Chantal Gadoury is an Amazon list bestselling author as well as the senior editor for Parliament House Press. Her fairy tell retelling “Allerleirauh” has just been re-released by Parliament House in hard cover and the new release features the first three chapters of her upcoming fantasy “Between the Sea and Stars.”
You can find my review of “Allerleirauh” HERE
Keep reading for an exclusive interview with Chantal going into detail about her future projects, how role playing games helped her develop her writing style and inspired her fantasy novel “Between the Sea and Stars,” and how grief therapy after the loss of her father lead her to write her best selling YA contemporary “The Songs in Our Hearts.”
At the end of the interview there is a link to sign up for Chantal’s newsletter where readers will get a first glimpse into the world of “Winterdream,” Chantal’s Nutcracker retelling.
You’re an Amazon list bestselling author for both your fairytale retelling “Allerleirauh” and your YA contemporary “The Songs in Or Hearts,” what inspired you to work to get these novels published?
It’s always been my dream to be a published author one day. And it’s been a long journey in getting there. Back in 2014-2015, I began to write what was the first version of “Allerleirauh,” which I ended up self-publishing. After a not-so-good experience with a different publisher, and no other interested publishers who wanted to take a chance on my pretty scandalous novel, I ventured out into the “Self-Publishing” world. It was only after Shayne Leighton, creator of Parliament House approached me with her idea of starting her own company that I even began to feel hope again about publishing. She really shared the same vision that I had about the future of independent publishing companies. So many [indie publishing companies] are just taking what they can grab at, creating a book and leaving the author more or less in the lurch with no marketing skills, and no guidance in how to become a better “seller” of their book! I really had to learn the hard way of how to first: sell myself, but second: make connections.
I like to think that I’m a pretty genuine person, and I like to keep it that way when I’m talking to other people: readers, authors, bloggers – you name it. We are all here because we love books. Some love to read them, some love to write them, and some love to share what they love! At the end of the day, we all need each other. So, when Shayne agreed to give “Allerleirauh” a chance, I was thrilled.
When it came to “The Songs in Our Hearts,” I really wanted to share my story. I really wanted to get Micah and Charlie out into the world. I wanted to share my dad with the world. I think just keeping him and his memory in mind inspired me to share him and myself. . . and I was lucky enough that 48Fourteen Published agreed!
What inspired you to write a retelling of “Allerleirauh,” a lesser known Grimm Brother’s fairytale?
So, this is a interesting story: when I was little, my Dad bought me this VHS of Grimms’ Fairy Tale Classics. On this tape, there was a cartoon version of “Snow White,” “The Princess and the Frog,” and “The Coat of Many Colours.” For the longest time, I was completely afraid to watch the cartoon because of how it started; all dark and gloomy… a thunder storm and some crazy king chasing a princess around. Eventually, though, I watched the cartoon and was instantly swept away in this beautiful tale about a princess who has to run away from her father – who wants to marry her – dressed in a strange coat and has these beautiful gowns. The 5-year-old Chantal loved EVERYTHING Disney. (I mean, the 29-year-old Chantal still does!) Anything with Princes, gowns, dancing, and ‘happily ever after’ was just my thing. And I loved this tale [Allerleirauh]. It stuck with me. For years, I searched and searched to find the real story, it wasn’t until high school that I came across the name “Allerleirauh.” From there it was just a matter of time until I wrote my own version.
When I was a teenager, I loved retellings by Robin McKinley, and Edith Pattou, just to name two of my favorite authors. Deep down, I wanted to be an author just like Robin: I wanted to rewrite captivating and beautiful versions of the tales that I loved. So, the taste for retellings began there. When I went off to college, I took a “Young Adult and Children” writing class, and I attempted my first version of “Allerleirauh.” It was strange, and I’m really glad that I drifted back to the classic setting, instead of trying to make it modern and “hip.”
