Friday, April 08, 2011

Interview with Maureen McGowan and Giveaway - April 8, 2011

Please welcome Maureen McGowan to The Qwillery.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Maureen:  I don’t know whether or not it’s interesting, but even after I’m happy with my work on the screen, I need to do several rounds of pen and paper editing. I don’t know if it’s because my brain sees things differently when they’re printed out, but I always do edits that way. It’s not terribly efficient, but it’s what works for me. My on paper editing is almost always done in coffee shops. One local barista asked me if their shop was going to get royalties. J

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Maureen:  I love all kinds of novels across most genres of fiction. There are too many to list, but Robertson Davies, John Irving, Anne Rice, Anne Tyler, Emily Giffen, and J. R. Ward are examples of authors whose entire backlist I gobbled up as soon as I read one. I’m not sure if I’ve been directly influenced by any particular authors, but Suzanne Collins definitely inspired me to not be afraid to put young characters in danger. Certainly in traditional fairy tales the characters face life or death situations.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a panster?

Maureen:  I’m a mix of the two. I do believe I can create a story with more coherence if I go in with an overall plan—at least the broad strokes of a plan—but the most exciting elements in my stories often happen while I’m at the keyboard. These moments of inspiration often lead me in unexpected directions, and when I inevitably hit a wall, I go back and plan again. Plot, pants, (rinse), repeat in what sometimes seems like an infinite loop.

I have written detailed synopses for entire books before starting them—Cinderella: Ninja Warrior being one—but then I never seem to stick to the plan. This was particularly challenging for the Twisted Tales books because of the complicated structure.

Speaking of the structure, some early readers of these books have said they wished there were multiple endings and/or “wrong” paths to follow, like there were in some other choose-your-own-adventure stories. With hindsight, I almost wish I’d done that too, because it would have been much less complicated/challenging than writing alternate paths to the same place. But I think fairy tales promise fairly specific happy endings—true love, good triumphing over evil, winning against the odds—and I wanted to deliver on those inherent fairy tale promises.

Also, I like the idea that my characters are smart and brave enough to get themselves out of any bad situation they might face, no matter which decision the reader chooses for them. I don’t think there’s ever one right answer in life, so why should there be for my characters?

TQ:  What inspired you to write Cinderella: Ninja Warrior and Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer?

Maureen:  For Cinderella: Ninja Warrior, I liked the idea of “fixing” some of the elements of the traditional story that bothered me. The original Cinderella character was too much of a victim for my taste, waiting around for a handsome prince to save her. I wanted to create a strong heroine who was doing all she could to save herself. I also never liked the idea that the prince needed a shoe to recognize her the day after supposedly falling in love, or that he fell in love with her because of her beauty (which he couldn’t even recognize when she wasn’t in a fancy dress!). What kind of message does that send to modern young readers about love?

There were two basic idea seeds for Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer. One came from linking the darkness inherent in the Sleeping Beauty story with vampires. That idea was like being hit by lightning. The other came from the, I think creepy, idea of a girl whom others watch while she’s sleeping—the idea of being so exposed and vulnerable and helpless. But again, I wanted an active heroine—hard to make a girl who’s asleep an active heroine—so the idea of a double curse, and isolating my Sleeping Beauty from her family whenever she was awake, was the result.

TQ:  Do you consider the books mash ups or something else?

Maureen:  I hadn’t thought of them as mash ups until others started saying that, mostly based on the titles, I assume. I consider these books more as re-tellings, or re-imaginings, or even re-boots, than mash ups. I think a lot of the recent books considered mash-ups actually use the original source material, lifting lines and scenes and dialogue as well as story elements. I don’t think that’s what I did, although I did follow the traditional fairy tale structure more closely with Cinderella.

I suppose one could argue that I’ve mashed up genres, combining fairy tales with paranormals, but I don’t think the stories themselves are mash ups. At least not based on my definition. I prefer re-boot or re-imagining.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for the books?

Maureen:  I read some of the old (and I mean centuries old) versions of the fairy tales, mostly to better understand which story elements were “original” and which were added by modern adapters of the stories, like Disney. I also did some research on martial arts for Cinderella, but for the most part, all of the details in both of these stories came more from my imagination than from research. I’m a former gymnast and I if that counts as research, it probably did help me write some of the more acrobatic scenes.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in either book?

