Thanks for checking out my first Author Spotlight! Since this is the first time I’ve done this type of post, I wanted to highlight a fabulous author whose books I love.
Of course, I immediately thought of Cece Louise. She is the author of The Forest Tales Series, which includes Desperate Forest and The Jabberwocky Princess.
The Jabberwocky Princess is my favorite book of the year! I love the writing, the immersive world, the dual narration, the dynamic characters, the poignant themes, and, of course, the love stories.
You can imagine my excitement when Cece agreed to collaborate with me! I was beyond thrilled!
Getting to Know Cece Louise:
Q: What prompted you to start writing?
CL: I’ve always loved to write, and I wrote a lot as a child. Unfortunately as I got older, that lessened. After I graduated from college, I rediscovered my love for writing. I found it was a great outlet for me, especially when I was stressed or going through a rough time. That was when I especially needed a creative outlet.
Now, writing has become a part of me and brings me so much happiness. I love making up stories, and it’s something I will probably always do, even if I’m the only one reading them.
Q: The Forest Tales Series promotes clean fairy tale/fantasy novels for teens and adults. How did you become interested in this genre?
CL: A couple of things inspired me to write in this genre. Part of it was inspired by the books I liked to read growing up. I’ve always loved fantasy stories, especially anything that I could get “lost” in. When I write, I try to make my stories as much of an “escape” for my readers as they are for me when I’m writing them.
As a teen, I loved the Harry Potter series, Regina Doman’s modern fairy tale retellings, and a lot of classic authors (such as the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, and Daphne du Maurier). When I started writing, I tried to focus on the types of stories I enjoyed reading. Good, clean reads with strong characters, lots of adventure, page-turning suspense, and some romance.
I usually don’t enjoy books that have a lot of graphic content, and now that I’m a mom, it’s even more important for me to find wholesome reads that I can share with my kids someday. That’s why I try to write “clean” stories and include positive messages in my writing. I feel that those things are timeless.
I’ve always loved fairy tales, and when I started my first draft of Desperate Forest, I was really into the TV show Once Upon a Time. I enjoyed the new take on the classic fairy tales we all know and love. It inspired me to want to write in that medieval, fairy tale world.
Cece Louise writes clean novels for teens and adults filled with adventure, romance, and spirit.
An avid reader, Cece has been making up stories in her head as long as she can remember. A true believer that writing should be fun, she loves communicating with her readers and connecting with other writers.
In 2012, Cece graduated summa cum laude with a BBA from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. When she’s not working on her latest story, Cece enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids, weightlifting, and being outside.
Q: Do you work on one story at a time or multiple? If multiple, are you working on anything now?
CL: I tend to focus on one main story, but sometimes I will work on more than one project at once. Having more than one story in the works can be helpful because if I get stuck on one, I will take a break and work on another.
Right now, I’m heavily focusing on my third book in The Forest Tales Series, Blue Deep, but have started planning several other books in the series.
When inspiration hits for a new story, I always take some time to explore that idea, and even if I can’t start writing the actual story, I will make notes about it and usually draw up an outline. That way, it’s there whenever I do have the time to work on it. Besides this current series, I have plans for a few projects, including a dystopian trilogy.
Q: Which of your characters (in any of your books) do you relate to the most?
CL: Probably Roselynn from Desperate Forest. She’s a lot like me, especially when I was younger. She’s very unsure of herself, particularly at the start of the book. Throughout the story, we get to see her gain confidence. She doesn’t always make the right decision, but she does always have the right intention. She’s an introvert and has spent a lot of her life on the sidelines, observing others but not always having the courage to act herself.
In YA fiction, it’s common to have assertive, outspoken, confident female leads. While that’s great, I wanted to write a character that less confident girls could relate to. Someone who is still strong, but her strength lies under the surface.
Besides, Roselynn, there are probably some aspects of all my characters that I can relate to a little. I love to get inside my character’s heads, and I usually put a lot of thought into what motivates them and how they feel in certain situations.
On the flip side, I really enjoyed writing Laurel in Desperate Forest because she’s probably the most different from me. Sometimes, I wish I could have her bluntness and don’t-care attitude. I would like to write more of her story at some point.
About The Forest Tales Series:
Q: Tell us a little about the series.
