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Once upon a time, in a library far, far away, I discovered the fairy tale shelf. I remember it was in a sunny area. The books were smaller than normal and were a part of a set. I checked them out over and over again. I’m sure my seven-year-old self had heard or had all these fairy tales read to her before, but this was the first time, I was able to read them for myself. This began a life-long love for fairy tales…
Confession: I love to write Levi, the evil villain in The Cinderella Theorem. He’s to develop, he makes Lily (and everyone else) squirm and lose their cool, plus he’s greasy. Let’s explore the qualities that make up a good bad guy…
Is there a singular character that really touched your heart and why?
Lily has to make a couple of choices to be brave in the story. One of those is when she decides that she’d rather face facts and get to know her (previously believed dead) father than hold on to the nice, neat “story” of what she believed happened. I’m not always best at making hard choices, or being willing to do what is hard, so that aspect of Lily inspired me.
I need to let you in on a little secret. There’s math in my book. Probably an above average amount. It’s not a math book, but there is way more math in it than you would find in a regular book. And while I don’t think I’m BFFs with math, I do think I’m friendly with math. Which is interesting because there was a time in my life that math and I were not friendly at all…
“I liked the first-person writing style of The Cinderella Theorem; I thought Lily had a good voice. The characters were quirky and likable, and the ideas and world itself were delightful. The Cinderella Theorem is an enjoyable book, a fun play on the old fairy tales. Recommended.”
In my book, The Cinderella Theorem, a lot of the fairy tale world’s usual subjects show up: Cinderella, the Gingerbread Man, Sleeping Beauty. But I also got to shed some light on some of the rarer tales around, like the Erlking…
What is your favorite thing about writing a book partly set in a fairy-tale world?
Thinking up things like Marvelous Midas Creme—magical ice cream made by King Midas. From one carton, everyone will magically have whatever flavor is their favorite in their bowl. Creating the structure for HEA (The Office of Happily Ever After Affairs) was a lot of fun too!
Everyone’s got a favorite fairy tale and mine is Beauty and the Beast. There are a lot of reasons this tale could be my favorite, but the truth is there’s only one reason that it is my favorite…
2. This not only has a mathematical twist but a comical twist to the Cinderella theme? Will this become a series? If so, what type of theme will follow? If not, what will be your next project?
I am working on a sequel called Calculating Christmas. It will be a Christmas theme as Lily and her friends try to save Christmas. I also know what the third book will be about, but haven’t really planned it yet.
They start with once upon a time and end with everyone living happily ever after and in between those two things there is singing, talking woodland animals and a good deal of magic. Everyone knows that’s how fairy tales go. But do we really know these tales?
“I absolutely loved The Cinderella Theorem!! It was amazing. I thought it was so cool how Lily grew as a character and learned all these different lessons. The footnotes that the author added at the bottom of the pages were so great and helpful.”
“This is definitely the most unique fantasy novel I’ve read in a long time (and I read a lot of fantasy)! I love the main character and the way she views the world in terms of math.”
What kind of research (if any) do you do for your books?
Because math and fairy tales are so important in these books, I try to keep them in my mind by following blogs about fairy tales and math. I also read books about math and fairy tales. (Women in Mathematics and The Witch Must Die are what I’m working through now.) I’ve found that I’m faster at writing if I don’t stop to research in the moment, so I’ve started jotting down post-it notes of things to look up later. I’ve got some math friends that I ask questions of when needed. My friend, Kelly, helped me think of a math poster to be in Lily’s bedroom. I also use the internet quite a bit.
Mom hadn’t mentioned what I was supposed to wear for the interview, but then again, Mom hadn’t mentioned the interview either. There were a lot of things going unmentioned in the Sparrow family these days. Like my dad isn’t really dead, like I’m a princess, like I’m having a ball in my honor. So in the grand scheme of things unmentioned by my mother, what was one reporter, showing up unannounced, knocking on my bedroom door…
“I expected it to be okay, but it far surpassed my expectations. I picked it up and couldn’t stop! I was laughing out loud the entire time!… This book was SO much fun! I honestly loved every minute of it. The romance was fleeting, but promised more. I can’t wait for the next book!”
