Interview with Eilis O'Neal - Author of The False Princess

Eilis O'Neal is the author of The False Princess, released Jan. 25th 2011 by EgmontUSA, and I invited her over to answer a few questions about her latest book.

Author Bio:

I’m a writer of fantasy and the Managing Editor of the literary magazine Nimrod International Journal. I started writing at the age of three (though the story was only four sentences long). My short fantasy has been published in various print and online journals, and you can find links to some of my stories here. I was born, raised in, and currently live in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

1. Could you tell us about the world of The False Princess? I initially thought that it this was set in the real world, but I googled Vivaskari and Thorvaldor and only got results about TFP. And also, why did you choose the 12th century? Is there something special about it that’s not present in other early centuries?

You're right, Thorvaldor is a world of my own invention, but it bears a lot of similarities to medieval Europe. I wanted a world that would feel familiar to readers, but also one with some key twists: magic, a monarchy where a girl could inherit the throne without controversy, oracles who actually receive prophecies from their deity. As for the date, you have to remember that the dating system is also Thorvaldian. So it's their 12th century, not ours. But, again, there are some key similarities to our world.

2. Your characters have rather unique names. You also said on your blog that you had a hard time choosing them. Whose was the easiest/hardest? How long did it take for you to finalize them?

One of the easier names to come up with was Kiernan's. He walked onto the page and had a name almost immediately. Probably because he's so easy going in general! And, actually, Sinda's name was pretty hard to come up with. I had to brainstorm for a few days to find the right name for her. As my main character, she needed to have a name that was perfect for her, something that expressed some key element of her personality and situation. Interestingly, I know of some authors who are able to use "for now" names while they're writing if they aren't sure of the character's final name, and I have to say I envy them. I've never been able to do that. If I don't know a character's name, I can't write about them, and I have to brainstorm until I've figured it out to move on.

**(Click here and here to know more about the characters' names.)

3. You’ve been writing since you were three years old, so you’ve probably written tons of stories. What is it with The False Princess that’s so different from your other works?

I would say that The False Princess taps into a very central concern for many young people: the question "Who am I?" Basically, this is what we spend our teenage years trying to figure out. So to be told, at sixteen, that you aren't who you think you are at all, would be extraordinarily difficult. It was that difficulty, in fact, that drew me so strongly to Sinda. I wanted to know how she would react to being pushed out of her life, how she would succeed--or fail--in making a new one.

4. What’s you’re favorite among them, except for TFP? Tell us something about it.

That's a tough one, because I love all my stories for different reasons. One that I'm really fond of, though, is a story called "The Wizard's Calico Daughter." It's the story of a girl who lives with her wizard father in a magical house that's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. It's a fantastic house, but she's never been outside it, never even talked to a person her own age . . . until her 16th birthday, when a boy from the local school walks by. "The Wizard's Calico Daughter", like TFP, is a coming of age story, and I've just always really liked it. Partially, I think, because I would love to live in her house. It has a library with all the books in the world in it, you see.

5. What are you currently working on? Do you plan to write a sequel for TFP? If not, why?

I'm working on a new novel, though it isn't related to The False Princess. Though I had intended for TFP to be a stand-alone novel when I started writing it, by the time I was done I knew that there was room for more stories in Thorvaldor. So I may very well write a sequel in the future, though probably with one of the secondary characters as the main character.

I really enjoyed The False Princess. Again, many thanks to A Backwards Story for recommending it. :) And thanks also to Eilis O'Neal for answering my questions! If you haven't read The False Princess yet, go to your nearest bookstore and buy it NOW! You won't regret it. :)

You may also visit Eilis O'Neal's website, blog, twitter and facebook.


  1. You're so very welcome! I'm glad you loved it! :)

    I, for one, would love to see more Thorvaldor tales! Eilis, I look forward to posting our interview for FTF soon! :)

    Chel, you asked some great questions. I really enjoyed reading this!

  2. I love The False Princess! The new cover is really beautiful too. This book reminded me of Ella Enchanted and books by Shannon Hale

  3. Great interview! You asked some interesting questions and I really liked the answers that were given. The Wizard's Calico Daughter sounds like a fun story to read.


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