You know those books that captivate you and you can’t get out of your head? That was me and Cinderella is Dead. This queer re-imagined Cinderella retelling is everything I wanted and more. That’s why I am so thrilled that Kalynn agreed to do this interview!
It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.
Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . .
This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.
My favorite thing from CINDERELLA IS DEAD is the idea of stories which are repeated into truths and the necessity to question them. Was this always something you wanted to bring into the book?
Absolutely! It’s important to question the narrative, especially when the story in question is being used to steer people towards certain behaviors or mindsets. In the case of CINDERELLA IS DEAD, Cinderella’s story is used as an example of what all girls should aspire to. Not only are they encouraged to be subservient but they are told to be distrustful of other women and that happiness is only achievable when you become valuable to someone else, namely Prince Charming.
When Sophia begins to question this story, to express doubt, she’s met with hostility and gaslighting. The questions become the thing that allow the curtain to be pulled back little by little.
Did any of the characters change significantly throughout the drafting process?
There was an early draft where Constance was much older. Almost like a grandmother figure. And the timeline was much closer to the events of the Cinderella story. That, of course, has changed!
What is your favorite thing about Sophia and Constance?
Sophia is willing to risk her life for a chance at freedom, for a chance at love. She know that this journey she’s on may not end well for her but she’s willing to risk it if it means someone else can be free from the King’s tyrannical rule. I love her for that.
Constance has a slick mouth and a short temper and suffers no fools. She is smart, she can fight, and she’s all in for Sophia from the start. I can’t see Constance ever being standoffish or indecisive. She let’s Sophia know she’s in this fight to the bitter end and she means it.
Can you think of the first time you remember feeling represented in books?
I have found pieces of myself in literature throughout my life. When I started reading Toni Morrison and Octavia Butler I saw pieces of myself. When I read Audre Lorde and Nikki Giovanni’s work I found still more pieces. But in the YA world I didn’t see myself anywhere.
Do you remember your first experiences with Cinderella?
I really loved fairytales as a kid and loved the Cinderella story. I had a book of collected tales that had a bunch of older versions of Cinderella in it. I also obsessed with the movie version that had Brandy and Whitney Houston in it.
What has the most surprising discovery you’ve made as a writer?
Writing can be a pretty solitary process so I wasn’t expecting to find the kind of community that exists here. The writers who have reached out to show support, give advice, or just let me know that they’re there if I ever need anything, have been wonderful.
How do you balance social media, writing, and your daily life?
Poorly. LOL I struggle to stay on track sometimes. The biggest thing for me has been learning to say no. I tend to take on too many things at once and sometimes I feel like if I say no, I’m letting people down. But my mental health is super important and I have learned to pace myself and say no things that feel too overwhelming. It’s an act of self care.
About the Author
Kalynn Bayron is an author and classically trained vocalist. She grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. When she’s not writing you can find her listening to Ella Fitzgerald on loop, attending the theater, watching scary movies, and spending time with her kids. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas with her family.