Echo North is an amazing YA retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon. There are talking wolves, an enchanted library where you can step into a book, and a magical house that changes every day. This book is an atmospheric read that will capture your heart.
In honor of its release, I was lucky enough to interview the author, Joanna Ruth Meyer. We discuss writing, fairy tales, Echo North, and more!
Q: Echo North is full of magic, including an enchanted library.If you could step into a book, which book would you choose?
A: Ahhh that’s such a hard question! I would have to say Lord of the Rings, but at the end when Sauron is defeated and everything is safe, otherwise I’m pretty sure I’d die immediately. 😀 But I’d love to chill in Hobbiton and wander through Rivendell and Lothlorien and visit Minas Tirith’s library… basically everywhere in Middle Earth. 😀
Q: This book is a fairytale retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon. Why did you choose to retell this story?
A: I didn’t actually set out to do a retelling… The first spark of an idea that became Echo North came from a dream I had about a girl riding a reindeer being chased by wolves across a snowy landscape. When I started brainstorming the idea, I realized it wanted to be an East of the Sun retelling and then things spiraled out of control from there! As for East of the Sun itself, I fell in love with the fairytale when I read Edith Pattou’s lovely retelling East a number of years ago. In all its iterations, I love the heroine’s grit and determination in the midst of an impossible journey.
Q: What is your favorite fairy tale?
A: Beauty and the Beast! I’ve been in love with it ever since I watched the Disney movie as a child, and then read Robin McKinley’s Beauty when I was eleven or so. (Incidentally, Beauty is the first book to ever make me cry).
Q: Echo North is a very winter-y read. What are some of your favorite books to read in winter?
A: What a lovely question! Definitely East by Edith Pattou. Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones. Anything DWJ, really. I read Tanith Lee’s delightful Claidi series a few years ago over Christmas break and adored them. Naomi Novak’s Spinning Silver. And Laura Weymouth’s The Light Between Worlds.
Q: What project are you working on now (or planning to begin)? Is there any chance of an Echo North sequel or companion novel?
A: I’m currently working on final revisions for Beyond the Shadowed Earth, which is a companion novel to my debut Beneath the Haunting Sea. After that, I’m not sure what’s next! As for an EN companion, probably not, but you never know!
Q: Echo North is your second novel. How was writing it compared to Beneath the Haunting Sea? Were there any major differences, or new challenges?
A: Publishing is Notoriously Slow. I first drafted Echo for National Novel Writing Month in 2014, while I was in the middle of querying Beneath the Haunting Sea. Echo was going to be my backup novel if Sea didn’t garner me an agent. When I did sign with my agent Sarah Davies in 2015 and we went on sub with Sea late that year, Echo was going to be my next project if Sea didn’t pan out. All that to say, Echo had already gone through three drafts by the time my publisher picked it up! So the main challenge with Echo was editing it on a quick timeline while wrangling an 8MO and not sleeping at night (because of the aforementioned 8MO). 😀 Moral of the story: write the next thing while pursuing your current thing! Future you will thank you!
Q: With two books published, what advice would you give to any aspiring authors?
A: The main advice I always give is to find your own writing process and stick to it—what works for me or your writing buddies or your favorite author might not work for you. Secondly, find yourself a critique partner! It’s SO invaluable to have eyes besides your own on your writing, plus it gives you someone to celebrate (and commiserate!) with. Lastly, have patience. Don’t give up. It might not be today or tomorrow or even this year, but if you stick with it, it will happen for you!
More About Echo North:
Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart after 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 offer: for her to come and live with him for a year. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes.
In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, Echo discovers centuries-old secrets, 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, 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. ((via Goodreads)