Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Author Interview: Colleen Oakes and the Queen of Hearts

I am so excited to be participating in the Blog Tour for Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes, which will be released on February 14th! To kick off her book launch, Miss Colleen is having a giveaway! One lucky winner will win an iPad mini, a Queen of Hearts-inspired Incase iPad mini jacket and an autographed copy of Queen of Hearts. Enter below for your chance to win!

Please head on over to  or to join the party. Use the hashtags #queenofhearts and #thequeeniscoming to join the conversation :) You can pre-order your copy of the book here!

Fans of Wicked,get ready for another twist on a classical tale!

About Queen of Hearts Volume One: The Crown:

Blossoming Love. A Father's Betrayal. In a Kingdom with a Dark Secret.

As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the cold hands of her father, the King of Hearts. Her only liberation is visiting her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts - and the love of her life.

When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.

Part epic fantasy, part twisted fairy tale, this dazzling saga of the Queen of Hearts will have readers shivering as Dinah’s furious nature sweeps Wonderland up in the maelstrom of her wrath. Familiar characters such as the Cheshire, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter make their appearance, enchanting readers with this new, dark take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Be warned…not every fairytale has a happy ending.

In this story, it is the princess who became a villain.  

About Colleen Oakes:

Colleen Oakes is the author of the Elly in Bloom series and the upcoming YA fantasy Queen of Hearts Saga, both published via SparkPress, a BookSparks imprint.  She lives in North Denver with her husband and son.  When not writing, Colleen enjoys swimming, traveling, and immersing herself in nerdy pop culture.  She is currently at work on the last Elly novel and her second YA fantasy series, Wendy Darling.

Connect with Colleen online at:


Miss Colleen, can you give us an insiders look at how your book came to be?  

I have always been interested characters that lurk behind the scenes - villains, sidekicks, henchmen, discarded love interests. Each of these characters is a full person with a entire story behind them. Who wouldn't want to explore that?   Whenever I was young, I would watch Alice in Wonderland and I remember thinking "Why is that lady so mad?"   The idea for the book came to me as I was driving one day - I thought, "I wonder what the Queen of Hearts' story is."  Later I went home and began researching, I stumbled across a quote from Lewis Carroll where he referred to her as "An embodiment of blind fury". That description was so tempting, I knew then that I wanted to write her story, and when I did, it would have to be a very dark tale about the relationship between love and anger.

In the preface of the book you quote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Was it a love for Lewis Carroll's book that led you to write about Dinah?   

While I do love Alice in Wonderland, I would say that my complete fall into that world happened when I was writing the book.  Now I'm deep into the mythos of that world and that book, which was so wonderful to revisit as an adult as I prepared to write Queen.

Some of the imagery in the book reminds me of watching the Disney movie Alice in Wonderland as a child, especially during the Royal Croquet Tournament. Did the movie play any role in the development of your story?

That was a strange area for me - did I even consider the movie when I was writing the book, especially considering how vastly different they are? In the end I decided to embrace both the political satire that is Carroll's book and the whimsy of the Disney movie and the culture that has come with that film.

Are any of the experiences in the book Dinah and Wardley have that are based on you or someone you know? 

I would have to say NO, but I have played croquet once, so that's something we have in common.  Oh, and I also like tea and tarts.

I love how you developed Charles as a character. Can you tell us a little more about him? 

The Mad Hatter was a tricky character to adapt. I'm glad you loved Charles, I loved him too!  I felt like my Wonderland was so dark and twisted that I wanted someone who was almost above that entire world and yet a part of it, and that's Charles. He's twisted and beautiful and innocent. I also wanted Dinah to have someone that she could love purely, without gain, and that is Charles.

Who is your favorite character in Wonderland? Why?  

Of course I love angry little Dinah above all else, but if I had to pick another character I would say that Cheshire is my favorite character. I LOVE writing his scenes, and I don't think it's a spoiler to say that you haven't seen the last of him.

Who is your least favorite character in your new book? Why?  

Nanda and Palma are pretty terrible. I feel like they are the cultural equivalent of those crazy women you see on Bravo reality shows.

If you could visit anywhere in Wonderland, where would you go?  

Probably the Twisted Wood or the Ninth Sea, at least in this book. Ask me in a few books and I might have a different answer. :)

Is there anything specific you want your readers to know about the Queen of Hearts?   

I think I would want them to come in with a very open mind and know that the Wonderland they are about to experience is nothing like the Wonderland that they know, and yet it's exactly the Wonderland they know.  That or that they are about to read a story about a villain and not an adorably clumsy princess.

What was the hardest part about writing your new book?  

Well, my life has changed a lot since I wrote Queen: I now have a child, and so amount of time that I have to write has taken a nosedive.  I'm learning to really prioritize my time and to plunge quicker into my fantasy worlds.  However, in some ways, I think that I am writing better with less time since every minute counts.

What is your favorite motivational quote? How has it helped you?  

For writing, I really have two favorite quotes. The first is "Hold the vision, trust the process."  I repeat this to myself daily, even when it feels like I am writing really slow.  The other is by Stephen King: "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all else: read a lot and write a lot."

Who is your favorite author? What do you love about their work?  

Audrey Niffenegger is probably my favorite current writer.  Her books and work are just creative, inspired and bold. She doesn't write for a certain audience, she writes for the story, and she has inspired me to stick to plot line and characters arcs that at times felt a bit reckless.  Her books encourage me to take risks.  Her Fearful Symmetry and The Time Traveler's Wife are works of art.

What projects are you working on right now Colleen? Can you give us a sneak peek? 

Yes! Currently I am working on another YA series called Wendy Darling, a Peter Pan retelling!   I can tell you that writing Wendy has been a completely different experience than writing The Queen of Hearts. One is a stick of dynamite and the other is a calm sea.   Wendy's story is important because I think there are so many important ideas floating around Neverlandregarding women and their place in that world. We will touch on some interesting things there:  memory, abuse, faith and family.

Here is a sneak peek:

"The arms tightened and for a moment, Wendy was confused at how the voices making such melodic, enchanting sounds could feel so strong, like a skin made of stone. The voice rose several octaves just before she was yanked underwater without warning.  Her arms flailed above her, suddenly terrified, reaching, reaching back for the sky that was rapidly becoming smaller. The water around her had become luminescent, lighting up from within itself, a thousand diamonds floating in her vision. The arms stayed strong around her waist, pulling, pulling and the song was back, so lulling. the waves cradling her under their crushing power. Wendy felt her body stop fighting the water that was flowing into her mouth, her lungs. She had resigned herself to the underwater song, the arms around her waist pulling her lower and lower into the shimmery darkness when she heard a strange whistling sound, and a shadow passed overhead...

Peter sliced through the water like a bird of prey."

What does the future hold for you?   

Well, in the immediate future I will be working on Wendy Darling and the final novel of the Elly in Bloom series.  After that, I have no plans, but I am definitely tossing ideas around for my next YA fantasy series and perhaps a stand alone mystery novel.

Is there anything you are dying to tell your readers?  

Just to thank them for taking the time to read Queen of Hearts, and any book for that matter. I feel that being a reader is a rare talent in this day and age, and every reader deserves applaud for keeping their minds and hearts open to imagination of others.  When a reader opens one of my books, they have given me a key to their mind, and I promise, as a writer, that I will do my best to fill it with wonder.

Colleen Oakes
Author, The Elly in Bloom Series and the Queen of Hearts Saga

I am a BookSparksPR Groupie!
I am a BookSparks Groupie! I received my copy of the Queen of Hearts FREE!

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