Interview with Author Suzanne Selfors + Chocolate Giveaway!

By now, everyone is salivating in anticipation of today’s interview with Suzanne Selfors. Her fairy-tale romance, The Sweetest Spell, is a marvelous re-telling of King Midas, Rumpelstiltskin and The Ugly Duckling all rolled into one delicious chocolate covered treat. (See my review for details). If you want a chance to win a copy of Suzanne’s fairy tale, head on over to Book Lovers Inc, there’s a contest to win a copy of her book going on until Sept. 29.

Now if you want a chance for some delicious, delectable chocolate, to celebrate Suzanne’s book about the magic of chocolate, read on!

Marlene: Suzanne, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Suzanne: I’m the mother of two—my son just left for his first year of college. I started writing my first novel when I was 39. I’m the fifth generation of my family to live on my little island. I love dogs. Oh, and chocolate.

Marlene: Most of your previous books have had at least one foot in contemporary life. What inspired you to slip all the way into the fantasy genre for The Sweetest Spell?

Suzanne: Well, I also write for younger kids and those books tend to be much more fantastical in nature. This idea was bouncing around in my head, to retell the King Midas story. I toyed with the idea of using a contemporary setting, but I’ve always wanted to write a fairy tale. So I took the leap.

Marlene: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?

Suzanne: Before I start a new novel, I always know the beginning of the story and the ending. But the journey between is the adventure. For me, trying to chart the story before it’s written is a waste of time and honestly, kills the joy.

I typically write at my favorite coffeehouse where there’s just enough white noise and great music to keep me going. Plus they provide great coffee and the dark chocolate sticks. I can’t write at home. I get distracted by all the stuff that needs to be done.

Marlene: What can we expect of The Sweetest Spell?

Suzanne: An entertaining, fast-paced, romantic tale. A girl to cheer for, a boy to fall in love with. And all the fairy-tale elements we’ve come to love—a faraway kingdom, a prince, a cruel queen, a hero who must grapple with her destiny.

And some deeper meaning, too. I wanted to explore the theme of greed. What a perfect time to do this, since we are surrounded by a culture of greed. I ask the question, what would you do if you had nothing and suddenly had everything, but at great cost to those you love?

Marlene: Would you like to share your favorite scene from the book with us?

Suzanne: I love the scene where we first meet the arrogant but dashing Griffin Boar. He’s the neighbor boy who’s spent his life ignoring our hero, Emmeline Thistle. He falls off his horse because he’s staring at himself in a mirror while riding.

Marlene: Why did you pick chocolate as the precious delicacy for the book? Why not something else? (Not that chocolate isn’t precious…)

Suzanne: So as I said earlier, I wanted to retell the King Midas story. Midas was the guy who touched everything and it turned to gold. He became very rich but in the end was miserable because he couldn’t touch those he loved without killing them. I started writing but soon discovered that I felt very little passion for the story. Gold wasn’t doing it for me. I was bored.

Then one night, when my daughter and I went on a rampage, searching every inch of our house for a morsel of chocolate and finding NOTHING!, I realized, chocolate is all about desire, longing, passion. So that’s when I decided to give Emmeline the magical gift of making chocolate.

Marlene: What’s your favorite food…?

Suzanne: Well, I eat dark chocolate most every day. It’s a true addiction. And I love blueberries. I pick them in the summer and keep bags of them in the freezer.

Marlene: What was the first moment you know you wanted to write?

Suzanne: I’ve been creating stories my whole life but I didn’t attempt a novel until the morning my daughter got onto the school bus to begin first grade. It was that morning, I was 39 and facing my 40th birthday, feeling my mortality and it struck me like a lightning bolt. I need to do this thing. I need to write and try to get published.

Marlene: What book do you recommend everyone should read and why?

Suzanne: My book? Well, of course I recommend The Sweetest Spell because it will appeal to all ages.

Someone else’s book? There’s this book called A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich. He turns history into story. I recommend it to everyone.

Marlene: What’s next on your schedule? Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share?

Suzanne: I’m busy, that’s for sure. In November the 3rd book in the Smells Like Dog trilogy releases. It’s called Smells Like Pirates. Then in 2013, I have two new series releasing, one for Little,Brown, the other for Harper Collins. These are all for younger readers.

Marlene: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read your books?

Suzanne: First and foremost, they are fun. Entertainment is my goal. Funny and filled with hope.

Marlene: Speaking of precious substances, coffee or tea?

Suzanne: Oh, coffee. Espresso. One shot with nonfat milk. Daily.


In celebration of the magic of chocolate in The Sweetest Spell, Suzanne is giving a chocolate gift to one lucky commenter (US only). All you have to do is fill in the rafflecopter form and answer Suzanne’s question:

What’s your favorite kind of chocolate? This can be your favorite chocolate dessert, or whether you like dark chocolate or milk chocolate better.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Review: The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors

Format read: print ARC provided by the Author
Formats available: Hardcover, ebook
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Romance, Fairy Tale Romance
Length: 416 pages
Publisher: Walker & Company
Date Released: August 21, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Emmeline Thistle, a dirt-scratcher’s daughter, has escaped death twice–first, on the night she was born, and second, on the day her entire village was swept away by flood. Left with nothing and no one, Emmeline discovers her rare and mysterious ability–she can churn milk into chocolate, a delicacy more precious than gold.

Suddenly, the most unwanted girl in Anglund finds herself desired by all. But Emmeline only wants one–Owen Oak, a dairyman’s son, whose slow smiles and lingering glances once tempted her to believe she might someday be loved for herself. But others will stop at nothing to use her gift for their own gains–no matter what the cost to Emmeline.

