We sort of fell in love with Jackson Pearce after reading her latest novel, Sisters Red (read our rave review here) — and were delighted when she agreed to an exclusive new interview just with Novel Novice. Thanks Jackson, for taking the time to answer all our questions (both silly and serious). And if you haven’t done so yet, go check out Sisters Red — it’s in stores now!
Obviously, the relationship between the March sisters is at the heart of Sisters Red. In the acknowledgements, you specifically mention your sister – and the book is dedicated to her. How much of your relationship with your own sister influenced the dynamic between Scarlett & Rosie, and the idea of their “shared heart,” which is a recurring theme in the novel?
My sister and I actually weren’t very close during our childhood, and have only recently become so. It wasn’t really until we both grew up and figured out who we were– and who one another was– that we were able to be friends! I think learning to understand one another was a very big inspiration for the book, even though she and I did it much later than Scarlett and Rosie (but then again, she and I don’t hunt werewolves!)
There’s a lot of background in Sisters Red regarding legends, fairy tales, etc. How much research/what kind of research went in to crafting your own take on these legends, myths, etc.?
I read just about every version of Little Red Riding Hood out there, and also researched a little on the Grimm brothers themselves. For creating the Fenris, I relied heavily on a Norse mythical beast, the Fenrir, who was an enormous killer wolf. The story is really a combination of fairytales, myths, and my own ideas!
In Sisters Red, only men can become Fenris – and they prey exclusively on women/girls. This seems like a very deliberate choice. What was the thought process behind it?
In SISTERS RED it’s only the men, but that isn’t necessarily the way it is throughout the world they exist in. That said, for this specific story I liked the idea that these handsome, sparkling men suddenly became dangerous and evil. It seemed like an excellent metaphor for how often the thing you want is the very thing that’s bad for you, how what is pretty is often dangerous, and how looks are often very, very deceiving. Scarlett, who is scarred/mutilated, uses her skill and cunning to deceive a creature that relies mostly on it’s looks to lure in girls– in a way, Scarlett represents the woman who refuses to be a victim.
Besides Little Red Riding Hood, what were some of your influences when writing Sisters Red?
Several other fairytales came into play– Snow White and Rose Red being the most notable of the pack. As I mentioned earlier, I used quite a bit of Norse mythology, and even a few bits of the Grimm brothers’ real lives. I think the biggest influence, however, was my relationship with my own sister, and looking at how it changed and developed over the course of our childhoods and early adulthoods.
What, in particular, about the Little Red Riding Hood story inspired you? Why find inspiration to modernize/retell from some other fairy tale?
Little Red Riding Hood has so many layers– it’s a warning story, a story about morality, a lesson, a story about a little girl wandering away from safehaven, a girl lost in the forest, a girl distracted by pretty things, a girl ignorant of danger, a monster in disguise…there were just so many ways to interpret and retell the original fairytale. It was ripe for a new interpretation! I tried to incorporate multiple themes and symbols from the original story into SISTERS RED.
If you met someone in a bookstore, and they were thinking about buying your book, what would you say to convince them?
My sister is standing outside, and she will TOTALLY SLASH YOUR TIRES if this book isn’t in your hands when you leave.
What do you hope readers take away from Sisters Red?
I hope that readers latch on to the theme about defining oneself– independently of others. Scarlett and Rosie both have to come to terms with who they are and who the other is as an individual, not just as a sister. Almost everyone is surrounded by people who have expectations and plans for them– but you have to figure out who you are before you start pursuing the goals others have set for you.
At Novel Novice, one of our main goals is encouraging teens to read. What would you say to reluctant teen readers to convince them to pick up a book (any book)? Why do you think reading is so important?
Books have changed a lot over the past few years– if you hate what you’re reading in school, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll hate what you pick up on the New For Teens shelf at the bookstore. Give it a chance!
I think reading is incredibly important for a variety of reasons: most notably, it’s incredibly intellectually stimulating. You are responsible for creating the images and soundtrack and special effects, instead of relying on what Hollywood has chosen to show you in a movie. It also makes you a better speaker, reader, and writer, skills that are life essentials (I notice people who hate reading try to justify that reading/writing/speaking are not life essentials…they are wrong. Very wrong.)
What question do you always wish someone would ask you during an interview?
I have been asked everything. Seriously. Except maybe, “What do you really want for your birthday?”
Now answer that question.
And if you’re game, here are our flash questions: If you could trade places with one person for a single day, who would it be & why?
A doctor of some sort– it’s so NOT a profession I would be able or willing to pursue, I’d be interested in seeing what the life is like for a day.
What was the last movie you saw?
Alice in Wonderland (the new one). It was pretty bad, I’m sad to admit. I was looking forward to it.
Biggest TV addiction?
Fruits or veggies?
Fruits. Mangos, specifically
Favorite childhood toy?
My Little Ponies– I still collect them!
Thanks once again to Jackson for answering all of our questions. You can learn more about all of her books and various projects at her official website.