“I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading more! I felt that I learned more about both fairytales and math while reading it so I feel smarter now than I was before I started. The ending was great and left me wanting more, so I was glad to get a sneak peek into the next book, Calculating Christmas (which is hopefully coming soon). If you or someone you know loves math, this book is a no brainer! If you don’t enjoy math, you will still find plenty about it to love, so give it a chance!!”
“This is a very interesting spin on fairy tales. I did truly enjoy the story. It was fun to think how I would feel as a teenager in this situation. She uses math to rationalize life. For a 15 year old girl I did not find her annoying. Most of the time the female character can be whinny and boy crazy. Lily was not like that and I was glad for a change of pace. A great fun read.”
“I’m not into math, but I love fairy tales. I passed my math classes, but it’s not my favorite subject, and I wasn’t sure how a story about fairy tales could possibly tie into math. But it worked! I thought it was very creative and the story was even written in a math book-type of format–little side notes and footnotes. It was interesting to see the way a logical girl could come to accept a fantasy world–almost like right brain meets left brain.”
“What I liked the most is that the author had me laughing. A lot. I can not wait until the next book comes out and I read more about these characters!”
From the Fireland Flame, the daily newspaper of EG Smythe’s Salty Fire Land:
Tybalt’s Tales, Gossip from all the Genres
August 19th has finally arrived! The day we’ve all been waiting for, Fireland! Princess Lily turns 15 today and finds out that she’s really a princess. How will our secret Protector respond?
Even though no one ever spells it correctly, I love my first name: Kristee. It’s unique and special and though a Google search will reveal that there are other Kristees in the world. I personally have never met one, and I know there’s no one else named “Kristee Ravan” (Kudos to my husband for giving me a unique last name, that no one ever spells correctly either…). So when I began creating Lily’s world, I wanted to be intentional with the names of the people and places. Here’s the inside scoop on what some the names mean.
Snow White and Rose Red
First of all, this is not the Snow White who hangs with the seven dwarves. This Snow White and her sister, Rose Red, were named for rosebushes that grew in front of their cottage, where the girls and their mother lived a happy life in the woods. (The dad’s dead.)
“The characters are well developed (and fun!), the plot is entertaining and very creative, the writing flows well, the dialogue is natural sounding and true to the character who’s speaking, and it’s overall just a good, fun read. I was also geekily excited that Lily shares information about Pi Day (March 14th – 3/14 – because pi is 3.14159… get it?) I’m looking very much forward to The Lily Sparrow Chronicles Book 2: Calculating Christmas…”
YA Urban Fantasy
Paperback, 367 pages
March 17th 2014
Fairy tales are naturally non-mathematical. That is a fact, and fifteen-year-old Lily Sparrow loves factual, mathematical logic. So when her mother confesses that Lily’s deceased father is (a) not dead, (b) coming to dinner, and (c) the ruler of a fairy tale kingdom accessible through the upstairs bathtub, Lily clings to her math to help her make sense of this new double life (1 life in the real world + 1 secret life in the fairy tale world = a double life).
Even though it’s not mathematical, Lily finds herself being pulled into a mystery involving an unhappy Cinderella, a greasy sycophant called Levi, and a slew of vanishing fairy tale characters. Racing against the clock, with a sound mathematical plan, Lily attempts to save her fairy tale friends while proving that normality = happiness.
Kristee Ravan lives in Oklahoma with her husband, daughter, and pet fish, Val (short for Valentine). She wanted to be many things as she grew up including a general, an artist, and an architect. But she never bothered to say, “I want to be a writer when I grow up.” She was always writing stories and thought of herself as a writer anyway. She sent her first story to a publisher in the sixth grade. (It was rejected – in a nice way.) When she is not making up stories in her head, she enjoys reading, juggling, green smoothies, playing dollhouse with her daughter, and hearing from her fans. You can contact Kristee at the facebook page for her Lily Sparrow books: The Lily Sparrow Chronicles.