Magic and romance entwine in this fantastical world where true love and chocolate conquer all.

I dare you not to think about The Princess Bride when you read this. I mean it. Except that the roles are reversed. Griffin Boar is Buttercup and Emmeline is Westley, and theirs is NOT a love for the ages.  The love story comes later.

It’s just that The Sweetest Spell invokes that same “fairy tale told for adults” quality, which is not a bad thing.

On the surface, the story seems simple. Emmeline was born with a “curled” foot. In a village where everyone has to work physically hard to make enough to eat, disabled babies are routinely left out to die. But the cows saved her. And cows keep saving her throughout her life.

Emmeline is destined for greater things, as is obvious to the reader. But only if she survives all the adversities that life keeps throwing at her.

It’s all a part of the greater plan to give chocolate back to the world. Oh yes, the chocolate.

Imagine a world without chocolate. It hurts, doesn’t it?

There’s the simple story, that to bring the gift of chocolate, and is it ever a gift, back to the world, Emmeline has to be put through a lot of adventures to get to the right place at the right time.

But there’s also something very sly about the fact that in order for chocolate to come back, Emmeline has to share her gift. At first, only she can make chocolate. All of her adventures occur because she is the only person in the world who has the magic. But the magic went away because it was withheld. Emmeline figures out that the only way it will stay is if she shares it as widely as possible.

Providentially for her, it’s the only way she can be free from the evil queen who wants to imprison her for life. And the only way Emmeline can free her entire people.

Escape Rating B+: The Sweetest Spell is a contemporary-written fairy-tale. Which means that it has all of our knowledge of fairy tales to draw upon as we read it. So yes, I couldn’t help but think of The Princess Bride, even though it isn’t quite that. It had that flavor, pardon the pun.

But also a touch of Rumpelstiltskin, even though Emmeline was churning cream into chocolate, rather than spinning straw into gold. Along with a tiny bit of Shrek. The capital of the kingdom sounded way too much like the Kingdom of Duloc in the first Shrek movie. Maybe that was just me, or maybe it was the sense of the brittle facade over the corruption that made me think of Lord Farquaad.

One of the things I liked was that Emmeline doesn’t wait for anyone to rescue her. She gets depressed, she cries, she gets morose. In some of the situations she ends up in, those are logical responses. But she keeps on the lookout for the next chance to rescue herself.

With a little bovine assistance.

This was originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? 9-23-12

If you haven’t hopped on over to the Naughty or Nice Blog Hop yet, what are you waiting for? Nat at Reading Romances organized a terrific blog hop around the age-old question, “what kind of romances do you like best, naughty romances or nice?” If you’re willing to answer that question on this blog, you’ll have a chance at a $15 Amazon Gift Card. There are almost 90 blogs participating, so there are lots of other fantastic bookish giveaways!

What else happened besides the blog hop this week? Funny you should ask. I did review a few books.

B+ Review: The Cowboy and the Vampire by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall
B Review: Racing With The Wind by Regan Walker + Giveaway
B+ Review: Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
C- Review: The Last Victim by Karen Robards

There is still plenty of time to get in on a chance to win a copy of Regan Walker’s Racing With the Wind. If you enjoy historical romance, especially if you liked Shana Galen’s Lord and Lady Spy or the historical parts of Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series, give this one a try.

But what about this week, I hear you asking? Or at least I hope I hear you asking. (Mostly, I’m hearing a cat with the “screaming me-me’s”at the moment because I’m blogging instead of paying attention to Her Highness!)

Schedules happen. That’s not quite how that saying goes, but we’ll take it as read. After Monday’s Ebook Review Central (this week it’s the Hexapost) this week I definitely have the interview with Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall about their fascinating journey towards each other and to the writing of their darkly romantic western vampire thriller series, Cowboy and Vampire. They’ll be here on Wednesday, along with my review of the second book in the series, Blood and Whiskey.


Before Wednesday, we’ll have a real treat. It’s that chocolate treat I promised last week. Suzanne Selfors will be here to talk about The Sweetest Spell, her fairy tale about an outcast girl who is the only person in her world who has the magic to make chocolate. Talk about a much, much better version of the King Midas power! Wow! One lucky commenter on the blog will receive a very special prize from Suzanne. Come back Tuesday to read the review and her interview and find out what the prize is and how to enter.


Chocolate on Tuesday, Vampires on Wednesday, what’s left? Mystery. On Thursday, my guest will be Carol Tibaldi, discussing her kidnapping mystery, Willow Pond. Part of the fascination of Willow Pond is the setting; it’s not just set in the 1920’s, so there’s the whole Art Deco/Roaring 20’s era style, but it’s also the time of Prohibition and speakeasies and the Mob. The story also has the hint of Golden Age Hollywood and a high-profile kidnapping.  This story has oodles of mystery and suspense in an utterly fascinating time.

It’s going to be a busy week. Looking ahead to next week, there’s something more important than any individual book I might be planning to read, and that’s the freedom to read whatever book I might want to read.

Next Sunday, September 30, is the beginning of Banned Books Week. A week that celebrates the freedom to read. Last year, there was a Virtual Read-Out, an opportunity to upload a video of a reading of a banned or challenged book. The list of books you can pick from is frightening. And ironic.

I’m planning to do it again this year. I’ll read from Fahrenheit 451, wearing my Fahrenheit 451 t-shirt, explaining why the book is important. Or maybe I’ll pick Brave New World this time. It’s also on the list. It’s all about the irony of not letting “Big Brother” choose my reading for me.

If you don’t want “Big Brother” to ever be able to choose your reading for you, support Banned Books Week.