Monday, September 3, 2012

Interview, Excerpt & Review: EL Sarnoff

It's a busy day at Storm Goddess! This place is hopping! As part of CLP tours, I have been lucky enough to interview DeWitched author, EL Sarnoff. I'm also able to share an excerpt, and have a review for DeWitched.  There's lots going on, and I'll say this now: Stick around for this one. If you like fairy tale re-tellings, you've got to check out DeWitched.

Hi, EL! I'm so glad to have you here with us today! Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

Tell me about yourself, and your writing.  My background is in television, mostly children's programming. I've had a prolific career developing, creating, producing, and writing popular TV series, including the original Power Rangers. DEWITCHED is my first novel. The concept came to me quickly.  It took me six months to write and over two years to edit. I learned that writing a novel is a heck of a lot different --and harder--than writing a script. One of the main things I had to learn in my journey was how to "show" and not "tell."

How long have you been writing? How many published books do you have, and what genres? I've actually been writing my entire life, be it poetry, short stories,  college theses (grrr!) and episodic television. I started writing DEWITCHED over three years ago. While I was editing it, I took the NANO writing challenge and wrote the sequel UNHITCHED. It will be published as both an ebook and paperback in October 2012. There will be third book, BEWITCHED, but that won't be available until the end of 2013.  Somewhere in between the two sequels, I will be publishing a serialized romance under a pen name.

Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre? Chick lit suits my writing style and voice. I am comfortable with fact that I will never be a great literary writer or win the Booker prize though I admire those great writers. I am in the middle of writing my first romance; it is written in the first-person voice of my 26-year old protagonist, and I must say it is quite racy.

Are you a plotter or do you write from the seat of your pants? *Sigh* I am a pantster. I usually just know how my books begin and end. When I start a novel, I write the last page first and then the first page.  My  fingers tap the keyboards and fill in the rest, often writing scenes out of order.  Somehow in the end, it all miraculously comes together!

What is a typical writing day like for you?  I get up early, around 5:30a.m., sometimes earlier. Coffee first! Then emails, fave blogs,  Kindle Boards, and some shameless self-promotion via Facebook and Twitter. By 7:00 a.m., I am either writing or editing. I distract myself periodically by checking my emails and Kindle Boards Writers' Cafe. (I'm addicted to that site!) I usually stop around 4:00p.m. when my twin daughters come home from school. Lately, I've been writing after dinner too, sometimes until 11:00p.m.

Who do you love to read? Favorite authors, favorite books? Yes, I love to read but wish I had more time to do it. When I was younger, I read every Nancy Drew and then later, mostly the classics, with a special affinity to books by Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, The Bronte Sisters and Ernest Hemingway. Nowadays, I read mainly bestsellers, and I also try to read books in my genre by fellow indie writers. Among contemporary authors, my favorites include Sophie Kinsella (she's my inspiration!), James Patterson, Daniel Silva, Dan Brown, and Janet Evanovitch. I also love the late Wendy Wasserstein whose first novel, ELEMENTS OF STYLE, is among my favorites. I tend to like series; I enjoy following the same characters from book to book and watching them grow.

What is something you'd like to accomplish in your writing career next year? I would love to have a book in the Kindle Store Top 100 Paid.  

If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be? Definitely to be able to become invisible. It would be fun to spy on people without them knowing you could hear and see everything.

If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have? I'm a dog lover. So it would have to be Superman's superdog, Krypto. Does that count?

Tell us a little about your latest release. DEWITCHED: The Untold Story of the Evil Queen is based on the premise: What if the Evil Queen from Snow White went to rehab for addiction to beauty and was given a second chance at happily ever after ?  Wickedly funny, darkly shocking, and deeply moving, it unravels the Snow White story as we know it and will make you see the evil legend in a new light as she rewrites her life.

What is something that you absolutely can't live without? (Other than family members) My baby grand piano. It has a hand painted chinoiserie case and ivory keys and was made in the  l920's. I keep treasured photos of my family on it.

