We continue our exclusive interview with Sweetly author Jackson Pearce today, with part 2 of our three-part interview. (Be sure to check out part 1, too!)
The beauty of fairy tales is that they never get old; it’s always up to an author to reimagine them in fresh, new ways. What do you think makes these stories so timeless and so perfect for re-tellings?
Fairytales are about unchangeable human conditions– trust, valor, honesty, virtue, beauty. No matter what changes in the world, that kind of raw humanity remains. That makes fairytales perfect and fun to tell and retell, to modernize and update, while still keeping the core of the original story alive.
I can’t wait to read PURITY when it comes out next year. I know it’s separate from your Sisters Red/Sweetly world, but I love the synopsis — and frankly, it just sounds really fresh and new. Can you tell us a bit about the story behind the story? What inspired you to write PURITY?
I got the idea for PURITY while driving back from a winterguard competition several years ago. At the time, I thought it would be a cute, light story about a girl losing her virginity. But when I started writing it, I realized it had to be a much deeper book than that, about God, love, and loss. It’s a very different book, but I love it so much; I’m incredibly excited for people to read it.
In both SISTERS RED and SWEETLY, you write such strong female characters. I’d even compare them to Buffy in their ass-kicking abilities. What’s the key to writing such bad-ass girls?
I never intentionally write bad-ass girls, really– it’s just that the kind of female characters who interest me are the ones who know their own value, who recognize that they’re whole, complete, and capable human beings without a love interest and can save themselves. That sort of character, to me, is more interesting than a girl who gets flung over her boyfriend’s shoulder when danger shows up. I want my characters to be their own heroes.
When I interviewed you for SISTERS RED last year, you talked about the other influences that you had while writing (like Norse mythology & the story of “Snow White & Rose Red”). Besides the obvious “Hansel & Gretel,” what other influences (if any) did you turn to for SWEETLY?
When writing SWEETLY, I relied a lot on my own experience in the small town south. I grew up in a fairly suburban area, but I lived in small towns when I was younger, and went to college in a small town, where the buildings still have painted signs on the sides and everyone has a front porch. I also spent a lot of time growing up in my grandmother’s kitchen, watching her cook, and even took chocolate making lessons to make sure I had all the details of cooking candy right.
Special thanks to Jackson for answering all our questions, and to Ames at Little Brown for helping organize this interview!