As debutantes in 1890’s New York City, cousins Dacia and Lou know little about their Romanian relations, the mysterious Florescus. Now, upon turning seventeen, the girls must journey to Romania to meet their cousins and their tyrant of a grandmother and learn the secrets of their family—secrets spoken of in whispers . . . known only as the Claw, the Wing, and the Smoke.
But as dangerous as those secrets might be, even more dangerous is the centuries-old bond between the Florescus and the royal Dracula family. It seems that it’s time for Dacia and Lou to give up their life in New York society and take their places among the loyal servants of the Draculas, an inheritance more treacherous than the girls could ever have imagined. Do they have the courage to break the shackles of their upbringing and set the course of their own destiny?
Why I Wrote It
It’s an interesting story, really.
I was watching a terrible movie that was based on a really fun book. The book was set in America, and is about a family of werewolves who run a bed and breakfast. The movie was set in Romania and was about a family of werewolves who run an absinthe factory. There was absolutely no reason for the change, and I kept yelling at the screen (I was at home, by myself, not yelling in a movie theater) that they were wasting the setting. There were a number of lovely shots of Bucharest, and the Romanian countryside, and no reason for them to be there. I started to say to myself, if I was going to set a story in Romania, I would use the setting better . . . And I had an idea. An idea about a teenage girl from America, going to Romania to meet her long-lost cousins. I originally planned for it to be a modern story, and the whole thing would be emails, texts, and diary entries from one cousin in Romania, back to her best friend, an American cousin, home in New York. I was telling this idea to my friend Amy Finnegan (that same Amy Finnegan who helped me put the kissing in Dragon Spear!) and she said, You know what would be even crazier? What if it were a hundred years ago, and these were proper young ladies? Can you imagine the shock when they find out that their family has magic powers?
We had both been reading the Luxe series by Anna Godberson, and I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. It would be strange enough to travel from high fashion New York to Romania, as a young debutante circa 1890. But imagine “roughing it” AND finding out that you’re part of a legacy of magic that involves ickily transforming into a wild animal? I started to do some research, and the idea really began to take root when I realized that Bucharest in the late 1800’s was hardly some uncivilized backwater, but was in fact one of the crown jewels of Europe. The Orient Express stopped there. Wealthy Parisians vacationed there. I had no idea! My husband, the long-suffering Webmaster Mikey, agreed to give up our planned vacation to Iceland that year (2010) so that we could take a private guided tour and see all the sights and do all the research. It was amazing, and writing this book was one of the most awesome experiences I have ever had!
Uncle Horia is named after our tour guide, Horia Matei, from Adventure Transilvania. I highly recommend Adventure Transilvania, and Horia, if you are thinking about traveling to Romania!
The scene in which Dacia realizes that the only one of her aunts with a bust has padded her gown was the first thing that came to mind when I started to brainstorm this book. The book went through a lot of edits, but I always kept that scene because it was the first thing that popped into my head (originally though, it was a modern scene where she emails Lou about their aunt’s push up bra stuffed with Kleenex), and it’s just hilarious to me.
Castle Glower has been acting weird, so it's no surprise when two towers transport Celie and her siblings to an unknown land. When they realize that no one from home is coming to get them, the kids–along with Celie's pet griffin Rufus–set out through the forest to figure out where they are and what's happened to their beloved Castle. Instead, they discover two wizards and an entire lost people, the oldest inhabitants of Castle Glower. And it seems they may know more of the Castle's secrets than Celie. But do they know how to get her back home?
This bestselling series continues with the story of the origin of Castle Glower. Readers who've been enchanted by the Castle's moving walls will be delighted by the Castle's rich and magical history.
Why I Wrote It
Because I’m not that mean! WEDNESDAYS IN THE TOWER left off with Celie, Rolf, Lilah, Lulath, Pogue, and Rufus all stuck in a strange land in a broken-down tower . . . I really wasn’t ever planning on leaving them there! I had gotten about halfway through WEDNESDAYS when I realized that I couldn’t do all the things I wanted to do in just one book, so I broke it in two at the most exciting part! (All right, maybe that was a little mean . . . )
A new character is introduced in this book by the name of Ethan, a boy around Rolf’s age. Those of you who read the Acknowledgements at the end of my books may have seen the name Ethan there as well, because Ethan is our next door neighbor and has babysat my kids for countless hours. And now he’s immortalized in literature!
