A fairy tale girl at heart, I was ridiculously excited about literary jester Jim C. Hines’s new young adult series. The Stepsister Scheme can be best described as Disney princesses crossed with Charlie’s Angels. The story is a whole new take on what happened to Cinderella and her prince after the wedding. No… what really happened. In this month’s interview, I find out more about Hines and what he’s about. What he’s really about!
Alethea Kontis: What is your favorite fairytale?
Jim C. Hines: I’m going to go with J. K. Rowling. Not only do we have a single mother who now lives in a castle, but she did it on her own. No prince or white horse required, just a lot of work and determination that paid off big time in the end.
AK: What inspired the teenage girl point of view?
JCH: All three princesses are in their late teens, but that was mostly a necessity of the story and my chronology rather than a deliberate choice. The book takes place shortly after Danielle’s (Cinderella’s) wedding, and several years after the tales of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. If I was going for full historical accuracy, I probably should have made Danielle more like 15, but I decided to fudge a little for my 21st century readers in order to avoid the creepiness factor.
AK: What was your favorite book as a kid?
JCH: That depends entirely on what day you asked. I loved the Great Brain series, the Hardy Boys, A Wrinkle in Time, and, of course, I’ve always reserved part of the bookshelves for my Peanuts’ books. I moved into fantasy with Raymond Feist’s Riftwar series, which I’ve read so many times the books will probably disintegrate the next time we get a breeze through the house.
AK: What’s cool about the cover art of The Stepsister Scheme?
JCH: Is “Everything!” a good response? I love what Scott Fischer did with the cover art. It captures the Charlie’s Angels feel we were going for while giving each princess her own distinctive look… it’s great! Scott said he’d been wanting to experiment with a cover that combined western artwork with a bit of anime influence, and I love the result. But the absolute coolest thing has to be Talia, the princess on the right. Because I wrote the book for my daughter, I decided to see if there was any way we could work her into the cover. I sent Scott a picture of my girl, which he aged a bit and used as the model for Talia. Coolest thing ever!
AK: What’s your stance on this “one true love” and “happily ever after” business?
JCH: I’ve been happily married for five years, so I have to be careful here. I do believe in love, and I believe it’s possible to have a generally happy life with someone. I don’t really buy into the one true love, soul-mate, destined-to-be-together thing, though. The average romance movie ends when our hero and heroine get together, implying that once you’ve met your soulmate, it’s happily ever after. Well, it ain’t. Relationships take work, and the moment you start taking things for granted and assuming everything will be rainbows and roses from here on out, that’s when the roof starts leaking or the kid throws up at 3:00 A.M. or your editor calls with a last-minute deadline. Honestly, I helped to destroy several relationships when I was younger precisely because I expected me and my one true love to just live happily ever after.
AK: As a Genre Chick, I love Genreville–tell us about your column in Publishers Weekly.
JCH: That was fun. Rose Fox invited me to be one of her guest bloggers while she was away. I was a little intimidated at first. I mean, this is Publishers Weekly! (Almost as important a name as Ingram!) Anyway, after stressing about ideas, I eventually relaxed and decided to have fun with it. I wrote a lighthearted piece called “And the Award Shall be Known as … the Dangerfield,” talking about the fact that humorous and lighthearted novels don’t seem to get much award recognition in science fiction and fantasy and how it’s about time we put a change to that. The fact that I write lighthearted fantasy had nothing to do with my motivations. Nope, nothing at all.
AK: Does The Stepsister Scheme tie in at all to your previous Goblin books?
JCH: Not really. Goblins do make a brief appearance in the book, and the Goblin, Diglet, might be familiar to readers of the Goblin series. On the other hand, there’s a detail in The Mermaid’s Madness that careful readers will–well, I probably shouldn’t spoil things.
AK: What’s next?
JCH: I turned in book #2 in this series (The Mermaid’s Madness) back in November, and I’m currently working on #3, tentatively titled Red Hood’s Revenge. I’ve got ideas for at least five of these books, but only the first three are under contract, so we’ll have to see how it goes. As with all things publishing, the better the sales, the more likely we’ll be able to continue the series.
AK: You say your favorite Muppet is Animal. (Mine’s Gonzo.) Do you bear any personal resemblance to that character in particular?
JCH: Most people would probably say I’ve got more in common with Gonzo than with Animal. Mostly I like Animal’s straightforward approach to life. The dude lives in the moment, and he seems to be having fun with life. When things go wrong, he lets you know, then gets on with things. And I’ll admit, I do develop more of a resemblance to Animal around deadline time….
AK: If you could be a superhero, or have any superpower, who/what would it be?
JCH: Green Lantern would be pretty cool, just for the sheer range of power. The ring can do just about anything, depending on your willpower and your imagination. I think I’ve got a pretty decent imagination, and my family can attest to the willpower (though they might describe it more as stubbornness or sheer bullheadedness.) If it was completely up to me though, I’d probably go with the whole Jedi thing. The Force would be great at parties, and how can you turn down your very own lightsaber?