First the obvious question: Where did you get the idea to take a traditional fairy tale and “change it up” to modern times?
I never quite know where the ideas come from. One of my favorite editors asked me to write a short story about Battle Wizards—fights and magic—and somehow I came up with a story called “The Strangeness Of The Day.” I wrote it under my real name, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and the story won all kinds of awards, including a really prestigious French Fantasy award. (You can find it in my collection of award-winning stories, Recovering Apollo 8 or as a stand-alone e-book.) That story featured the opening of Utterly Charming—the fight with Blackstone and Ealhswith, all from Nora’s point of view. When I finished, I felt really uncomfortable. What about poor Emma? And then my husband (and first reader) said, “This is a novel, you know.” So I wrote it, and it came out as romance, which made me happy, because I love the genre.
If you would, please tell us a little bit about Utterly Charming.
I always tell people the high concept: Prince Charming falls in love with Sleep Beauty’s lawyer. In some ways, though, it’s about falling in love as an adult versus as a kid. Blackstone—my Prince Charming—fell for Emma—Sleeping Beauty—as a boy. He falls for Nora as a grown man, and isn’t sure what to do, because he’s been protecting Emma for all of these years.
I love that Sleeping Beauty was ticked off when she woke up. Do you plot out the stories ahead of time or wait and see where the writing takes you?
I let my stories take me where they want to go. I kept thinking that if I had missed 1,000 years of life, I’d be really mad. So Emma woke up mad, and stayed that way. After all, all the burdens fall on her—a new world, new language, new life, plus her guy is 1,000 years older than she is. Not romantic at all, in my opinion.
If they turned Utterly Charming into a movie, who do you imagine would play your characters?
I have trouble envisioning this with modern actors. I suppose George Clooney would have to play Blackstone and Danny DeVito (or the guy who just won the Emmy for Game of Thrones) would be Sancho. But Emma? There aren’t a lot of black-haired beauties in Hollywood, so she’d probably have to be an unknown. And Nora? That’s the real tough one, because she’s short and perky and not traditionally beautiful. I actually prefer thinking of the casting this way: Rosaline Russell as Nora (I know, she wasn’t short, but a real Tough Gal) and Cary Grant as Blackstone, with Audrey Hepburn as Emma. That’s the perfect casting for me.
What kinds of books do you like to read when you’re not writing? What are some of your favorites?
I read in all genres, which explains why I write in all genres under different names. Long-time favorites—books I reread every year—are The Great Gatsby and Rebecca. But I pretty much read everything. I do a recommended reading list every month on my blog, www.kriswrites.com, and discuss books from nonfiction to Regency to hardboiled noir to science fiction.
What made you pick romance as your genre to write?
It picked me.
Do you have any input in your covers? They’re gorgeous – I fell in love with the cover of Wickedly Charming the first time I saw it, and Utterly Charming and Thoroughly Kissed are also stunning!
Sourcebooks asks me for scenes and cover recommendations, but other than that, I don’t have a lot of say. I’m happy with that because I’m not a visual person. I love what they’re doing with the covers. Wait until you see the cover for Emma’s story, Thoroughly Kissed, coming in June. (It’s on my website, www.kristinegrayson.com) It’s spectacular.
I see that you also write under Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Kristine Dexter. How does that work, keeping the pseudonyms separate? Does it help with keeping the series separate?
I also write as Kris DeLake (upcoming) and Kris Nelscott (mystery), and a bunch of names I can’t tell you for contractual reasons. On my original work, I use the pen names to help my readers. Kristine Grayson books are light and fun; Kris Nelscott books are so dark that I’m pretty sure my hero (Smokey Dalton) has never ever cracked a joke. As a reader, I like to know what I’m getting. I want to pick up a book and know that no one will die or no blood will be shed. I have nightmares, so my bedtime reading is always romance. It used to be romance and YA, but then YA got really dark, and you couldn’t tell by the cover. I read a great YA book with a really graphic rape scene right in the middle and got upset. If I had read that over lunch it wouldn’t have bothered me, but I read it in bed. I was up for another three hours. I don’t want to do that to my readers.
Do you have anything new in the works or is there something else you’d like to spotlight while you’ve got the floor, so to speak ;)
I’m doing a bunch of side stories about characters in the Kristine Grayson universe. If you liked Wickedly Charming (from last May), you might want to look up Standing Up For Grace, which follows two side characters in an adventure I couldn’t put in the book. Right now, the book is e-only, but it’ll be in trade paper soon. And there will be more, including some light mysteries set in the same world. Those will come out of a new company, WMG Publishing, who also do my short fiction.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and congratulations on the release of Utterly Charming!
Thanks for asking me! It’s been fun.
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publish Date: October 1, 2011
Bestselling author Kristine Grayson's fairy tale romances bring the classic stories into the present day, where fairy tale characters must grapple with the complexities of modern life as well as their own destinies.
This time when Sleeping Beauty wakes up, she wants nothing to do with the man who kissed her. Consoling Alex Blackstone, the rejected suitor who is a brilliant magician but inept when it comes to women, falls to modern career woman and lawyer, Nora Barr. Nora now has to deal with Beauty's evil stepmother, and the discovery that Alex just might be her own personal Prince Charming...
About Kristine Grayson:
Kristine Grayson always wanted to be a romance writer when she grew up. She became one in the late 1990s with the publication of her first romance novel, Utterly Charming. Since then, she has published five more novels. Her next, Wickedly Charming, will appear from Sourcebooks in May.
Her work has won the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and she has been nominated for several other awards. Publishers Weekly has called her work "a delight," and Best Reviews labeled her "the reigning queen of paranormal romance."