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Eating Cookie Dough with Winter Demons in “Bitter Snow” – Interviewing Lauren Sweet


Part 2 of my Tour Features with author Lauren Sweet

Happy Holidays, Lauren! Thank you for taking the time to interview with me. This interview process has become a somewhat infamous Cabin Goddess standard which I customize up for each author, but the main gist is the same so it becomes a feature, and everyone loves my interviews!. I hope you enjoy answering these, as they can be quite fun if you want them to be! I tried to create something that fits with my blog and its readers while also allowing you to express yourself and discuss your book in a non-traditional way, if you choose to go that route. In other words, my blog is fun, so have fun yourself! See more examples of just how much fun and how much time I put into making this one heck of a great spotlight.

LS – Thank you for having me! This was a fun interview—hope you and your readers enjoy it.

CG -Tweet the book: You are challenged to tweet a synopsis of the book to include your tweet handle, GO!

@writerlaurens Boy meets girl. Girl possesses boy. Anybody know a good banishing spell? #demonscrashedmyparty

Please ReTweet


Tell me your secrets!

CG – Introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you. Tell us something NOT in your bio, give us a dirty little secret not having or having to do with your writing – please take the chance to not take yourself to seriously and enjoy… (example, you secretly like to watch Spaghetti Westerns and Reader’s Digests are stacked to the rafters in the attic). pajamas

Wow, starting right off with the dirty secrets. We’re not messing around here, are we? Okay—I always work in my pajamas. I get up in the morning, take off my sleeping pajamas, and put on my working pajamas to do my writing and editing. No lie. Favorite pajamas – sock monkeys. With matching slippers.

Shania-SweetAlso, I love country music. (Is that a dirty secret? To some people I know, it is.) One of my favorite country songs ever is Blake Shelton’s “Austin” because it’s super-sappy. I also love to sing karaoke, during which I often pretend I’m Shania Twain.

And I eat raw cookie dough. I’m not even scared of salmonella.   eating-cookie-dough

Traditions (perfect question for a holiday interview)

CG – Across America there are towns like Bremerton tucked away, but none like Bremerton in their traditions. How important do you feel traditions are?

I personally love traditions! I usually spend Christmas with my cousins, and we have all kinds of small traditions that we love—like, on Christmas day we take turns opening one present at a time, in rotating order from the oldest person to the youngest (it takes hours!). I think small traditions like that give our family a sense of belonging, and tie together all the Christmases that we’ve spent together. It makes the holiday special and comfortable at the same time.

I don’t know if anybody could really get an entire town to all follow one tradition like they do in Bremerton, but I loved the idea of creating this place that derives its sense of identity so strongly from its history and traditions. The demons parading through the streets on St. Nicholas’s Eve is taken from St. Nicholas’s Eve traditions in parts of Europe, although the way they do it in Bremerton (with the bonfire and the cage) came completely from my imagination. I also invented the part about the demons going from house to house, the chanting, and the ritual words that the people say. I thought it would be cool to have a tradition that seemed like just an old superstition—not opening the door to the demons—and then to find out that the danger was actually real.

World Building for “Bitter Snow

CG – Tell us a little about Bremerton and the inspiration behind the town? How did you get the idea to blend the two modern with the old countries traditions? Is there a real Bremerton out there?

I love it that you want to know more about my little town! Bremerton became almost like a character in the book for me. It’s completely imaginary, because I built it around a set of specific characteristics that I needed for the story to work. But like so many characters, it took on a life of its own.  

Bremerton had to be small, because only a very small town could have that kind of cohesiveness, where every single person would participate in this one tradition. And it had to be isolated, because I needed it to be relatively free of outside influences, far from help (like major police forces), and on the edge of a sparsely populated wilderness area (because of later story developments).

Once I decided to blend Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen character with Perchta (who is a German/Scandinavian pagan goddess), and turn the generic demons from the fairy tale into Krampus demons, I realized that the culture of the town would have to be Bavarian/Austrian. I knew that there were tiny towns in the upper midwest with very strong German roots, that were predominantly German-speaking well into the twentieth century, so I decided Bremerton would be that kind of town (though I didn’t model it after any particular one).

Then, I tried to imagine what a town like that might really be like. How everybody would know everybody, and how that would affect the atmosphere of the town and the way the people interact. What it would be like to be a teenager in a place like that, where everyone knows who you are, there are no strangers, and you’ve known every kid in school since kindergarten. And as I wrote, Bremerton just sort of grew on the page—and so did the minor characters like the orchestra director and the bratwurst man. 

Flash Fiction & Dreams of Genre

CG – Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you have ever tried your hand in or plan to try?  

Already on it—I just write books that try to fit in all genres at once. J My first published novel, Aladdin’s Samovar (which will eventually be a series) is a humorous mystery/paranormal/romance about a woman who finds a genie in a brass samovar, makes a wish, and ends up on the run from the Mafia with her long-lost father. Bitter Snow is YA paranormal romance/adventure/fantasy. Now I just need to write some historical literary dystopian sci-fi women’s fiction, and I think I’ll have all the major genres covered. Wait. I think I’ll do that now. (See flash fiction below.)

