Interview with Eileen Mueller and A. J. Ponder, Authors of Snow and Red | NewInBooks
What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Snow and Red (Dragon Shifters’ Hoard, Book 1)?
It’s so exciting to finally launch Snow and Red. I remember the walk A. J. Ponder and I took through Central Park, here in New Zealand, when we first plotted this story. Our Central Park is very different from the one in New York. It has far fewer people using it and the bush is wilder. It’s a great place to let your imagination run riot.
Snow and Red is based on a little-known fairy tale of Snow White and Rose Red, two sisters who befriend a bear who is a secretly an enchanted prince.
In the fairy tale, three times, Snow White and Rose Red unwittingly help the dwarf who enchanted the prince, accidentally breaking the spell and freeing the prince to be himself. Snow White marries the prince and Rose Red captures his brother’s heart.
We loved this story because the girls were daring free spirits who weren’t afraid of looking beyond the bear’s exterior to see his true heart. They faced danger to free a trapped spirit and helped him and his brother regain their stolen treasure—and find true love!
We’re often asked how closely Snow and Red fits the original fairy tale. We had fun on that walk two years ago, diving into many possible ways of retelling the fairy tale. In the end, we explored three fantasy dimensions.
- What if Snow White and Rose Red had elemental powers?
- What if they befriended twin brothers who were dragon shifters?
- What if there were multiple enemies with a vendetta against all shifters?
In Snow and Red (Dragon Shifters Hoard Book 1) there are mages, shifters, and deadly Fae in the underworld simmering beneath the thin veneer of Pinevale.
Snow and Red, two sisters, are aware they’re freaks with strange powers. Mom’s warned them to hide who they are. But she’s also hidden dark secrets of her own. Secrets that could put the girls in danger.
The girls sneak out one night to have fun. They’re are attacked in an alley by a gang. They instinctively react with fire and ice. Two buff guys swoop in to rescue them. Insanely attractive and expelled from school, with shimmering gold and silver tattoos on their faces and arms, the Draki twins may be more dangerous than the girls’ attackers.
How does this relate further to the original fairy tale? Multiple times, Snow and Red accidentally help the mage who enchanted the Draki twins and is stealing their hoard—magical artifacts that protect the shifter community. Unknown to them, Dante and Zephyr Draki are on a mission to save their kidnapped parents, but the stakes keep climbing until the entire shifter community is under threat. Yes, the spell does get broken. But it’s a tough journey on the way, full of danger and dark secrets.
It was a whirlwind of fun writing Snow and Red.
The story has grown and sprung to life with a sequel, Zephyr and Snow, releasing in a few weeks. The third book, Dante and Red, is in the works, and Draki Twins, a free short prequel, is available.
If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Snow and Red (Dragon Shifters’ Hoard, Book 1), what would they be?
Their songs would represent their elemental powers.
- Red: I see Fire by Ed Sheeran
- Dante Draki: Through the Fire and Flames by Dragon Force
- Snow: Let it Go by Indina Menzel (Frozen)
- Zeph Draki: Colors of the Wind by Tori Kelly
What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?
Eileen: I love reading young adult fantasy in all sorts of sub-genres. Paranormal romance, epic fantasy, dragon rider adventures, steampunk, grimdark and urban fantasy. I also read a variety of genres that aren’t fantasy, including historical sagas, some mystery and sci-fi, but fantasy has become my true love. I mainly write dragon rider epic fantasy and urban fantasy, so yeah, I guess it’s similar.
AJ Ponder: I read anything I can get my hands on – everything from fantasy to historical sweet romance, to science fiction. With my cat in my lap, my family nearby and a good book in my hand, what more could I want? As for writing I’ve also dabbled in a variety of genres, but I love epic fantasy, urban fantasy and YA fantasy best of all.
What scene in your book was your favorite to write?
Eileen: I enjoyed creating see-sawing tension between Red and Dante. Dante can’t trust Red. She has fire powers, so he fears she’s his enemy. But she’s attractive, so much fun and knows how to party, so he’s drawn to her despite himself.
Zeph has a quirky sense of humor, and A.J. is great at writing his one-liners, so those were fun parts to edit. We both actually wrote all four characters, which made the writing process lots of fun.
AJ Ponder: Ice skating has always felt like flying to me. Snow and Zeph experience sweet romance while literally skating on thin ice. It was a playful scene. Then Eileen ratcheted up the tension. She knows how to put the thumbscrews on our characters.
Eileen: Yeah, I love being mean, but I also like happily-ever-afters.
A.J. Ponder: Don’t we all?
Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)
Eileen: I dictate outdoors among the trees, by the sea, the beach or adventuring in our native New Zealand bush or botanical gardens. I’m sure everyone thinks I’m mad because I’m always talking to myself! In fact, people have told me so!
“I always wondered why you were talking to yourself,” is a common phrase from my neighbors! It cracks me up.
It’s especially funny when I’m dictating a fight scene or a dragon soaring over a lake or alps. I try to stop in mid-sentence when I walk past people, but sometimes I have to finish before I lose the scene in my head.
A.J. Ponder: I have to battle my cats to type on my keyboard. I’m sure they think they’re the authors of my books.
Eileen: I’m so glad they’re not! Their grammar is terrible.
A.J. Ponder: But they type the longest most creative words!
If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?
Yes, if we could choose something for our readers to remember, it would be:
Eileen: Be true to yourself. Be strong. Stay the course, and soar upon dragon wings.
A.J. Ponder: Love is often found in unexpected places. Remember to look there too.
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