Monday, January 5, 2009

Enchanting Interview: Catherine Gilbert Murdock

1. What made you want to become a writer?

Silly as it sounds, I came up with the notion of Dairy Queen and
desperately wanted to read the book. So I had to write it first. Then I was hooked.

2. Why historical?

In part because then I don't have to learn to IM. Also, history is
rather like fairy tales, providing us all a common frame of reference.

Princess Ben isn't history, really. There's no one specific time to
which it refers: if pressed, I describe it as "1750 without gun
powder." But it is old-fashioned, which is comforting, and knowable, even if we don't get all the references.

3. What inspired PRINCESS BEN?

I had a dream about a girl leaping out of a window while clutching a
broom. Truly. Then I had to write the book in order to find out what

4. How much research did you have to do before starting the book?

In my past life, I was a trained historian who specialized in the
histories of food and architecture. Needless to say, both of these get
extensive coverage in PB. But one of the great joys -- if not THE great
joy -- of writing fantasy is that by definition it doesn't require much
research. I had to nail down the names of weaponry, and military dress,
and the proper forms of address for a queen versus a princess versus a
duke. But really it's all about making stuff up.

5. What's your writing process like?

I come up with an idea -- hopefully a good one -- and then spend weeks
staring into space thinking about it. This is great fun for my
children. Then I prepare a multi-page outline based on my screenwriting
training -- I have no idea how to plot a story other than as a script.
Then I start at the beginning and work my way to the end, word by word,
promising myself that I'll get to read it once it's done. Then the hard
part starts.

6. What is your favorite quality of Ben's?

Her sense of humor! That was so much fun to weave into the story -- there's nothing like a wry aside to lift my spirits.

7. Which character would you say is most like you?

Hmmm... I have to say that I have a real soft spot for Queen Sophia.
When I first started the book, she was the archtypal villainess. But
the more I wrote about her, the more I sympathized with her situation.
Now she's probably my favorite character. My daughter would probably
say we resemble each other, though I don't garner nearly the respect
that she does.

8. What was your favorite scene to write in PRINCESS BEN?

The second ball, when Ben dances with King Renaldo, and they have a
true war or words all while smiling politely. It's probably my favorite
scene of all my books.

9. What's next for you?

The third and final Dairy Queen book, and then ... Well, we'll see. I have ideas, but no juicy dreams so far. Here's hoping.

Interview by Lisa
December 2008

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