When her brother Rolf dares her to catch magical Castle Glower creating a new room, Princess Celie takes the challenge! No one knows the Castle better than she does. But as usual, the Castle has ideas of its own.Celie finds the new room first, and inside it is hidden a giant egg. It looks like The Castle wants Celie to care for the egg and whatever creature it hatches! Celie hadn't bargained for a pet, and caring for this one will prove to be especially tricky, once Celie and her siblings realize what else the Castle is hiding....
Why I Wrote It
Because I always wanted a secret pet. As a kid I spent hours plotting how I would save my money and buy a puppy (or maybe even a horse!) and hide it somewhere. I would raise it and train it so well that when I finally told my parents, they would be so astonished and impressed that they’d forget to punish me for hiding an animal in the house and lying about it. I wanted Celie to have a pet, to have a secret of her very own that the Castle would show her, and naturally I decided to give her the secret pet I never had. Of course, Lulath already has a lot of dogs, and they have stables at the Castle, so it would need to be something very different. Something like a griffin! Also, with this book, I wanted to explore more of the Castle’s history, and we’ll get into it even more in THURSDAYS WITH THE CROWN.
Again with the name Rufus! Rufus/Max Rufus was the name that we jokingly called our oldest child before he was born, when we were trying to think of baby names.
The exciting conclusion to The Princesses of Westfalin trilogy!
Princess Petunia has been kidnapped! Except...it was really more like an accident. Oliver, the leader of a band of thieves known as the Wolves of the Westfalin Woods, didn't mean to do it. And now he must make things right. He will confess to the king and deliver the princess to the grand duchess's estate.
But Petunia's safety is far from secured. As children, she and her eleven sisters had been cursed to dance endlessly at the midnight ball of the fearsome King Under Stone. Troubling dreams of the ball are once again haunting Petunia, and she can't be sure they are mere nightmares. When she and her sisters fall into a carefully laid trap, who but a handsome woodsman can save the day?
Jessica Day George's romantic and adventurous new tale is part Little Red Riding Hood, part Twelve Dancing Princesses, and wholly enchanting.
Why I Wrote It
As I started writing Princess of Glass, I found myself longing to get back to a story where Galen and Rose might have larger roles again. I wanted readers to get to know Heinrich as well, and of course I loved writing about the other sisters as well. Princess of Glass was very much Poppy's story, and I enjoyed writing it, but I swore if I did another princess book I would bring all the girls back together, and Galen and Heinrich, too. I found myself laying the groundwork for this as Princess of Glass developed: more and more hints that all was not well at home, and that the Kingdom Under Stone was not as secure a prison as they had thought. The idea of what their lives would be like ten years after the curse ended also fascinated me. What would their "happily ever after" be like?
But as much as these ideas intrigued me, they did not a book make. It was over a year after Princess of Glass was finished that I was in the shower and suddenly thought: I've done the oldest sister, the middle sister... so now it's got to be the youngest, Petunia's, story! And BOOM she's Little Red Riding Hood! From there it just all fell into place: the red cape, the "wolves" in the woods, the grandmother, all the elements were there at last.
And the knitting. Oh, yes, there is knitting, my friends!
Not so much a "funny ha-ha" joke... but a few years back for a charity event I auctioned off a name in one of my books. That is: I promised the winner that a minor character in one of my books would be named after her, and let her pick which book. The winner was Emily Ellsworth, who runs a lovely book review blog called Em’s Reading Room. At the time Princess of the Silver Woods was just a twinkle in my eye, the two books in production were Tuesdays at the Castle and the first book of The Horse Brigade. The book she picked was The Horse Brigade, and I duly named a random rider Emily Ellsworth... and then shelved that book in favor of Princess of the Silver Woods. So when I was looking for a name for what was actually a fairly key character, I instantly thought, Emily Ellsworth! So Emily has moved to this book, and become the Dowager Countess Emily Ellsworth-Saxony!
