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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Guest Post with Joy Preble, Author of Dreaming Anastasia!




Influence of Russian folklore/fairy tales in writing



Dreaming Anastasia, Sourcebooks, September 1, 2009


To quote http://stpetersburg-guide.com/, one of the sources I consulted while I was writing Dreaming Anastasia, “Baba Yaga is the arch-crone, the goddess of wisdom and death, the bone mother. She brings wisdom and death… and through death, rebirth.”

So when you’re writing a story that is in part the fantasy re-telling of the disappearance of Anastasia Romanov – probably Russia’s most famous princess – it shouldn’t go unnoticed that her name means ‘resurrection.’ After that, well, using Baba Yaga as part of my fantasy elements was exactly the perfect fit.

In the Russian fairy tales, anyone who ventures into Baba Yaga’s forest does not return exactly the same. Sometimes the change is for the better – like in the well known fairy tale Vasilisa the Brave, where Vasilisa, sent to Baba Yaga’s by her cruel stepmother, gets to live happily ever after once she’s managed to outwit the witch with help from her magic doll. For others – well, the story doesn’t turn out as nicely. Baba Yaga chews them up and eats them for her supper. In Dreaming Anastasia, their bones line her hut like a fence.

Writing a novel is part hard work, part inspiration, part crazy miracle. I honestly think that the muse knew more than I did because if I told you in this post that I saw all the connections between Baba Yaga and my characters and my creative process, well, I’d be lying. Only when the novel was complete and I was doing revisions, did I sit back and say, huh! Lookie there! (Full disclosure – this happens to me a lot. I bumble along and sometimes I find my path in ways that just surprise the crap out of me)

But I will say this. Lots of characters in Dreaming Anastasia go into that forest – both literally and metaphorically. (Here I’d like to pause and thank my Northwestern college professors, who must have stuffed something into my brain while I was sitting in class doodling and occasionally regretting my excesses from the night before) And no one in the story comes out the same.

Fittingly, neither did I.

Let’s see if I can talk about this some more without being too spoilery. Anne thinks she’s an ordinary girl with a somewhat broken family. Ethan’s got all sorts of choices that have come to haunt him. So does Anastasia. Anne’s BFF, Tess, definitely has issues about a certain former boyfriend who has done her wrong. And even the crone herself, Baba Yaga, has allowed some things to happen that she is definitely regretting. Every single character in this novel – like most of us in this world -wants a do-over for something. I guess that’s kind of universal, isn’t it? I don’t know anybody who doesn’t have at least a few regrets. Who didn’t make some mistakes along their path at some point. (Okay, I actually do know some people who tell me they don’t regret anything. But sometimes when they tell me this, I want to stick a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey in front of them and say okay, start here. Then I’ll help you work up to the big stuff. At least then you’ll have stories to tell your grandchildren someday)

In any case, here’s the thing about confronting Baba Yaga. In Russian fairy tales, you just never know. You can do all the right things and appease the heck out of her and she still might choose to open that huge iron-tooth mouth of hers and take a bite out of you. Definitely a little different from the Grimm’s Brothers morality tales. And I loved that. I loved the uncertainty of it. We might come out of the forest better. We might not. We just have to take the journey and hope for the best.

Like trying to save a princess everyone thinks is dead. Or writing your first novel. Maybe the witch will be kind to you. Maybe she won’t. But once you’ve begun the journey, there’s no going back.

Joy Preble grew up in Chicago, Illinois, listening to her Russian grandmother tell tales of the old country, most of which ended with the equivalent of “We were all very poor and it sucked so I came here.” Joy began her writing career at age seven with a Thanksgiving play that consisted mostly of the Pilgrim women washing clothes after a long journey. Since then, she has learned to give her female characters, and herself, better things to do. (Not that clean laundry is a bad thing. In fact, she likes it very much. She just prefers someone else to do it.) She is married and has one son and lives in The Woodlands, Texas, where -when she’s not teaching high school English (and sometimes when she is) -she continues to write.


DREAMING ANASTASIA combines Joy’s love for folklore, history, feisty female characters and hot looking guys who may or may not actually be bad and is her first novel.


31 comments:

sophia said...

I really enjoyed reading this. I'm fascinated by Baba Yaga- what a tremendous guest post. Thanks so much Joy!

carrie said...

