In celebration of the book birthday of “Between the Sea and Stars“, I am so honored to have interviewed its author, Chantal Gadoury!
I was given the chance to read an ARC of ther newest book, and you can read my full review here. She will be giving us an inside to what her book is about, her reading and writing life, and tips for aspiring authors!
Official Author Biography
Amazon Best Selling Author, Chantal Gadoury, is a 2011 graduate from Susquehanna University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. Since graduation, she has published “The Songs in Our Hearts” with 48Fourteen Publishing, and “Allerleirauh” with Parliament House Press, with future titles to follow. Chantal first started writing stories at the age of seven and continues with that love of writing today. Writing novels for Chantal has become a life-long dream come true! When she’s not writing, she enjoys painting, drinking lots of DD Iced Coffee, and watching Disney classics. Chantal lives in Muncy, Pennsylvania with her Mom, Sister and furry-‘brother’ (aka, puppy) Taran.
You’re an independent author. How does it feel to be one?
I think in being on the “independent” side, it’s a love-hate relationship that I have with myself. It’s hard being an independent author – as you’re competing with Top Publishing authors. But in all as an author, I feel very lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to be published, to share my work with others, and to have physical books in my hands!
You’ve mentioned previously that you’ve been writing stories since you were a little kid. What books helped you discover your love for books?
It really wasn’t a book that led me to love books. It was my Mom. She used to take me to the library every Saturday morning, while my Dad slept. (He was working night shift in that point in time.) I can’t even remember when the tradition started. I just remember always going there with her. She loved to read, and her love for reading led into my own. The first book that ever made me cry was “There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom,” and I think that’s when I realized there was more to the world of reading than picture books. I was also very lucky enough to have teachers who didn’t just believe in “silent reading,” but reading out loud to the class. So books were a huge part of my growing up.
What are the genres that you prefer reading?
I’ve always been a romance, fantasy, contemporary (high school), YA reader. When I go into a book store, you will find me walking directly to the YA section. From there, it’s really ‘Does this have romance?’ ‘Is it a feel-good high school-related book?’ ‘Is it a fantasy, fairy-tale retelling?’ Sometimes I’ll drift to something if it’s popular, and I’ve been told to read it. But I’m pretty set in my reading ways.
Who are your favorite authors?
Sarah Dessen has always been one of my favorites. R.L Stine was a huge influence for me with his “Fear Street Saga.” Sarah J. Maas and her series “A Court of Thorns and Roses.” Recently, I’ve discovered Rainbow Rowell and Jenny Han. Robin McKinley, Edith Patou, and Donna Jo Napoli.
Out of curiosity, what are you currently reading now?
Honestly, I’ve been so busy writing and working, I haven’t had much time to read. I have books that I want to read (and finish reading.) I’m in the middle of “Geekerella” and I want to read “The Hazel Wood,” “The Bear and the Nightingale.” But currently, I’ve just been reading and re-reading my own “Blinding Night” and the starts of the sequel to “Between the Sea and Stars.”
What inspired you to write your latest book “Between the Sea and Stars”?
I used to write or “roleplay” on Tumblr with a Disney group a good 5-6 years ago. And at that time, I wrote as Ariel. About 2-3 years ago, I came across some of my old threads that I had once printed and slipped into a notebook, and wondered if I could do something with them. I really missed writing as Ariel – and decided to put them to use! When I wrote as Ariel, she interacted with several Disney villains, and had a beautiful romantic story (not with Prince Eric – I know! Shock!) and I wanted to do the same thing, but in book form! So while “The Little Mermaid” was inspiration, I drew upon my own experiences of twisting the tales that we know and making them different. I was also inspired by my own grief – in shaping how Lena handles with the challenges in her life. Emotion played a key role in the writing of this book. (And music! Music was a huge inspiration! Tracks from “Titanic,” “Treasure Planet,” “New Moon,” “Poldark,” and “Becoming Jane.” You can find my entire playlists on my website!
Can you tell us about a little about your experience while writing “Between the Sea and Stars?”
I actually have old outlines of this book dating back to 2012. But I always got stuck, or couldn’t find the plot – the message that I wanted to relay. So when I moved back home, I decided that I would try again. I remember I got to the part where Javelin and Lena go to shore (and at the time, there was no Carrick and no Asger. . . and again, something was just missing.) My brain decided to travel to my former years in high school – and I wrote “The Songs in Our Hearts.” After getting the first and second book out, I sat down and pushed myself to write BTSAS. It’s been a story I’ve been thinking about for years; it just took some time finding the plot.