Also of note: the male protagonist is named Oliver. I was pregnant with my last child, Baby Roo, during the writing of this book, and for months I insisted that we name him Oliver. I told my husband over and over that the name Oliver was stuck in my head and was surely a sign that that was his name! Then I realized that I probably typed the name "Oliver" fifteen times a day, every day. No wonder it was stuck in my head! The day I finished this book, I started into the sequel to Tuesdays at the Castle, and lo and behold: I told my husband I really liked the name "Rolf" suddenly...
Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie's favorite days. That's because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one-other than Celie, that is-takes the time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it's up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle's never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom. This delightful book from a fan- and bookseller-favorite kicks off a brand-new series sure to become a modern classic.
Why I Wrote It
For several years now my dear editor, Melanie, has been asking me to write something funny for younger readers. I have wanted to do this, because I think I’m pretty hilarious, and it sounded like so much fun . . . naturally, I had no good ideas. Oh, I toyed around with a couple of things, which might eventually be whipped into shape and published. But nothing that really had me jazzed.
Then one night as I was getting into bed ZAP! ZING! POW!
Now, those of you who have heard me talk about how I wrote DRAGON SLIPPERS will recognize that ZAP ZING POW as the painful sound of inspiration striking my tired brain. But instead of the words, “It was my aunt who decided to give me to the dragon” in my head, I heard different words. To be specific, these words:
“Sometimes, when it was bored , Castle Slaughter liked to grow a new room.”
Wait a minute, you say. Castle SLAUGHTER?! Er. Yes. The name that originally popped into my head was Castle Slaughter. Clearly that was one of the first things that I changed. It has been pointed out to me that Glower isn’t exactly very chipper, either, but Glower seemed to fit.
Much like everything else about this book clicked into place: I suddenly knew that it was about a young princess, who lived in a magic castle that could change rooms and hallways whenever it wanted. And I also knew that I would be able to write more than one adventure for this princess and her castle.
And so, behold: TUESDAYS AT THE CASTLE, the first book in a new series!
Prince Rolf — One of my favorite college professors had a young son named Rolf. I thought it was such a cool name, and he was a really fun kid. I’ve been looking for an excuse to use the name Rolf for years.
Rufus — Rufus is Princess Celie’s stuffed animal, for those who haven’t read the book. When we found out our first child was going to be a boy, my husband and I could not come up with any names. I kind of liked the name Max, but we were also joking around with a lot of names we would never actually use like Gunnar or Thorbjorn or Rufus. Somehow we ended up calling the baby Max Rufus (this did not end up being anything close to his real name). Our families and neighbors got into it, and for the last few months of my pregnancy, everyone who knew us would ask about “Max Rufus.” When I had a baby shower, of course everyone was saying the name over and over, every time we did, my friend’s baby girl would perk up, and then get sad. My friend finally told me that her daughter’s favorite toy was a stuffed giraffe they had named Rufus, and she had forgotten it that day. So whenever we said the name, poor little Luci looked around for her toy, and couldn’t find him. And so, in honor of Max Rufus and Luci’s Rufus, we have a stuffed lion named Rufus!
The exciting sequel to Princess of the Midnight Ball
Hoping to escape the troubles in her kingdom, Princess Poppy reluctantly agrees to take part in a royal exchange program, whereby young princes and princesses travel to each other's countries in the name of better political alliances—and potential marriages. It's got the makings of a fairy tale—until a hapless servant named Ellen is tricked by a vengeful fairy godmother into competing with Poppy for the eligible prince. Ballgowns, cinders, and enchanted glass slippers fly in this romantic and action-packed happily-ever-after quest from an author with a flair for embroidering tales in her own delightful way.
This book includes knitting patterns that are key to the plot. I will also be posting more knitting patterns here that correspond with with the story.
Why I Wrote It
As I was working on Princess of the Midnight Ball, I mentioned to several people that I couldn’t imagine anything worse than dancing all night until your shoes wore out. Then it occurred to me that dancing in glass slippers might possible be just as bad: would the glass bend? What if the slippers shattered, and cut your feet? And I had a sudden image of a young girl trying desperately to hold still while someone molded liquid glass onto her feet with glassblowing tools.
