Menna Van Praag Moves into Grim Fantasy with The Sisters Grimm

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This episode we're talking with Menna van Praag, author of the new book The Sisters Grimm from HarperVoyager.

The publisher says about the author:

Menna van Praag was born in Cambridge, England and studied Modern History at Oxford University. Her first novella – an autobiographical tale about a waitress who aspires to be a writer – Men, Money & Chocolate has been translated into 26 languages. Her magical realism novels are all set among the colleges, cafes, and bookshops of Cambridge

In the book, four girls all about to turn 18, Goldie, Liyana, Scarlet and Bea, all are blessed with elemental powers (earth and plants, water, fire and electricity, and air/flying) and are preparing to return to the dimension they came from to face their demon father.

We chatted about how The Sisters Grimm is Van Praag's first true fantasy novel, which she regarded as far more complicated than writing magical realism. In fantasy, the author discovered, she is expected to have a much more defined world and rules. The Sisters Grimm involves three timelines and four points of view, making for a work that required heavy planning.  We also talked about how it can be tricky for a publisher and author to decide whether a book is "YA" (young adult) even if its characters are teenagers. This book is labeled straight fantasy, and Van Praag says she's warned people with young teens that some of the themes and violence of the book might not be YA-appropriate.

As always we also discussed process—Van Praag says she's a café writer who haunts the shops of Cambridge, but she has morphed into early-morning writing since having children.

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Jason Henderson is the host of the Castle of Horror and Castle Talk Podcasts, the editor of the Castle of Horror Anthology series, and the author of Quest for the Nautilus: Young Captain Nemo from Macmillan Children's Books.

About Jason Henderson

Jason Henderson, author of the Young Captain Nemo (Macmillan Children's) and Alex Van Helsing (HarperTeen) series, earned his BA from University of Dallas in 1993 and his JD from Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C., in 1996. His popular podcasts “Castle Talk” and “Castle of Horror” feature interviews and discussion panels made up of best-selling writers and artists from all genres. Henderson lives in Colorado with his wife and two daughters.

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