Out of all the characters in your book, who is your most favorite and why? *winks*
Hands down. Asger was fun when he showed up – because he quite literally just showed up one day. But I found him to be really frustrating (or maybe that’s why I found him so frustrating?) But Soren was a character I knew was coming, and planned a lot around. Edwin was also very fun to write. I hadn’t planned on having him in my book, and when he did come into the story, I hadn’t expected to fall so in love with him. I loved Soren because of how he reminded me so much of a past “love” of my Ariel – and I enjoyed having that element back in my life. We don’t have very many . . . just sweet guys in our books anymore. They’re all these strong, heroic, “I’m going to kick your butt!” and. . . . Realistically, there’s more guys who are just quiet, and sweet – and deserve to be recognized too.
As a huge fantasy reader, I’m always curious on how authors think of ideas for settings and characters. How were you able to think of all the ideas in your book, especially in the world-building aspect and the language of the merrows?
A lot of research went into the Merrow world. A LOT. I have an entire notebook on the sea creatures that habitat the oceans around Denmark. The sort of beaches you’d find there. I also researched different folk stories on mermaids, and how different parts of Europe called them different things – and they all have different stories surrounding them. I knew that I wanted to have the story take place in what feels like Denmark – a simple nod to Hans Christian Anderson (the author of the original “The Little Mermaid.”) (And if you don’t know the story behind the story regarding him and the Little Mermaid – I highly recommend that you look into it!) It was easy to place mermaids into the water, but I knew I had to make a believable world, even if it was fantasy. One of my Creative Writing Professors at college gave some really important advice to me: You have to write realism first, to make a world real. Even if it is in a non-real place. There have to be rules, and there have to be believable rules, or readers won’t accept or buy into your story. And it’s very true. So with BTSAS, I really tried to make the world of the sea real – with keeping things really similar to our own. Why would they live any differently from us? Wouldn’t they have the same sort of troubles? And then proceeded to go with the whimsical elements, just to make it feel a bit more magical. With writing, you have to do a lot of research. Making up your own set of rules . . . sometimes, just ends in disaster!
I just finished reading your book, and I’m really happy to read that your book also tackles on different emotions, such as greed, lust, and jealousy, that is not usually seen in YA books. What made you decide to include these issues in your book?
I always say that I want to write books that make people think, feel something, and walk away with a message. I want to write books that I would want to read – I also really enjoy books that leave me something to ponder, so . . .why not?! I think it’s important to talk about real issues of today. Real things that people deal with. In “Allerleirauh,” I use the fairy tale as a way of talking about our rape culture, which just so happened to tie into the #MeToo Movement. In “The Songs Our Hearts,” I capture accepting yourself and not worrying about what others say about you or who you like/love. In “Between the Sea and Stars,” I wanted to leave the reader with the message of making choices – and with these choices, there are many motivations – greed, lust, jealousy, grief, curiosity. We are so complex, that you can’t take anyone just at face value. As an author, I think it’s my responsibility to talk about issues, if I can, and give something to the reader that they might not have received anywhere else.
What lessons would readers learn from your book?
I think a lot, as I mentioned before. Without spoiling anything, Lena learns about grief (as I still am over the loss of my father.) I really want to write more about that – simply because the concept of “grief” isn’t talked about in our society. And it’s one of the most isolating experiences I’ve ever had. If I can be an outlet for someone in that regard, I want to be. But again, teaching others about the importance of making choices – standing up for the right thing – staying true to yourself!
I noticed that “Between the Sea and Stars” is a retelling of The Little Mermaid, and you have another book that is also a fairy tale retelling. Are you planning on writing more similar books, especially since you mentioned that you’re a huge Disney fan?
I suppose you can call “Between the Sea and Stars” a retelling of The Little Mermaid, though, I promise you – I didn’t plan to ever publicly call it that. Yes! I do actually plan to write more fairy-tale based stories. It’s just what I love to read, it’s what I love to watch . . . I’m writing a Hades and Persephone retelling called “Blinding Night,” and a Nutcracker retelling called “WinterDream.” Both will be out later this year! (I am, however a HUGE Disney fan. You can talk to me about Disney anytime!)
What advice can you give to aspiring authors?
I’m going to say what I always say. Always write. Always, always write. Recognize that you always have room to grow – as writing always allows that. Write for yourself, and not for others. You can worry about that part later when you decide to publish. Keep it fun. Write about what you know and love. Don’t ever give up on your dream. No matter what anyone says to you. Always – Always write.
You can now get your copy of Between the Sea and Stars in the following sites:
Also, Chantal is having a giveaway on her website! Make sure to check it out! (For US residents only)
Don’t forget to follow Chantal Gadoury!
*** photos were taken from the author’s tagged photos on her instagram account***