Could you ever co author a book with someone? If so, who would you choose, and what would you write? I'd probably co-author with a girlfriend and write some kind of "How to," "What to Expect," or "Girlfriend's Guide to"  book.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be, and what would you do? What would you ask them? Diana Vreeland, the late, great legendary editor of Vogue. When I'm not writing in my PJ's, I'm a little bit of a fashionista. I would want to go to her fabulous apartment and play show and tell with all her stylish clothes and jewels. And then have tea and hear all her outrageous stories. And then I would ask her to take me on a shopping spree and give me a style makeover.

What are some of your other hobbies outside of writing? Flea markets (the kinds with vintage clothes and antiques), reading, travel, and games --especially Scrabble and Sudoko. I also serve on the Board of the Costume Council at the Los Angeles Museum of Art and raise funds for the Costume and Textiles department through big events that I create and oversee.

If you were on the staff to have a book adapted to movie, what would you pick? I'd love to make DEWITCHED into a movie. I want Drew Barrymore to star in it,  direct, and produce it.

What is a talent you wish you had, but don't? There are so many. On the top of the list, do ballet and sing.

Favorite color? Black even though it's not really a color.

Weather: Hot or cold? Definitely cold. I love fall/winter fashions--  snuggy sweaters, scarves and hats.  I also love curling in front of our fireplace with a good book.

Favorite place to read? In any comfy chair or bed.

Favorite meal Sushi and a hot Sake.

Favorite non-alcoholic drink. Diet Coke.

If you could travel anywhere and do anything, no limits or money holding you back, where would you go? The first place I would go would be Paris. While I've been there several times before, I can never get enough of the City of Lights. And to have a limitless budget?  Oh mon dieu!

After serving time for Snow White’s attempted murder, the Evil Queen is about to get a makeover. Just not the kind she expected. Thinking she’s being sent to a luxurious spa that will enable her to restore her beauty and recapture her title, Fairest of All, Jane Yvel instead finds herself at Faraway, a rehab center that caters to fairy-talelanders addicted to evil.

Upon confronting her love-hate relationship with her magic mirror, she is sent back to the world of happily-ever-after. Her goal: to discover the true meaning of beauty. Her assignment: to work for Marcella, a demanding Princess-In-Waiting. Jane finds herself irresistibly drawn to Marcella's dashing fiancé, Prince Gallant, and his exquisite seven-year old daughter, Calla Rose. Will the Evil Queen who had no heart end up with a heart that’s broken?

Wickedly funny, darkly shocking, and deeply moving, DEWITCHED unravels the Snow White story as we know it and will make you see the evil legend in a new light as she rewrites her life.


