Jackson Pearce is the lovely author of Sisters Red, a modern retelling of Red Riding Hood which you can read an excerpt of on Figment. You can also find Jackson on her (hilarious) YouTube channel or on her website, jacksonpearce.com.
What is the hardest part of reinventing a well-known story?
Sometimes it’s tricky to know what to change and what to leave – fairytales have morphed and changed thousands of times over the course of history/various retellings, so sometimes parts one person is super familiar with, other people will have never heard of. It was also tough to turn characters who are usually relatively flat into real, three-dimensional people.
Is it easy to do bad things to your characters?
I think it is, actually, but that’s because I usually know the ending before I begin. I feel a lot less guilty knowing how everything will turn out!
What challenges are presented by having a strong sisterly relationship at the core of your story?
I wanted to make sure that everyone, even people who didn’t have siblings or weren’t close to their siblings, could understand the complexity of Scarlett and Rosie’s relationship. It was hard, sometimes, to find the words to explain what a close bond they have without it sounding over-the-top. I also worried people would be thrown by having the love triangle exist between two sisters (sisterly love, obviously) and a boy (romantic love) instead of between a girl and two boys, which is a little more common. That was important to me though—that the younger sister, Rosie, had to choose between the sister who raised her, who is her only family member, and who she’s incredibly close to, and the boy she loves.
If you had to sum your book up in one word, what would it be?
Do you find yourself giving characters the traits of people you know?
Sometimes I incorporate little details from people I know, but I never truly base a character off someone from my life. Rosie is a lot like my little sister, and like some of my students (I used to coach a colorguard), for example.
What drew you to the dark side? (of fairytales)
Fairytales are pretty dark on their own. People are more familiar with the happy, sunny Disney versions, which are great, but the original stories are much scarier. In some of the original Little Red Riding Hood stories, there was simply no happy ending—Red gets eaten, and the wolf wins. In the original Little Mermaid, the prince chooses the other girl, and the Little Mermaid is heartbroken.
Of the three roles you give yourself on your website (author, cat-keeper, adventurer), which is the most difficult?
Cat-keeper. No, seriously. That cat just cost me $2400 at the vet, and then came home and bit me on the leg when he escaped the crate because he was so freaked out.
What is your favorite thing about being an author?
I’ve always written, and I know I’d be writing even if I hadn’t sold my first book four years ago. My favorite thing about being an author is that I’m able to support myself doing something I love, and that I’d be doing whether I got a paycheck for it or not.
Do you ever dream-cast a Sisters Red movie in your mind?
I actually never really dream-cast my books. There’s an actress who played Alex Rousseau on Lost who I always liked for Scarlett, but beyond that, I think of my characters more in terms of personality than in terms of physical appearance.