Rachel: Lisa, Lisa, Lisa. Your latest novel is one of my favorite things ever: a Peter Pan retelling. What prompted you to write such a marvelous thing?
Lisa: The not-at-all-intellectual answer is that I wanted to write a sexy pirate boy. Once I decided on that, I started looking for ways to do that without writing a historical, and I came up with the idea of reworking Captain Hook.
Rachel: Now, I’m gathering that Unhooked is a version of Peter Pan that’s pretty twisted and dark (which is delicious, if you ask me). I believe there are MONSTERS (which I love), and to deviate from the typical story, you have a Gwendolyn instead of a Wendy. DO TELL.
Lisa: Well, Wendy is a derivative of the name Gwendolyn, so I *kind* of have a Wendy. And there are definitely monsters—of many different varieties—but there were lots of monsters in the original Peter Pan, too. I think the difference is that the Hollywood and Disney versions of Peter Pan strip away a lot of the original story’s darkness, and I wanted to bring some of that back.
Rachel: But you still have that blasted Peter Pan and codfish Captain Hook, right?
Lisa: I do! Though I wouldn’t call him Peter…it’s a bit too human for his tastes. And Captain Hook is definitely not a codfish this time. He doesn’t even have a hook. *cough* magical mechanical arm *cough*
Rachel: Let’s talk more about this darker version of Neverland. The synopsis mentions “shadowy creatures” and “flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey” (insert heart eyes here). I’m going to guess that pirates with fabulous hair and hooks for hands are the least of this Neverland’s problems.
Lisa: Pretty much everything in Neverland would eat you if it could. So yeah, fabulous hair is way down there on the list. Though come to think of it, my Captain does always have his hair perfectly in place…
Rachel: The synopsis also just happens to mention another one of my favorite things ever (in other words, Unhooked is winning): “Here [in Neverland], good and evil lose their meaning.” Basically, it’s that whole “who is the monster and who is the man?” concept that I’m utterly obsessed with. How much faith, trust, and pixie dust will be required when reading Unhooked?
Lisa: Faith—only in yourself. Trust—I wouldn’t trust any of these characters. And pixie dust? Well, see the earlier question where I said the monsters probably would try to eat you. Tinker Bell is no wee small thing in this story (and she’d probably attack you for calling her Tinker Bell, come to think of it). But the story plays a lot with the line between good and evil, and Gwen has to really make some hard choices and decide which lines she’s willing to cross in order to make it out…or not.
Rachel: I know Peter Pan stories tend to have a focus on the characters—Pan, Hook, Wendy, Tiger Lily, Tink, the Crocodile, etc.—but I also think that Neverland could be a character in and of itself. And I think it’s interesting to see the different ways this otherworldly land works and how it functions. What’s your Neverland like?
Lisa: My Neverland is an island in a Fey world in the middle of a never-ending sea. No matter which direction you sail, you always come back to it. The island itself is constantly in flux—it moves and changes; land masses rearrange themselves and the flora morphs every so often. It’s gorgeous and magical, but it’s also dangerous and terrible at times.
Rachel: My favorite Peter Pan character depends on which version I’m reading or watching. I’ve loved and hated Pan and Hook, I’ve shipped Tiger Lily with Pan and Hook, and I’ve hated Wendy. Who’s your favorite?
Lisa: I mean, growing up it was Peter, but in this version I really love the Captain. He was always the heart and center of the story for me—everything kind of built itself around him and his backstory.
Rachel: Favorite movie or show retelling Peter Pan?
Rachel: Favorite book retelling Peter Pan?
Lisa: You know, I haven’t let myself read any. Once I decided to do a retelling of Peter Pan, I was afraid of lifting ideas and things, so I stayed far away. I really need to get on that, because I’ve heard amazing things about Tiger Lily and Never Never
Rachel: Let’s go back to faith, trust, and pixie dust. This tends to be the motto for most Neverlands, but I get the feeling that yours is a little different. What would the motto be for your Neverland in Unhooked?
Lisa: There’s nothing more dangerous than a story. ;O)
Thanks so much for having me!!
Author: Lisa Maxwell
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publishing Date: February 2, 2016
For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.
But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.
The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.
With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?
Lisa Maxwell is the author of Sweet Unrest, Gathering Deep, and Unhooked. When she's not writing books, she teaches English at a local college. She lives near DC with her very patient husband and two not-so patient boys.
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