Today, I am SO thrilled to share an exclusive interview with upcoming debut YA novelist Brie Spangler. Brie has previously written & illustrated two adorable picture books, Peg Leg Peke and The Grumpy Dump Truck — but Yesterday, Publisher’s Marketplace announced the sale of her first YA novel, Beast, being published in Fall 2016 by Knopf:
A modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast, in which the tallest, hairiest boy in town meets and falls for his dream girl, who also happens to be transgender.
Brie also happens to be my best friend in the whole world, and I could not be more thrilled for her book to be making its way out into the world. I’ve read a lot of Brie’s writing — including entire books that may never see the light of day, but probably should IMHO — and a few drafts of Beast. I can’t wait to see what the final version looks like, but even the earliest versions were just so excellent. I honestly can’t wait for you guys to read it!
But since we have over a YEAR to wait, I thought I’d at least give you all a chance to get to know Brie and her debut YA novel Beast a little bit better:
Tell us a little about the premise for BEAST, and how the idea originated.
It’s a new take on Beauty and the Beast that I originally starting tapping out in 2010. The more I wrote, the more enamored I got with this weird kid for whom everything —his ugly face, his enormous body, his epic amount of body hair— is terrible. Except his brain. That’s pretty much the only thing he’s proud of. Then along comes this girl who’s as smart and funny as they come and he falls for her and falls hard. The fact that Jamie is trans is a part of her but not everything that makes her who she is. I don’t really know how the idea originated other than these two characters were great fun to write.
You’ve written and illustrated some super cute and charming children’s picture books before. What prompted the move to YA? What have been some of the new challenges you faced writing YA versus picture books? What are some of the perks?
First of all, thank you! I’m very proud of my picture books and I look forward to making more someday. It’s comforting to take an idea and create the words and pictures, something I enjoy. I went to school for art and never in a million years did I think I had the capacity to write an actual novel, until I tried. And then I fell in love. My first YA novel (which is buried in a drawer and will be forever, haha) was almost 200K words because I couldn’t stop writing. It was like I found this inner rage to WRITE I never knew I had. What I love about YA is the excitement. I had a crazy first love that made no sense and knocked me on my butt. Those years are some of my favorites from growing up, even though it ended terribly and I cried forever. But that’s the heart of being a teenager. And I realize I used the word love multiple times because that’s it in a nutshell. I love it. I love reading and writing YA, guilty as charged.
AWESOME. That’s my one word sum up right there, working with Mackenzie is seriously great. My initial submission was different from the one set to be published, but she saw the bones and sensed where the heart of the real story lay. (Or is it lied? I’m playing the art school card when it comes to grammar.) I love to work hard and she’s fantastic to work with, great listener, wonderful idea smith, and supportive partner in crime.
I love that BEAST is inspired by such a classic fairy tale. What is it about fairy tales, do you think, that makes them still so relevant today?
They’re timeless and just as we people-humans seem to fall in love one generation after another, these tales light endless fires for centuries on end and just so I don’t end this sentence with a prepositional phrase: I like cats. Fluffy ones.
Gah! So many. I wouldn’t mind being locked up in an Asgard prison with Tom Hiddleston’s Loki though. Wink face.
Must-have writing snack?
Favorite Disney movie?
Emperor’s New Groove, j’adore Kronk and Yzma.
Song that can always get you dancing?
Lovely Day by Bill Withers
Favorite member of the Avengers?
I have to choose? You’re so mean! Hmmm… Based on my character Dylan’s physique I should say The HULK, but I’ll say Spiderman.
My scale model of a 1968 El Camino, postcards from all my amazing illustrator friends, a rock my mom gave me with the word IMAGINE carved into it, loads of scattered notes and scraps of thoughts, and the message I wrote to myself on post-its when my kid was a baby and writing was the hardest thing in the world after a long day of crying and hot poop. And yes, my computer sits on a box covered in Care Bear stickers because without it, I get hunchy.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Brie! And guys … be sure to put Beast on your “want to read” lists right away. You do NOT want to miss this fantastic story!!!