I started reading Daisy Piper’s Princess Callie and the Totally Amazing Talking Tiara by the light of an LED flashlight during a particularly nasty storm that knocked out our power. Somehow, that seemed fitting, like I was a little kid staying up past her bedtime, hiding under the blankets to sneak in just a few more pages. Calandria Arabella Philomena Louisa Anastasia Richards, Callie for short, got me through what could have been an incredibly boring night, as I was starting to get stir crazy five minutes after the power went out (I would never have survived on the prairie).
Callie’s story begins on her 12th birthday, which starts out with a message in her cereal from another land and just gets stranger from there. By the end of the day, before her celebratory pizza has even had a chance to start digesting, Callie has received a mysterious package from a stranger, butt heads with the class bully, found out she was really a princess, discovered a door hidden on the floor of her late mother’s garden, descended a stairway into a magical kingdom, and chatted with a pair of Gargoyles name., of all things, Terry and Kevin. And those STILL aren’t the strangest things that will happen to Callie before the story ends. With the help of her best friend Lewis, a cast of endearing characters, and the titular talking tiara, Callie will have to stop an evil queen from stealing the Enchanted Throne and enslaving the entire kingdom. Did I mention that she’s only just turned 12?
Princess Callie and the Amazing Talking Tiara is such a fun book. Daisy Piper expertly crafted an entire world-complete with it’s own disturbingly gross cuisine- and brought it to life right before my eyes. Callie is an awesome little girl full of kindness and wit, with a little more than a hint of fragility. She’s lost her mother in a tragic accident, and the remaining scar throbs deeply for our young heroine, but somehow she still manages to overcome adversity and save the day. She’s a great role model for young girls, and I really think that the tweens that this book is geared towards will love her as much as I did.
Callie’s creator, Daisy Piper, agreed to do both an interview and a giveaway. Details for the giveaway follow the interview. My questions are in bold.
The talking tiara is a little different than I envisioned based on the title. I was picturing a cutesy, single-voiced sweet little thing, but your tiara is much more awesome and fiercely protective of its wearer. What inspired you to create such a loquacious piece of headwear?
The inspiration for the Talking Tiara is actually a famous royal tiara known as the Russian Fringe Tiara, or George III Tiara. This piece is in the personal collection of Queen Elizabeth II. I was looking through a book about royal jewels one day and came across a photo. To me, the diamond covered spikes resembled teeth. It didn’t take much for me to imagine them roaring and snapping like jaws.
Princess Callie and the Totally Amazing Talking Tiara is filled with strange and often funny names of places, people, and food. Do these names just pour out of your mind, or is there some sort of method to creating them?
Sometimes funny names just pop into my head as I’m writing, and other times I research unique names for people, places and things. I have a great reference book called The Character Naming Source Book, which I use all the time. It was compiled by author Sherrilyn Kenyon, and lists over 20,000 first and last names across cultures–everything from Anglo-Saxon, Greek, Slavic, and Teutonic.
Creating a whole new world is hard work and requires a large amount of creativity. Did you use any particular tools to help get those creative juices flowing? For example, a particular soundtrack, a special writing spot, or a magic wand? I’m only half-kidding about the magic wand, by the way!
Actually, one of the best writing tools I have ever used is a treadmil! I did a lot of story plotting in my head as I ran on my treadmil, then I would write down the scene afterward. I think something about the rhythm of running, along with the beat of some high-energy music, was almost hypnotic. It was very easy to immerse myself in the world of Albion.
Callie’s best friend, Lewis, is a loyal and steadfast pal that helps Callie realize her true potential. Is he based on a real childhood friend?
Yes! When I was Callie’s age, I had a best friend named John Lewis. We spent a lot of time at the local library, playing chess, and working on school projects. When it came time to create a counterpart for Callie, I didn’t have to look far for inspiration.
Each member of the royal family gets their own dragon, and Callie’s is definitely rather unique. If you were a member of the Albion royal family, what type of dragon would you have?
I know exactly what type of dragon I’d have–one just like Callie’s royal dragon, Earle! I’m a dog lover (I have two), and for me, dragons are a lot like dogs, only bigger and with wings. I think dragons would have a lot of the same qualities dogs have–loyalty, bravery, and intelligence. They would cost a lot to feed, though!
Princess Callie is geared towards the tween-girl demographic. What were your favorite books at that age?
Some of my favorite books at that age were THE WOLVES OF WILLOUGHBY CHASE, by Joan Aiken, A WRINKLE IN TIME, by Madeline L’Engle, and THE LITTLE HOUSE books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
I read on your website that you are planning at least 5 books planned for Callie, do you have them all mapped out or are you taking them one at a time?
I have a general story arc for the series planned in my head. I don’t have each book planned at this point, because I find that as I’m writing one book, story ideas pop up for the next book which I could never have anticipated. I am currently in the final stages of Book II–PRINCESS CALLIE AND THE FANTASTIC FIRE-BREATHING DRAGON–which I am planning to release shortly.
Time moves much differently in Albion than it does on Earth, which I imagine can make it a little challenging to plan out the timeline for the books. Will all the books take place while Callie is still 12, or do you plan to age her through each story?
I plan to age her through each story, but the timeline between books may not always be the same. Because time moves differently between the two worlds, I have to plan each book very carefully.
Note- This review and interview was originally connected to a giveaway, which has ended. The winner has received her copy, and her name can be found on the Winners List.