Hello and welcome to my first author interview! I was stoked to get a chance to interview Ishbelle Bee, author of the “adult fairy tales”, The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath and The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl. Both are excellent reads and I highly recommend them.
Thanks once again to Penny at Angry Robot for reaching out to me!
Hi Ishbelle! Let’s start with a mini introduction: if you had to tweet a description of yourself in 140 characters or less, what would you say?
I look like an extra from CARRY ON SCREAMING!.
Congratulations on releasing your second book! Was the process easier this time around compared to Mirror and Goliath? What has the reception been like for both books so far?
I am far more relaxed this time (to the point of sedation) about the entire process and no way near as nervous. I try not to read the reviews anymore unless they are pointed out to me or sent to me, which is probably a good thing as it would be a massive distraction. There have been some really lovely reviews and comments about both books, which I am so happy about.
There are several new characters in this book. Who was your favourite new character to write?
My favourite new characters to write were Queen Victoria & Zedock – they are both really evil and I loved writing their scenes. The baddies always have the best lines.
I love the mad Mr. Loveheart! At what point in the book planning did he appear? Did you always intend for him to be the anchoring character in your series?
He was initially going to be a minor character who got eaten by a tiger but as I was writing him I realised rather quickly he was the lead and now he’s my favourite character.
Why did you choose butterflies? What’s the symbolism behind them?
I was researching Aztec mythology, fairy tale metamorphoses and symbolism- each of my books has an insect theme. I came across a reference in Aztec mythology that butterflies were the reincarnated souls of warriors and the idea developed from there.
In both of your novels, your female protagonist starts off as a little girl and, as the story progresses, grows up. Do you think it’s easier to start off a fairy tale with a child-like protagonist?
Yes, it is easier because I can shape them as they develop and then change them. Both Mirror and Boo Boo go through dramatic transformations and in Boo Boo’s case a hybrid metamorphosis.
Who or what are some of your influences/inspirations?
I am strongly influenced by folklore, fairy tale and mythology. My aspirations are to continue to write fairy tale inspired novels, and I would love to write for film and television.
Do you have a favourite quotation, either from your own work or from someone else?
I am going to pick one of Rufus Hazard’s – “Unspeakable bad manners leaving a man with his head in a bowl of trifle.”
When you’re writing, do you have any weird/interesting habits? Do you listen to music or do you need absolute silence?
Yes I need to be alone and with headphones on listening to music and blocking out the outside world. I like to write in the mornings with plenty of strong coffee.
If you could have tea (and a Victoria Sponge!) with any author, alive or dead, who would it be and why? What would you talk about?
I am going to pick Caitlin Moran because I read her book How to Build a Girl, which I thought was brilliant. We’d talk about her work and eat a lot of cake.
[Sam’s side note: I briefly met Caitlin Moran last fall and she was delightful. How to Build a Girl was a great novel!]
What’s next/what are you working on?
I am currently writing a book on the Scottish witch trials, which is part fairy tale and part historical research, and then the fifth book in the Loveheart series.
If your books were being adapted for the screen, who would you choose to play Mr. Loveheart? Do you have a dream cast for any of the other characters?
Loveheart is a really difficult one to cast. I think he might be best played by a newly discovered talent. The rest of the cast are much easier to cherry pick from my favourite actors.
Mr Fingers – Alan Cumming
Zedock Heap – Gary Oldman
Goliath – Idris Elba
Queen Victoria – Sigourney Weaver
Rufus Hazard – Matt Berry
Aunt Eva – Tilda Swinton
Professor Hummingbird – John Malkovich
[Sam’s side note: I’m crying at the thought of Alan Cumming and Gary Oldman as those characters. It would be AMAZING.]
What book(s) are you reading now?
I am currently reading The House by the Churchyard by Sheridan Le Fanu.
Like something straight out of a fairy-tale, you’ve turned into an animal for a day. What animal would you be and why?
A dragon – it would have to be a creature that could fly and as a dragon I could eat a few nasty people as well.
If you could travel anywhere in the (real) world, where would you go? What fictional world would you want to visit?
In the real world I would love to visit Iceland.
In the fictional world I would jump into my own Victorian London and visit Mr Loveheart.
Quick pick: sweet or sour?
SWEET, of course!
Thanks for the interview! I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!
Thank you so much for a wonderful interview. I really enjoyed it xxx
About the author:
She currently lives in Edinburgh. She doesn’t own a rescue cat, but if she did his name would be Mr Pickles.