It wasn’t until one night that I was on the phone with one of my old friends, that I was suddenly struck with the desire to write the version of “Allerleirauh” that you see now. She told me a heartbreaking story about how she had been abused by her grandfather, step-father, and ultimately lost the rights of her son to her ex-boyfriend. She asked me, “I wonder what he’ll think of me when he’s older.” Thus, Prince Klaus was born. I wanted to create a character who hadn’t known his mother well, but loved her. I wanted Klaus to be this beautiful version of her son. . . and I wanted to write a book that captured the real pain of what it is to be raped / abused. But I also wanted to take that, and give the readers hope. All the things that are going on in the news makes “Allerleirauh” even more relevant than before. The woman who are abused are, as Klaus says “More.” I wanted to give victims and survivors hope.
And you have another fantasy novel coming out in June, “Between the Sea and Stars” Of which the first three chapters can be found in the rerelease of “Allerleirauh,” can you tell us a little about what that book is about and what inspired you to write it?
Of course, I can! So – an odd thing to know about me is that I used to be a Tumblr Role Play Writer. Once Upon a Time, I belonged to Disney Group and wrote as Ariel from “The Little Mermaid.” She had her own story of leaving Atlantica and exploring different “Disney” Worlds. Among them were places like Agrabah from “Aladdin,” and Corona from “Tangled.” I was really inspired by the stories that I and other fellow Tumblr RPer’s created in “Treasure Planet,” and “Wonderland.”
Lena [from “Between the Sea and Stars] is my own version of my old Ariel character (though, she’s also very different!) In the book there is a history of a Queen being murdered by a human “lover,” all in hopes to gain her magical shell. Her death causes the king of the sea and Posideon to banish merrows from ever traveling to the surface. There is a group of merrow-men called the “Fosse-Solk,” who protect the merrows from the humans. Javelin is called to join this group, and gain this crystal that allows the Fosse-Solk go to the surface every full moon. Lena’s curiosity about the shell and the ability to finally go to the surface is met with disaster. The consequences of her decision force her to go to the human shore. With the shell that once belonged to the queen, Lena gains legs and is met by an array of new characters on land. She’s met by characters who were inspired by Jim Hawkins – “Treasure Planet,” the Mad Hatter (Reginald) – “Alice in Wonderland,” and Jafar – “Aladdin.” It’s my own take on a brand-new story about a mermaid who dreamed of something more. . . What’s great is this will be duology! Expect a cliff-hanger!
Ah! I hate cliff hangers!
Okay, I want to touch on your experience as a writing style role player. Would you say RPG’s influenced your writing?
Definitely. For each character that I picked up, I found that I was challenged as a writer. When I wrote as Susan Pevensie from Narnia, my voice really changed. I learned how to write with a more “proper” sounding tone. When I wrote as Beast, I gained a man’s perspective. I was able to develop my writing style, and find myself as a writer, within these characters that I loved. And I learned a lot about myself too – as a person. Beast’s anger was mine. Ella’s compassion was mine. Ariel’s stubbornness solely belonged to me. I found how easy it was to give characters my own traits; Writing is giving the reader a piece of yourself, sometimes without even knowing it.
And I bet it also helped to have people to work off of and to critique your characters in the Role Playing world?
Yeah. I think I got really spoiled with the communication I had with other people. It’s basically like writing a story with another person: “Does this work?” “Do you agree with this post?” “Where do you see this going?”
I’ve had my fair share of “criticism” too – especially with Ariel. And I learned to listen to the character rather than myself. I really went one way with her at one point and it was a huge mistake. But the great thing about writing (though not so great on Tumblr *laughs*) is that you can restart. You can delete things. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s the only way to learn.
What other projects are you working on now?
Currently, I’m working on my own take on a “Nutcracker” story. Around November I was listening to Christmas music, and the Nutcracker Overture came on. About an hour later. I found myself watching the ballet on youtube. Before I knew it, I had an entire outline for a novel planned out! This story has always been my favorite since I was a little girl. My mom used to take me to see it every Christmas. Over the [recent] holiday, I researched the many different versions of the ballet, the story, and old traditional Russia!
My version of this story takes place on Christmas Eve – where we find Clara, who is now a grown young adult, facing the challenges of accepting her father’s choice of husband for her to Yakov Petravaey. Her Uncle Drosselmeyer comes to the house to give Clara back her old childhood toy – the Nutcracker. Once, as a child, she had the most magical dream of traveling to a land of sweets with her dashing Nutcracker Prince. When Fritz [her younger brother] broke her toy, her mother had shipped it off to her Uncle to have it repaired. For the holiday celebration, her Uncle is accompanied by his apprentice Anton, who is shy but kind and handsome. But there’s something mysterious about him that she can’t quite place.
