Chit Chatting with Author Eilis O’Neal
Written by: Jill Sheets
Picture credit: Natalie Green
For many of us growing up we wanted to be princesses. I mean, why wouldn’t you want
to be one? You would get to wear beautiful dresses, a crown, make a big difference in
people’s lives and of course don’t forget – to marry Prince Charming. But how would
you feel to find out that after 16 years you were not really a princess. Well that is what
Sinda had to deal with in Eilis O’Neal’s new book The False Princess. Continue to read
on and learn more about Eilis and her wonderful book. A book that is hard to put down.
R: Tell us a little bit about your writing background?
E: I’ve been writing since I was a little kid, even before I knew how to read. I used to
tell stories to my mom, and she would type them up (on an actual typewriter!) and we’d
give them out to my family as Christmas presents from me. We also used to do a lot of
role playing while she gardened or did laundry—pretending to be Robin Hood or Mrs.
Frisby–which is just making up stories out loud. I tried to write my first book when I was
twelve, though I only got about twenty pages into it. Before I wrote The False Princess, I
finished three books that will never see the light of day.
R: Tell us about your writing process? Do you out-line or just start to write?
E: I’m a terrible outliner! I’ve tried to do it, and it just stops me creatively. When I start a
book, I generally know my main characters, the beginning and ending, and key events in
the middle. And then I start writing. The actual act of writing is what helps the book gel
completely for me, and I love discovering new things and having new ideas as I go along.
R: Tell us about your book The False Princess.
E: The False Princess is a twist on the classic “commoner finds out she’s a hidden
princess” story. It’s also a coming-of-age story, as Sinda has to discover who she really
is once she learns she isn’t actually the princess, with adventure, romance, and magic
thrown into the mix.
R: How did you come up with the idea for this book?
E: It was that twist on the usual fairy tale that was the “lightning bolt” moment for
me. As soon as I thought of that, I had the main storyline and main characters almost
immediately. I just loved the question of what you would do if you find out your whole
life had been a lie.
R: If they were to make this book into a movie, who would your dream cast be?
E: Oh golly . . . .I actually have a hard time thinking of who would make a great dream
cast. These characters are so vivid in my mind as themselves that trying to assign actors
to them is hard. Though I think a young Natalie Portman would have made a great
Sinda . . .
R: Where can people get your book?
E: It’s available in hardcover, audio CD, and ebook formats from all usual suspects:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, the library, independent bookstores.
R: Are you currently working on a new book? If so, is there anything you can tell us
about the book?
E: I am working on a new book, but I’m going to keep quiet about it for the moment.
Unfortunately, I’ve one of those people who can lose momentum if I talk about projects
too early. But it is YA fantasy.
Picture source: Eilis O’Neal
R: What is the best advice you have ever gotten and by who?
E: My mom: “Bring a change of clothes in your carry-on, because you never know if
your checked luggage will be lost.” Or, more seriously, to believe in myself, which is
something both of my parents always told me and still tell me today.
R: What advice would you give someone who wanted to become a writer?
E: To write. You’d be surprised how many people want to be writers, but don’t put in the
time and practice it takes to get good. And read. Read in your genre, but also read outside
of it. Read as much as you can. If you like something, identify what makes it good, and if
you don’t, figure out why.
R: What is your favorite board game to play?
E: That’s tough—I like so many! So I’m going to cheat. For party games, I love
Taboo and Cranium. For getting-to-know-you games, I like Loaded Questions and Say
Anything. For more thinky games, I like Race for the Galaxy. And for a game to get your
blood pressure rising and make you suspect everyone around you of being a Cylon, I like
(and hate!) the Battlestar Galactica boardgame.
R: I read that you are a fan of “Buffy.” Who is your favorite character and why?
E: I identify most strongly with Willow. She’s geeky, a little shy, a good student—
basically a lot of traits that I had as a young person (and still have, in many cases).
But I have to say that I have a not-at-all secret crush on Spike. As in, there’s a life-size
cardboard cut-out of him in my office. So he probably takes the favorite character cake.
R: Other than this one, what is the strangest question you have ever been asked?
E: Someone once asked if I had ever thought about writing about politics. My
response: “That’s too much fantasy even for me.”
R: Are you on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what are their
addresses? Do you have an official website? If so, what is the address?
E: I am! I have a Facebook Page (Eilis O’Neal), a Twitter account (EilisONeal), and a
blog (http://eilis-oneal.livejournal.com). My website is www.eilisoneal.com.
R: Eilis, thank you for the interview. Have a great day.