I had never meant to do another fairy tale retelling, and certainly not Cinderella, which has been beautifully retold a number of times. But that image of the blown glass slippers would not leave my head, and then there was the idea that my twelve princesses would never want to dance again . . . so what if they had to? Or at least one of them, anyway. While I was writing Midnight Ball, I also had a devil of a time keeping some of the middle princesses straight, except for Poppy. Any time I needed someone to say something snarky, Poppy came forward to volunteer, and so I leaped at the chance to give her a book of her very own.
This book is also my little homage to Regency romances, set in my own version of early 19th century England!
Sadly, most of the jokes hit the “cutting room floor” as they say in filmmaking.
I originally had named a pair of yarn stores after my agent and my daughter, and then the entire chapter bit the dust. Sigh. But there’s still a few things, which I know are probably only interesting to me. (But I don’t care, you’re going to hear about them anyway!) The last name Thwaite is from Edith Wharton’s The Buccaneers, wherein handsome Guy Thwaite finds true love with Nan St. George. It’s one of my favorite books, and one of the rare times in Wharton’s books that anyone gets to live happily ever after. The oldest Thwaite brother is named Roger, after the family friend who made the joke about petunias that one time, which is why the youngest Westfalian princess is named Petunia! The youngest Thwaite brother is named Dickon because I’ve been in love with that name since I read The Secret Garden as a wee lass. And there you have it!
The exciting conclusion to the Dragon Slippers trilogy
As far as Creel is concerned, all is finally right with the world. The dragon king, Shardas, and his queen, Velika, have made a comfortable home on the Far Islands. And with a tentative peace declared between dragons and humans, it seems the perfect time for Creel and Prince Luka to plan their wedding...or maybe not. Because when Velika gets kidnapped, Creel and Luka will join their dragon friends on their most dangerous adventure yet--only to discover that the real enemy may be one of their own. And if dangerous new foes and volcanic eruptions weren't enough to throw off the wedding, add in a bushel of unwanted relations and a little accident involving not one but two wedding gowns, and Creel's dream wedding might be turning into a nightmare.
Filled with humor, heart, and feats of derring-do, this newest novel from Jessica Day George will delight both returning fans and new readers alike.
Why I Wrote It
After I finished Dragon Flight, I just knew that I need a third book about Creel and Shardas and all their friends. It's pretty funny to me, because I never intended to write a sequel to Dragon Slippers at all, and now here I am with a trilogy! I really wanted to show readers the Far Isles, and to explore the rest of their world. Where had some of the other dragons in Krashath's army come from, and were they all happy about being under Shardas and Velika’s rule? Perhaps, and perhaps not!
So here is their Happy Ever After . . . y'know, once all the screaming and fighting and volcanic eruptions are over!
Fainting goats! I could watch them keel over time and again! Check them out on YouTube!
Returning home from the war, young Galen finds work with his mother’s family in the royal gardens. There he learns that the king’s twelve daughters have a secret: every night they dance their shoes to tatters, but no one knows how or why. When prince after prince tries and fails to find the answer, and the family is haunted by accusations of witchcraft, Galen decides to help. Armed with a pair of silver knitting needles and an invisibility cloak given to him by a strange old woman, he follows the princesses and unlocks the secret of their curse.
This book includes knitting patterns for a shawl and a chain of black wool that are key to the plot. I will also be posting more knitting patterns here that correspond with with the story.
Why I Wrote It
You know, I honestly don’t remember the day when I said, Hey, I’m going to write a novel of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. But I do remember suddenly jotting down notes, and telling my husband, my editor, my agent, that I was working on a novel that would have knitting patterns in it, because the man character was a BOY who KNITS.
This is not all that strange around my house. My maternal grandfather was a knitter. My husband’s close friend and former roommate knits, and he looks like he just rolled into town on a Harley. And I knit. I knit like my life depends on it, because if my hands aren’t typing, they have to be knitting or I’ll go crazy with pent up energy.
But enough about the knitting.
