Friday, December 17, 2010

Author Interview: Polly Shulman (and Giveaway)

About a week ago, I posted up a review for The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman. I also contacted her and asked her if she would be willing to be my first author interviewee. Polly replied that she would be delighted and so, I present her answers to my questions. 

Much like Elizabeth, you also worked at a library and had your social studies teacher help you get the job. How much of The Grimm Legacy was inspired by events in your own life?
All of it, especially being chased by a rat after being shrunk with a shrink ray ... okay, not really. The parts from my own life are the ones you mentioned. The rest I borrowed from fairy tales or made up.

Besides some of the familiar fairy tales, there’s some which I’ve never heard of. How much research did you have to do before you actually began to write The Grimm Legacy?
I re-read zillions of fairy tales while I was writing: the Grimm stories, the Andrew Lang books, collections of folktales from India and Africa, literary fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen and George Macdonald, and tons more. But I did the research and the writing simultaneously - otherwise I might just have sat there reading fairy tales for years and never started writing.

Those fairy tales are super interesting! Do you have a favourite one in particular?
I have so many favorites! They include: George Macdonald's "The Day Boy and the Night Girl"; The Grimms' "The Twelve Dancing Princesses"; and Andersen's "The Snow Queen."

Do you have any writing projects currently planned for the future?
Right now I'm working on a companion volume to The Grimm Legacy, called The Wells Bequest. Like The Grimm Legacy, it takes place in The New-York Circulating Material Repository and centers around one of the secret collections in the basement. This time, though, it's not fairy-tale objects, but objects from classic science fiction - think shrink rays and time machines. Most of the main characters are new, including the narrator - a boy named Leo - but readers of The Grimm Legacy will recognize his crush. It's Jaya, Anjali's kid sister from The Grimm Legacy, now a teenager and just as pesky as ever.

Yay, does this mean that Jaya will be working at the Repository, and will readers see the other characters from The Grimm Legacy as well? I know Aaron has a key to the Wells Bequest ...
Yes, Jaya is a page at the Repository, and the librarians are still there. Aaron, Elizabeth, Anjali, and Marc are away in college, but we might glimpse them in passing as Jaya and Leo travel back in time. Andre is still a little kid, but who knows? Maybe eventually he'll work in the Repository and have his own story. 

Do you by any chance have a release date that's tentatively set up for the The Wells Bequest
I'm not sure when The Wells Bequest will be published, but it won't be for at least a couple of years. First I have to write it - I haven't gotten very far yet - and then my editor (the wonderful Nancy Paulsen) has to edit it, Putnam has to print and distribute it, and so on.

There are other Special Collections in the New York Circulating Material Repository besides the Grimm Collection. What’s your favourite Collection and if the Repository actually existed, what would you borrow from it?
Probably the Grimm Collection - I always wanted to fly, and I would love to use that cloak of invisibility (if only I could find it) - but the time machine in the Wells Bequest is awfully tempting too. I would love to watch an original production of a Shakespeare play or see what Manhattan looked like before the Europeans arrived. I'd go back and find out what colors dinosaurs were, listen to their mating calls, watch dodos walk, watch passenger pigeons fly...

Assuming you’re allowed to borrow only one thing from the Grimm Collection, what would it be and what would you deposit in exchange for it?
Ha! That's one more bit of autobiography I forgot about - Elizabeth's sense of direction, which she leaves as a deposit when she borrows a magic object from the Grimm Collection. I can get lost in my own kitchen. My sense of direction is so bad I would hardly miss it. Might as well use it as a deposit, right? On the other hand, I would want to borrow an object that lets you fly - the winged sandals, maybe - which means I would need whatever sense of direction I have or I'd never get home again. So I think I'd leave my singing voice as a deposit. It's nothing to write home about, and I doubt I'd be doing much singing while flying.

That's actually not a bad deposit to leave! Plus, if you don't return the sandals in their original condition, losing your singing voice doesn't sound so bad.  
Exactly. You'd say that even more loudly if you'd ever heard me sing.

Would you like to add anything else, Polly?
Yes, I'd like to mention my friend Cyril Emery. You talked about the call numbers in your review. Cyril's the one who wrote them. He's a United Nations librarian, a brilliant, hilarious, generous guy who came up with a witty way to modify the Dewey Decimal System to accommodate not just books, but objects - and not just objects, but magical ones.

A big thanks to Polly for taking the time to answer my questions. I really appreciated her prompt reply to my request and to show my gratitude, I'm giving away a copy of The Grimm Legacy.

So, read the rules below, and then fill out this FORM:
  1. This giveaway is open to any country that The Book Depository ships to. 
  2. You must be a follower.
  3. You must be over the age of 13.
  4. This giveaway will end on January 14, 2011.


  1. Wonderful first author interview! I'm such a huge fan of fairy tales, I always find them so fun and fascinating. I have to say flying sounds pretty good to me as well, and I could certainly stand to part with my singing voice, my dogs run out of the room if I even think about letting out some notes:) Thanks for the giveaway as well!

  2. Awesome interview! The questions let me know more about this author which was nice! :)Thanks for the giveaway as well... Have a great day!


  3. Wow, you are also a librarian. So it's not that difficult to write the setting. But again reading is the key of every idea of yours. Nice.

    Cant wait to read the excerpt of your book,Polly

  4. Great Interview!! Great blog:D

    Always looking out to read great books:D


    Love that giveaway is International:D

  5. I think it's a very interesting idea to use Grimm's tales as a foundation for stories. I've been thinking about twisting several tales into my own stories just to see where my imagination will take me. Obviously what you did are even better. I can't wait to get a chance to read your book!

    Thanks for the giveaway ~

  6. I really enjoyed reading your interview! You have a very fun style :)
    Wow, thank you so much for the giveaway! I've been trying to get my hands on a copy for FOREVER!

  7. The twelve dancing princessess has always been one of my favourite stories aswell. Glad to hear there is going to be another book set in the same world.
    Nice interview, but I wish you had asked about the library where she worked, what it was like.
    I always find what authors think of librarys interseting, ever since I read that Stephen King thought his library/librarian was scary growing up.
    My local library was my favourite place, I couldn't understand how anyone could find them scary/intimidating.
    Of course my local library is a single storey building about 40ft on each side, and had lovely wooden shelves.
    I understood it when I visited the main branch of the library, it was huge, it had an upstairs and a downstairs. The shelves were made of metal, and there didn't seem to be much natural light getting in.
    So now I find myself curious about what the author thinks makes a good library.

  8. I enjoyed your interview. Her next companion series sounds interesting as well.

  9. Oh, I love the Snow Queen! :D Awesome! I loved your interview with Polly! Thank you for this giveaway ♥

  10. Great interview! It sounds like the author had fun researching fairytales.

  11. This interview gave us a great insight on the author and the book. Thanks for the giveaway!

  12. Like the author I think I would want to take the Grimm Collection if the New York Circulating Material Repository existed. really, why doesn't a place like that exist?

    Very interesting interview!

  13. I love it when the author does research, it gives so much depth.

    I really want to read this book now :) Thanks for the giveaway!

  14. Great review! I'm like her, I read every fairy tale I could get my hands on when I was in grade school - from Japanese to German!


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