I love reading fairy tale retellings and novels inspired by fairy tales, so when I heard that SINISTER SWEETNESS was loosely based on Hansel & Gretel, I had to read it. And I loved it! Loftin is not afraid to "go there" and as a result, the novel, though middle grade, is pretty dark. Deliciously dark.
Lorelei is struggling to adjust to the death of her mother and the new addition of a "stepmonster", when a new school opens up in town. Lorelei becomes a student there, and is shocked by the focus on eating over anything else. Her new friend Andrew suspects the teachers might not have the best intentions and Lorelei slowly realizes this to be true. But adults don't want to listen to her and her fellow students are caught up in how fun school is now - what can Lorelei do?
When I told my husband how much I was enjoying this story and gave him a quick summary, he asked me why I wasn't letting HIM read it. Since he wasn't going to read a netgalley copy, I bought the hardcover, and it's now on his nightstand, waiting to be devoured ....
I know a bunch of other friends who would love this too. Ann and Jenny especially. Get it!
What is your favorite scene in the book?
Oh, I can’t answer this one! Not because I don’t have a favorite scene, but because it’s at the very end, and if I tell, I’ll spoil the story for those who haven’t read it.
So… second favorite? Lunch in the Splendid Academy cafeteria on the first day of school. I loved writing the setting – satin tablecloths, scurrying waiters, centerpieces of peacock feathers and gold and silver balls, chandeliers, and the food! Oh, all the favorite foods I could think of… It makes me hungry just writing this.
Sometimes I think I wrote this entire book because I have an overactive sweet tooth.
What is your favorite line in the book?
Again! The final line in the book is my favorite. And I can’t tell you that either. So… maybe from page 69. “… the next morning I woke up with a wet pillow, and a sick, twisting hunger that felt like teeth chewing at my insides.”
Wow, that’s a cheery one. Well, it IS a murdery sort of book, I suppose! ;)
What setting was most fun to write?
Definitely the cafeteria. I mean, all that food! I wrote in every snack I’ve ever loved, every food I ever fantasized as a child I could order instead of the sloppy Joe glop my school cafeterias served, every crazy dessert I never ordered in a restaurant. Petit fours, swan-shaped chocolate éclairs, cashew chocolate clusters… chocolate sculptures on the tables and formal place settings… fabric hanging from the ceiling in between the crystal chandeliers… It was fun to keep adding stuff to this room!
The playground runs a close second, though. Seriously, zip lines, tree houses, climbing walls, and half pipes, as well as balance beams, see saws and carousels? What’s not to love?
Who is your favorite supporting character - one you could see getting a spin-off book - and why?
Hmm. I think the easy answer is Andrew, since he’s the most fleshed-out character next to Lorelei. But, honestly, I think Molly the Stepmonster is the character with the most unexplored depths… of wickedness. (cue evil laughter) I would LOVE to write her into another Grimm re-telling.
What has been your favorite part of your publishing journey so far?
The friends. In the past four years, I have made some of the best, most compassionate, passionate, loyal, funny, and rambunctious friends I’ve ever had in my life! I feel like I’ve finally found my tribe – a group of people who care deeply about books and writing, and who support each other in all the stages of the publication process. (Of course, I live in Austin, Texas, which for some reason hosts a constellation of children’s writing stars. A great blessing!)
The best thing about loving the people so much is, even if the advance checks stop coming in, the big pay-off is permanent. Because of writing, I have found people I care for and who care for me who will always be open to have a cup of tea, a bar of chocolate, and talk about what we’re writing.
THE SINISTER SWEETNESS OF SPLENDID ACADEMY is available now in hardcover. Find out more about it at the author's website.
FTC disclosure: Netgalley