CL: Since I’ve always loved fairy tales, I wanted to write books that reflected that. I loved that type of setting and theme, but I didn’t want my stories to necessarily be retellings. I wanted my readers to feel like they were getting something new.
When I started Desperate Forest, I wasn’t planning on making it the start of a series. It wasn’t until it was close to publication that I decided I wasn’t ready to leave that world behind. I thought about my characters and setting, and soon came up with at least five more books that I could write in the series. If I get more ideas, I will probably write even more.
For the future books, some of the side characters from the first two books will get their own stories, and I plan on writing new characters as well. I want each book to be a standalone read so a reader can “jump in” at any point and get a complete story. But I also love building connections so that people who have read it from start to finish will recognize returning characters and see overall story development.
The setting of the forest in this series was inspired by the woods my sister and I explored growing up. It always felt magical there, and we would spend a lot of summer days there—hiking, reading, writing, and talking. I wanted to remember that time because it holds a very special place in my heart.
Q: What inspired you to use Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” in your story?
CL: My initial fascination began with the word because growing up, there was a bookstore named Jabberwocky that my family and I went to. I remember asking my Mom what Jabberwocky meant and she introduced me to the poem. I loved the strange words and the “nonsense” idea behind it.
When I decided to make Desperate Forest the start of a series and stay in that fairy-tale style and world, I started brainstorming about the other books I could write. Almost immediately, I remembered the poem and was drawn to the idea of writing a novel based on it. It felt like a great way to pay tribute to the now-closed, north woods Jabberwocky bookstore that helped cultivate my love for reading as a child.
Q: One of my favorite lines from The Jabberwocky Princess is from Kainda. “You’re not defined by people’s opinions of you.” This conversation between Kainda and Ander stresses the importance of self-acceptance. What other messages do you hope readers will take away from your books?
CL: Since I write for a young adult audience, I do try to incorporate messages of hope in my writing. Middle schoolers and teens especially struggle with self-acceptance. At that age, we often look to our peers for our self-worth and approval. But I want my readers to understand that there will always be people who want to cut you down. You can’t search for acceptance from other people, you have to find it inside yourself. God makes people different for a reason and you need to appreciate your strengths.
Another theme I focused on in both my books is the idea of first impressions and how quickly we sometimes judge someone without even knowing them. Especially in The Jabberwocky Princess, we see the characters struggling with their own identity and what people think of them, while still sometimes falsely accepting gossip about others and making quick judgments. I like exploring that idea that things and people aren’t always what they seem on the surface.
Q: Is there anything you can tell us about Blue Deep, the next book in The Forest Tales series?
CL: Well, one of the most exciting things about it as that we are going to see a side character from Desperate Forest return as a main character in Blue Deep . . . and it might not be who you expect. I will reveal who that is when I do a synopsis reveal (hopefully soon).
As you can see from the cover, there’s a mermaid in this story, but it’s not a Little Mermaid retelling. I’m having a lot of fun with this story, and I’m excited to go back to it with my full attention now that The Jabberwocky Princess has been released.
The release date for Blue Deep hasn’t been set yet, but if all goes well, I anticipate a late 2020 or early 2021 release.
Q: Characters from Desperate Forest make an appearance in The Jabberwocky Princess. Will we see any characters from the first two books in Blue Deep?
CL: Blue Deep is going to be more closely tied to the first book (Desperate Forest) because one of the main characters is someone we’ve seen before in that book. We will also see Roselynn again, more than the little glimpse we saw of her in The Jabberwocky Princess.
I do plan on including some characters from The Jabberwocky Princess in later books, but not necessarily in Blue Deep.
Q: Is there anything else that you would like to share with your readers?
CL: The Jabberwocky Princess Kindle eBook will be on sale for $0.99 from 3/18/20 through 3/24/20 in the US and UK. If you’re new to The Forest Tales Series, it’s a great time to give it a try. And don’t worry, even though it’s the 2nd book in the series, you can definitely read it before the first one. It won’t spoil anything.
Q: Can you share with us the best way to reach you and where to learn more about your books?
CL: My website (CeceLouise.com) and social media are the best way to learn about what I’m up to. Sign up for my newsletter to get notifications about what I’m working on (including synopsis reveal for Blue Deep, release date, and sample chapters). You can contact me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or on any of my social media pages. I love hearing from my readers!
Thank you so much, Cece, for this amazing interview. I can’t wait to hear more about Blue Deep!