Several hours after the party is over, Clara goes back down to the parlor to retrieve her Nutcracker, where a whole new world awaits her. After shrinking to the size of a mouse, she and her now-come-to-life Nutcracker must race to save his majestic, magical land from the evil Mouse King. And Clara must save her Nutcracker from the spell that keeps her Prince locked away in the wooden shell of the Nutcracker he is.
Of course, after this project, I’ll be working on the sequel to “Between the Sea and Stars,” and I’ll also be working on my other project belonging to Parliament House Press — “Blinding Night,” which will be a series about Hades and Persephone in a modern-day twist! Lots of fun stuff ahead!
I can’t wait for your Nutcracker retelling! You’re so busy! I knew you were working on the sequel for “The Songs in Our Hearts,” which is personal to you. Can you talk a little about what brought you to write the two books?
“The Songs in Our Hearts” actually started as a project for just me.
I always wanted to write about myself, in a fiction form (which I know sounds odd) . . . After having lost my Dad, and my engagement dissolving, I was forced to move back to my hometown and to live with my mom. It was there that I wanted to find myself again — and I found that it was therapeutic to write about how high school used to be. To take inspiration from my town and the people that I knew, and to almost re-write my experience.
I based Micah on my own crush I had, Charlie was based on myself, and the array of other characters were a mixture of friends, teachers, and other people important to me.
It was also an opportunity for me to write about my Dad. I always loved thinking that with each reader, my Dad would come to life again. And that was so much bigger than anything to me. The words on the page breathe life back into my Dad. . . and that’s just so amazing to me.
The sequel to “The Songs in Our Hearts,” was my way of dealing with my grief. At the time, I was just finishing up the second round of grief share, and I was told to write about what happened to me; to write about the day and the feelings I had since then. So I did. And then I used Charlie and her world to explore it. So be braced with a tissue box in hand.
You’re an editor now for Parliament House Press, what’s the biggest piece of advice you can give to people looking to publish?
My biggest piece of advice would be to not give up. And I know a lot of people say that; it gets really repetitive to hear, but it’s the most worthwhile piece of advice that I can share. You must be willing work hard for this. Know that you’re not going to make money. . . you must be in this for the pure pleasure of writing and sharing and touching other people’s lives with your work. Take advantage of the author friends you have; see what they’re doing. Ask questions. Make mistakes (It’s okay! It’s the only way to learn!) Be yourself. When you’re “selling yourself,” – sell who you are. The soul. The person. Don’t bombard your readers with “Buy, Buy, Buy” ads. Share things about yourself. Interact! And know when to say no; know what you are worth – and what your writing is worth! Find people who believe in your dream. . . because your dream is worthwhile! Never stop. If this is something you really, really want – work hard for it, and it’ll pay off. Have patience. And remember to have fun!
That’s really good advice, I think especially about how to get your book out there and interacting with your readers. What surprised you the most about the publishing world?
I think I’ve been the most surprised by how . . . joyful I feel in seeing other people be so happy that their book is being published. It makes me even more excited to be a part of their own journey. I know what it’s like to be that author! To know that finally… finally someone is taking a chance! I love seeing new covers! I love getting to know the authors and editors. And I’ve been the most surprised by the wonderful feedback that I’ve personally been given. I’ve learned that dreams can come true. And even if it all disappeared tomorrow, I’d never trade a piece of it for the world.
About the Author
Chantal Gadoury is an Amazon Best Selling Author who is originally from the countryside of Muncy, PA. Chantal likes anything Disney, plays a mean game of Disney trivia, enjoys painting and has a interest in British History. Chantal first started writing stories at the age of seven and continues that love of writing today. As a recent college graduate from Susquehanna University, with a degree in Creative Writing, writing novels is a dream come true.
You can sign up for Chantal’s newsletter HERE and get the first glimpse into her Nutcracker retelling “Winterdream,” or follow her on any of the social media sites below to keep up to date on her work.