I love a good retelling or re-interpretation of a classic story. Especially those that explore elements or characters that the original never really addressed in-depth. When I first saw the blurb for Christina Henry’s latest novel Lost Boy, I was immediately intrigued as the Peter Pan story and its archetype of the eternal boy have always both fascinated me and creeped me out. So I decided to ask Christina what drew her to retell this classic story, among other things. My interview with Christina is part of a blog tour which features a lot of other great bloggers, you can find a list of them at the bottom of the interview. Please do check them out and definitely check out Christina Henry’s Lost Boy!
Let’s start with the basics. Who is Christina Henry?
I am the author of the Chronicles of Alice duology (Alice and Red Queen), a very dark re-imagining of the Alice in Wonderland stories, and also the author of the Black Wings series, which is a seven-book urban fantasy series set in Chicago about an Agent of Death named Madeline Black and her popcorn-eating gargoyle, Beezle. My newest book is Lost Boy, which is my tale of how Captain Hook became Hook in the first place.
How would you introduce people to the world of Lost Boy?
My editor described the book as Peter Pan meets Lord of the Flies, and that’s exactly right. It’s about a Neverland that’s not quite as magical as it seems.
Who is the more misunderstood of the two: Peter or Hook?
I think Hook is definitely misunderstood. When I sat down to write this book I really wanted to know why Hook hated Peter Pan so much. He’s an adult, and his hatred of Pan seemed completely irrational. But there had to be a reason, and Lost Boy is my exploration of that.
What sort of preparation went into writing this book? Did you focus on the story of Peter Pan or did you also research J. M. Barrie?
I didn’t do any research on Barrie. I re-read Peter Pan, because I was much more conscious of the idea that I was writing a kind of prequel to the original and wanted to make sure I stayed faithful to certain things in that story. When I wrote Alice I was re-imagining the tale completely in my own way so I only retained particular elements (like the story structure) from the original story.
Your previous series was a retelling of Alice in Wonderland and Lost Boy is a retelling of Peter Pan. What draws you to retell these classic Victorian stories?
We have a kind of cultural memory of Alice and Peter – they are characters that everyone is familiar with even if they haven’t actually read the original works. That cultural memory allows me to create a kind of shorthand with the reader, an understanding between the writer and reader as the reader sees and enjoys the familiar aspects of these stories and also gets something fresh and new.
Is there another era whose tales you’d love to rework?
I think I might try my hand at a Red Riding Hood tale next. It’s still in the early thinking stages.
What’s next for you? Any appearances or conventions planned?
I’ll be appearing at San Diego Comic Con in July, and also at the Bookmarks Festival in North Carolina in September. Readers who want to catch me can check my website for updates – www.christinahenry.net.
Is there something else you’re passionate about other than writing and books?
I like to run long distances – I’ve run four marathons and eleven half-marathons. Running is good for thinking about what I’m writing next.
As a book reviewer, I’m all about the book enabling; I can’t help but want to make people read all the good books out there. But I can always use help. What are your top recommendations of books we should look out for in the coming months?
I can’t wait to get my hands on Victoria Schwab’s Our Dark Duet, the sequel to last year’s This Savage Song.
Finally, I have to stay true to my roots and ask a librarian question to finish off with: Do you shelve your books alphabetically, by genre or do you have an ingenious system?
I sort of shelve by genre, but then I always seem to outgrow the bookshelves (I can’t stop buying books) and the books end up stacked wherever I can find space. I definitely know where they all are, though, even if nobody else does!
Bio: Christina Henry is the author of the national bestselling Black Wings series (Black Spring, Black Heart, Black City), featuring Agent of Death Madeline Black and her popcorn-loving gargoyle, Beezle. Christina lives in Chicago with her husband and son.