As I got into this book, I realized that I was throwing a lot of my interests into it, as though attempting to fit in all the things I hadn’t been able to do with Sun and Moon. I’d written a book, set in Norway, and chock full of trolls and polar bears and wolves and magic. Now what?
Now what, indeed! Now I needed to write a book with a knitter and a gorgeous garden full of flowers of every type, but especially roses. And where was that garden? Why in Germany (or a sort of Germany, anyway)! Germany, where I have spent many happy hours walking around drinking in the sights and smells. Germany, where stuccoed houses are painted pink or decorated with scenes from the Bible. But when would it be set? In the early 19th century, when Britain’s Regency was in full romantic swing! And there would be a mysterious underground palace, too, carved of obsidian, where strange pale princes danced forever with their captive brides. There would be jokes, and dancing, and mysterious old women, and pastries, and all good things.
And somebody, absolutely, had to be stabbed with a knitting needle.
Oh, where to begin with this one!
The gardener Walter Vogel is an homage to Walter von der Vogelweide, a 12th century poet who is a particular favorite of my husband’s. In one of Walther’s poems he is sitting on a rock thinking about the world, and thus when Galen first encounters Walter Vogel in my story, the older man is also sitting on a rock thinking about the state of the world.
Of the princesses, Poppy’s name is in honor of Tad Williams’ War of the Flowers, a favorite book of mine. Petunia is from playing Super Mario Bros. with my brother’s friend Roger, and having Roger get really excited and shout, "Run, little man, run! Don’t let the giant petunia get you!" Which became a catchphrase at our house. Jonquil comes from the name of a nightclub at a hotel I once stayed at, which seemed hilarious at the time. The Jonquil Room. It’s just fun to say. And Campanula is another weird flower name, along with Hyacinth and Lilac. LIE-LAAAK. Rose is my favorite flower, and lily is not only a beautiful name, but also a flower that seems demure and lovely, but is quite hardy and strong.
Most of the other names are merely common German names, but Hans Wilhelm Kelling was the name of one of my German professors.
The exciting sequel to Dragon Slippers
In far off Citatie, Prince Luka has made an alarming discovery: the southern country’s entire army is mounted on dragons, and they plan to attack Feravel. It’s up to Creel to gather her dragon friends and lead them south, first as spies, then as soldiers, in a battle against an unexpected enemy. But the Citatian dragons outnumber those from Feravel, and some of Creel’s friends are still recovering from the first dragon war. Will they be able to win this fight, and will they still have a home to return to even if they do?
Why I Wrote It
This is the sequel that almost wasn’t.
When I wrote Dragon Slippers, I never imagined that I would write a sequel. That was it, I was done. Some good dragons had died, or we’d thought that they had, and so I added that last little bit of hope to the end of the story, to let the reader know that things would be okay.
And my editor said, How about a sequel? And readers said, Hey, where’s the sequel?
But I shook my head and said, No, no sequel. Until one afternoon while I was working on something completely different and instant messaging my husband betwixt bursts of literary genius, I said, "It’s too bad I’ve never had any ideas for a sequel, like blah blah blah blah. Oh!" And there it was. It was hard to write, I must say. Dragon Slippers flowed from my brain like I was being possessed by the spirit of some sort of dragony-book-writer-person. But this one was hard. Was it as funny as the first? Was it as dramatic? And how creepy was Krashath?! He just popped into my head and I thought, Wow! Now there’s a villain!
Is it as good? Better? You tell me!
Blessed—or cursed—with an ability to understand animals, the Lass has always felt estranged from her family, who struggle to make a living in the windswept north. So when an isbjorn (polar bear) seeks her out and promises that her family will be provided for if she accompanies him to his castle, she doesn’t hesitate. But the great white bear is not what he seems, nor is his castle. Slowly the Lass unravels the mystery of the bear’s enchantment and the spell connecting him with the strange symbols carved in the castle’s icy walls. But on a journey to a place where the four winds fear to travel, the true horror of the bear’s spell is revealed, and the Lass’s courage-and love-will be tested.
