Today I am interviewing Rena Rossner, author of the new fantasy novel, The Sisters of the Winter Wood.
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DJ: Hi Rena! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Rena Rossner: I work as a literary agent, based out of Jerusalem, Israel, but I grew up on Miami Beach, Florida. I have 5 kids, and a pug named Pablo Picasso Neruda, and when I’m not writing or reading (which is almost basically never) you can find me crocheting, doing pottery, or baking (and making slightly more than the occasional cocktail…)
DJ: What is The Sisters of the Winter Wood about?
Rena: The Sisters of the Winter Wood is a fairy tale retelling of Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market poem, set in the town of Dubossary (where my great-grandfather came from) on the border of Moldova and Ukraine. It’s the story of two sisters, one that can turn into a swan and the other that can turn into a bear, and what happens when their parents go away and strange things start to happen in the nearby town.
DJ: What were some of your influences for The Sisters of the Winter Wood?
Rena: Christina Rosetti’s Goblin Market poem has always been one of my favorites, but I was also inspired by the Jewish/Hassidic Folktales that I grew up on, and their confluence with many Russian, Ukrainian, and Moldavian myths and legends. There are many swan-maiden and swan-prince folk tales, and the bear is one of the symbols of Russia, and the folk tale of the Shpoler Zaidy tells the story of a man who dances in a bear cloak to save a fellow Jew. It wasn’t too much of a jump to turn him into an actual bear, and so, parts of my story started to tell themselves. I also always wanted to read a fantasy novel with elements of the Yiddish language in it – which is a very colorful, and also sometimes magical language – and I knew that the only way that would happen is if I took the reigns and wrote one myself. Continue reading