I actually didn’t know that Wintersong was inspired by the movie Labyrinth when I started reading, so I kept freaking out over how much certain scenes seemed like such a cool twist on that story. So… basically, this retelling totally works! But it’s also a wonderful book even if you’ve never heard of Labyrinth. The writing and settings are just so magical.
Wintersong is released on February 7, so here are some thoughts on the book from author S. Jae-Jones!
About the Book:
Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.
All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.
But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.
Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.
About the Author:
S. Jae-Jones, called JJ, is an artist, an adrenaline junkie, and the author of Wintersong.
Born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, she lived in New York City for ten years before relocating down to Dixie, where she is comfortably growing fat on grits and barbecue. When not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skydiving, taking photographs, drawing pictures, and dragging her dog on ridiculously long hikes.
• What does your writing process look like?
Chaos. I work a full-time day job as well as co-host a weekly podcast and run Pub(lishing) Crawl, so I feel like I’m constantly scrambling. BUT. My general process is to journal my way through writing. I have a notebook that I treat almost like a critique partner; I have long, rambling conversations with myself about the story, the characters, the emotional characters, and ask myself questions about where things are going. The actual act of writing happens in fits and starts, unfortunately. But journaling is crucial to my process.
• What was your favorite part about writing Wintersong or which scene was the most fun to write?
I loved that I was able to draw on so many things that inspired or influenced me aesthetically as I wrote this book. I love goth stories, Death and the Maiden tropes, Jacques Cocteau movies, Phantom of the Opera, glitter, David Bowie, Mozart, and all of that made it into my book in some form or another. I don’t have a favorite scene, necessarily, but one that was “fun” (in that it was full of personal “Easter eggs”) for me was the first time Liesl crosses the Underground lake and meets the Lorelei.
• If you could hang out with any fictional character for a day, who would you pick?
Probably Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. I think she has a great sense of humor and would probably throw some shade at the people we knew.
• Is there another author you’d love to collaborate with?
Any author who can plot better than me, which is most of them, I feel. ☺ I would love to collaborate with Marie Lu, who was one of my earliest critique partners and a good friend of mine. She does action really well, but gets embarrassed by kissy feelings. I do action terribly, but delight in the kissy feelings. I think we could balance each other out.
• What’s one of your all-time favorite books?
My all-time favorite book is The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. I think it’s partially because I first read it at the right time in my life (I was eleven, Lyra’s age), but also because it’s a book that has aged with me. I’ve always loved the coming-of-age narrative, and Pullman takes the concept of growing up and makes it literal in ways that amaze and astound me.
• I loved the focus on classical music in your book — do you play any instruments?
Most of my musical study was actually focused on voice, but I play a lot of instruments, and none of them particularly well (anymore). Like a good Asian kid, I’ve taken piano lessons since I was three, but I also learned how to play the flute for band, and taught myself the guitar so I could pretend I was Joni Mitchell. In a pinch, I can play the harp, the drums, and clarinet. No stringed instruments, unfortunately. I would love to learn though!
• When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
There wasn’t a defining moment, necessarily; it was more like an accumulation of an entire lifetime of storytelling. For most of my childhood, I was an only child with two parents who worked full-time. I spent a lot of time left to my own devices, and in order to keep myself occupied, I liked to play pretend. I would create all sorts of imaginary worlds and characters and storylines, most often inspired by the books I read. After a while, I started writing them down. I also wrote a lot of creative fiction for school—school plays, short stories, skits, etc. I was always thought of as “the writer” in my school years, and I think I subconsciously carried that with me into adulthood.
• Who would you cast in a movie of Wintersong?
I’m not someone who casts their books; I usually draw what the characters look like in my head. If my book were to be made into a movie, I would only ask that the actor be able to embody the spirit of my characters. ☺ I say this because David Bowie will never be able to play my Goblin King. ☹
• What’s the best advice you ever received from another author?
Keep a part of yourself for yourself. It’s easy in the age of social media to blur the boundaries between author and work, but I am not my books. I have an entire life beyond writing, and nurturing that is just as important as developing my craft.
Thanks so much for sharing and congratulations on Wintersong!
You can preorder it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble or add it on Goodreads!