Maureen:  That’s a great question! It’s hard to choose, but I particularly enjoyed writing the magic competition scenes in Cinderella: Ninja Warrior, as well as her altercations with her stepmother. I do enjoy writing action and putting my characters in danger. I also love the action scenes in Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer, but in that story I also love the scenes where she first meets Alex and Tristan, and the scenes with her parents.

Thinking back to your plotting vs. pantsing question, I had no idea when I did my initial plotting for Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer that it would be a story about a child coping with divorcing parents, but that became a major theme as soon as I started thinking about how parents might react if they knew their daughter carried a curse.

TQ:  How many books are planned for the Twisted Tales series?

Maureen:  I have lots of ideas up my sleeve, and a couple plotted out, but right now there are no firm plans for more. I hope that I’ll be able to announce something soon.

TQ:  What's next?

Maureen:  I’ve been working on another series for young adults, which is much darker and skewed to a slightly older audience—less appropriate for the youngest readers of Twisted Tales—but I can’t talk specifics right now. Stay tuned!

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery

Maureen:  Thank you so much for having me!

About Maureen's Books
Cinderella: Ninja Warrior
Twisted Tales
(April 1, 2011)
In this fast-paced story full of adventure and romance, Cinderella is more than just a servant girl waiting for her prince—she's a tough, fearless girl who is capable of taking charge of a dangerous situation. Seeking to escape the clutches of her evil stepmother, Cinderella perfects her ninja skills and magic talents in secret, waiting for the day when she can break free and live happily ever after. In a special twist, readers have the opportunity to make key decisions for Cinderella and decide where she goes next—but no matter the choice; the result is a story unlike any fairy tale you've ever read!

Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer
Twisted Tales
(April 1, 2011)
In this thrilling story full of adventure and romance, Sleeping Beauty is more than just a lonely princess waiting for her prince—she's a brave, tenacious girl who never backs down from a challenge. With vampire-slaying talents that she practices in secret, Sleeping Beauty puts her courage to the test in the dark of night, fighting evil as she searches for a way to break the spell that has cut her off from her family. In a special twist, readers have the opportunity to make key decisions for Sleeping Beauty and decide where she goes next—but no matter the choice; the result is a story unlike any fairy tale you've ever read!

Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer is an entirely new type of fairy tale–one that will keep today's kids guessing and offer them hours of magical fun.

About Maureen

Maureen has always been making up stories--her mother called it lying, her teachers creative talent--but sidetracked by a persistent practical side, it took her a few years to see the light and channel her energy into writing novels. After pummeling her sensible side into submission, she quit her career in finance and hasn't looked back.

Aside from books and writing, she's passionate about art, dance, films, fine handcrafted objects and shoes. Maureen (and her shoes) go to a lot of movies in Toronto, Canada.

Maureen's Links:

Facebook Page:
Personal blog:
Reader blog:
Writer blog:

The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will win her/his choice of Cinderella: Ninja Warrior or Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

What is your favorite fairy tale?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1) Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2) Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3) Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Friday, April 15, 2011. Void where prohibited by law.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*


  1. My favourite fairy tale is Beauty and the Beast because Belle was smart.
    +1 comment
    +1 follower

  2. I adored Sleeping Beauty, because I always thought she was so beautiful and the prince so handsome.
    +1 comment
    +1 follower
    +1 tweeted giveaway


  3. My favorite fairy tale has got to be Beauty and the Beast! Such a beautiful story of real love and internal beauty. :)
    I'm a follower: Karla Vollkopf
    I tweeted:!/vollkopf/status/56372788860157953

    kah_cherub at

  4. My favorite fairy tale would have to be the Little Red Hen.
    No seriously! It is like my house. That hen works her toosh off to make dinner while no other animal lifts a paw and then they all expect a taste of the feast.
    Also I love Tam Lin... mmmm ... yeah
    These set of book look great I love the concept.
    +1 comment
    +1 GFC

    terilhack at gmail dot com

  5. +1 Comment:
    My favorite fairy tale is Beauty and the beast ~ only because she has to see the "real" man inside!

