Q: What is the heroine’s journey? How is it different from the hero’s journey?
A: The hero has a male mentor like Merlin, a male ruling tyrant adversary like Darth Vader, and a magical sword. His goal is to topple the dark lord from his evil reign and become a newer, better, leader (this is a metaphor for growing into adulthood and becoming the new head of the household).
The heroine’s adversary is the wicked stepmother or witch, the devourer of children (think Snow White). And often she’s also the mentor (think Little Mermaid–those mentors are mean). The rarely has a sword, instead getting a wide variety of talismans. Most are tools of perception and wisdom like books, eyeglasses, and mirrors (like the Golden Compass and Amber Spyglass, or chalices and cauldrons that are symbols representing the life-giving womb and endless gifts (like Hermione’s beaded bag or Lucy’s healing cordial).
Lastly, the heroine’s quest is generally a search for stolen loved ones as she struggles to reunite and protect her family (as with Inkheart, A Wrinkle in Time, or Twilight). This symbolizes her growing into adulthood as the female head of the family–the mother.
Q: You should write a children’s collection of strong heroine stories. I know a lot of little girls who’d love it.
A: Maybe someday. The truth is, there are already a bunch of fantastic ones as picture books and chapter books. I recommend:
The Serpent Slayer: and Other Stories of Strong Women by Katrin Tchana
Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls by Jane Yolen
The Lady of Ten Thousand Names: Goddess Stories from Many Cultures by Burleigh Muten
Grandmothers’ Stories by Burleigh Muten
Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World by Kathleen Ragan
Wise Women: Folk and Fairy Tales from Around the World by Suzanne I. Barchers
The Maid of the North: Feminist Folk Tales from Around the World by Ethel Johnston Phelps
Changing Woman And Her Sisters: Stories of Goddesses from Around the World by Katrin Hyman Tchana and Trina Schart Hyman
Q: Is this only suitable for an academic audience?
A: Not at all. Like Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, I expect it will get a great deal of interest from fans of fantasy and other wonderful books.
Q: What age would you recommend the book for?
A: This one’s an adult book, dealing with “mature themes.” Let’s just say the myths get pretty uncensored. Maybe age 15 or older.
Q: How did you do your research?
A: I really just went and read thousands of fairy and folk tales, and thus got a very good idea what the pattern was. While researching, I preferred to find epics with female protagonists, and so I made an effort to read all of those I could find, plus most culture’s holy books. These were dominated by heroes, but there were a few wonderful heroines.
Q: How authentic are your tales?
A: The epics are from many religions and cultures, often thousands of years old, all in reliable translations. The folklore collections are mostly gathered by anthropologists, local folklorists, and researchers from oral sources. Many of these collections are over a century old, and almost all of my stories came from multiple sources–while retelling I generally used the oldest forms with the best documentation. Most of these epics and short tales are well-known tales of gods and famous heroines. When I discovered stories in modern American retellings, I traced the individual story I liked back to its original sources. A full bibliography is available. In a few cases, I quote modern retellers from Shakespeare on, but those are all clearly identified.
Q: Why don’t you differentiate between fairytales/folk tales/epics/myths/legends?
A: Because I see them as having the same basic plot. I feel I’m analyzing plot and archetype, not folklore as a study in itself. Campbell did the same, and used both “The Frog Prince” and The Descednt of Inanna in his The Hero with a Thousand Faces, for instance. My early notes also use literature like Jane Eyre or The Handmaid’s Tale and children’s fantasy like Coraline or Inkheart. If you watch your favorite movies and epic television shows, you’ll see this pattern.
Q: Where did you learn all these myths?
A: The usual places: college courses, online research, themed collections, collections by country. Mostly I just read an enormous amount of everything. Sacred-texts.com is a good place to look. And I have a reading list.
Q: Is From Girl to Goddess in stores?
A: It seems stores are having trouble ordering this one. I recommend either Amazon and other online shops or purchasing a discounted signed copy from me. Independent bookstores are welcome to contact me about stocking some at the usual discount. There’s also a cheaper Kindle version.
Q: May I have a free version?
A: Chosen One: The Heroine’s Journey of Katniss, Elsa, Tris, Bella, and Rey is free for all. There’s also a free Powerpoint.
What’s a Harry Potter parody?
