Author Interview: Melissa Bashardoust

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse. We spoke with author Melissa Bashardoust about her inspiration, the magic of indie bookstores, and more.

“an alluring feminist fairy tale.”

Kirkus Reviews

Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.

My main inspirations for Girl, Serpent, Thorn, were Sleeping Beauty, the short story “Rappaccini’s Daughter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Persian folklore. I had been playing around with different ideas based on Sleeping Beauty and “Rappaccini’s Daughter”—in particular, I was fascinated with the contrast in a seemingly powerless or innocent heroine who was surrounded by something deadly, like thorns or poisonous plants. I wanted to write a heroine who could potentially also be a monster and explore both the danger and power in that possibility.

At this point, I had done some reading a few years earlier about Persian mythology, because I wanted to know more about the myths and stories of my own culture. As I was putting these early pieces together in my mind, an interesting parallel struck me between the good fairies and bad fairies of Sleeping Beauty and a similar kind of good fairy/bad demon dichotomy in Persian folklore. When I started to put these influences together, I became more and more convinced that this was the right setting for the story I wanted to tell, and I ended up drawing on the Persian epic the Shahnameh as well to create the world of Girl, Serpent, Thorn.

In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise listeners about your audiobook?

There are a few different twists and turns in the novel, but there’s one plot twist in particular that I’m most fond of and hope will come as a huge surprise!

Have you listened to your own audiobook? If so, what struck you about the narration?

I haven’t, yet! I tend to be a little shy about reading/listening to my own writing, but I heard the audiobook’s wonderful narrator, Nikki Massoud, read the prologue and part of the first chapter, and I loved the way she could evoke the book’s atmosphere with just her voice.

Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?

I’m a very visual person, so unfortunately, audiobooks are a little tough for me to absorb fully. (I’ve recently started branching out to podcasts, though, so I might try audiobooks next!)

What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?

I love the way independent bookstores turn book-buying into a memorable experience in itself. Each store has its own feel and personality, and so when you buy from an indie bookstore, you take a little bit of the store home with you as well.

I am so thankful to booksellers, not just for sharing their passion and expertise with me as a reader over the years, but also for their support and enthusiasm for my books as a writer. They spread the word better than I ever could, and maybe most important of all, they know which books to give to the readers who need them most.

Header photo by Teresa Marie Photography

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