Hi, welcome to my stop on Storytellers on Tour’s blog tour for Brianna Sugalski’s Disenchanted! The tour is running from May 3rd to May 9th, and you can check its entire route here. Make sure to visit all the other fantastic bloggers 🙂
Published on March 10, 2020 (so you can already grab a copy!), Disenchanted is an atmospheric dark fantasy and historical fantasy YA which immediately caught my attention, as we don’t usually get many dark fantasy books in the YA age group. The story revisits fantasy and even paranormal tropes with a delicious, dark twist, perfect for those who love dangerous quests through tenebrous woods.
Today I have the pleasure of having Brianna on the blog, to discuss writing and Disenchanted!
But first, have a peek at the book’s synopsis…
A Breton princess at the peak of the French Renaissance, Lilac lives prisoner in her parents’ castleafter a wicked secret is revealed on the eve of her tenth birthday soirée. Years later, her coronation ceremony looms, and between the riotous townsfolk and scheming nobleman bent on snatchingthe throne, Lilac prepares for the worst… Until a mysterious letter arrives from The Witch of Lupine Grotto, detailing a curious offer to cure her darkness forever.
Lilac begrudgingly trades her coronet for a cloak and ventures into the forest Brocéliande in pursuit of the impious enchantress at the edge of town. With only the protection of an inherited dagger—and unsolicited help of the sardonic stranger who inserts himself on her quest—she must traverse Brocèliande and return in time to claim her rightful position as sovereign monarch.
This is the story of a cursed princess,
A crestfallen killer,
The town that wants them to burn,
And the witch that can save them both
Here’s where you can find Disenchanted
Or enter the tour giveaway for a chance at a physical copy (US only)
On History and strength in meekness with Brianna Sugalski
Welcome, Brianna, glad to have you here! Thought it would be fun to do a different kind of introduction, could you ask your main characters to describe you and Disenchanted?
Hi, thank you so much for having me! And oh my goodness, what a starter question! They will do their best!
Lilac: Brianna’s a female scribe we have here at the castle. Yes, female; isn’t that wonderful? And, oh, she’s lovely. She’s a tea drinker not a wine drinker, but that’s on the mend after spending afternoons with me… She spends much time outdoors and has worked on a couple poems I quite fancy, but now she’s got a behemoth stack of scrolls on and around her desk—it makes me nervous, I wonder if that’s got anything to do with my little escapade a few months back…
Garin: She’s an acquaintance of Lilac’s, quite chatty that one. She’s intrigued by Lilac’s gift. For the record, I’ve been able to translate the Darkling Tongue for centuries.
Perfect! We can all see how Lilac and Garin sure are different and special in their singular way. Lilac is a Norman-Breton princess, her kingdom constructed by both Celtic and French influences. What aspects of Celtic and French heritage did you take into the story?
Yes! Although influence in this story is strongly Brythonic Celtic/ Breton and Old French, I wanted to give Lilac a realistic bloodline relative to the timeframe I’d chosen; the Normans who settled in northern Brittany few centuries before Disenchanted were of Nordic (thought to be Anglo-Scandinavian) origin. So that’s her “French” side, or what later became French. We go further into her past in books two and beyond. I wanted to give some depth to her, and all my characters, in a sense of not only her heritage but the real history behind the people from the area.
I focused on mainly Brythonic folklore in creating the creatures of the High (or Haute) Forest, which is the western wood of Broceliande forest, while the Fae and other more sinister beings of the Low (Basse) Forest, the eastern half, are based on the malevolent faeries of French folklore.
I love that intersection of mythologies and cultures 🙂 I found it very interesting how you weaved Lilac’s privilege into the simplest social details, such as ordering a regional wine at a Brocéliande tavern, or recognizing the taste of tea made from garden roses (both the wine and roses only accessible to the upper class). How did Lilac’s privilege play into her journey and how did you access that?
Her naivety and ignorance at the start of the book and even throughout stem from her privilege. Her drive to gain the throne then transmutes from selfishness to self-pity, then to empathy and compassion as she realizes that privilege and how it in her family has harmed others; that even if she thought she had it hard, there were those out there who needed assistance perhaps only she could give.
A lot of it came from feeling her character out, but I am definitely one of those “book smart, not street smart” people. I grew up in a well-intentioned but sheltered Asian household, so that’s where my own sheltering and naivety came from. When I went off to college in Southern California, I got a too-real dose of life. Much needed, though.
I myself fall a bit into the street smart team 😉 Yet I very much prize book smartness, especially knowledge of myth. Mythology is a substantial basis of Lilac’s journey, and we see a lot of different myths interacting. What was your inspiration to knit them together?
Thanks to my mom, I’ve grown up reading some old literature and love a great quest tale, and I chose to weave in some Arthurian and Knights of the Round Table influences simply because they were/ are some of my favorites. Garin is loosely based on Sir Gawain. Lilac’s storyline throughout DISENCHANTED and future novels can be likened to Arthur himself. Vivien is the Lady of the Lake, Merle from the Fenfoss Inn was Merlin—a regular at the tavern, he is.
A great cast of characters! In the foreword, Aimee Nicoles Jones mentions that writing is like therapy to you. Do you believe there is a healing power to writing, both for those who create the story as for those who consume it?
There is a power in writing that I believe is indescribable until people access it for themselves. For me, writing DISENCHANTED was therapy in a sense that I get to sneak all of my teenage angst, professed love for my husband, and inside jokes into Lilac and Garin’s tale. On a deeper note (sorry! Agh) we unexpectedly lost one of our twins in a late term stillbirth a couple years ago. I started writing DISENCHANTED to deal with the pain of losing my daughter. It has more than healed me.
No apologies necessary, thank you for sharing such a personal aspect of your story with me and readers. It warms my heart you have found your peace to heal. With your writing, what’s the fundamental idea you hope readers take from Disenchanted?
Too often I think we see female protagonists in YA Fantasy who are strong and stubborn right at the start. I want young readers to know that meek is not weak, that panic attacks and anxiety do not make you less of a person, that you don’t have to have all the answers at once, and that continued ignorance is a choice.
I couldn’t agree more! Too often we forget there is more than enough space for a myriad of peoples.
It was wonderful to have Brianna over for this brief yet impactful talk.Thank you to the SOT team and Brianna for my place on the blog tour!
With an education in Mass Communication—and an engrossment in all that is curious and bewitching—Brianna Sugalski is an author and blogger. Previously, she was a staff contributor for Lifestyle & Fashion online magazine, Sarah Scoop, and also served as Copy Editor and Editor-InChief at her school publications.
Brianna was born and raised on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, but now travels the country every few years with her husband and children. She admires the luminaries of the Victorian Era; growing up reading period literature has inspired her to paint vibrant settings of nature and narratives that readers will hopefully enjoy.
Ultimately, she aspires to make her own readers laugh, to challenge their perspectives and to help them discover the magical meaning of their own powers within.