Interview with Esther Dalseno author of Drown

I”m happy to introduce you all to Esther Dalseno. She is the author of Drown which is a reimagined story of The Little Mermaid. I recently wrote a review about it so check it out when you get the chance. Drown releases tomorrow October 31, 2015 which is really exciting. I had the pleasure of reviewing the book and interviewing her for the upcoming release. I was immediately drawn into this book and didn’t want to put it down. Everyone knows some version of The Little Mermaid story but this book is so different and beautifully written. I hope you enjoy this interview because I sure did and you take some time to know the author behind Drown. I’m looking forward to seeing what she does next with her upcoming releases. You can purchase Drown on amazon just follow this link.


Stephanie: First I want to tell you that this book was absolutely amazing. Your writing is so unique. It’s super detailed and full of imagery. As a person that majored in English with a focus in creative writing in college; I loved looking at this story in a critical literary way. Throughout the book you really pull at every emotion which as a reader I loved. I’ve also felt very lucky to be a reviewer for Drown and to have a part in this process has been great. I had so many questions to ask you in my head but I knew I needed to condense them.

Esther: THANK YOU SO MUCH for your beautiful words about DROWN! Sounds completely cliche, but it really makes me want to continue writing, hearing feedback like that!

Stephanie: What inspired you to write Drown?

Esther: The Little Mermaid has always been my favourite fairy tale. I enjoyed the Disney version a lot as a child, but it was the original Hans Christian Andersen version that really intrigued me. Whenever I revised it, questions seemed to arise like: Why on earth would a mermaid want to become a human when living underwater is obviously so awesome? What is the deal with this Prince guy? What exactly is the sea witch’s motivation here, it can’t be just because she’s “evil”? Where did the merfolk come from in the first place? So I decided to answer these questions for myself, and the result is DROWN.

Stephanie: What research or methods did you take in the process of writing Drown?

Esther: I am one of those writers who can’t just Google something and hope it suffices. I have to experience things for myself. While my next novel GABRIEL AND THE SWALLOWS incorporated two lengthy research trips to Italy, DROWN’S research was even more pleasurable than sampling fine wines in the Italian country side: scuba diving. The underwater atmosphere itself was the complete inspiration for the dreamlike tone and pacing of the narrative, and the behaviours of the marine life are reflected in the first half of the book.

Stephanie: You intertwined a lot of real life issues throughout the story. What are you hoping people get from this book?

Esther: I am hoping readers find that a lot of these troubled characters that do despicable things gain redemption at one point or another in their lives. DROWN mirrors a particular phase in the emotional development of some of these character’s journeys. For DROWN, I wrote backstories and future stories for every single character. Some of this I include in the novel, some I do not. Some details of the characters’ past or futures have simply been implied and it is up to the reader to figure it out…and it may take a second reading to do so!

Stephanie: When and why did you begin writing? Did it all start with Drown or have you been writing since you were a child?

Esther: I began writing as a child. My mother was very strict with me, one hour for practicing the piano a day, and one for writing! I loved it though. I wrote my first novel, a complete rip-off of Star Wars, when I was in the 6th grade. My brothers still tease me relentlessly for it. It was titled (and I am laughing with embarrassment as I recall it) “The Ring of Cyphan” and when I told both brothers recently that I was having a book published, they both immediately demanded, “Is it the Ring of Cyphan?”

Stephanie: Who are some of your favorite authors?

Esther: Haruki Murakami, Isabelle Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Ann Patchett. My favourite book of all time is “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell” by Susannah Clark, followed very closely by “Bel Canto” by Ann Patchett. I recommend everyone in the world to pick up these two books, if you haven’t already done so. They will literally change the way you experience reading and writing.

Stephanie: Your book really inspired me and I’m sure will inspire many more. Who or what inspires you?

Esther: What an incredibly wonderful thing to hear! Two things inspire me: reading as many books as I can manage and watching young women get out there, reach for the stars…then absolutely kill it.

Stephanie: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Esther: Never, ever give up.

Stephanie: What book are you reading at the moment?

