Lea Doué’s Firethorn Chronicles were my first introduction to the fairytale retelling genre. It’s an absolute privilege to be able to interview her here on my blog. Even after reading many more retellings, Doué’s books remain among my favourites – but that might be due to the dragons.
Tell us about your fairytale retellings and why you chose to write in this genre.
One of the first books I remember reading on my own is the Little Golden Book version of Cinderella, the 1968 version with her wearing a pink dress with bows and all the mice dancing around. I don’t know when I haven’t loved reading fairytales, first the children’s retellings and later the originals with all their fantsastical (and sometimes gory) elements.
Having taken creative writing in university and being told “real” writers focus on literary topics that sell, I floundered about, trying to write what I thought people wanted to read. Until I found out about becoming an indie author and realized that I was a person, too, and I liked reading fairytale retellings (I’d been rereading Robin McKinley’s short stories for years). At the time I began writing The Firethorn Crown, there were not nearly the number of retellings as there are now, so I wrote what I wanted to read and couldn’t find.
I wrote what I wanted to read and couldn’t find.
How does the theme of truth fit into your books?
I suppose the title of The Firethorn Crown hints at how the theme of truth fits into the story. Lily is the heir of a large kingdom, but she feels unworthy of inheriting the historic firethorn crown. She’s also convinced herself that the man she loves is out of reach. In contrast, the antagonist, Tharius, uses Lily’s insecurities to twist lies into a version of truth in order to manipulate her into helping him escape his prison. Only when she realizes the lies she’s been telling herself are untrue can Lily break Tharius’s curse, and Tharius himself has his own truth to face in order to be truly free.
Tell us about your Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling. Why did you choose this fairytale and what makes your adaptation unique?
I didn’t set out to write a twelve-book series. I’d had a version of Lily’s story bouncing around in my head for years, but once I started writing, her sisters started demanding their own. So here I am with four books completed, two more almost completely plotted out, and six more to go. Not to mention a handful of short stories. As for what makes my adaptation unique? That just might be the dragons. I’d never read about dragons in any fairytale retelling before (although I realize several other authors have done so now), and I’ve always loved dragons … so why not add them to the stories?
The dragons in your books are rather unique. What inspired them and which is your favorite?
Ooh, that’s like asking who’s your favorite child! But since I named my publishing business after the butterwing dragon, I’ll go with that one. It’s adorable and tiny enough to sit on my shoulder while I’m writing and would probably give my cats an entertaining time if they got frisky. I knew starting this series that I wanted real dragons that might actually exist, ones with no magic and no speech but that still had unique characteristics, because, let’s face it, there are some weird creatures out there. But after four books, I missed the magic of the traditional fairytales I’d read as a child, so the dragons in the Fairytale Dragon Riders series talk and fly and get into all kinds of mischief.
I knew starting this series that I wanted real dragons that might actually exist, ones with no magic and no speech but that still had unique characteristics.
You made a rather large move from one country to another. Do you think this has helped or hindered your writing?
That WAS a big move, especially for a self-proclaimed homebody! But considering that my husband is one of my biggest supporters (and the reason for the move in the first place), I would say it definitely helped my writing in the long run. Well, maybe not so much in the winter when my fingers are frozen into popsicles half the time. Fingerless gloves are a lifesaver when typing!
What do you want readers to take from your books?
I honestly have to say that I never start plotting or planning a book with any intention of imparting a message of any sort. I want to write something entertaining. Something I would have liked to read as a young and ravenous bookworm. Something you can put on your shelf and not be concerned about the content if your own little bookworm picks it up. One thing I’ve learned about reading is that we can all have the same book in our hands and each person will get something different out of it. And being a re-reader, I know I’ve taken different things from books at different times in my life. Perhaps I’d like to leave readers with a smile, overall, and if they take anything else from the books, that would be a blessing.
One thing I’ve learned about reading is that we can all have the same book in our hands and each person will get something different out of it.
If you were given the choice of the gift of magic, money, or wisdom, what would you choose and why?
I want to say wisdom, but then I think about King Solomon, and I’m not so sure that went well for him. Magic … well, that really depends on what kind of magic it is, doesn’t it? Money might be good. We could all use more money, right? How about since it’s a gift, I just let the giver decide, and then I don’t have to make a decision. Yeah, lets go with that. 😉
When you’re not writing, you are … ?
… buried under cats! I also homeschool, go for long walks with my boys, crochet, work on puzzles (candy or sweets puzzles only, for some reason), organize things that probably don’t need organizing, watch movies with my boys, and read, of course. Oh, and I hang out with my husband, too. He’s pretty cool.
Does the area around where you live inspire your stories?
Yes! Well … it’s definitely inspired aspects of book six, which isn’t yet out but is inspired by The Little Mermaid. I’m within walking distance of water and within driving distance of … more water. Beaches, rocks, cliffs, fresh water, salt water, forests, you name it. It’s gorgeous! And, as much as I hate the snow, I do have a Snow Queen inspired story down the line, so winter has been a learning experience I didn’t know I needed. Haha!
What can readers expect next from you?
I’ve been taking a long break from writing for personal reasons, but as soon as I start back up (and I do plan for that to be sooner rather than later), I’ll be working on The Sleeping Curse (Book 5) and The Sorcerer Prince (Book 6) in the Firethorn Chronicles. These are inspired by Sleeping Beauty/Aladdin and The Little Mermaid, respectively. I’ve also got shiny new covers for books 1-4 that I can’t wait to share. As for the Fairytale Dragon Riders series, I’ll have an entry into that coming as part of a multi-author series in probably 2024-2025, but that’s still currently top secret. I’m really excited to get working on The Sorcerer Prince, as that’s Tharius’s story. (It wasn’t only the princesses demanding their own book.)
Lea Doué is the author of The Firethorn Chronicles, a fantasy series inspired by fairytales and other classic stories, as well as the Fairytale Dragon Rider series. A native of south Georgia, Lea lives in Nova Scotia, Canada with her husband, their two boys, and four cats. But, sadly, no dragons.
You can find more of her work at her website www.leadoue.com or at www.facebook.com/leadoueauthor