Today, I’m thrilled to introduce you to my friend Connie Almony. Her novella, At the Edge of a Dark Forest, is a delightful modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast.
To start off – what are three things that you think people should know about you?
1) I am a big lover of Christian Contemporary music. In fact, I have a Christian-band muse for every manuscript. NEEDTOBREATHE is the one for At the Edge of a Dark Forest, specifically the song, Able.
2) I used to be a Christian counselor, which means I’ve heard a lot of secrets I’ll never share. However, I have discovered that many people have the same secret, but fear they are the only one. I hope my fiction can help dispel that myth. We all struggle in this fallen world, and can help others who struggle in the same way.
3) I’m a big goof-ball! Why do you need to know that? Because you will discover it eventually, so I might as well prepare you for the shock before you find out on your own :o).
That last one isn’t a shock for me – it’s one of the reasons I love you!
2. What’s your must-have book (other than the Bible) for a desert island stranding?
I’m agonizing over here. Can’t I be stranded on an island where a library-ship wrecked the month before? You know, a ship like those busses that lend books in neighborhoods over the summer. Okay, okay—I see that look in your eyes, Elizabeth. I’ll choose. I’d have to say Sir Gibbie, by George MacDonald. Not just because it’s a great story about a mute boy who God uses to do great things—and it IS that. But because it was a means with which God reached out to me to prepare me for my beautiful—and mute—young man with autism, who would become my son only a couple years after my first reading of that story. It was like a letter from the Creator Himself, so I will always cherish it.
Ha! Yes, nice try skirting around the question. If only all desert islands had recently been visited by a shipwrecked library barge!
3. Tell us about your book (the basics)
Cole Harrison, an Iraq war veteran, wears his disfigurement like a barrier to those who might love him, shielding them from the ugliness inside. He agrees to try and potentially invest in, a prototype prosthetic with the goal of saving a hopeless man’s dreams.
Carly Rose contracts to live with Cole and train him to use his new limbs, only to discover the darkness that wars against the man he could become.
At the Edge of a Dark Forest is a modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Only it is not her love that will make him whole.
And it’s such a great read!!
4. What prompted you to write At the Edge of a Dark Forest?
It was at the urging of one of my critiques partners, Mildred Colvin. She had done other connected stories with author friends and asked our critique group if we’d be interested in doing a series of modern-day (mostly) re-tellings of fairy tales without the magic. After having done a military ministry series on my blog a couple of years before, I thought this would be the perfect story to honor our heroes who have risked so much for my freedoms.
5. What’s the one thing you hope anyone who reads your book takes away from the experience?
Oh, how I hate those “one thing” questions. I’m not very good at condensing my opinions. But if you insist on ONE, I’d have to say it is that our military members need our care and consideration even after they come home. Many people do not know how difficult the transition can be going from active duty in a war zone, to life in suburbia with the very different demands of family and relationship. Though we shouldn’t assume all soldiers come home with PTSD and therefore treat them as disabled, we should be prepared to listen when the time comes.
I’m not a big fan of the “one thing” questions either but I threw one in there anyway. :) And what a FANTASTIC take-away. Keeping our military heroes in mind when they’re out of harm’s way is so important – we can’t forget them once they’re home.
6. Tell us a little about the setting of your book – is it real? Modeled after somewhere real?
The setting really came from the idea of the fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast. Though the entire series with my critique partners is set in Fairwilde (no state indicated). Cole Harrison lives in a remote part of that area, deep in the woods on the side of a mountain. I remember in the Disney movie, Belle’s father was traveling in a snowstorm when he came upon the magnificent mansion, so I tried to parallel that in my story as well. I wanted it to be real, and yet somehow magical.
I definitely got the feeling of that Disney forest setting – so well done! In fact, I kept waiting for Lumiere to pop up.
7. What’s next for your writing life?
When Mildred convinced us all to publish this series independently, I did not realize what God had in store for me. I’ve discovered a new world of publishing with freedom to write what God has laid on my heart and believe my stories are best when I write this way. For that reason, I’ve chosen to independently publish the rest of my manuscripts, from a series set on a university campus, to my current work-in-progress about a pastor with a past. I am also kicking around a sequel idea to At the Edge of a Dark Forest that will focus on the holey-jean-wearing college-student chauffeur to Cole Harrison, and it will be a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. I can’t wait to dive into that one!
Oooh! Good for you! I love indie authors – though I tend to clump small-press authors in with the true self-pubbing indies. But there’s so much breadth available when you wiggle away from the “mainstream.” And Cole’s chauffeur definitely needs his own book – I loved him!
8. Where can readers interact with you (all your social media)
9. Anything else you want to say?
Oh boy, is this an open-mic moment? You sure you want to do that, cuz when I get on a soapbox, it’s hard to get me off :o). Okay, I’ll be good. I just want to thank you for having me on your website today … and that it was a real pleasure hanging out with you at DC Fest a few weeks ago!!!
Thanks for coming by! And the feeling is mutual – you made manning our very quiet little table much more fun.
I hope everyone enjoyed Connie’s interview as much as I did – I really loved At the Edge of a Dark Forest and encourage you to check it out. It’s a delightful romance with lots of food for thought.
Connie Almony is trained as a mental health therapist and likes to mix a little fun with the serious stuff of life. She was a 2012 semi-finalist in the Genesis Contest for Women’s Fiction and was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Winter 2012 WOW Flash Fiction Contest. Her newest release, At the Edge of a Dark Forest, is a modern-day re-telling of Beauty and the Beast about a war-vet, amputee struggling with PTSD.