The entire idea of Because You Love to Hate Me is just absolutely brilliant. If you love YA, it’s so cool to see your favorite authors and well-known booktubers working together on the same project! And if you love villains… well, this just got even better.

I’m so excited to share this interview with author Cindy Pon and booktuber/publisher/all-around awesome-guy-you-should-totally-follow Ben Alderson (aka @benjaminoftomes). I just love these two, so my reaction to getting paired with them for the blog tour was basically

Make sure you enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post, too! (And I interviewed Cindy last month for her new book Want, so you can also check that out here).

About the Book

Leave it to the heroes to save the world–villains just want to rule the world.

In this unique YA anthology, thirteen acclaimed, bestselling authors team up with thirteen influential BookTubers to reimagine fairy tales from the oft-misunderstood villains’ points of view.

These fractured, unconventional spins on classics like “Medusa,” Sherlock Holmes, and “Jack and the Beanstalk” provide a behind-the-curtain look at villains’ acts of vengeance, defiance, and rage–and the pain, heartbreak, and sorrow that spurned them on. No fairy tale will ever seem quite the same again!

Featuring writing from . . .

Authors: Renée Ahdieh, Ameriie, Soman Chainani, Susan Dennard, Sarah Enni, Marissa Meyer, Cindy Pon, Victoria Schwab, Samantha Shannon, Adam Silvera, Andrew Smith, April Genevieve Tucholke, and Nicola Yoon

BookTubers: Benjamin Alderson (Benjaminoftomes), Sasha Alsberg (abookutopia), Whitney Atkinson (WhittyNovels), Tina Burke (ChristinaReadsYA blog and TheLushables), Catriona Feeney (LittleBookOwl), Jesse George (JessetheReader), Zoë Herdt (readbyzoe), Samantha Lane (Thoughts on Tomes), Sophia Lee (thebookbasement), Raeleen Lemay (padfootandprongs07), Regan Perusse (PeruseProject), Christine Riccio (polandbananasBOOKS), and Steph Sinclair & Kat Kennedy (Cuddlebuggery blog and channel).

Questions for Cindy:

• What were the most challenging and fun parts of this project?
I think the most challenging part of this project for me was trying to decide exactly how I would tell Mei Du’s story. Since it’s set in a Chinese-inspired world, not all of the elements in the traditional Medusa mythology would have worked. In the end, I feel like despite creating different circumstances for my protagonist, the story (a girl given up whether into priestesshood or as a concubine to the imperial palace) and the loss of innocence taken away from her made fantastic parallels. I think I stayed very true to the Medusa story in my retelling.

• Had the two of you ever crossed paths before this book?
Oh I do hope one day! But our paths cross much on social media. Ben was so supportive of Serpentine (my YA fantasy heavily influenced visually by Medusa, actually), and I cannot fully express how delighted I was when I found out I was paired with him in this anthology! He’s fun, positive, obviously a book lover, loves mythology like me, and has such a generous spirit. It’s been so fun collaborating with Ben on this!!

• The setting was absolutely gorgeous – what inspired you to choose that?
So I have a joke in which I say I write All Asian All the Time. But it really isn’t a joke, I guess, because I do! ha! When I chose the Medusa challenge, I couldn’t think of how I could possibly incorporate the story in an Asian setting (see above response). But then when I realized that in Mandarin Mei means beautiful and Du means venom, I knew I just had to make it work! And I believe I did and love and am very proud of this short story!

Questions for Ben:

• Who are some of your all-time favorite YA villains?
I would be lying if I said I did not have a long list of villains that I love. For me, villains make the story and over my years reading YA I have fallen head over heels for so many. First up, I am in LOVE with Rajah Tarek from The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King. He is a character who subtly is evil, adding threatening one liners in-between compliments. His behavior is vile, aggressive and deadly but when you read and find out the depths of why he acts the way he does, you cannot help but sympathize…*slightly*

Another villain I love has to be Ursula. I have recently read a novel called Rise of the Sea Witch by indie author, Stacey Rourke and the story is all about how Ursula came to be the character we all know. It is her origins story. I found it interesting how Stacey described how she started off as a princess of the sea and how the world around her added to her becoming the evil icon we all grew up being scared off.

They are just two villain I enjoy reading about. But there are many many more I could pick.

• Had the two of you ever crossed paths before this book?
I have always admired Cindy. I have followed her journey for the past two years, watching her be an incredible advocate for diversity and indie novels. When given the chance to match with Cindy I was so excited, knowing in my heart just how incredible our collaboration could become. I also was able to read Cindy’s new novel, Want, early and WOW it was just INCREDIBLE. I wish I had a story about how we met, crossing paths in some fun American book convention but I don’t have one. But saying that, one day I will… it is my mission.

• If you could see one antagonist in any story win, who would you pick?
I will have to go back to Ursula. Once reading her story, or Stacey Rourke’s imagining of it, you cannot help but feel so sad for her. The world around her molded her future, you could almost say ‘forced’ her to be such an evil figure head. I often think about the book, and feel very bad for her and wish she had a better ending. But then again, we all have some underlying love for Ursula even when she is so evil. (Maybe it is her amazing singing skills).


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9 comments on “Because You Love to Hate Me – Q&A with Cindy Pon and Benjamin Alderson (+ Giveaway)”

  1. I love seeing the different ways both the authors and vloggers go through their process in writing. I also enjoy seeing the way they both work together and interact. Great interview, I can’t wait to read this book!

  2. Thanks for the interview today. These posts to get to know the authors along the blogs are excellent. This book will be so much fun to read as I love retellings.

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