    +1 New follower through GFC

    New twitter follower (Lovez2Read)
    +1 Tweeted:!/Lovez2Read

    Thanks so much!

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. My fave fairy tale is definitely Sleeping Beauty. Beautiful metaphor for awakening to true love <3
    +1 comment
    +1 following
    +1 retweeted!
    twitter: taniasari1

  8. Actually I think my favorite is Rapunzel.
    comment = +1
    follower = +1
    +1 twitter:!/BookLuvr33


  9. Oh boy, that is a tough question. I love Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the beast but I most relate to Cinderella.

  10. Excellent interview--great book ideas! Love hearing about your editing process.

    My favourite fairy tale is Rumpelstiltskin. The temper trantum he throws at the end when she guesses his name is just priceless!

    Ken!! :-)

  11. new follower, tweet and comment:
    I try to avoid mainstream fairytales, so these books are perfect. My favorite is East of the Sun West of the Moon because the hero is a chick. I love twist-ups too like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (awesome!)

  12. Mine is Snow White
    +1 comment
    +1 follower

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  13. My very favourite is Rupunzel, one of the older traditional versions not the cleaned up fluffy versions that you see these days.

    + Comment
    + 1 Qwillery follower :)
    + Twitter tweet!/craftywhoopidoo/status/56452502551396352
    +1 Will pop you on my sidebar too. Http://

    Thank you for the chance to win, am intrigued as to what the books for older people are going to be about.


  14. My favorite is the little mermaid hands down. Love mermaids. :)

    I am a follower.

    robin [at] intensewhisper [dot] com

  15. My favorite fairy tale is Cinderella, I loved that fact no matter how badly her step family treated her , Happiness was able to find in her Prince Charming.

    +1 Commented
    +1 Follower- BLHmistress
    +1 Tweeted!/BookLovershaway/status/56456213323456513


  16. My favorite fairy tale is Cinderella because she goes through adversity and gets the prince in the end, a perfect ending.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com
    GFC follower

  17. The Little Mermaid.
    +1 comment
    +1 follower


    thegirlonfire27 at gmail dot com

  18. Difficult question, cause I have several.
    First, Beauty & The Beast because I am a bit much like Belle in that way that I tend to read while walking on the street (and yes, people do think you're strange *sigh*)
    Also, sleeping beauty because those 3 Fairy Godmothers are just freakin' hilarious! 'Make it pink! Make it pink!'. I was always sad when her dress ended up pink upon the closing of the book in the disney movie.

    I can keep going on like this, bout together with The Little Mermaid, those are the standouts for me :)

    +1 Follower


  19. I really like Snow White.
    +1 follower
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  20. My favorite fairytale is Thumbelina.

  21. I like the tale of Thomas the Rhymer with the whole faire scene.
    Follower GFC and e-mail
    linda (at) gordonvalley (dot) com

  22. Little Red Riding Hood that's probably why I enjoy reading about werewolves and shifters today!

  23. My favorite fairy tale is Snowhite :)
    thanks for a great interview - I can't wait to read your books!
    greetings, Ina

    +1 comment
    +1 follower
    inale87 at gmx dot at

  24. My favorite fairy tale is Cinderella
    +1 gfc follower

  25. My favorite fairy tale is Cinderella

    +1 follower
    + comment

    Facebook :


  26. I think my favourite is Cinderella...I'm an hopeless romantic!

    +1 comment
    +1 follower

    aliasgirl at libero dot it

  27. I think my favorite is beauty and the beast. It shows love is not just about looks alone.

    1 comment
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    1 follower

  28. My fav fairy tale is Beauty and the Beast (seems to be almost every1 else's too). Talk about a angst ridden hero! Who, like all true romance heroes melts & falls for the heroine.
    +1 comment
    +1 follower

  29. I have very few faves, amoung them are Repunzel, cinderella and Rumplestiltskin

  30. My favorite by far is Belle. I am a follower and I facebooked about it.
    Thank you so much for hosting this giveaway.

  31. +1 Answer: Hands down- Snow White! I played the main role of Snow White in a pre-primary play when I was little and have been in love with the character since then.

    +1 I'm a GFC follower: Identity Seeker

    +1 Tweeted:!/SweetNSensible/status/61158071069708288