Based on the Nordic legend East of the Sun, West of the Moon, this richly reimagined tale is perfect for fans of Shannon Hale and Donna Jo Napoli.
Why I Wrote It
Long years ago, when I was a wee lass, I developed a bizarre passion for Norway. My family is actually of Danish descent, but for me it was Norway or nothing. The breathtaking landscape, the thought of Viking ships cresting icy waves, polar bears and reindeer, it all seemed so romantic and fascinating to me. I devoured anything about Norway I could find: I wore itchy wool sweaters if they had a Norwegian pattern on them. I ate cold salmon (which I do like). I read any book that even mentioned Norway, or was written by someone Norwegian, no matter what the topic. So I was naturally drawn to the fairy tale East o’ the Sun, West o’ the Moon, which is still my favorite all-time story. The young girl, taken from her poverty-stricken family by an enchanted polar bear . . . it thrills me! For my sixteenth birthday I got a copy of P.J. Lynch’s wonderfully illustrated version of the story, and pored over every line of the pictures, imagining what it would be like to live in that palace, to feel the bear’s thick fur. I knew that one day I would write my own version of the story, I just didn’t know when. Finally, several years after graduating with a minor in Scandinavian Studies, after reading other picture books and reinterpreted novels based on the story, I sat down at the computer one day to work on something completely different (as usual), and the story of the nameless woodcutter’s daughter poured forth.
I hope that I always pour a lot of passion and a lot of love into all my books. But this one is closer to my heart than the others, I think. I paced the floor in between scenes, urgently thinking of how to make it just right.
And in the end, I hope, it is. Just right.
The names Hans Peter and Jorunn are taken from the names of the kids in my first Norwegian textbook. We followed the adventures of Jorunn and her boyfriend JENS Peter from their first crush through their marriage, learning our Norwegian vocab and grammar along the way. Einar is named in honor of Ray Bradbury’s Uncle Einar, who appears in several of his stories. Skarp-Hedin is the name of one my favorite people from the Old Norse sagas, the son of Njal in Njal’s Saga, and one of the most dynamic characters you will ever encounter. I nearly named my son after him, but my husband begged me to reconsider.
She wanted dragon gold. She got a pair of shoes.
Many stories tell of damsels in distress, who are rescued from the clutches of fire-breathing dragons by knights in shining armor, and swept off to live happily ever after.
This is not one of those stories.
True, when Creel’s aunt suggests sacrificing her to the local dragon, it is with the hope that the knight will marry Creel and that everyone (aunt and family included) will benefit handsomely. Yet it’s Creel who talks her way out of the dragon’s clutches. And it’s Creel who walks for days on end to seek her fortune in the king’s city with only a bit of embroidery thread and a strange pair of slippers in her possession.
But even Creel could not have guessed the outcome of this tale. For in a country on the verge of war, Creel unknowingly possesses not just any pair of shoes, but a tool that could be used to save her kingdom…or destroy it.
Why I Wrote It
This book was like magic. My son, our oldest child, has worried since the day he was born that if he goes to sleep, he'll miss out on something. He never slept as an infant. NEVER.
I had been struggling to get published for nine years, and now I had been rejected 187 times and had a baby who cried from exhaustion all night but wouldn't sleep! One night, very tired, my husband and I decided that I would take a break from writing for a while, and just focus on our son and trying to get him to sleep. And eat. And stop crying. So of course he went to bed that night without any fuss. And of course, right as I was shutting down my laptop for the night, the entire story of Dragon Slippers just downloaded into my brain! I knew every line, every name, every dragon and what they hoarded. It was beautiful. It was magical. And it hasn't happened since!
In almost every book the name of a person or place is sort of a private joke that I added. In Dragon Slippers, there are several. For one thing, both Azarte and Pippin are real life dogs. Pippin is my little Maltese, Azarte is my sister’s Russian wolfhound. Velika was the name of her other wolfhound, a beautiful animal who sadly passed away not long after Dragon Slippers came out. Luka got his name because at the time I was writing DS, I had gotten hooked on the morning reruns of "ER", and my husband was accusing me of being in love with Dr. Luka Kovacs. So I named my handsome prince after the handsome doctor! Ha!