It’s a silly novel with its own storyline and characters…that’s a thousand times funnier if you know who Harry Potter is. There are some original characters like Henry’s fairy godmother (pictured on the cover) and Miffie Muffet, but there are also incredibly familiar ones. In addition, I make fun of dozens of popular kids’ books, from Narnia to Oz to Sesame Street (okay, not a book) within the pages. Basically, it’s a novel that makes fun of Harry Potter in its own light way.
Makes fun of Harry Potter?! That’s shocking, that’s horrific, that’s (insert adjective)! How do you really feel about Harry Potter?
Oh, I love it, I really do. But doncha think it can be a bit…(ominous noise) overdramatic? Not to mention long? And it certainly has sold far more copies than books that have been entrancing children for hundreds of years.
Why did you write this book?
Because I’m a writer. That’s what I do—write books about whatever I think is a good idea.
What’s different about the special edition?
The Special Edition contains the identical first book FOLLOWED BY scenes from books 2-6. We get the secret history of Lord Revolting and the spiders scene from book two (Why are they spelling out “Some Pig”?) We get them time-looping through book three until they plonk down onto a famous starship from another franchise and start a Star Trek parody. We get the Try WIzarding tournament between sparkly vampires, Henry Potty, and Taffy the Vampire Slayer. We also get to see the battle at the end of book five (fought at the headquarters of the Order of the Takeout between Revolting, Bea Strange, and all the cuddly green puppets from Sweat the Ogre to Yada to the Grunch to Kumquat the Frog.
There’s also bigger font, a new Afterward by the author, and a shiny new cover. Put it this way: The first edition’s 112 pages; this one’s 218.
Okay, then what’s Henry Potty and the Surplus Scenes?
Many loyal fans had the original book one, but also wanted books 2-6. So I released an ebook of just those through Scifi Cafe with a lovely new cover.
So how do I get the WHOLE ENTIRE SERIES?
Either buy Henry Potty and the Pet Rock: The Special Edition (2010, brown cover) and Henry Potty and the Deathly Paper Shortage, or buy the original Henry Potty and the Pet Rock from 2006 (blue cover), the ebook Henry Potty and the Surplus Scenes, and Henry Potty and the Deathly Paper Shortage.
It sounds exciting. Can I read it for free?
Sure, why not. There’s an excerpt here. Plus contests, giveaways, trivia, and goodies all over the site.
What’s the age range?
2 to 222. So far a number of babies and 223 year olds have protested, but I’m standing firm.
Isn’t two too young?
Well…I live with a two-year-old who just snatched the book from me. She made me chase her to get it back, identified the pineapple on the cover nearly correctly, and made me read it to her. Oh and correctly identified the author photo inside. I can prove it (well, not the pineapple part)! So there’s a two-year-old who enjoyed it. Now if any 222-year-olds could step forward, I’ll balance the spectrum.
Could you narrow it down just a bit?
I’m picturing the same age range as Harry Potter: Rowling’s publishers suggest ages 9-12, but younger and older readers also enjoy the series.
Where can I find the book?
Aside from this site? Almost everywhere. Amazon. Barnes and Noble. Half.com. eBay. Plenty of “brick and mortar” bookstores have it, and those who don’t can easily order it. Happy shopping. The eBook is also out in about forty stores.
What about autographing?
That comes from the Latin roots “auto,” self, and “graph,” write.
No, what if I want my book autographed?
Oh, okay. I’m always happy to mail out personalized autographed bookplates. Or there are signed copies available here on my site. Just ask.
What house would you be in?
Among Dummies, Scumballs, Heroes, and Leftovers? Isn’t it obvious?
Oh, you meant in the rather-higher-grossing world, not the just-plain-gross world.
Definitely Ravenclaw…in Rowling’s world. In mine, I think I’d find a school that isn’t fourth-rate.
The parody has a lot of British/American references. Have you ever been to England?
Yep. In fact, I wrote this in England. I’m American, but I spent my junior year of college studying at University of East Anglia, England’s finest creative writing school. I thought the British girls were gonna throw me out of the dorm and hurl me into the snow in my pajamas when they found out what I was writing.
What’s the moral of the novel?
Isn’t it obvious? If a walking pile of garbage tries to steal your pet rock, fight! In fact, don’t let a walking pile of garbage get away with anything at all!
What else have you written?
Quite a lot, really. I’ve completed over 150 short stories, and published about seventy stories and reviews in magazines and anthologies. I do quite a lot of book reviewing, mostly fantasy. www.calithwain.com, my personal site, has links to a lot of this.