Wow, now I want to read this book even more! I loved reading about Joy's influences and Bab Yaga--adding this to my TBR list right away! Thanks Joy!

Sara said...

The story about people who don't have regrets was funny. I feel the same way sometimes.

I think it is interesting that there are different stories about encounters with Baba Yaga - and that Joy pulled from those that were more sinister.

kate said...

I love how she said "Writing a novel is part hard work, part inspiration, part crazy miracle". That is so true! Joy is very humorous and witty. I enjoyed this post :)

natalierenae said...

I'm so excited to read this one! I'm studying the Romanovs in one of my college courses right now, so that makes it even more interesting to me! Yet another book I've added to my TBR list. Thanks for the post, Joy!

The Book Owl said...

I'm excited to read this. Thanks for the post. :) I learned some interesting things.

Wendy said...

Hi, Joy!

I'm very interested in reading DA, especially because of the Russian forklore. It's not honestly something I've read before so hey, can't wait for your book! :)

elnice said...

This sounds like an original, creative idea for a story. I love the idea. Can't wait to read it.

DeNiSe MaDnEsS said...

Two of my favorite things
History and Hot Guys I am In !!!
My friends reading this book right know and she really enjoying it I cant wait to read !!
DeniseMadness

DeniseMadness@yahoo.com

Neas Nuttiness said...

You learn something new every day. I've never heard of Baba Yaga. If the book is a fraction as good as the cover - it will be a smash hit!

donnas said...

Great post. It sounds like you wrote a great book.

Haley Mathiot said...

I'm so excited to read this book!

Megan said...

Excellent post. Now I really can't wait to read this book!

Wrighty said...

I already wanted to read this but after your interview, I really want to read it! I love the sense of humor and I hope the book is similar. ("...surprises the crap out if me.") Can't wait! :)

jpetroroy said...

This books sounds fantastic. I'm looking forward to it!

Limerick said...

Baba Yaga sounds like a very intriging character. And I love that there is a Russian folklore aspect to this book. I've only watched the Disney version of Anastasia, and that was years ago. This retelling sounds interesting.
And wanting redos in life is definitely universal. I have something I want to redo right now in fact.

She did a great guest post. Thanks for hosting her!

michelle said...

I hadn't heard of this book...it looks great. I enjoyed your guest post.

Margay said...

I am fascinated by any kind of folklore. I feel like it is storytelling in its most basic and intricate form - and it's probably what inspires a lot of people to write themselves.
Margay

katarinas mama said...

Oooooh, I'm Slavic so this is right up my alley!! LOLz. Love to read it - kenandsophie@gmail.com

jtcallaway said...

Looks interesting...folklore usually isn't something I would read but this one looks really good!

Thanks for the guest post...I liked reading about Joy!

purplg8r said...

Great post! And as a side note...Northwestern was one of the colleges I was considering going to, but I never made a campus visit...at the beginning of the month I made a trip to Chicago and visited the campus and its beautiful!

I Heart Book Gossip said...

Great post. I've heard wonders about this book.

YA_RockStarlette said...

Sounds really interesting!
Thanks for the post!:)
-Haley

TheBookShopaholic said...

I really want to read this.

bookbutterflyangel said...

I haven't read this book yet but am dying to. I was interested in reading it because it was involved the Romanovs...but when I heard that it was based on "Baba Yaga", I was thrilled that it's involves history AND fairytales (two of my favorite things in literature)! :D Awesome guest post!

Bella F. said...

I really want this book! i love russian folklore and the Romanov era, or czars of any era for that matter.
cant wait to read it.

~isabella f.
iroquois.girl@yahoo.com

niki nicole said...

This book sounds fantastic! I've always loved Anastasia stories and fairy tales. I can't wait till school is out so I can finally read what I want to!

Paradox said...

I loved reading picture books of Russian fairy tales when I was little, especially those about Baba Yaga! I'm also interested in Anastasia, so I really want to read Dreaming Anastasia!

*Samantha* said...

I always loved the story about Baba Yaga and even more so the story of Anastasia. Can't wait to read the book :)

CherylS22 said...

Thanks for the great post! I've often wondered what to believe about Anastasia & her story fascinates me. Your book looks like a great blend of reality & fantasy making for a great read.

ExtremeReader said...

I can't wait to read this! It's sounds great!
Extreme Reader
http://extremereaderbookreviews.blogspot.com