So relaxed, I’m not looking forward to my second session with Shrink, especially
after all the insults she threw in my face yesterday. The nerve of her! She’ll be sorry if
she pulls that stuff on me today. I’ll have her on her knees, begging for forgiveness.
Then I’ll stomp on her and turn her into pixie juice.
 “Hello, Jane,” says Shrink in her no-nonsense voice as she flies into her office.
 Lying on the velvet chaise, I tilt my head up slightly and gaze at her with disdain.
 “Jane is an interesting name,” she begins. “It rhymes with both ‘plain’ and ‘vain.’"
"Which one are you--a plain Jane or a vain Jane?”
Plain Jane. The two words send a chill down my spine. It’s been so long since I’ve
heard them, yet I can still hear my mother’s deprecating voice as if it were only
yesterday. “You waste of human space. You’re nothing but a plain Jane.”
 “Well, Jane, which one are you?” Shrink’s words hurl me back to the moment.
 “I’m not answering that question.”
“Well, then I’ll answer it for you. You’re a vain Jane. That’s why your best friend
was a mirror.”
How does she know that my best friend was a mirror? Of course, she read my
“admissions form.” Some enrollment application! It was just a bunch of trick
questions to reveal my secrets. Sasperilla was right; they’re all spies around this
 “What did you use to ask your mirror?”
 “None of your business.”
 “Jane, that’s not what you used to say to your mirror. Now, tell me, what you
really asked it.”
 “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?”  I blurt out, unable to
control myself.
 “And why did you ask your mirror this question?”
 “Because it told me I was the fairest.”
 “And why did you need to hear this?”
 “B-because…” I squirm.
 “Because you needed instant gratification,” steps in Shrink. “Instant gratification
is a fundamental part of an addict’s personality.”
“I am not an addict!” I shout, straightening up.
“And what happened when your mirror told you someone else was the fairest one
of all?”
 “I tried to kill her!” Wait! Why am I telling her all these things? What’s wrong
with me?
“Yes, your addiction to beauty drove you to evil.”
“Stop it!” I grip the arms of the chaise. “You think you know everything about me,
but you don’t!”
 “Jane, you are here because you have a problem. And I am here to help you
overcome your problem.”
“The only problem I have is that I’m stuck in this nuthouse. I didn’t ask to come
 “You agreed to come here.”
 “It was all a bunch of lies! I was tricked! I thought I was being sent to a spa! I
want to go back that dungeon!”
 “It’s too late. You can’t go back.”
 What! I’m stuck here? Rage crescendos inside me.
 “Here’s the deal,” she says to my face. “Everyday at this time for the next three
weeks, you are going to talk to me about your life. I will listen with a third ear and
find the underlying cause of your addiction. Then I will share this discovery with you,
and we will work together toward a complete recovery.”
 I’m about to explode. There’s no way I’m going to spend three weeks opening up
to this flying bug of a woman who has some invisible third ear.
“You can’t keep me here!” I shout. “I’ll run away. Escape! In fact, I’m going to
say good-bye to this dump right now.”
I bolt off the chaise and head straight for the door.
“Good luck,” says Shrink. “But may I remind you of the high stone wall, the
locked gate, and the armed guardsman. And I almost forgot, there’s a moat.”
 I stop dead in my tracks. Why did she have to remind me? Rage becomes despair.
I’m stuck in this madhouse!
The chime sounds.
“Time’s up for today, Jane. I’ll see you here tomorrow.”
Leaving a blinding trail of fairy dust, she zips out the door.
I’ve got to get out of here. I’ve got to! Before that insidious bug of a woman who
calls herself a therapist makes me completely insane. That also rhymes with Jane. I
tremble as I put them together. Insane Jane.


REVIEW:  We all know the story of Snow White, and how the evil queen has had so much hatred for her.  It's been told countless times. It's become a classic. The story of DeWitched has a completely different take....the story is told in the Queen's point of view, and what a ride readers are taken on. The Queen is on trial and gets sentenced for the attempted murder of Snow White.  This story is very well written and imaginative. I was interested right away. The pages just flew by!  It's definitely a keeper.  There are moments that are funny, some are touching and emotional, and there's some action packed scenes, too.  I am almost speechless when trying to describe this book. I want more, more more from EL Sarnoff!   I highly recommend this book.

Author Bio:  

Ellen Levy-Sarnoff, writing under the name E. L. Sarnoff, has enjoyed a prolific career in the entertainment industry, creating, writing, and producing television series, including the original Power Rangers. She lives in Los Angeles with her Prince Charming-ish husband, twin princesses, and a bevy of pets. She’s also a not-too-evil stepmother. When she’s not writing in her PJ’s, she likes to dress up and pretend she’s Hollywood royalty.
DEWITCHED: The Untold Story of the Evil Queen is Ellen's first novel.  The sequel, UNHITCHED, will be available on October 29, 2012.

Connect with EL Sarnoff!

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  1. What a fabulous review! This is a 5 star book :)

  2. Great review! DeWitched sounds like a book I would really enjoy reading!