Jessica Day George contest!
After meeting Jessica Day George, I can say as many nice things about her as I can about her books.
And the books, first and foremost, are wonderful treats, the very sort of books that make fiction popular.
And that’s exactly why The Rock Pool bloggers have decided to have another contest, and offer some of Jessica Day George’s books as the sought-after prizes.
The grand prize is an ADVANCE PROOF COPY of the book Princess of Glass, the sequel to Princess of the Midnight Ball. It won’t be released to the general reading public until the end of May. Did I mention this prize is SIGNED by the author herself? Well, it is. And if you win it, you’ll have read it (and posted your review of it here at The Rock Pool) before your friends and relations have even started scrambling to reserve their copies at their local libraries and independent bookstores.
The runner-up will win a copy of Dragon Flight, the sequel to George’s original dragon adventure story, Dragon Slippers (published as Dragonskin Slippers in the U.K.). This book is also SIGNED by the author, who is whimsical enough to add a green dragon stamp to her signature, as if we needed to be charmed further.
Finally, a merit prize for the entrant whose words dazzle me the most: my personal copy of Princess of the Midnight Ball, which was recently released in paperback. I loved it, but I was a courtly lover of this book and thus it is in near-new condition. I can give it away as a prize knowing I will get to read it again, when I purchase it for each of my favorite girl readers. I am still sighing a bit over the gallantry of Galen the Gardener and thinking just how fine it would be to learn to knit—this book is clever and fast-paced and not to be missed! If the frilly title gives you pause, please know Jessica Day George told me herself her original title for the story was Black Wool Chain, which was deemed unmarketable (but so fitting, once you’ve read the book). Princess of the Midnight Ball is also one of the America Library Association’s Best Picks for Young Adults. You know you want it.
Now that you know the prizes, here are the details about how you can win them:
Since Jessica Day George specializes in retelling old fairy tales with a few new twists, and because we like to read interesting contest entries, all you need to do to enter the contest is answer this question:
What is your favorite fairy tale and why?
Post your answer as a comment—include your email on the comment form and we’ll be able to contact you to send you your prize.
To gain EXTRA ENTRIES:
+1 (each) if you post this link on Facebook or Twitter
+2 if you post it on your blog (post the link in your comment)
+3 if you subscribe to this blog by email! (box is in the bottom right-hand corner of this page)
This contest is open INTERNATIONALLY, because mailing treats to YOU is worth paying for, no matter where you live. (Please don’t everyone live in Madagascar.) Closing date is Wednesday, MAY 19.
Now for more about the books and the author.
I met Jessica Day George a few weeks ago when I crashed a meeting of my grandmother’s Literary Arts Guild. George’s mother is also a member of this book group, and petitioned her to make a presentation to the ladies about her books and becoming a author.
My grandmother (who is so good to me and is my own personal fangirl) tipped me off. I loaded my boys in the car (“It’s OK to miss a couple days of school for this, Sweetie. We’re going to see gramma, AND meet an author!”) and made a road trip.
Being a former newspaper reporter, I checked to be sure each of my two pens worked properly before I went into the home where Jessica Day George was to address members of the Literary Arts Guild (and their gate-crashing granddaughters). I gave myself a stern reminder not to squeal or hop when George appeared, because while enthusiasm might be appreciated, utter starstruck nerdiness might not be.
I shouldn’t have been uptight. George is so approachable, so appealingly self-deprecating and so much of a giggling fangirl herself over fairy tales, writing, books and her family I was instantly at ease. Really, if we had met any other way, I’d expect we’d have regular lunch dates (but probably all her readers feel that way).
George’s writing career started the moment she realized she didn’t want to follow through with her childhood plans of becoming a teacher. That moment came courtesy of a horrible, burned-out fifth-grade teacher who sent George to the principal’s office solely because her first name is Jessica. Really.
“There was a note passed in class that said ‘to Jessica,’ but there were two Jessicas in my class,” George said. “So rather than trying to find out which one of us was supposed to get the note—it was the other Jessica—she sent us both to the principal’s office.”
This injustice made George reconsider her career options. When she read Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown, she loved it and began to wonder about writing.
“ ‘Is it her real job?’” George remembers asking herself. “ ‘That is a real job? You can write books about dragons and princesses with red hair and people will give you money?’ Well, apparently, they will!” George flips her own long red hair over her shoulder and giggles in a way that makes me think she definitely could have been suspected of passing notes in school, not that I’d ever side against her.
Still, her journey to publication and commercial success was long and tedious. For the benefit of the ladies of the Literary Arts Guild (and me) she shows off her carefully-scrapbooked collection of rejection letters, all 188 of them.
“I wrote a romance novel and was told they would publish it if I made it R-rated, but I couldn’t do it,” George said. “My mama raised me too good.”
At Brigham Young University in Utah, George studied Norwegian and German folktales and read many of them in their original languages. It took years (and about 188 rejection letters) for her to realize she should consider writing similar stories for a younger audience.
“I always wanted to write about young girls having adventures and being courageous and sticking up for themselves and fairy tales, but I didn’t,” she said. “My husband finally said, ‘Your books are depressing.’ He pointed me to all the fairy tales on my bookshelf and said ‘This is what you should be doing.’”
It was a last-ditch effort to get published that took George to a writers’ conference at BYU. There, in addition to meeting weird fantasy writers dressed like elves trying to re-write Lord of the Rings with female characters, she also made a new friend who invited her to meet an editor from Bloomsbury a few weeks later.
It was a match made in YA Lit heaven, and Bloomsbury bought and published George’s original fairy tale, Dragon Slippers in 2007. The critically acclaimed Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, a re-telling of a Norwegian folktale about a girl sent to live with a polar bear, followed. Follow-up stories in the dragon series, Dragon Flight and Dragon Spear have also been published by Bloomsbury. In 2009, a new spin on the Twelve Dancing Princesses arrived as Princess of the Midnight Ball, and in late May of 2010, the sequel Princess of Glass will be released.
In addition to writing, George is the mother of a young son and a daughter and likes to knit. “I get to put all the things I love into these books. There’s my dog, dresses, Germany. It’s all in there in some way,” she said.
Galen, the main character in Midnight Ball, is a former soldier-turned-gardener who is an expert knitter. His skills with magical needles and wool are part of what qualifies him to conquer the curse over the princesses, and the patterns for the key items he knits are included in the back of the book.
A man who knits isn’t strange, George says. It was her grandfather who taught her to knit, and “men used to knit in England until the early 1800s because people believed it was too complicated and would overheat women’s brains.”
And once again, there’s that infectious giggle, this time accompanied by an eyeroll.