Welcome to this stop on The Wild Girl Blog Tour. Today I have an interview with Kate Forsyth, the talented author of The Wild Girl. The Wild Girl is a enchanting novel which I highly recommend, you can find a link to my review further down the post. But first lets hear more from Kate Forsyth.
Author Interview with Kate Forsyth:
What inspired you to write The Wild Girl?
I was researching the origins of the Grimm fairy tales for another book I was writing and just stumbled across the story of Dortchen Wild, the young woman who told Wilhelm Grimm many of the brothers’ most compelling fairy tales and – in the end – married him. I was struck at once by the fact that she was utterly unknown, and yet she told all this marvelous tales that everyone knows nowadays. I knew at once I wanted to tell her story. It was absolutely electrifying.
How much research did you have to do for The Wild Girl? From the Grimm brothers themselves to the French occupation, the book is steeped in history that you manage to pull together so well but at first it must have been hard to find all of this information?
It was an enormous lot of research, primarily because I was coming from such a place of ignorance. I knew nothing about Napoleon, or about life in Germany in the early 1800s. I am, however, undertaking my doctorate in fairy tales and so I knew quite a lot both about the Grimm brothers and also about how to undertake research. It took quite a long time, but I really loved every moment of it. Such a fascinating period of history and such an interesting topic.
Ok then out of all your research you have done, what has been your favourite fact or discovery?
I loved all the research I did into the fairy tales and their sources, and into daily life in a small Hessian town – that was fascinating. Dortchen, for example, would have had to make her own soap from the ashes of her kitchen fire. She would also have collected the urine from all the chamber-pots and used it to spot-clean dirty linens. Yes, pee is a great, natural bleach. She would also have saved all the potato peels to starch her father’s cravats. I also loved reading up on 19th century apothecaries – I could whip you up some laudanum for you if you brought me some brandy and a lump of raw opium. And I found out that Napoleon was born with teeth! Apparently the old wives’ tale is that any baby born with teeth wants to devour the world alive and he certainly wanted to do that.
Both the Wild Girl and Bitter Greens are fairy tale retellings combined with real history, what draws you to write this type of story?
I’ve always loved historical fiction and I’ve always loved fairy tales, and so it felt natural to put them together. As a storyteller myself, finding out the life stories of the women who first told these wonderful tales was utterly intriguing and moving. Their lives are like fairy tales themselves – filled with romance, drama, tragedy and ultimate triumph.
Dortchen is a strong female character and in your previous book Bitter Greens, the novel was told from three female points of views all of whom were strong in their own ways. Do you aim to write the characters this way or do they just take control?
Dortchen and Charlotte-Rose and my other heroines are all their own people and all I do is run after them writing down what they do and say. I am, however, naturally drawn to stories about strong women with something to say.
As we are talking about characters can you tell us which ones are your favourite? And to make it slightly harder can you pick your favourite Grimm and then your favourite Wild?
Well, that’s easy! Dortchen Wild is absolutely my favourite character in The Wild Girl. I lived inside her skin for months and months, I feel like she’s a sister of the soul for me. Wilhelm Grimm wins hands down too – I think of him as the quintessential romantic hero – dark, brooding, intense, poetic, passionate ….
How long did the Wild Girl take to write? Where there many challenges on the way?
So many challenges! Far too many to list. I had to teach myself to read German, for example, and not modern German either – I had to learn the High German of the early 19th century. I had to compile a list of all the Grimm fairy tales and find out where and when each one was told. That took ages! All up the research took about a year and the writing and editing took another.
What is your favourite Brothers Grimm fairy tale?
I love many of them, but particular favourites are ‘Six Swans’, ‘’The Singing, Springing Lark’ which is a Beauty-and-the-Beast-type tale, ‘Sweetheart Roland’, ‘Dornroschen’, which we know as ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘Aschenputtel’, a Cinderella-type tale.
In the synopsis for The Wild Girl it says, “Once there were six sisters, The pretty one, the musical one, the clever one, the helpful one, the young one... And then there was the wild one.” Which one would you say you are?
Oh I’m the wild one too! Just ask my sister.
Can readers look forward to another fairy tale retelling from you in the future?
I’m just about to start work on a retelling of one of Dortchen’s tales, ‘The Singing, Springing Lark’ (a Beauty and the Beast variant) set in Nazi Germany. I’m so looking forward to that!
Thank you Kate for taking your time to answer my questions!
About the Book:
The Wild Girl
Release Date: 22nd July 2013
Publisher: Allison and Busby
Synopsis: Once there were six sisters. The pretty one, the musical one, the clever one, the helpful one, the young one...And then there was the wild one.
Dortchen Wild has loved Wilhelm Grimm since she was a young girl. Under the forbidding shadow of her father, the pair meet secretly to piece together a magical fairy tale collection. The story behind the stories of the Brothers Grimm.
About the Author:
Kate Forsyth is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 books for adults and children , translated into 13 languages. She was recently named in the Top 25 of Australia's Favourite Novelists. Since The Witches of Eileanan was named a Best First Novel by Locus Magazine, Kate has won or been nominated for many awards, including a CYBIL Award in the US. She’s also the only author to win five Aurealis awards in a single year, for her Gypsy Crown series of children's historical novels. Kate’s latest novel, Bitter Greens, interweaves a retelling of the Rapunzel fairytale with the scandalous life story of the woman who first told the tale, the 17th century French writer Charlotte-Rose de la Force. It has been called ‘the best fairy tale retelling since Angela Carter’ and ‘an imaginative weaving of magic, fairy tale and history’. A direct descendant of Charlotte Waring, the author of the first book for children ever published in Australia, Kate is currently studying a doctorate in fairy tales at the University of Technology in Sydney, where she lives by the sea, with her husband, three children, and many thousands of books.
Please visit Kate Forsyth's WEBSITE and BLOG for more information. You can also find her on FACEBOOK and follow her on TWITTER.
Huge thanks to Kate Forsyth for answering my questions. Thank you to Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for allowing me to take part and host Kate and The Wild Girl. You can find my 5 star review of The Wild Girl here. Also be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour, you can find the schedule here. Thank you all for stopping by!