So I had the amazing opportunity to read Menna van Praag new book The Dress Shop of Dreams and I have to say it was such a wonderful surprise of 2014. It was my first time reading magical realism and I must say that it is something that I will definitely look forward to reading again in the future. So my fellow followers if you know any books that deal with magical realism and is a good read, hit me up and leave a comment. Thanks.
Now for the reason that you’re actually here. After reading the amazing, whimsical and enchanting The Dress Shop of Dreams I was able to contact the author Menna van Praag to do my segment I like to call 5 Quick Questions. So excited. And she is such an amazing and lovely person. Happy that I got the chance to do this fun interview. So here’s to getting to know Menna van Praag better.
Menna van Praag
1) Oh my goodness can I just say that I’m in love with your book The Dress Shop of Dreams. I actually read it twice. If only A Stitch in Time actually existed. What gave you the idea to come up with something so magical and wonderful?
Gosh, thank you! I’m very touched. Yes, I wish the magical dress shop existed too! Funnily enough, the idea came to me when my mom told me about a news piece she’d seen on the BBC about workers in a Cuban cigar factory who gave a little of their wages everyday to employ a reader, someone who read them novels and plays while they rolled the cigars. Sometimes, they’d name the cigars after their favorites stories: Romeo and Juliet or The Count of Monte Cristo. While my mom was talking, I got that special feeling: a new book was being born. Immediately, I began imagining this world. I thought, what if this reader had a magical voice, one that enchanted the workers who heard him? And what if he fell so in love with one of the workers that his love rendered him mute? And what if she was illiterate? Now, the finished novel, is very different from these beginnings. For example, I knew I’d relocated the setting to Cambridge, England, because this is where all my books take place. And, since we don’t have any cigar-rolling factories here, that too would have to change. Hence the enchanted dress shop. In fact, a great deal changed as I was writing, as it usually does. But it was the passion I had for the initial idea kept bringing me back to the blank page everyday.
2) Etta is a fun and free-spirited woman who happens to work her magic for the benefit of others, yet it seems like that same magic doesn’t work for her. Why is that? Did you get the idea of Etta from someone close to you? Was she based on someone you know?
In my experience, most of us are quite good at seeing how other people self-sabotage their lives, how they might be happier, but we find it rather harder to see these truths for ourselves. So I believe it would be the same for those lucky enough to have magic at their fingertips. But no, Etta wasn’t based on anyone real, though she became very real as I held her in my imagination – I love her!
3) I believe all writers inspiration started from somewhere. Who or what authors inspired you to be the writer that you are today? If not an author, who was the person/s who inspired you?
Yes, I agree. And one thing I love about reading is that it inspires me to greater heights and depths in my own writing. I first fell in love with magical realism through reading Isabelle Allende. Then, at university, I discovered Alice Hoffman. After that, there was no going back. I do read other genres, but magical realism is my very favorite. The book that has, so far, inspired me beyond all others is The Night Circus by Erin Mortgenstern.
4) So Christmas is right around the corner. Are there any traditions that you and your family enjoy? Like decorating the Christmas tree for example.
Yes, I love Christmas! In fact, Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the holidays, since I find anticipation to be such a lovely emotion. I bake cookies with my mom and decorate the tree with my son and wrap presents with my sister-in-law. All this while my husband, a marvelous chef, prepares his glorious Christmas dinner in the kitchen.
5) So here goes another fun question. Tea or coffee when reading a good book or writing that next great novel?
Funnily enough, although I’m British, I didn’t start drinking tea until a few months ago when a friend gave me a teapot for my birthday. I’ve never drunk coffee, though I do love the smell. But my favorite drink, the one I have at least twice a day and while I’m reading and writing, is hot chocolate.
I would like to thank Menna van Praag for taking the time and stopping by Creatyvebooks. This was fun and awesome. I hope to do it again the next time.
Also The Dress Shop of Dreams is available tomorrow December 30, 2014 so I suggest you grab your copy asap. You don’t want to miss out on the magic that is The Dress Shop of Dreams.
As always thank you for your support. It means the world to me. Feel free to leave some feedback or a comment.