Brandie June’s novel, Gold Spun, absolutely swept me off of my feet. It’s a whirlwind of a book, a Rumpelstiltskin retelling that is perfect for fans of Ella Enchanted and Once Upon A Time. You can read my full review here!
I couldn’t have been more excited when I was offered the opportunity to interview the author. I loved finding out more about her inspiration for the book, writing process, and hearing about her next book. Here’s our exchange:
Paw Prints in the Sink: Reading GOLD SPUN was such a pleasure! Thank you for writing it, and for this interview. First of all, please tell me there’s a second book already in the works?! I absolutely want more and can’t wait to delve into Nor’s world again.
Brandie June: Yes, there is! GOLD SPUN is the first of a duology, and I am delighted for the opportunity to share the rest of Nor’s journey. I always knew there was more to her story, and now I get to explore more of the faerie realm. Plus, readers may notice another fairytale retelling woven into the sequel…
Paw Prints: [Squeals in excitement]
Paw Prints: What inspired you to write GOLD SPUN? What was your first thought that set you off on this path?
June: One year I was participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), but I didn’t have any idea of what novel I wanted to write. The traditional way to participate is to write 50K of a first draft of a novel during November. I shifted my goal to write short stories instead, each one having to do with a fairytale or myth. Rumpelstiltskin was one of the fairytales I decided to write a short story about, and that gave me the initial inspiration for GOLD SPUN.
Paw Prints: Which character was the easiest to write? The hardest?
June: Nor was the easiest character for me to write. The book is from her POV, so I was her head all the time. In many ways, I am like her – she is witting and a bit sassy, but also knows the burden of having to support her family. I was never a seventeen-year-old con artist, but I could relate to her. I had the biggest challenge with the secondary characters, such as her older brother Devon, Princess Constance, and Lady Flora. These characters don’t have as much ‘screen time’ as the main characters, but they also have their own challenges and character arcs, so I had to find a way to give them room to grow while not overshadowing the main story.
Paw Prints: What inspired you to do a fresh spin on a fairytale, and why Rumpelstiltskin?
June: I have always enjoyed fairytale retellings, long before I thought about writing my own. I love the juxtaposition of feeling something familiar, the threads of old stories passed down for generations combined with something new and exciting. Rumpelstiltskin appealed to me because there was so much mystery in the original tale that I could fill in for my retelling. Of course, Rumpelstiltskin is a very mysterious character in the original, but I found the miller’s daughter to also be full of mystery. In the original, she doesn’t have a name, or hopes, or dreams – at least not beyond surviving the king’s awful task. In GOLD SPUN, I had the opportunity to dig into her character, and see what motivated her and what made her tick.
Paw Prints: I love the feminist slant of not only giving the miller’s daughter a name, but making her a force to be reckoned with. Would you mind sharing a little about what inspired this, and why it’s important to you?
June: I want to write stories that inspire women, especially teens. I’m not suggesting anyone take up a life of petty crime, but I want to encourage people to be the driving force in their own narrative. Heroines were too often portrayed as helpless victims in old stories, so I wanted to rewrite the miller’s daughter to give her agency in her own life.
Paw Prints: Each character is incredibly well developed. Do you have a personal favorite?
June: Thank you! It’s so hard to pick a favorite. Nor is naturally very near and dear to me. Prince Casper is also a favorite, because I loved discovering how he could be justified in his actions without becoming a villain. In the original Rumpelstiltskin, the king felt like a villain to me, what with forcing some poor girl to spin gold. In GOLD SPUN, his actions become more justified, that he trying to protect his country, while also dealing with his impending coronation (something he was not expecting).
Paw Prints: Would you mind sharing a little bit about your writing process?
June: My process tends to be broken down to the following:
Daydream – long before I even begin to write a story, I think about the characters, what makes them tick. I play with different settings, different challenges. I imagine what these characters’ lives are like. I decide if I’m in love with the concept enough to create a story. This is the time I’m really playing with big ideas.
Outline – I’m an outliner, and will create a thorough outline, though I give myself permission to deviate from it if that feels right when I’m writing the story.
Draft – I usually draft my story chronologically. It’s not the ‘right’ way for everyone, but it works for me. I allow myself the freedom to write a disgustingly messy first draft, often with lots of notes like ‘don’t know what to write here, come up with something awesome’ just so I can complete the first draft.
Reverse Outline – After I have a draft, I review what I wrote, coming up with a second outline that matches what I wrote. This gives me an overview of my entire draft in a few pages, so I can start marking up where I think the big edits and changes need to be.
Edit – I make said edits and changes. Then I rereview the revised draft, maybe even make a new reverse outline if there are a lot of changes. Wash and repeat until I’m happy with the manuscript. Then I send it to beta readers and my editor.
Paw Prints: What are your comfort reads?
June: I love everything by Leigh Bardugo, and really enjoy diving into her worlds. Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman are authors I grew up reading, and love to return to. SPINNING SILVER by Naomi Novik is also an all-time favorite. It’s a very different Rumpelstiltskin retelling that I discovered after I wrote GOLD SPUN. Maybe I have a weakness for Rumpelstiltskin reimaginings.
Paw Prints: How did your theater experience shape your writing?
June: Theatre is a very visual form of storytelling, and I carry that into my writing. I image each scene as though it were being performed. I visualize what the setting looks like, how characters speak, in addition to what they say. I think about their actions, the way they move, what they wear, and what their apparel says about them as a person. I try to imagine how they talk, what it sounds like, and what other sounds might be heard in that scene. The I write down all those details, making the act of reading as close to actually experiencing a scene as I can. In the editing phase I work on pacing. If a scene is full of action, I need to explain things quickly, maybe lose some of the details, so that the reader feels the speed of the scene. If a scene is a slow burn love scene, then I might add more details, make the reader feel like they are taking in the intimate moments before a kiss.
Paw Prints: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors, having debuted during a pandemic and navigated the publishing world recently?
June: Shifting focus from in-person events to virtual experiences made a huge different. I reached out to a TON of book events, but most were canceled or virtual. I had much better results when I reached out to podcasters and book reviewers on TikTok. I spent a lot of time researching the right people and reaching out to them, but it was time well-spent. I also joined a virtual debuting author group, which has been a great way to share my experience (the highs and the lows) with other people going through a similar experience. And even if you are not ready to publish, writing groups, even virtual ones, can be amazing places to find friends to keep you motivated to write. I love that my writing group went virtual over the last year, so I still had that support system. And do what you can to enjoy the ride and appreciate your accomplishments! Writing a book is a big deal! Celebrate! Even though I could not have a huge book release party, I had an intimate gathering of family to celebrate. I suggest celebrating any writing milestone. You deserve it.
I’d once again like to thank author Brandie June for taking the time to participate in this interview. Her thoughtful answers give such a wonderful insight into her characters and world. I can’t wait to read the next book! Big thanks also to Wunderkind PR, for facilitating this interview.
Gold Spun is now available wherever books are sold!