Esther: “Sorcerer to the Crown” by Zen Cho – it’s a regency England fantasy that’s blowing up right now. Zen Cho is the hottest thing to come out of Malaysia – my mom is Malaysian-Chinese too, so that’s what initially got me interested.

Stephanie: I catch myself constantly looking at the cover when it’s on my shelf. I love the matte, smooth feel, and it’s absolutely beautiful. How did you decide on this cover and did you have a lot of say in the design process?

Esther: Thank you ! I’ve been very open about the fact that the cover is not at all what I had in mind when the process begun. But I have to say, I absolutely love it now! The cover is actually very clever – on the surface, it just looks like a pretty girl with a underwater fashion accessory – a jellyfish hat, kind of a frivolous, throw-away thing. But when you read the book, you will find that the cover is based on what I consider to be one of the cruellest and most horrifying passages in the book…and then the reader’s perception of the cover completely changes.

Stephanie: What does this cover mean to you?

Esther: It’s the first cover of my first novel – and I love it! Plus, I can tell who has truly read the book just by their comments about the cover.

Stephanie: That is is very true about the cover, it’s very telling once you read the book. I saw on your blog that a special edition of Drown will be released. This question is mostly for me because when I love a book I want to own it in every version. Do you have a publication date for that?

Esther: It’s being released to celebrate the publication of GABRIEL AND THE SWALLOWS, so I would assume February – March 2016, but don’t quote me on that!

Stephanie: What are some of the things you learned while writing this book and going through the publishing process?

Esther: That there is no set path to publication anymore, the tradition agent-to-publisher path is over. There are many ways to get there! And that writing is not so much a talent as a craft, it needs honing and practice, and never to neglect it.

Stephanie: I know you’re working on Gabriel and the Swallows. When is that set to be released?

Esther: Very poetically, it is being released on the same day migrating swallows return to Italy in the spring – that is, March 19, 2016.

Stephanie: Could you give us an idea or sneak peek into the book and what it’s about?

Esther: It’s a coming of age story about a poor, bullied farm boy named Gabriel Laurentis who lives two very real lives – one waking life, and one dream life. He is continually confusing the two realities when he happens to save a very odd creature who has been shot down over his family’s vineyard, a little girl with swallow’s wings. As he struggles to conceal the girl from the world with the help of the beautiful and mysterious foreigner Orlando Khan, he begins to question everything the foundling has ever told him, and sets out to discover the truth for himself. GABRIEL AND THE SWALLOWS has been described as “One Thousand Nights” meets “Chocolat”.

Stephanie: Would you ever consider writing another book inspired by a fairytale and if so which one?

Esther: That is an excellent question.

The answer is: Yes, I’d adapt “the Blue Bird” by Madame d’Aulnoy, because there’s just something eerie about a girl locked away for years and years, her only companion being a beautiful bird with blue plumage who visits her daily with gifts.
I am actually halfway through writing an epic adult fantasy based on the Greek myth “Cupid and Psyche” which spans about 1000 years of fallen gods on our earth (did I mention it was epic?). The narrator and protagonist is a nasty piece of work, so naturally he is the most enjoyable character I’ve written yet!

Stephanie: Thats amazing. It sounds super interesting. I really love books inspired by fairytales and I can only imagine what you could do with “the blue bird”. Hopefully I will get to read it and I can’t wait. Both of those sound super exciting and different.

Esther Dalseno was born in  rural Australia and has travelled the world writing and teaching. She has lived in Laos, Vietnam and South Korea. She was previously published in the acclaimed short story collection, We All Need a Witness, by Pan Macmillan.
Esther Dalseno was born in rural Australia and has travelled the world writing and teaching. She has lived in Laos, Vietnam and South Korea. Now she lives in Berlin with her husband, daughter, and dog. She was previously published in the acclaimed short story collection, We All Need a Witness, by Pan Macmillan.

It’s been great interviewing you and I hope to do it again for the next book. I just want to say a huge Congratulations again on this release. I know it was a long road, but the day is finally here. It was wonderful interviewing Esther Dalseno and I hope you all take the time to check out her newly released book Drown. It’s really different and a definite must read. I hope you enjoyed this interview and I hope to do it again for the next book.


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