Author Sophie Anderson talks to us about her new book, The Snow Girl, and the inspirations behind it.
Sophie Anderson is one of the best-known children’s authors today; her debut The House with Chicken Legs was Waterstones Book of the Month, she is the winner of the Independent Bookshop Book of the Year Award, shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal twice, the Waterstones Children's Book Prize, the Blue Peter Book Award and British Book Awards' Children's Fiction Book of the Year.
The Snow Girl is an exquisite reimaging of the Russian fairytale The Snow Maiden – which has inspired a ballet, an opera, numerous retellings, including Eowyn Ivey’s The Snow Child. Sophie’s children’s reimagining tells the story of a lonely girl who wishes a snow-made girl to life. It’s a story of friendship, family and above about living life to the full.
- The Snow Girl is a reimagining of The Snow Maiden – why did you choose that fairy tale to base your story on?
I love the magical, wintry imagery and the character of the Snow Maiden, who is so full of joy. And I love the message that it’s better to live life to the full, chasing love and happiness as much as possible.
- What is it that you love about fairy tales?
Fairy tales whisk you away to a faraway, enchanted realm – a place full of magic, wonder and danger. Yet they manage to feel familiar, safe and comforting, too, like a hug from a kindly ancestor! Wrapped up in these seemingly simple tales are layers of meaning, endless interpretations, so that no matter how many times you hear or read a fairy tale, you can find something new and surprising within it.
- Why do you think that fairy tales have endured and continue to be told today?
I believe these stories have survived for thousands of years because they hold vital truths about what it means to be human. They are short, memorable, imaginative tales that explore big ideas, universal hopes and fears, and contain deep wisdom that can help us navigate life. They are, in many ways, trails of breadcrumbs through the forest to show us others have walked the way before.
- What else inspired you while writing The Snow Girl?
The landscape, wildlife and community found in The Snow Girl were very much inspired by The Lake District, where I live. I often look to my own surroundings to inspire my settings, although I do tend to add things I may have seen on my travels, too!
- If you could visit any place in your book, where would you go and why?
I’d take a sleigh ride through the snowy woods to look for wolves and wildcats. Encounters with wild animals – even brief glimpses of them – are such magical, soul-swelling experiences!
- Fairy tales often have a moral or a message, what do you hope readers will take away from your book?
Within the pages of The Snow Girl there are different characters, storylines and messages, and I hope that readers will find something that resonates with them. Finding meaning in a book is a deeply personal thing and I think it's only natural that different readers will find meanings that are unique to them at that particular time in their lives. This is, I think, part of the magic of fairy tales!
- Do you have a favourite place to write?
At home. I have a small desk in a shared family room we call the library because it is so full of books. It’s very cosy and I love the fairy lights I’ve just added!
- What is your number one tip for young Writers who aspire to be an author?
Be honest - write your truth, from your heart. But remember you can clothe it in as much fantasy as you like!
- Can you share any sneak peeks or hints about what you’re working on next?
I can’t share much, but I can say there is a familiar character in it!
- Where can fans find out more about you and your work?
The Snow Girl is published by Usborne Publishing Ltd and is available to buy from 26th October 2023.