What do you hope readers take away from A Curse of Salt?
SS: My biggest hope would be that this book reminds readers why they love reading! It draws heavily from my love of books and with a couple of bookworm characters of its own, I like to think a lot of the narrative revolves around the magic of storytelling itself. That’s something I hope fellow book-lovers will really be able to connect with.
Did you find it challenging to write a story with narrative elements many readers are familiar with (such as a fairytale)?
SS: Having such familiar story beats to work with was a blessing at first, but definitely challenging when I wanted to subvert what readers would expect. While the predictability of how a romance novel going to end can be comforting, I definitely strove to use the familiarity of the narrative in unpredictable ways. Ultimately though, the elements of Beauty and the Beast that remained are probably the reasons people will want to pick up a retelling, so I tried to stay true to the heart of the fairytale as much as I could.
What drew you to choose Beauty and the Beast in particular? Why do you think it’s had such lasting impact?
SS: I already mentioned my love for storytelling, and I think that’s the reason so many readers (myself included) are drawn to Beauty and the Beast in particular. It centres books, and looking for beauty in unexpected places, and valuing compassion and self discovery over the lives set out for us. I think that’s something so inherently appealing to people who go to books for an escape, so I think a high seas spin on that was the perfect way for me to express a desire for adventure and bigger things.
What do you think is special about the YA genre?
SS: YA is such an undervalued genre, in my opinion. I know it’s super popular with readers of all ages, but I don’t think we give enough credit to the way that it allows people to relive what is often the most formative period of their lives. YA isn’t all coming of age stories, but I think a good chunk of them are about developing self-worth and surrounding yourself with those who value it, and that’s something a lot of people could prioritise more in their lives.
What’s up next for you?
SS: I’m currently waiting to get stuck into edits for my next book, which is another fairytale retelling with even more swashbuckling than this one, but I’m keeping myself occupied with a few other projects I’m really excited about. Think: witches, gods, and an almost excessive amount of angst.