Recently released, Thornwood by Leah Cypess has received rave reviews! It’s a fun, mysterious, and touching twist on the classic story of Sleeping Beauty. The middle-grade voice and characters are authentic and the dialog is spot on. I really enjoyed this book and asked Leah a little about her writing journey.
Thornwood had two main inspirations. The first was the main character, Briony, whose voice just popped into my head and started talking. Writing middle grade is all about finding the right voice, and this was one of those cases where once I had that voice, the rest of it was almost easy. (Almost!)
The second inspiration, of course, was the story of Sleeping Beauty itself. I love retelling fairy tales, and I especially love retelling them through epilogues — what happens after the “Happily Ever After”? What if Sleeping Beauty wakes up, and things aren’t going the way they’re supposed to? What if the prince isn’t telling her the whole truth about how he rescued her?What if nobody’s telling her the whole truth about her curse itself? What if she herself isn’t sure what happened that day when she pricked her finger on a spinning wheel? Add in the Thornwood (which, in this version, hasn’t gone away), and you’ve got a delightfully twisty mystery crammed into an isolated castle and wrapped around an almost-familiar fairy tale. I’ve actually wanted to write that story for quite some time — and tried to, unsuccessfully! — until finally I met my main character, and everything fell into place.
What was your favorite part about writing *Thornwood*?
My favorite part of writing Thornwood was crafting the interactions between thetwo sisters. Rosalin and Briony’s fights were the most fun to write; I have three sisters and three daughters, and I was trying to keep it real. But even more, I loved writing in the love and affection and solidarity that existed between them, even while they were fighting. That part was also real.
What’s one thing you’d like kids to take away after reading your book?
My main goal, when writing a book, is that the reader should close it with that incredibly happy feeling that comes from having read a great book. So honestly, the main thing I want readers to come away with is the desire to go read another book!
With that said, Thornwood is also sprinkled with ideas and concepts that I think are incredibly important. Sisterhood, looking beneath the surface and paying attention to the people who are left out of the stories we tell… Thornwood touches on all of these, and I’d love for readers to think more about whichever ideas in the book resonated with them while they were reading it.
Leah’s websites and social media: