on grounds that used to be landscaped and planted with every kind of flower you can imagine. At least that’s what Mamma tells us. I don’t remember when the house was in good repair—the staircase is falling down and there’s mold everywhere. Mice live in our ballroom and there’s so much dust that if we stir it up by walking through the corridors my sister, Maude, sneezes until she can hardly talk. The once-landscaped grounds have gone back to the wild, except for a small area where our animals graze. But Mamma says we’re still important people and we have to maintain appearances, so I don’t think I should talk about how things have fallen apart.
Q. Even before your father’s passing, things were difficult. Did you ever wish that your mother would give up her family home, stop putting on airs, and try to live a more simple, comfortable life?
I can’t imagine Mamma living a simple life! She’s Lady Margaret Halsey, and her family was the most important in the area for a long, long time. But yes, I do wish we could live more simply. This house is so huge that it seems like we can never heat it enough to stay warm in the winter (especially because Maude and I are the ones who have to cut the wood) and if we could do some work to earn money, the way most people do, we might be able to buy things that we can’t grow or make ourselves. But grand folks like the Halseys and the Montjoys can’t labor like most people.
Q. Which of the stories your mother tells about her youth is your favorite and why?
My favorite story that Mamma tells is about the way she and Papa met. Mamma was riding her horse, Saladin, in a hunt. One of the other hunters, a young man, was looking for a way around a high fence. Mamma laughed and made Sal jump over it instead of going around and the other hunter was embarrassed that he was afraid to go over a fence that a girl had cleared, so he rode his horse at it. But at the last moment the horse balked and the man went flying over his head and landed in mud. Mamma felt bad that she had caused his accident so she helped him up and took him to Halsey Hall and had the servants clean him up. By the time he left, she says, she knew that was the man he was going to marry. And he was.
Q. What was it like when Isabella and her father Harry first moved in? Were you jealous of Isabella and all that she had or did you really want to try to make her a part of the family?
I don’t really know how to describe how I felt when Isabella and her father moved in. It had never occurred to me that Mamma would ever marry anyone, and when she brought home a new husband and a beautiful stepsister I didn’t know what to think. Was I jealous? I don’t know. Envious, maybe. I wanted nice clothes that I didn’t have to mend and nice things to eat, but I didn’t like the idea of being lazy and having people wait on me.
Q. Isabella called you and your sister ugly and your mother a wicked stepmother. As it seems to be so far from the truth, why do you think she said that? And how would you describe her?
At the time that Isabella said that, I thought she was just evil. Now that I know her better, I think she was as confused and frightened as Maude and I were—maybe more so. Ella didn’t know any better than we did that her father was going to marry Mamma. And at least I had Maude to talk to. Isabella didn’t have anyone. Her father was just as bad as Mamma at pretending that everything was fine, and when she tried to talk to him he didn’t really listen. How would I describe her at that time? Beautiful, of course, but also spoiled, mean, selfish, lazy. How would I describe her now? She’s still beautiful and I guess she’s still spoiled, but I’ve grown to like her. I don’t love her like a sister, but she’s my best friend aside from Maude.
Q. If you could have traded places with Isabella would you? And why/why not?
I don’t think I would have traded places with Isabella. She seemed sad all the time. If I’d had all the nice things she did, I would have been happier, and I certainly would have been more generous than she was.
Q. What is it about the people of the woods that is so frightening?
The woods are dangerous; there’s just no way around that. The wild animals there kill people every year. A boar is so ferocious that when people hunt them, the boar-spear has a cross-piece on it because if the hunter sticks the spear into the boar it will run up the spear and attack the hunter with the whole length of the spear in his body! There are outlaws—mostly men who wear green to blend in with the trees—and although the sheriff tries his best to catch them, they mostly get away. There are also fairies who steal people and take them to the other world. I’ve never seen a boar or a Green Man or a fairy, but I know people who have. So people who live in the forest must be dangerous themselves, or they’d be afraid of all those wild things.
Q. Is there anything you can tell us about Will?
Will is a lot like me. He works hard and cares about his family. He’s pretty quiet, though, which I don’t think I am, and he’s quick to take offense. He’s very proud and it’s hard for him to admit that he was wrong. But he’s also brave and takes risks to help other people. Come to think of it, we’re alike in almost every way!
Q. What do you really think about the Prince?
If I said what I really thought about the prince and he found out, I could be in real trouble. Can I skip this one, please?
Q. Before Harry and Isabella entered your life, what would have been your happily ever after? And without revealing too much, could you tell us whether that dream has changed?
Once upon a time my happily ever after would have been very simple. All I wanted before Isabella joined our family was to be able to relax. I don’t mean physically, so much, although that would have been nice too. I mean I would have liked not to have to worry so much about Mamma and Maude. If I hadn’t made Maude do her chores and if I hadn’t kept on top of the cheesemaking and woodcutting and housecleaning, I think we would have starved or frozen to death. I don’t want to say anything bad about Mamma—she did what she could—but I have to admit that sometimes I felt just a bit resentful that it was up to me to keep everything together. Has my dream changed? Well, yes. Now I have everything I could ever have wished for.
About Tracy Barrett
Tracy Barrett is the author of numerous books and magazine articles for young readers.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree with honors in Classics-Archaeology from Brown University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Medieval Italian Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. Her scholarly interests in the ancient and medieval worlds overlap in her fiction and nonfiction works.
A grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to study medieval women writers led to the writing of her award-winning young-adult novel, Anna of Byzantium (Delacorte). Her most recent publications are King of Ithaka, a young-adult novel based on Homer’s Odyssey; and the fourth book in The Sherlock Files, The Missing Heir (both Henry Holt). In September, Harcourt will publisher her young-adult retelling of the myth of the Minotaur, Dark of the Moon.
From 1999 to 2009 Tracy Barrett was the Regional Advisor for the Midsouth (Tennessee and Kentucky) with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She is now SCBWI’s Regional Advisor Coordinator.
Tracy has taught courses on writing for children and on children’s literature at various institutions and frequently makes presentations to groups of students, librarians, teachers, and others.
For an example of Tracy’s presentations at writers’ conferences, please see this article from Clarksville Online.
She occasionally manages to combine her two “lives” as in her presentation at a conference on the Classics in children’s literature in Wales in July, 2009.
- Each stop on the tour has a copy of THE STEPSISTER’S TALE for giveaway, along with some very fun Cinderella-themed swag – ONE winner per stop.
- There will be one winner for an awesome Grand Prize Package which includes the following Harlequin TEEN titles: 2 copies of THE STEPSISTER’S TALE, and 1 copy of THE QUEEN’S CHOICE, DROWNED, WITCHSTRUCK and OCEANBORN.
Giveaway is open to US/Canada.
Enter in the Rafflecopter below….
The Tour Schedule
Monday, June 9th – Fiktshun – Character Interview
Tuesday, June 10th – Harlequin Blog – Author Interview
Wednesday, June 11th – Xpresso Reads – Guest Post
Friday, June 13th – About to Read – Guest Post
Monday, June 16th – The Irish Banana – Author Interview
Tuesday, June 17th – On the Verge – Author Interview
Wednesday, June 18th – Refracted Light Reviews – Guest Post
Friday, June 20th – The Book Cellar – Guest Post