Today, I'm excited to be interviewing with Jodi Lynn Anderosn as part of the blog tour for her latest YA title Tiger Lily, a brilliant work of literature. I fell in love with the book from the first pages. Actually, the first line of the synopsis!
Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .
Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.
Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.
With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.
I write books about vaguely magical peach orchards, resorts in the afterlife, enigmatic island princesses beloved by Tinkerbell, and...civics! I was an awkward and strange child who kept lots of secrets. Now I live with a sweet Basenji dog named Peanut who loves to eat shoes, and a sweet husband who is good at all the things I'm bad at, like being organized and thinking things through. I've loved writing and reading about mythical and strange things since I can remember.
Thanks for joining us today, Jodi! First, would you tell us a little about yourself and how you become a writer?
Excellent questions! Thank you!
I was a secretive child and I kept secret notebooks under my bed filled with stories and journal entries. I was always so private about my writing, and I never dreamed I’d publish books. I studied English literature in college but was too shy to take a writing class – still, all that reading helped to mold the way I wrote. Eventually I became an editor, because I loved working with other people on their books. And eventually, all that editing helped me lose my shyness and start sharing my own writing. From there it just grew – I left my job to write full time.
What inspired you to retell Peter Pan with the focus on Tiger Lily, and why through Tink's perspective?
I'm so glad that you decided to do so. I love the new take on Neverland. I'm sure a lot of us are asking the same question: Why did you decide to make it as dark and dangerous a world as it is?
I really tried to take a cue off of Barrie’s original book, in which Neverland is such a dangerous place. In Barrie’s story, it represents the darkest and wildest parts of our imaginations. So I wanted everything to be truly scary; the pirates are seriously creepy, the mermaids are deadly. And I wanted to contrast that to the appeal of safe, civilized, far-away London – I wanted London to dangle like a carrot in the distance, tempting Peter and the lost boys with its safety. Iwanted there to be this conflict between being true to the wilderness in one’s soul, and being comfortable and safe.
Many of the characters' actions are reminiscent of the original story, yet they are different at the same time. What kind of challenges did you face while retelling the story in a new fashion and keeping true to it at the same time?
I have such deep respect for the original book, which is such a masterpiece! I knew I was walking on tender ground, and that making Peter older was taking a huge liberty. But I tried to respectfully stick to Barrie’s themes: growing up, individuality, loss. And I tried to touch playfully on all the major story points: the crocodile with the clock in its belly, for instance (in my version, the clock belongs to Tiger Lily’s father, who loves gadgets). Also, in the past, Tiger Lily’s tribe has been portrayed pretty offensively, so I tried to approach that very tenderly and consciously. I tried to base the tribe on small town life in general, rather than on any real group of tribal people: I tried to take small town life to fairy tale proportions. The whole thing was a tender process – I felt like I was carrying a precious and breakable egg and trying not to drop it!
I appreciate how you took liberties while balancing it with the original story. It is what makes Tiger Lily such a unique and wonderful read. Peter is a boy who hasn't fully matured, yet he's shouldered the great responsibility of caring for the lost boys in a dangerous world, forcing him to grow up a bit quickly. How did you balance his vulnerability with his leadership role?
That was definitely tough, and I turned to the original story a lot for clues on how to deal with that. I tried my best to show Peter’s inner conflicts – he’s constantly strong but also, constantly vulnerable. One minute, you think he doesn’t have a care in the world, and the next, it seems like the weight of the world is on his shoulders. With the lost boys, it’s this combination of wanting to lead them but also, wanting to be taken care of. That’s where Wendy comes in.
Peter is a wonderfully complex character, and it really shows through his actions. How have the characters changed since you first envisioned them? Was there a character in particular that surprised you?
Tik Tok and Pine Sap seemed to come out of nowhere as I wrote, which is so weird, because now the story couldn’t exist without them! Tik Tok, with his love of wearing dresses and giving himself fancy hair-dos--combined with his wisdom about human nature--stole my heart. And Pine Sap…he’s Tiger Lily’s best friend and unconditional ally. To me, he is a true hero.
I adored Pine Sap as well and was so glad that he was a constant throughout the story. Do you see Neverland as being an island in our world? Why did you decide to make the setting as it is?
Interesting question! I picture Neverland as an isolated tropical island -- somewhere far off the beaten path (it doesn’t come up on Trip Advisor, but it’s still out there!) I like the idea that reality can be magical, so instead of making Neverland fantastical, I made it isolated --- so that life could have evolved differently there: hence the mermaids, and faeries, and people who never grow old. Also, it’s so interesting to me that just a couple of hundred years ago, people didn’t know what surprises lurked on the other side of the globe: it seemed pretty possible to them that there might be sea monsters and mermaids. I love trying to put myself in those shoes.
We all know how Peter's story will end and thus where a part of Tiger Lily's story ends. Where do you feel the heart of your story is and how did you go about getting there?
I think the heart of this story is the idea that a love that doesn’t work can still be a great love, and can still change your life in enormous ways. At heart, this is a true and difficult love story.
What can readers next expect from you?
I’m working on a chilly ghost story set on a peninsula in Wisconsin, about two girls who live next door to each other but have vastly different lives. And I’m working on a middle grade book called The Ordinary World, about a journey across the earth.
Because I love this book so much, I am giving away a Kindle copy of Tiger Lily to one international reader. The giveaway is open through August 7th.
To enter, follow Imaginary Reads and leave a meaningful comment on the interview, then fill out the form below. Extra entries for tweeting about the giveaway and commenting on my review of Tiger Lily. Do not leave your email in the comments section.
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