What’s the last book that totally surprised you in the best way? I adored The Bone Spindle so much. It’s like treasure hunting meets fairy tales with unlikely alliances. And I loved every minute. So when I had the opportunity to interview Vedder, I knew I had to! Keep reading to see all my questions for Leslie Vedder.
Fi is a bookish treasure hunter with a knack for ruins and riddles, who definitely doesn’t believe in true love.
Shane is a tough-as-dirt girl warrior from the north who likes cracking skulls, pretty girls, and doing things her own way.
Briar Rose is a prince under a sleeping curse, who’s been waiting a hundred years for the kiss that will wake him.
Cursed princes are nothing but ancient history to Fi–until she pricks her finger on a bone spindle while exploring a long-lost ruin. Now she’s stuck with the spirit of Briar Rose until she and Shane can break the century-old curse on his kingdom.
Dark magic, Witch Hunters, and bad exes all stand in her way–not to mention a mysterious witch who might wind up stealing Shane’s heart, along with whatever else she’s after. But nothing scares Fi more than the possibility of falling in love with Briar Rose.
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Do you have a favorite heist or treasure hunting movie?
The Mummy with Brendan Fraser is one of my all-time favorites. I love the way the action and the curses and the romance all blend so seamlessly together. Most of all, it’s just so much fun!
I absolutely loved the interactions between Shane and Fi, did their relationship or characters undergo any changes while drafting?
Right from the start, I knew I wanted a pair of reluctant girl partners who would get under each other’s skin! Fi is the cool and collected type, while Shane is a hothead with a bad habit of putting her fist through things. They just bother each other, especially at the beginning, and I had so much fun playing with that tension. In fact, some of their early scenes together have stayed almost word for word the same from my very first draft.
On the other hand, I really had to spend some time developing Fi and Shane individually. It took a couple different passes to delve into the girls’ pasts and flesh out their other relationships.
Which character came to you first? Was Fi or Shane or Briar Rose easier/harder to write?
Fi came first. I wanted to do a Sleeping Beauty retelling with a sleeping prince, and I thought it’d be fun if the character with this great big destiny to break the curse with a kiss turned out to be someone like Fi, who’s a total no-nonsense skeptic and doesn’t believe in true love at all.
But, of course, the second Shane exploded onto the scene, I was totally hooked. I had so much fun with her brash, no-holds-barred sense of humor, and I loved writing her so much—her chapters are some of my favorites in the book!
THE BONE SPINDLE is like a mix between fairy tales and treasure hunting, can you tell new readers what fairy tales you draw inspiration from? What other sources of inspiration did you have for this book?
I really love fractured fairytales that take the old stories and mix them up. One of my favorite recent TV shows was Once Upon a Time. I was so inspired by all the twists and turns—the way the stories start unspooling just how you remember and then transform into something totally unexpected!
Sleeping Beauty was a natural fit with treasure hunting to me, because if Briar Rose has been sleeping for a hundred years, that practically makes him an ancient treasure himself. There are a few other fairytales thrown into the mix, too, with ax-wielding Shane, the huntsman for hire, falling hard for a mysterious girl in a red cloak.
For the treasure hunting side, in addition to action movies like Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider, I took a lot of inspiration from mysteries that take place in old gothic mansions. There’s a certain heart-pounding thrill that comes from exploring old, forgotten places in your nightgown in the dark with a single wavering candle!
If you had to unravel a mystery in history, treasure hunting/archaeological quest style, what would it be?
This edges a little in the horror and haunting direction, but I would love to explore the Winchester Mystery House! It’s an old mansion built in 1886 by Sarah Winchester. Her husband was the creator of the Winchester rifle, and she thought the only way to stave off the ghosts of those killed by the rifle was for construction on her house to never stop. It was built continuously for over thirty years. It’s part house, part maze, part work of exquisite art.
There are wardrobes with hidden panels that open into rooms, stairs that lead to the ceiling, doors to nowhere, and beautiful stained-glass windows set in places that never see the sun. The whole house seethes with mystery—especially in the dark.
Every time I visit, I feel like some new detail stands out to me. Why this strange spider web pattern on the window? Why does the number thirteen repeat in so many designs? I get the feeling I could visit that house a hundred times and never know all its secrets—but I’d love to try!
Do you have some other favorite queer fantasies?
There are so many wonderful queer fantasies coming out these days! To name just a few of my recent favorites:
SWEET AND BITTER MAGIC by Adrienne Tooley came out earlier this year and is full witchy magic and the perfect grumpy x sunshine f/f love story!
CINDERELLA IS DEAD by Kalynn Bayron is a stunning f/f fairytale retelling full of mortal peril, dark atmospheric chills, and a fierce heroine in a ball gown!
Finally, GIRL SERPENT THORN by Melissa Bashardoust is a gorgeous fantasy with an intricate plot that uncoils like a snake and an entrancing queer love story at its heart.
What was a fairy tale or folk tale you read that has always stuck with you?
I will never forget the first time I read some of the original fairytales as written by Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm and realized just how dark they actually were! The Little Mermaid does not in fact live happily ever after with the prince, but instead becomes nothing but foam on the sea. That image really stuck with me.
About the Author
Leslie Vedder (she/her) subsists primarily on coffee and cat snuggles! She grew up on fantasy books, anime, fanfiction, and the Lord of the Rings movies, and met her true love in high school choir. She currently lives in Colorado with her wife and two ultra-spoiled house cats. Her debut YA novel THE BONE SPINDLE is forthcoming in January 2022 from Penguin / Razorbill. Find her online at leslievedder.com.