Today, we have an interview with C.S. Johnson. When I saw the cover and subject of her latest novella, I had to invite her over here. We have fae, a fairy tale retelling, a peacock and a princess! And a cool play on the phrase, “Birds of Prey”. How could I resist?
The first time I fell in love with Princess Mele was when I saw her smile, and I fell in love with her the second time the moment I heard her sing.
Two memories burn within Kaipo’s heart — the death of his mother, which left him alone to die, and the arrival of Princess Mele, which gave him a new reason to live. Together with his adopted brother, Kaipo seeks out Jaya, the Fae Queen who lives on the Forbidden Mountain, in order to gain the beauty he requires to win Mele’s heart. But Jaya has other plans for the scarred outcast who climbs up her mountain …
The Princess and the Peacock is the first in Birds of Fae, a fantasy fairy tale novella series from C. S. Johnson.
Release Date: January 25, 2019
Welcome C.S. Johnson! Please tell us a bit about you. What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Any hobbies?
Hi there! It’s a pleasure to join you today, and thank you for having room for me on your blog!
I love to write, and when I am not writing, I am usually doing something that needs doing. I am a full-time writer right now, but I have two kids and a home to keep running, and I like to make sure things are running properly. For more of a fun thing, sometimes I go to the movies by myself or with my husband while they are at school. It really does feel like hooky at that point!
Do you have any pets?
I have a cat, Jasper Blue, and a dog, Zippy Marshall. My kids had to approve of the names.
I hear you like tea. What is your favorite kind of tea?
Green tea has always been my favorite, but I have taken to English Breakfast tea this year. With a little honey and some sugar, it’s lovely.
What are some of your favorite fictional books?
I like a lot of different books, but my favorite book is Till We Have Faces, by C. S. Lewis. It is a book I always try to reread every year. I like the reminder that sometimes we will spend our whole lives looking for answers right in front of us. As morbid as that sounds, I like it. It makes me feel as though I really do have everything I need with me, right where I am, and one day I will see it clearly for what it is. I believe that is the power of God, but as Samuel Johnson once put it, “People don’t have to be taught so often as they need to be reminded.” And I goodness knows I need the reminder.
You have an amazing assortment of books published. How many books have you published altogether? Do you have a favorite? I know, the worst question ever!
I’ve never been good with numbers – math is one of my mortal enemies – and so I don’t honestly keep count. I think it’s close to 22, though.
I don’t have a set favorite, but each one has a favorite reason. I will always love the Starlight Chronicles for allowing me to see the redemption from my high school experiences; the Divine Space Pirates was a love letter to my husband and God; and The Order of the Crystal Daggers is a tribute to all my favorite fangirl things.
Wow. 22! And Starlight. Divine Space Pirates. Crystal Daggers. So intriguing! Tell us a little aboutThe Princess and the Peacock, your upcoming novella. What inspired you to write this story?
I honestly put the blame for this series’ inspiration at the feet of a couple of my best friends, Faith and Jake. Faith is my expert friend on fairy tales and she’s known as the Disney Princess Addict on Facebook, while my friend Jake is a comics expert on his podcast, StudioJake. The “Birds of Fae” series title is a play on words from “Birds of Prey.” While they are my main inspirations behind the start of the book, the book idea really took on a life of its own as I began planning it out. I have another friend whose daughter and son-in-law work in India, helping with the eunuch communities, and that’s how Rahj’s character formed; Pravin’s character came from a misconception that people have about beauty – that beauty is something “safe,” essentially – and Kaipo and the Hawaiian/Indian mix is an influence from one of my cousins.
And I gotta say, I just love peacocks. I had peacock feathers in my wedding bouquet when I got married, and it was nice to see that their inspiration still resides in my heart and imagination.
Oh my! Peacock feathers in your bouquet?! That is awesome. I had a peacock feather pen for our wedding’s guest book. Can you tell us a bit about the fae in your book? Can you tell us a bit about the fae in your book?
Sure! Kaipo is an outcast on his island home of Maluhia, where before his mother’s death, he trained as a warrior to protect the kingdom. He was terribly scarred, and the islanders, out of superstition, don’t want to associate with him. The only one who keeps Kaipo company is his adopted brother, Rahj, a eunuch Kaipo’s father bought out of slavery from another island, at great cost to their family’s reputation. Kaipo recalls meeting Princess Mele when she toured around the island and came to help the healers in their village. She tended to his wounds and sang for him and the others who were sick, and ever since then, he fell in love with her. He wants to be eligible to become her husband, but knowing how the island feels about his scars, he seeks to find a way to become beautiful enough for her again. As a result, Kaipo and Rahj head up the Forbidden Mountain to secure a wish from the Fae Queen Jaya.
Peacocks are one of my favorite birds. I have their gorgeous tail feathers adorning my kitchen and dining room, so I am curious about the Peacock in your story. Can you tell us a little about that? Is it really a peacock? Or something more?
Queen Jaya is a little annoyed with Kaipo’s wish to become handsome enough to win Mele’s heart. Jaya, as a fae, has lived long enough to see the foolishness of humans and a lot of their temporal wishes. So when he wishes for her to give him “the beauty required to win Mele’s heart,” she turns him into a peacock and says Mele will not be able to resist him now—but as a pet, instead of a suitor.
Oh my! Love it. So speaking of princesses, who is your favorite Disney princess? Non-Disney Princess?
My favorite Disney Princess is Cinderella, and Belle is a close second, but I have been watching a lot of the classic movies with my daughter recently. She loves Aurora. However, the Disney Princess I probably most identify with is Tiana; after falling in love with my husband, I can appreciate a princess whose ambition nearly robbed her of her happily-ever-after.
My favorite non-Disney Princess is Odette, from The Swan Princess. I loved that movie as a kid, and it still holds up after all these years. I loved that the movie is not just about her, but it’s about the relationship between her and Prince Derek. The evolution of their love and relationship in the movie was akin to Beauty and the Beast, in that both of them had to learn and sacrifice in truly loving each other, and I still enjoy watching that with my kids, too.
What do you hope people walk away with after they finish reading this book?
I wanted people to walk away with more of an appreciation for what true beauty looks like. I made the comment to a friend that beauty demonstrates harmony, it gives light to creation, and it points us toward higher truths of this life; it points to “the way, the truth, and the life.”
What are you working on now? What’s next for you?
Honestly, I’m struggling with writer’s ADD right now. I have a science fantasy novel, a Viking fantasy novel, the last book in my Crystal Daggers trilogy to finalize, and book 2 of Favan & Flew, my steampunk fantasy romance series. I have a few other series and books planned, too. They’re all just so pretty and shiny inside my mind!
And just for fun, if you could visit any time and place in the world, where would you go and why?
Right now, if I could go anywhere, I would go back to Iceland. My husband and I went there for our honeymoon, and we keep talking about going back, especially now that we have kids. We had a lot of fun there and we’d love to take them there to share in our experiences. It’s a hidden corner of Europe, one that has a lot of samples of the best the other countries have to offer, but still carries its own flavor.
Oh my, that does sound amazing! Thank you so much for coming by!
C. S. Johnson is the author of several young adult novels, including sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles series, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more athttp://www.csjohnson.me.