Author Spotlight: Kalynn Bayron talks CINDERLLA IS DEAD
I'm so happy to welcome the extremely talented Kalynn Bayron on today's blog! Kalynn is the author of CINDERELLA IS DEAD (out now with Bloomsbury!) and classically trained vocalist. She grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and when she’s not writing you can find her listening to Ella Fitzgerald on loop, attending the theater, watching scary movies, and spending time with her kids. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas with her family.
Girls team up to overthrow the kingdom in this unique and powerful retelling of Cinderella from a stunning new voice that's perfect for fans of A Curse So Dark and Lonely.
It's 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl's display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.
Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella's mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all--and in the process, they learn that there's more to Cinderella's story than they ever knew . . .
This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they've been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.
Hi, Kalynn! Welcome and congrats on Cinderella is Dead. Can you tell us a little about the story and what you’re most excited for readers to experience??
Thank you so much! Cinderella Is Dead is the story of 16 year old Sophia Grimmins, a young girl living in the kingdom of Mersailles—which happens to be the place where Cinderella lived and died 200 years before. Cinderella’s story has become the backbone of this society, people regard the text as sacred and the women and girls of Mersailles are expected to use it as a framework for how they live their lives. The ball in now mandatory and as Sophia prepares to attend, the mounting pressure of having to conform becomes too much to bear and she makes a choice that sets her on a collision course with the King of Mersailles. Along the way she uncovers some earth-shattering truths about the King, Cinderella herself, and the story that everyone thinks they know.
I’m excited for readers to see queer Black girls front and center! I’m also really looking forward to the way this might make readers rethink the original story of Cinderella.!
I loved the twist you put on the classic Cinderella fairytale! When it comes to crafting are-telling, what’s your best piece of advice for making sure a story feel fresh?
I love retellings so much! The ones that stick with me most have a few things in common; they contain fragments of the original tale but don’t necessarily follow the same beats and they center the antagonist. Finding an angle that hasn’t been fully explored is always a good way to make a retelling feel new and unique.
Wicked and Maleficent are two of my absolute favorite reimaginings!
I'm a firm believer in the idea that every story teaches the writer something new, so what did writing Cinderella is Dead teach you??
Oh, good question. This is my first traditionally published novel so it taught me a lot about how the path to publication works, the editing process, the cover design process.But when I sat down to write Cinderella Is Dead it was the first time I had allowed myself to write something that was specifically for that younger version of myself who wanted so badly to see a Black a girl in a ballgown on the cover of a book. I learned that I’m happiest when I write the stories that speak to me, that are most authentic to who I am and what I care about.
What are you reading, or otherwise currently infatuated with?
I just finished A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow. I can’t say enough good things about it. It has everything I love about modern YA fantasy; beautiful Black girls at the forefront, sisterhood, mythical creatures, and a strong message about what it means to use your voice as a Black woman in a society that sees you as the ultimate threat. It’s brilliant. I’m also re-reading, for the third time, Wilder Girls by Rory Power, which is one of my all time faves.
And finally, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned (so far) in your publishing career?
The biggest thing I’ve learned so far is the importance of embracing community. A lot of writers are introverts, me included, but having people to talk to who are in the publishing industry has been a lifesaver. I’m thankful every day for the amazing people I’ve met.
Many thanks go out to Kalynn for taking the time to tell us more about CINDERELLA IS DEAD, as well as for sharing some of the lessons she's learned along the way in her writing and publishing journey. Be to sure to add CINDERELLA IS DEAD to your Goodreads list, or (better yet!) order your copy (WRITE) NOW from retail sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or request it at your library, or local independent bookstore!
And, as always,