Kalynn Bayron is the bestselling author of CINDERELLA IS DEAD. She is a classically trained vocalist and when she’s not writing you can find her listening to Ella Fitzgerald on loop, attending the theater, watching scary movies, and spending time with her kids. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas with her family. Kaylnn was the author of the month of our August Issue. The Teen Magazine reviewed Kalynn's book, Cinderella Is Dead, and invited her for a Q/A session over email.
About Cinderella Is Dead
It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.
Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her stepsisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew.
This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.
Cinderella Is Dead follows the story of Sophie who lives in the same town as Cinderella's but it is not following the same happy ending the original fairytale showed us. Instead, the town is built high of patriarchy and no girl is truly free. Cinderella married Prince Charming 200 years ago and since then has set a nightmare for every other girl in her kingdom, Lille.
“I don't want to be saved by some knight in shining armor. I'd like to be the one in the armor, and I'd like to be the one doing the saving.”
First off, I love Kalynn Bayron's writing style. It captures the theme of the story perfectly, it's descriptive and the narrations fits itself according to the pace of the story, which is just as amazing. The story is fast-paced and a quick read, which covers love and fantasy. And if that is not amazing enough, the representation shown is just as amazing.
It is sadly true that many books do not represent POC and queer characters but Kalynn Bayron did not hold back on representations. Sophia knows she is queer and is in love with her best friend Erin, and she wants to accept it and prove it to the world. Luke likes his best friends and his representation in the story showed us what it feels like to be discovered as queer in Lille. Erin is struggling with her sexuality, but she does not want to accept the fact. She wants to fit in with the rules of Lille set to make a girl “perfect” like Cinderella. And Constance is a queen who knows her worth and would not let anyone else define it. Written from a perspective of a bold queer character, Sophia it perfectly shows how someone feels when they are told to hide their identity.
I was twelve when I told my parents that I would much rather find a princess than a prince. They had gone into a state of panic, from which they emerged with a renewed sense of determination. They told me that in order to survive I would have to hide how I felt. I was never very good at it, and the weight of that mask grows heavier with each passing year. I want nothing more than to cast it aside.
Concluding, this story of heroic queer girls who literally takes over the world should definitely be read by everyone. It is thrilling, empowering, and leaves you in awe.
Interview With Kalynn Bayron
Q1. What inspired the idea of your novel 'Cinderella is Dead?' When did you first got the idea to write it?
I’ve always loved fairy tales but I didn’t have an opportunity to see Black girls in fairy tales for the entirety of my childhood. I didn’t get to see Black Disney princess until Princess Tiana and she’s a frog for most of the movie! I was 26 when that came out.
Because we are exposed to fairy tales from the time we’re young, they absolutely have the potential to affect how we see the world and our place in it. What does it say to us when there is no representation? It tells us that we don’t belong, that there isn’t room for us, that our existence is an afterthought. So, I took this well known, hugely popular fairy tale, Cinderella, and I used it to explore the ways stories affect us, while also allowing my main character Sophia to uncover a truth that sheds new light on the Cinderella story itself.
Q2. How much time did it take for you to write the book?
I drafted Cinderella Is Dead over the course of about 8 months in early 2016. And it went through some significant changes from that point up until 2018 when we sold it to Bloomsbury.
Q3. Who is your favorite character from the book and why?
I love Sophia. She’s determined, she knows who she is and what she wants. But I also really love Constance. She’s so smart and strong, but also completely head over heels for Sophia and doesn’t mind being more vulnerable and open around her.
Q4. Out of your family and friends, who supported you the most?
My partner and our kids have always been extremely supportive. Embarking on a career in writing isn’t something that is guaranteed to be a success and even if you’re successful it’s not something you go into for the money. You do it because you love it, because you have something to share, something to say. I told my partner and our kids that I was going to start writing full time and that it would be a long, uncertain road but it was something I needed to do. They were all in from day one. I don’t know where I’d be without them.
Q5. Will you be having any upcoming books? Are you currently working on something?
I have another YA out next year. It’s a contemporary fantasy set in upstate New York. It’s dark and atmospheric with lots of twists. I like to describe it as Little Shop of Horrors meets the Secret Garden.
Q6. During these times, many writers are experiencing writer's block. Would you like to give any advice to them?
Whenever I feel like I need a little inspiration, I read something in the genre and age category I’m writing in. Other writers have always inspired me and now that I’m an author too, that hasn’t changed! I’m never short on ideas, but when I run into plotting or world-building issues I like to talk it out with my friends (most of whom are writers too) and that usually helps me solve whatever the problem is.