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Monday, July 23, 2018

Interview with Betsy Cornwell, author of The Forest Queen

Today on Brittany's Book Rambles, I'm sharing my interview with Betsy Cornwell, author of the upcoming The Forest Queen, a Robin Hood retelling. I hope you guys enjoy it! 

Publisher: Clarion Books
Pub. Date: August 7, 2018
From a New York Times bestselling author, a fresh, female-centered take on “Robin Hood” in which a young noblewoman, like the legendary hero, becomes an outlaw fighting for social justice. Perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer and Sarah J. Maas.

When 18-year-old Silvie’s brother takes over management of their family’s vast estates, Silvie feels powerless to stop his abuse of the local commoners. Her dearest friend asks her to run away to the woods with him, and soon a host of other villagers join them. Together, they form their own community and fight to right the wrongs perpetrated by the king and his noblemen. Perfect for fans of fairy tale retellings or anyone who loves a strong female lead, this gorgeously-written take on the Robin Hood tale goes beyond the original’s focus on economic justice to explore love, gender, the healing power of nature, and what it means to be a family.

Betsy Cornwell is a New York Times bestselling author living in west Ireland. She is the story editor and a contributing writer at Parabola, and her short-form writing includes fiction, nonfiction, and literary translation and has appeared in Fairy Tale Review, Zahir Tales, Luna Luna, and elsewhere. She holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Notre Dame and a B.A. from Smith College. 
Connect with Betsy: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Tumblr

What is your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I'm a little bit of both: these days I write a very brief outline of my new book, essentially following the first few steps of the Snowflake Method, and then I careen into a pretty open-ended rough draft. Finishing one draft without too much of a plan allows me to stay a pantser in my heart, while still giving my brain the bare-bones plot it needs to keep from panicking. I then go back over my first draft and write down a longer plot summary, and I begin rewriting and revising from there. I enjoy editing much more than I enjoy the first draft, so I try to draft quickly and give myself as much time as possible to polish the language and the story afterward.

What is one material possession you can't live without?

A journal - but crucially, one for sorting out my thoughts and dealing with day-to-day worries, and nothing that will ever see the light of day. I keep a notebook like that in my bag all the time, and it really helps me when I tend toward overthinking or anxiety. (Like many writers, I get those tendencies a lot.)

What are the hardest and easiest types of scenes for you to write?

This might sound funny since I am known for writing "romance-light" books, but I find kissing scenes incredibly fun. Maybe that's because I don't do them too often, but especially in YA, those first-kiss moments are so sparkly and lovely, and I really enjoy putting them into words.

As for the hardest scenes to write - I'd say anything that involves a lot of choreography, like a complicated fight scene. Keeping track of everyone's position in the scene, where their limbs are, how they've already acted and reacted, kind of sets my teeth on edge; I always want to get back to lyrical descriptions, character development, and world-building - and those occasional kissing scenes, of course.

What are some of your favorite Robin Hood re-tellings? (Could be books, movies, TV Shows, anything!)

I love the magical, moody quality of the Robin of Sherwood TV series, and one of my favorite old movies is the charming, hilarious Danny Kaye vehicle The Court Jester, which is full of nods to Robin Hood lore. The top spot in my Robin Hood heart, though, has to go to the classic Disney animated version, which manages to be funny and dreamy and perfectly paced - with fabulous music to boot.

Who is your all-time favorite fictional book couple?

That is an impossible question! There are way too many great fictional couples for me ever to choose just one. The two that come to mind right now are Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park and Sarah Waters' Sue and Maud.

What fictional story would you NOT want to write a retelling for, and why?

I believe whole-heartedly that no story is off-limits for adaptations and retellings. Some of the best retellings I've ever seen are ones that really push back against their source material, like Wicked. I don't think any story is so perfect that there's nothing left to say about it, no new ways left to tell it.

Could you tell us a bit about your upcoming book, The Circus Rose?

The Circus Rose is a queer YA retelling of Snow White and Rose Red, set in a Vaudeville-style circus. In the book, twin circus performers discover that their beloved dancing bear is a cursed princess, and they must rescue her and the rest of their troupe from an evil priest. The story is told in alternating sections from the two girls' perspectives, one of which is in verse. The Circus Rose will be out in fall 2019, and I'm so excited about it.

Thank you so much, Betsy, for being on my blog today!

What did you guys think? Did you enjoy this interview? Is The Forest Queen on your TBR? Is this the first time you're hearing about it? Let me know!


  1. This is already on my TBR. I love retellings.

  2. Oh I love retellings and I feel the same way... no story is off limits. :D This book sounds good!

  3. I love the sound of this book and I can't wait to read it. Awesome interview, too, I love Betsy's answers!

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