TITHE: A MODERN FAEIRE TALE by Holly Black (Simon & Schuster, 2002). Kaye Fierch has been passing through life as a blond Asian, connecting with faries but not counting herself among them…until now. Excellent juxtaposition of the fantasy elements against the New Jersey setting. Some readers may be familiar with Black for the Spiderwick Chronicle series (for the younger set). Ages 12-up.
What was your initial inspiration for creating this book?
I had a visual image of a girl in the middle of a circle with the cuffs “softly burning” her wrists. I jotted it down on piece of paper and started thinking about why metal would burn someone. I remembered that iron burned faeries. I also remembered a short story that I’d written for a creative writing class about a faery changeling that was really more a very long vignette. Putting them together was the beginning of the looooooong process of writing TITHE.
What was the timeline between spark and publication, and what were the major events along the way?
Conservatively, it took me about five years to finish writing TITHE. I have about three completely different drafts. I really had no idea how to structure a novel. I had a very hard time learning the shape of a book.
Once I finally finished, I showed the book to some of my friends. At the time, I was teetering between considering TITHE a YA novel or an adult novel. Tony (who I would later work on the SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES with) agreed to show the book to his editor, Kevin, and ask for his professional opinion. Kevin said it was indeed a young adult novel and that he wanted to buy it.
What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, logistical) in bringing it to life?
The biggest challenge was trying to get the tone that I wanted for the book along with a plot that I liked. I very much enjoyed the faery folklore research and would while away (read: waste) a lot of time in research. I found plotting to be a hugely difficult–at first it seemed an imposed and unnatural structure. In trying to understand it and make it organic, I think I wound up with a lot more plot than I expected. But the most important and thing was to understand the dynamics between all of the characters. Once that was in place, the story came to life and started moving on its own.
Recent children’s books with a focus on cats are eligible to enter the 2005 Cat Writers’ Association Communications Contest. The postmark deadline is July 1.
More personally, a pair of mourning doves are nesting in the pecan tree just outside the window of my sleeping porch.