Author Interview: Jodi Lynn Anderson on “Tiger Lily”, the real location of Neverland, and more!

Welcome to my stop on the “Tiger Lily” blog tour, everyone! I’m Usagi, and I’ll be your hostess today. As you all know, I adore fairy tales (and fairy retellings), so I absolutely fell in love with Jodi Lynn Anderson’s “Tiger Lily” (a retelling of “Peter Pan”) when I read it. I had so many questions after I finished it, and I was surprised when I was asked to be on the blog tour and get my questions answered all in one fell swoop!

So now, we talk to Ms. Anderson about her take on Barrie’s tale of never growing up, Neverland, transgender characters in YA, and more!

Jodi Lynn Anderson: Thank you, these are such excellent questions!

Usagi: You’re quite welcome! I loved “Tiger Lily” and I had so many lingering questions, so hopefully I’ll get some of those answered today. Let’s get on with the interview, shall we? Why do a retelling of Peter Pan at all? And why from Tiger Lily’s POV?

JLA: J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and Wendy is one of my favorite books of all time. Barrie’s Peter has always felt so real to me: irresistible and also, careless. I started asking myself why, with a courageous and beautiful girl like Tiger Lily on the island, Peter would have devoted himself to fussy Wendy. I had this strong sense of a difficult and passionate love story – it became so big in my mind, so quickly, that it felt like it had already been written. After that, I couldn’t stay away.

Jodi Lynn Anderson, responsible for making Tiger Lily even more of a badass character than before.

U: Explain the theory you created by asserting (if I’m correct) that North America essentially was Neverland before the Europeans came to colonize. I found this facet of your book especially interesting, and would love to further explore this idea.
JLA: Great question. I was actually picturing Neverland as an isolated tropical island –somewhere far off the beaten path, but maybe not too far off certain trade routes. I wanted to offer a reason why mermaids and faeries and people who never grow older might exist in a real world. So I thought, this island is so isolated that life has evolved differently here than it has in other places. I wanted to give the sense that Neverland might very well still exist in the real world, even now. Also, I’m intrigued by the idea that just a couple of hundred years ago, the globe was still so unexplored: that sense of mystery feels so magical to me.

U: Would you say that Tik-Tok is a transgender character? If so, explain why you created the character this way, since there seem to be so few trans characters in YA right now.
JLA: Yes! Tik Tok snuck up on me – I didn’t really set out to write him a certain way, he just appeared. But I’d say that subconsciously, there were several reasons: Tik Tok’s gender identity plays into a lot of the themes of the book: conditional vs. unconditional love, society’s rules vs. personal freedom, what girls are “supposed to be” and what boys are “supposed to be”. To be honest, it makes me so angry that anyone thinks they have the right to dictate whom a grown person is allowed to love, or who they are allowed to be. I think Tik Tok came from of all of that.

U: Are you considering doing retellings of other children’s classics like “Peter Pan” in the future? Or was this a one-shot sort of deal?
JLA: I have no plans to do another one. But it’s always possible the inspiration will strike!

U: What is your favorite children’s classic?
JLA: Besides Peter Pan And Wendy? I love Charlotte’s Web. I have this amazing edition of it that I just love to hold.

U: If you could rewrite any children’s classic that hasn’t already been rewritten within YA recently, which one would it be? I’d vote for the more obscure ones, but, you know…that’s just me.
JLA: I think Sleeping Beauty is pretty interesting and rich. I keep dreaming about the troll under the bridge but I’m not sure how I’d write that!

U: What inspires you?
JLA: Places –especially the outdoors and big old houses. Great books. How people are such a mixture of strengths and weaknesses. Car rides, train rides, plane trips. Things that are left unsaid. Also, my grandma’s farm and the woods and animals always seem to sneak into all of my books!

U: If you could create a modern soundtrack for this book, what would it be? You get eight tracks. Make them count!
JLA: I kept a soundtrack while I was writing Tiger Lily, and the lyrics really helped to guide me, and inspired several scenes. For ex., there’s a scene where Tink sees Peter in the snow that wouldn’t have existed without the song “The Park” by Feist (who, in my mind, looks like Tink). Here are eight of the songs, in chronological order, to go with the story. I also have a full soundtrack posted on my Facebook page.

I Wish I Was the Moon – Neko Case

Knife – Grizzly Bear

Animal – Miike Snow

The Good Times Are Killing Me – Modest Mouse

All the Wild Horses – Ray LaMontagne

Revelator – Gillian Welch

The Park — Feist

For Today – Jessica Lea Mayfield

U: What are your future projects? If you can’t reveal them, what are any projects you’d like to do?
JLA: I’m working on a ghost story set on a peninsula in Wisconsin. It’s full of snow and ice and it’s about two girls who live next door to each other but have very different lives. I also just started a middle grade book called The Ordinary World, about a journey across the earth.

U: Finally, do you have a message for this particular book for the audience out there?
JLA: I think if there were one thing I’d want to say about this book, it’s that I wanted it to be a real love story – no sugar coating, no perfect guy, no almost-perfect girl — but still, hopefully, swoon worthy.

U: Thanks so much for stopping by, Jodi! You guys can read my review of “Tiger Lily” here. It’s out now from HarperTeen, so be sure to check it out when you get the chance – definitely an awesome summer read!


One thought on “Author Interview: Jodi Lynn Anderson on “Tiger Lily”, the real location of Neverland, and more!

  1. Pingback: Stacking the Shelves: Week 12 – ALA Edition Part 4! | birth of a new witch.

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