Cinderella Recommendation and an Interview with Kelly Oram

I have got a special post for you today! I have a recommendation for an adaptation of Cinderella that I really love. Not only that, but I have an interview with the book’s author. I hope you enjoy it!

It’s been almost a year since eighteen-year-old Ella Rodriguez was in a car accident that left her crippled, scarred, and without a mother. After a very difficult recovery, she’s been uprooted across the country and forced into the custody of a father that abandoned her when she was a young child. If Ella wants to escape her father’s home and her awful new stepfamily, she must convince her doctors that she’s capable, both physically and emotionally, of living on her own. The problem is, she’s not ready yet. The only way she can think of to start healing is by reconnecting with the one person left in the world who’s ever meant anything to her—her anonymous Internet best friend, Cinder.

Hollywood sensation Brian Oliver has a reputation for being trouble. There’s major buzz around his performance in his upcoming film The Druid Prince, but his management team says he won’t make the transition from teen heartthrob to serious A-list actor unless he can prove he’s left his wild days behind and become a mature adult. In order to douse the flames on Brian’s bad-boy reputation, his management stages a fake engagement for him to his co-star Kaylee. Brian isn’t thrilled with the arrangement—or his fake fiancée—but decides he’ll suffer through it if it means he’ll get an Oscar nomination. Then a surprise email from an old Internet friend changes everything.

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I got the chance to ask Kelly some questions about the book and her writing. My questions are in bold, her answers below them.

Traditionally, the Cinderella character is perfect. What was behind your decision to make Ella scarred, both emotionally and physically?

It’s a long complicated answer that had to do mostly with character motivation, but I’ll try to explain as best I can. I decided scars would be great reason for Ella to want to hide from Cinder. I couldn’t have them meet until the “ball.” Obviously, Brian being a celebrity had a reason to want to keep his identity secret, but I needed a reason for Ella not to simply demand they meet in person the minute she moved to Los Angeles too. Without them both hiding from each other an anonymous relationship wouldn’t have made sense. They were too good of friends to not want to meet in person.

It also had to do with their characters and the depth of their relationship. I liked the idea that Ella was insecure about her looks because she knew that Cinder was so confident and probably gorgeous. I loved that because she was scarred, she had something very personal in common with Brian that they could bond over. Both of them were always judged based on outward appearances, and no one ever treated either of them “normally.” That’s why their relationship with each other was both a breath of fresh air and healing for them. It’s why they became such close friends with one another.

A lot of the story revolves around a book series both the main characters love. I have to admit, I was so intrigued by The Druid Prince that I looked it up online. I was more than a little disappointed to find it wasn’t real. Did you draw inspiration for it from any specific sources?

You aren’t the only person who has admitted looking up The Druid Prince. Is it horrible of me to say that I LOVE that? Yes, it was a made up story because I haven’t written any fantasy myself and I wasn’t sure on the specific copyright laws if I wanted to use a real book. Creating a fictional book with a fictional author was easier. But like Brian and Ella both, I am a huge fan of fantasy. There are a lot of books I read that I sort of pulled inspiration from when creating The Druid Prince, but the two main ones were The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima (One of my favorites book series ever, and you should all go read it RIGHT NOW) and the Sorcerer’s Ring series by Morgan Rice. Also a fantastic fantasy series. If you read either of these series, you’ll definitely see hints of The Druid Prince in them. And before you ask, no, I don’t have any plans to actually write The Druid Prince for real. I don’t’ even have a specific plot line for it. But I would like to write a high fantasy some day. That would be so much fun.

The relationship between Ella and her family is very gray, when it’s generally black and white. In my opinion, it’s more real. Why did you decide to do that, rather than make Ella right and her stepfamily ‘evil’?

I think it was because Cinderella is naturally the epitome of cliché. There are so many retellings out there, and even though I wanted my version to be an obvious retelling, I still wanted it to feel different somehow. I knew my story would still be fluffy and cliché as Cinderella fairy tales always are, but I wanted to take some of the edge of the “cheese” of the story. Make it a little less “Disney.” I hope that makes sense. So since I had gone with a contemporary version, it was easier to make the characters a little more real. Gray is a great place for drama!

Which part of the story was your favorite part to write?

Oh, that’s easy. I loved writing Ella & Brian’s first in-person meeting. I had so much fun with that scene. The thing is, I knew that was the moment that everyone would be waiting for. I made it no secret that “Cinder” was the famous movie star Brian Oliver, so from page one, I knew the readers would be anticipating the moment that Ella finds out who Cinder really is. I wanted it to live up to expectations. In fact, the idea of the two Internet friends meeting at a fantasy convention was an idea I’d first thought of for a different novel. I’d had this scene in my mind for years and when I decided to write Cinder & Ella, it just fit so perfectly into the story line that I had to use it. I was really excited to let it finally play out.

Thanks so much for your willingness to answer these questions!

You are so welcome! Thanks for having me stop by! I hope everyone loves the book as much as I do. Cinderella is my all-time favorite story, so this book, especially, is very dear to my heart.

What are some other adaptations of Cinderella that you enjoy?

Until next time, fellow wonderers!

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