What’s a Calithwain?
So glad you asked. Calithwain is the made-up name of my magical world. The website features an interactive map with photos and short stories from all over this imaginary place (please don’t ask how I got the photos). I’ve been fashioning it and writing novels and stories in it since I was sixteen so it’s very elaborate by now. Not to mention bulging at the seems from the pressure of all those tales.
Any of those funny?
A few. My mermaid story, One Wish, has been reprinted about eight times, so I guess fans like the twist ending. And there’s a silly cat story and a Dick and Jane parody for older readers (maybe PG rather than G). There’s also an entire collection of Chelm stories (Jewish folklore humor) I’m seeking a publisher for. Many of these are on my website. But I really, deep down, enjoy serious fantasy.
Do you have a “day job”?
Ohhhhh yes. Haven’t made enough money at writing yet. I teach Composition at San Jose State University. In the summers and after class, I tutor in English all over the Bay Area. I also teach some creative writing and SAT classes.
What’s it like mixing academics and fantasy?
Well, it’s a real juggling act. But since I believe the best way to excel at English is to read your favorite books, I can find some overlap. Plus I guest lectured in the Fantasy and Science Fiction class this semester.
Do you have kids?
Just other people’s. Quite a lot of those, in fact.
Have you won any awards?
Care to elaborate?
INDIE Award 2008 First Place for the Henry Potty and the Pet Rock eBook version.
National Best Books Awards 2007, Henry Potty and the Pet Rock was an Award-Winning Finalist in the “Children’s Novelty & Gift Books” category. Awarded by USA Book News.
“Henry Potty and the Pet Rock” excerpt. Phelan Award 2004 First Prize for humor.
Henry Potty and the Pet Rock nominated for Preditors & Editors TM Readers’ Poll Jan 2006.
“Tea and Company.” Nominated for 2003 Origin Awards.
“Gilgamesh.” Olympiad of the Arts 2000 Honorable Mention.
Do you regularly attend any major conventions or conferences?
Baycon, the SF Bay Area sf and f convention. I also try to go to one or two fantasy conventions and maybe an academic convention each year. This summer, I plan to speak at Book Expo America and several Harry Potter conventions, just like I did last year. My calendar is posted; please join me for any and all events.
What about a blog?
I have a small one up on this site. I also have pages on livejournal, facebook, and other locations. When do I update all this stuff? As with every other writer in the world, whenever I get around to it.
There are rumors you have a collection of singing potatoes keeping you sane…
I’m sorry, that’s not a question.
Who did the cover?
That would be my college roommate, Anica Moss. She’s very talented.
Anica Moss is a graduate of UC Davis in design, visual communications and Spanish. She has written and illustrated books in both English and Spanish. She accepts commissions for book illustrations and covers. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Just write, every day. And read. There aren’t any shortcuts out there. There’s a great collection of markets to submit to if you want to Write and Publish your own Stories.
Will there be a book 2?
I’m not sure. I’m certainly open to writing about “The Chamberpot of Secrets” or something equally ludicrous. Those evil coloring books can be so cumbersome!
Update: I got so many questions on this one, I couldn’t resist. My list of probable titles and blurbs for future HP parodies is right here.
Can I link to you?
Can you sign my copy right this minute?
Absolutely. I have lovely, custom-made Henry Potty bookplates I can mail. Or you can buy an autographed copy here on the site. I’d be happy to write you a personal message, too. Just email meand…wait for it; this is important…let me know your address.
And now the big one: Book Seven? Where are books 2 through 6?
The novel, book seven, is the sequel to Henry Potty and the Pet Rock. Some might think that after book one would come book two, and then three, and so on in some logical fashion. Those people lack imagination. This author, on the other hand, has a chorus of singing potatoes to guide her.
Truth be told, some books invite a certain spoofiness, whereas others just don’t have the gaps that make parody authors want to stick long fingers in and twist…I wrote this book in ten days, after I popped out of bed one morning with the great idea. For years I’d considered parodying book two, but it never happened. However, the instant I considered taking on book seven with its myriad of items and deaths (some more poetically just that others), I had to give it a try.
There’s certainly the potential for another book, a sort of 2-6 combined. I have some scenes already in mind. Still, many characters and events I’ve always wanted, like the Order of the Takeout get a nod in book seven, so I feel I’m ahead of the game. Which characters are coming, you ask? Check out the brand new HP-Laughicon.