Ask the Author: Emma Theriault

What would you like readers to know about you? 

Hi, my name is Emma Theriault and I’m the author of Rebel Rose. I live in Canada with my boyfriend and two perfect cats. When I’m not writing, I can be found hiking, reading (I’m on a historical romance kick lately), bingeing Netflix shows (currently watching the Formula 1 docuseries and I’m deeply obsessed), or cooking (I love all things cheese and bread). My first stories were about exceedingly regular girls finding out they are the long-lost rulers of magical kingdoms, and I like to think they were good practice for writing Rebel Rose, a book in which Belle becomes queen of a kingdom she spent her life longing to leave. 

What is your book about for those who haven’t read it? 

The quickest pitch: Happily ever after is only the beginning as Belle takes on the responsibility of becoming queen and learns to balance duty, love, and sacrifice, all while navigating dark political intrigue and a touch of magic. 

Basically, it’s a continuation of the story of Beauty and the Beast, set in the immediate aftermath of destroying the Enchantress’s curse. It’s about what happens after the ‘happily-ever-after’ and places Belle at the onset of the French Revolution, finding herself in a role she never imagined, torn between two worlds, neither of which she truly belongs to. 

It’s the first book in a new series from Disney called The Queen’s Council that will imagine what happens next for our favourite Disney Princesses using the real history behind their stories. Mulan’s story, FEATHER & FLAME, will be out November 9th from author Livia Blackburne, and Jasmine’s story will be out Fall 2022 from author Alexandra Monir. I can’t wait! 

What has been your inspiration for writing it? 

I’ve loved Belle almost all my life, so when my agent first approached me with the pitch, it felt like fate. I’m a former history major, so the idea of combining my love for Belle with my love for history was a dream come true. I never thought I’d actually be selected, but I had so much fun writing the sample and it felt like it would be a good experience regardless of the outcome. And then when I found out my editor loved it too and chose me I could hardly believe it. We brainstormed a bit together but she mostly gave me the freedom to flesh out the story on my own, which I was so grateful for. I pored over research books and watched all the Beauty and the Beast films again and again, but most importantly, I went on a very well-timed but entirely coincidental trip to Paris in 2019. Rebel Rose opens in Paris, with Belle so excited to see the city that captured her heart when she was younger. She feels like so much has changed, including herself, but what she doesn’t know is that Paris has changed too, and the revolution is brewing. 

What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write? 

I enjoyed getting to write the familiar characters we know and love, like Cogsworth and Mrs. Potts. It was so interesting to explore the ways in which they would have changed post-curse, and how they would have stayed the same. Belle’s relationships with the people in the castle are special. They all went through a very dark time together and emerged from that darkness transformed, but bound together. Similarly, writing Belle and Lio’s (the Beast) relationship as a more mature partnership than we see in the animated film was so rewarding. They fell in love in a place out of time, and now they have to fight for that love in the real world. But if I had to pick a particular scene, it would be when Belle and her husband attend a dinner hosted by his cousin Bastien, the duc de Vincennes, a man deeply entrenched in the French court. It’s a whole new world of etiquette and protocol for Belle, but she maintains her stubborn/opinionated streak when parrying words with a close-minded French nobleman. In that scene I really got to show that while Belle is married to a prince and living in a castle and dining with nobility, she’s still the girl who stood up against injustices great and small, she’s still that ‘most peculiar mademoiselle.’ 

What books or authors inspired you to become a writer? 

Growing up I devoured Gail Carson Levine’s books. I was also a huge fan of Tamora Pierce and Juliet Marillier. The Lord of the Rings nurtured my love of fantasy. I was obsessed with Diana Wynne Jones. I wore out my copies of The Seer and the Sword by Victoria Hanley and Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman. I read the Georgia Nicolson series about a billion times. I couldn’t get enough of Guy Gavriel Kay’s books. I obsessively read GRRM’s books over and over again. But it wasn’t until I started reading YA books when I was in my early twenties that I felt inspired enough to try writing one myself. It was books by Leigh Bardugo, Sabaa Tahir, Marie Lu and Veronica Roth that really lit a fire in me. Now I continue to be inspired by authors like Margaret Rogerson, N.K. Jemisin, Katherine Arden, Madeline Miller, Tochi Onyebuchi, Victoria Aveyard, Melissa Bashadoust and many more I’m likely forgetting. 

What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book? 

Finish your draft! It can be so hard to push through when you’re drafting and comparing your work in progress to finished, published books. But it is impossible to write a perfect first draft, so you must give yourself permission to write an imperfect one. Revision is where the magic happens, at least in my experience. Writing ‘The End’ after you finish your draft is such an important milestone to reach, so much more important than agonizing over making that draft flawless. Trust me. Oh, and read! Read everything you can get your hands on. Books in the same genre you’re writing in, but also books very far outside of it. Inspiration can be found literally anywhere. And lastly, find your community as soon as you can. You need friends who know what you’re going through, who can cheer you on or talk you down from a crisis. Friends who will read your work and critique it and help you become a better writer (and vice versa!). And they can be found anywhere! Twitter, Instagram, local writing workshops, etc. 

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