Today I am delighted to have Joanna Ruth Meyer on my blog with her INCREDIBLE book, Echo North!
Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart when her father leaves for the city and mysteriously disappears. Believing he is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf—the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an ultimatum: if she lives with him for one year, he will ensure her father makes it home safely. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes.
In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, each room must be sewn together to keep the home from unraveling, and something new and dark and strange lies behind every door. When centuries-old secrets unfold, Echo discovers a magical library full of books- turned-mirrors, and a young man named Hal who is trapped inside of them. As the year ticks by, the rooms begin to disappear and Echo must solve the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment before her time is up—otherwise Echo, the wolf, and Hal will be lost forever.
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Hi,Thank you so much for agreeing to be on my blog, Can you tell us about Echo North?
Thanks so much for having me! Echo North is a retelling of the fairytale “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” which, if you’re not familiar with it, is essentially “Beauty and the Beast” with a quest at the end. My version is about a scarred girl named Echo who promises to live with a talking wolf for a year in order to save her father. In the wolf’s magical house, Echo discovers centuries-old secrets, and an enchanted library that allows her to step into the worlds of the books. But time is running out, and if Echo can’t solve the mystery of the wolf’s past, she’ll lose him forever…
What inspired you to write this book?
The spark of Echo North actually came from a dream I had about a girl being chased across the ice by a pack of wolves. I first attempted to write it as a short story for a contest, and realized that a) it wanted to be an “East of the Sun” retelling and b) the idea was far too involved for a short story! I wrote the first draft of the novel version for National Novel Writing Month in 2014.
Echo North wouldn’t exist without East, by Edith Pattou, which introduced me to the fairytale “East of the Sun” a number of years ago, Beauty, by Robin McKinley, a “Beauty and the Beast” retelling I read growing up—the first book to ever make me cry—and Fire and Hemlock, by Diana Wynne Jones, a retelling of the ballad Tam Lin, which I borrowed aspects from for Echo.
Is there any character in your book that you’re most like?
I share a lot of similarities with Echo, who’s bookish and reserved and not afraid of a little snow, but I relate a lot to the wolf, too: he likes music and is generally feeling rather melancholy.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
I am OBSESSED with the Queen’s Thief series, by Megan Whalen Turner—the final installment comes out March 2019, so it’s the perfect time to catch up! I also adore Marie Rutkoski’s Winner’s Trilogy. Other faves include Tolkien, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Diana Wynne Jones, Naomi Novak, Jodi Meadows, Megan Bannen, and Laura Weymouth.
Did you ever feel any pressure when writing this story?
The editing timeline was a little tight, but beyond that, just the normal pressure of wanting to tell this story the absolute best I could!
From the plot of the book I take it your a big fan of fairytales, what were some of your favourites as a child?
My favorite fairytale has always been “Beauty and the Beast”! I just love it so much, and can read endless retellings. 😀 I also love “Cinderella”, especially Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted, and my favorite movie of all time, Ever After.
If anything, what do you want readers to take away from this book?
That there is power in stories, that beauty is deeper than scars, that love can heal.
Would you live with a wolf for a year?
Absolutely! Especially if he had a magical library. I’d stay forever.
Lastly there are a lot of great books out this year so, off the top of your head, what 2019 books would you recommend?
I’m ridiculously excited for Return of the Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner, A Treason of Thorns, by Laura Weymouth, The Beholder, by Anna Bright, Spin the Dawn, by Elizabeth Lim, and We Hunt the Flame, by Hafsah Faizal.
Joanna Ruth Meyer is a writer of Young Adult fantasy. She lives with her dear husband and son in Arizona, where it never rains (or at least not often enough for her!). When she’s not writing, she can be found teaching piano lessons, drinking copious amounts of tea, reading thick books, and dreaming of winter.