It was a two year journey from the first idea for Becky Wallace’s debut novel The Storyspinner until its publication, a “crazy swirl of emotions” that never quite felt real to Wallace. It started with Wallace’s frustration as a mother of four young children who were surrounded by fairy tales where the princess always needed to be rescued.
“I wanted to give my daughters a hero who stood up for herself, who didn’t get swept away by the handsome prince or creepy villain in the woods,” said Wallace.
With Eowyn from The Lord of the Rings in mind – “She is the perfect example of a princess who gets the job done and doesn’t wait for anyone to do it for her,” – Wallace set down to write a character her girls could admire.
“Johanna Von Arlo embodies a lot of the qualities that I hope I’m teaching my girls — self-sufficiency, courage, and loyalty.”
The Storyspinner follows Johanna von Arlo, a Performer who is expelled from her troupe after the death of her father. Forced to work for Rafael DeSilva, Johanna just wants to keep her family safe. But the Keepers, a group of people with magical abilities, don’t think her father’s death was an accident, and as they search for a princess who is supposed to be long dead, they keep stumbling across murdered girls – girls who look exactly like Johanna.
Wallace’s love of fantasy didn’t start with the fairy tales she reads to her kids. It began third grade, when a “kind, devoted, elementary school librarian” named Mrs. Wunderly gave her a copy of Lloyd Alexander’s The Black Cauldron series.
“I was addicted. When our class went to visit the library – and other times when I was bored or in trouble – she would always have books set aside specifically for me. Mrs. Wunderly passed away eleven years ago, and I wish I could have told her how much her kindness meant to me.”
Wallace’s love of fantasy often got her in trouble. With a habit of writing about princesses and fairy tales during school, and a penchant for talking too much, Wallace often found herself stuck in time out.
“My desk was permanently in the corner for my second grade year. I wish I could tell little Becky not to worry about spending so much time in isolation. Eventually, that overactive imagination will totally pay off!”
And though it took two years for The Storyspinner to become a real book – two years full of “hurry-up-and-wait” moments, with frantic line-edits and weeks where nothing happened – publication has been the craziest adventure of Wallace’s life.
“I’m so excited that my book has become a REAL THING, and it’s surreal to have people – mostly strangers – say, ‘I read your book and had a question about…’,” said Wallace. “I’m amazed that 1) people besides my family have actually read the book and 2) that they’ve become so invested in it. It didn’t feel real until the moment someone quoted my own writing back to me.”
Though Wallace loves all things fantasy, she says she’s not a one-genre writer. She is currently working on an unrelated fantasy and a contemporary with some mysterious elements.