Jennifer Kloester speaks to Hypable about her debut novel The Cinderella Moment, being an optimist in the face of dystopian fiction, and more.
Jennifer Kloester’s The Cinderella Moment is the story of Angel, a girl who dreams of nothing other than being a fashion designer.
But things are not so straight forward when you are a cook’s daughter, and the new tenants are not making things easy. Still, Angel’s best friend, Lily, has a plan to allow Angel and Lily to both get what they want. All Angel has to do is pretend to be Lily for two weeks. Simple, right?
The Cinderella Moment will be released in Australia on July 24 2013, and in America on August 13 2013.
For more, read Hypable’s spoiler free review of The Cinderella Moment.
Exclusive interview: Jennifer Kloester
Tell us 5 interesting facts about yourself
1. I have a black belt in karate.
2. I live in an old manse. I love it and it has a perfect writing room.
3. I lived in the Star Mountains in Papua New Guinea for five years.
4. I have taken tea with the Emir of Bahrain.
5. I have three nomadic children and I get to visit them wherever they happen to be in the world.
Tell us about your inspiration for ‘The Cinderella Moment’
I have always wanted to write fiction. I have spent the last ten years writing about Georgette Heyer, which has been fantastic and really good training in many ways because she is such a good writer.
We were living in the Middle East, and I was at the hairdresser and was reading Harper’s Bazaar, and there was an article about some girls in Paris who every year get together. There were just these pictures of these beautiful dresses. I love haute couture, I love fashion, and I love watching all the different fads, and fashions, and styles that young people wear.
Reading that article I had this moment where the whole idea of Teen Couture just fell into my head, and Angel was just there as a girl who desperately wanted to be a fashion designer, and had all this passion, and talent, but none of the usual outlets for her to be helped. She was doing the one thing that she could do, which was entering the Teen Couture, which of course goes horribly wrong for her.
It was just that inspiration of incredible fashion, and young girl who had a real passion and a dream. I think often with those things, things get in the way but you have to try and overcome them anyway.
Why did you choose ‘Cinderella’ as the basis for the story?
I think it came as the story evolved. She wasn’t clearly a Cinderella character at the beginning, but it turned out that way. I really love the eternal nature of fairytales, and how they resonate with every generation.
We all love a happy ending. That belief in the possibility that things can happen that are out of the ordinary, the unexpected and the magical, and that their can be real life fairy godmothers.
It’s really interesting in the whole writing process what comes up out of the subconscious and from your own experience. I hadn’t even realised that the Comtesse was a fairy godmother, but she is obviously the person who can wave the wand over Angel and give her amazing clothes and an amazing couple of weeks in Paris, and yet it’s a masquerade, and a fantasy.
I didn’t plan everything, it just came as part of the writing process. Although some bits were planned, and it was an interesting mix. Part of the interesting part of being a writer is letting those bits inside you just come out, and emerge. It’s a really joyful process, really hard sometimes.
But quite an organic process
That’s a great word. Organic is very much the case. Certain things would just appear on the page as I was writing. I’m writing the sequel at the moment which is Lily’s story, and is called The Rapunzel Dilemma, so there’s another fairytale element happening.
Is the second book set after this story, or at the same time?
This is after. We follow Lily 3 months later in the next book.
Do you have a planned release for that, or is it too early?
I’m still writing, but Penguin are looking at it, and we are hoping maybe the end of the year or the start of the next year. But we will just see.
Obviously the novel is set in Paris – did you manage to do some kind of “research” trip?
I did, I definitely did. I had a wonderful time, and I did have lunch at the Ritz. And I went to the Louvre, to Musee d’Orsay, and of course to l’Orangerie where Nick takes Angel to see the Monet paintings.
I remember the first time I ever saw them I hadn’t known about them and I hadn’t expected, and I walked into the first room and I actually burst into tears. It’s the most moving place.
I wanted to bring it to life and have an organic reading of Paris because it’s such an iconic city. I love it, and I think it’s really important as a writer to walk the streets and breathe the air, smell and see and feel it.
Then it’s a very tactile thing that you can try and convey to the reader. You want it to be multidimensional. And I wanted The Cinderella Moment to be a very tactile book because it has so much fashion and fabric and making in it.
Tell us about your journey to be a writer
I have always been a reader, I love books, and I have always loved writing. It was really Georgette Heyer’s novels that I just love, and if you’re a Jane Austen fan then she is considered the next best thing. She writes such a great, witty, romantic, beautifully crafter novel.
So after I had done ten years of research and written my first two books, it was a really natural evolution for me to turn to fiction, which was always what I wanted to write. It was always my hope, and my dream to be a fiction writer, but it was kind of like I had to pay homage to Heyer first and do that work.
I think you really have to develop your writing muscle to be a writer. It’s a craft, it has to be learned, and I think it just takes time. It was like I had this story, The Cinderella Moment, simmering in my head all the time that I was doing this other work and other writing, so when I cam to write it a lot of it just flowed out in a really organic way.
It’s Stephen King who says, if you don’t have to time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write. I think you’ve got to be reading a lot and reading in the genre too. There are just some fantastic Young Adult writers out there at the moment.
I was just reading John Green’s Paper Towns, he is an amazing writer. And Lament by Maggie Stiefvater. Writers like that, you have really got to read what people are reading and read beyond that, across a lot of different genres. I think Stephen King is really right.
One of the things with The Cinderella Moment was that I wanted a book that was hopeful and fun. The world is a wonderful place, and obvious bad things do happen and there’s many a good dystopian novel, but you do need other things in the mix as well.
I want young people to see that the world can be wonderful, and that there are magic moments, and happy endings. I think I’m a bit of an optimist.
What do you find easiest to write, the first or the last time
The first, definitely the first. I think because I usually start with a character who is fairly clear in my head, so the first line usually tells you something about the character and something about the story. Because I have kind of got that in my mind before I begin, that seems to come reasonably easily.
But the last line, I am never quite sure. I usually have a really good vision of the last scene, but I’m not sure exactly who will end up doing what in it. But I have the first line for these three books, if it turns out to be a trilogy, already.
And who will the third book focus on?
The last book is a third person, and it is set in New York. So there’s Paris, London, and New York, and the Comtesse is in all three books. She’s the link. And Vidal will probably be there because I think there’s a relationship between him and her that may evolve a little more. There’s more to know about her.
More about ‘The Cinderella Moment’:
A love of fashion.
A couture competition.
A once-in-a-lifetime chance…
Angel wants to be a fashion designer, but without money or connections, it’s going to be a challenge. So when she gets a chance to head to Paris, Angle grabs it – even if it means masquerading as her best friends Lily. That can’t be too hard, can it?
But faking things doesn’t come easy, and when Angel meets her very own Prince Charming, things start to get complicated. She needs to stop her secrets unravelling if she wants to live happily ever…
More about Jennifer Kloester:
The Cinderella Moment will be released in Australia on July 24 2013 through Penguin, and in America on August 13 2013 by Month9Books USA under their Swoon Romance imprint.
Photo: Greg Noakes