Hello fellow artists and book lovers! I’m so excited to share with you about the upcoming YA fantasy release by Janeen Ippolito, Met by Midnight. I had the privilege of asking Janeen some questions about the book and her writing process, which you will see below. But first, here’s a description of the story:
An outcast prince. A captive healer. A single night that changes their destinies.
She lives a nightmare.
As a Mender, Renna is held captive to an endless cycle of receiving and recovering from the physical ailments of others—a cycle that led her mother to an early grave. When her father becomes deathly ill, Renna is desperate to save her only remaining family. Even if it means allying with criminals and taking an illegal mission into the royal palace on the night of their greatest ball.
He’s haunted by dreams.
Unable to be Mended, Prince Jaric’s existence is a curse to his family’s façade of health and security. Marrying him off at the ball and sending him to a distant dukedom is the royal solution—but Jaric has his own plans. For years he’s dreamed of a young woman, a strong-hearted Mender he would give everything for. When she arrives the night of his betrothal, he’s determined to discover her true identity.
Met by midnight, their fates are entwined.
While escape seems the only answer, powerful forces conspire to keep Renna and Jaric within their cages. Forces that undermine the foundations of the kingdom itself—and threaten any hope of a future together.
This YA romance features Cinderella in an original fantasy world with a dystopian twist.
And here’s the interview!
What inspired you to write a Cinderella retelling?
It wasn’t exactly intentional, although I have written others. My first finished, never-published book was a contemporary retelling of Cinderella, and in If Wishes Were Curse: The Steel City Genie 1, Allis’s side job as a house cleaner was a nod to Cinderella.
However, in terms of Met By Midnight…
One night I had an intriguing dream about a young woman in a blue dress racing toward a castle, even though another person was warning her away. She was there to steal something. Something incredibly important for her people. However, when she got there, a young man caught her—and oddly enough, he didn’t seem at all surprised to see her. But she was shocked to see him. End dream.
As soon as I started writing, I realized it was a Cinderella retelling, which made me super-happy, since that’s one of my favorite fairy tales—Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine is still one of my favorite books of all time.
How is Met by Midnight different or similar to your other books?
Well, it’s my first young adult book, for starters! I’ve edited YA, but never written it. My other books can absolutely be “read-up” by teens (I usually recommend 16+), but they’re not young adult in terms of theme or characters. Met By Midnight is YA all the way, so that was fun to work with (and a little daunting—so very glad for beta reader feedback). It also uses more poetic language, which I’ve always been capable of writing, but never really had a place for. While I write all of my prose according to beats and rhythms, it’s more obvious in Met By Midnight. I was going for pretty and intense and flowy.
Also, to be honest, this book doesn’t have quite as much humor. It’s still quirky, and I added in fun beats where I could, but I didn’t want to undermine the style of the story by being too goofy.
If you could spend a day with one of your characters from this book, who would it be and what would you do?
Oh, I want to spar with Keddyr and Jaric. I’m 100% sure they would win every time, but it would be fantastic to learn swordfighting from them. And then I’d play with Opal the dog.
Is Cinderella your favorite Disney Princess? If not, who is?
If we’re talking favorites, I always say Mulan or Anastasia (and I stand by those choices, even though Mulan isn’t a princess and Anastasia is technically not Disney). However, if I’m honest, I’ve always related to Cinderella more, especially in terms of dealing with situations I didn’t start but have to endure anyway—and trying to be optimistic through it. Plus, I clean to de-stress. No joke. I find it very therapeutic at times. And yes, I talk to animals, but that’s a whole ‘nother matter. 😉
How do you want your readers to feel at the end of the book?
I want them to feel joyful, relieved, and thoughtful. Like they went on one power-packed adventure that required them to go a bit deep, but also that they had moments of levity and breathing. I worked very intentionally during editing to add in some lighter spaces. As much as writing this book was cathartic for me (and hopefully will be for readers), I also want to end with hope and a bit of that humor that you find in a lot of my books.
What was the most fun part about writing this book? Most challenging part?
Most Fun: Hmmm, all of it? I really love writing character interactions, so that was a lot of fun. Building in the sibling banter between Jaric and Usilea, the friendship between Jaric and Keddyr, and the father-daughter stuff between Renna and Ertax was a blast. I enjoyed the sparring scene as well. And…yes, the shamelessly sappy romance and poetry was a blast.
Most Challenging: Managing to fit in the right about of world building. Because I wanted this story to be tightly focused, I didn’t want to go on tangents with shiny world building. So that took some effort to make sure I plugged all the holes without going overboard.
Also, making sure I explained how Mending and Mender brains work was challenging. I’d never tried so intentionally to make characters neuro-atypical. You’d think being neuro-atypical, it’d be easier for me, but being a thing and communicating a thing are two different…things, haha. So that was some extra work.
Did any particular music or movies/shows besides Cinderella inspire Met by Midnight?
Not really. I kept it close to different versions of Cinderella.
However, I do have a playlist I used quite a bit, so let me spam you with songs:
Book Theme Song – Rescue Me by OneRepublic – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8J_XjOdA3so
Jaric + Renna – Adore by Jasmine Thompson – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG3IbpsoIXo
Renna – God Only Knows – For King and Country (Timbaland remix feat. Echosmith) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyXpX4fuS0E
What does your writing routine look like?
Plan everything quite perfectly with one side of my brain and then watch in despair as the other side of my brain cackles madly and destroys everything. 😉Not really. But sort of. Writing gets shoved around my other two businesses (creative services and publishing company). I enjoy those businesses a lot, so sometimes the writing comes out because it has to, not because I’m always ready for it to emerge. At the same time, I really enjoy writing, even though it makes my life very messy.
And for fun, if you could spend vacation in any fictional place, where would it be?
Ohhh…a beach. Right now, definitely a beach. I miss the ocean so much! You know how in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, before the siblings are crowned at the end, they go down to the beach and splash around in the water? There. I want to go there. It’s only one or two sentences in the book, but man, I always enjoyed that part.
Janeen Ippolito believes in Jesus, true love, and the power of your unique words. She’s a bestselling author of speculative fiction, writing resources, and poetry. She’s also an editor, author coach, marketing strategist, and the president of Uncommon Universes Press. When she’s not immersed in the geektastic world of words, she’s helping her husband with his youth swordfighting ministry, exploring a slew of random hobbies, and posting up cute animal videos on social media. This extroverted writer loves to connect, so find her on Facebook, Instagram, and her website janeenippolito.com.
You can connect with the author on these platforms:
Email Newsletter: https://www.subscribepage.com/creativenewsletter
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/janeenippolitounique/