CG –  If you want you to, and I would love it if you did, write a flash fiction of no more that 500 with the prompt of “darkness” since winter is here (Yes this could work with romance, mystery, humour, textbooks on quantum physics.. own it, title it and GO!) This can even be as short Haiku, just have fun!

Darkness Falls Over Planet Gecko

Amaryllis stood on the roof of the ruined building, looking out at the destruction of Planet Gecko. Ever since the alien Zargu had abducted her from the Prince Regent’s ball in London, she had seen marvels that a poor gamekeeper’s daughter could never have imagined. Her silk gown and matching pelisse were badly soiled, though, she noted sadly.

That red button on Zargu’s ship should have had a warning sign. How was she to realize it would unleash a neutronic-sonic barrage that could level a civilization and overload the engine capacitors? She had thought it would summon the butler.

Now, she and Zargu Hzrthcthlu were the only two sane creatures left on this world, forced to scratch out a living among the ruins, fighting the mutant Gecko lizard people for every scrap of sustenance. She watched the setting sun—a fiery red eye closing upon the dusky horizon, leaving her to dread the coming darkness. Darkness that mirrored her soul.

Killing geckos and foraging for food left no time for her to be just a woman—a person in her own right. Was it wrong to want a husband and children, a cottage in the country?

She heard a slithering sound behind her. Whirling, she fired her laser pistol with deadly accuracy. One more gecko dead, in a never-ending stream of rabid geckos. Amaryllis fell to her knees and succumbed to existential despair.

CG – When you were growing up what was one (or two or three) of your favorite books? (doesn’t matter what age, we all can think back and have that one book that stuck to us and gave us the bug)?

HCA-The Snow Queen

One of my favorite books was the one that started this whole “Snow Queen” thing—The Snow Queen and Other Tales giant-sized Golden Book.

My copy accidentally got given away with a lot of childhood toys and things, but I managed to score another copy at a used bookstore years later. (For ten bucks—now it’s selling for $75 and up on Amazon. Who knew?)

Other childhood favorites: the Mushroom Planet books by Eleanor Cameron; Shadow Castle by Marion Cockrell, and anything by Elizabeth Enright (but especially the Gone Away Lake books and Spiderweb for Two.

Repurposing Fairytales

CG – I personally love “The Winter Queen” myself, and many others do too. What are a few things which you find specifically in this story which transcend time to make it easy to tell to a modern audience.

One of the things that makes this story work really well for a modern audience is the fact that the main quest in the story belongs to the female character. In the original story, Gerda’s best friend Kai is carried off by the Snow Queen, and she goes on a dangerous journey to find him and bring him home. So it’s kind of a twist on the usual princess-gets-rescued type of fairy tale. And the main characters are just ordinary kids, not royalty.

It meant that my character (renamed Gilly), got to be strong and brave and kick-ass, which is fun. I made her the daughter of a wilderness guide, so she knows how to hunt, track, and shoot (bows and arrows as well as guns), and she’s trained in survival.

I went a little wacky, though, and added all kinds of other elements of folklore from different cultures to my story (and more to come in later volumes). I also expanded the early part of the story, before Kai is abducted. The core of the story—which I think makes it work in any time period—is the strength of the relationship between Gilly and Kai. But I also wanted to write about the uncertainty of it, because they’re at a time in their lives when Gilly wants the relationship to become more than just best friends, and she doesn’t know if Kai feels the same way. Then the Snow Queen comes between them—nothing messes up a potential relationship like a demon queen!

CG –  Why Nine Novella’s compared to Hans Christian Anderson’s seven? Literature is wrought with “magical” numbers, three, seven, nine, 12, 13 etc.. what do you think the significance of those are relating to the original and did you chose nine for any specific reason ?

Ha! Well, it was going to be seven novellas…but then Part 2 got a little too long (okay, a lot too long) and turned into Parts 2 and 3. Eight parts didn’t feel right, so I decided to go with nine. Probably because I’m so steeped in the magical numbers thing, and eight just isn’t one of them (unless you’re in China). I can’t swear that it won’t expand again as the story goes on, but if it does, I guess it will have to be twelve parts.

 Dream Casting your Story

CG – If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters? (Some have a huge cast, so say no more than five, I am thinking many would be able to do at least one, you do have one character right? Include photos of choice or I can find them)


Of course I would plunder the casts of popular TV shows…doesn’t everyone? If I were casting Bitter Snow, I would love to have Nina Dobrev from The Vampire Diaries as Gilly. She has the perfect look, and the capacity for emotion and intensity that I would want Gilly to have.  



For Kai, I’d pick a wholesome-looking square-jawed blond like Chuck Hittinger from Pretty Little Liars. arabesque-divider



And for Niko, maybe Brant Daugherty from Pretty Little Liars (so cute!) or a more brooding type like Ian Somerhalder from The Vampire Diaries.



Pour me a drink, I need to write!

CG – Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing (as in what candy / snack food is hidden in your desk drawer / drink (coffee, tea, Redbull or a Hemingway special?/ Perhaps an 80’s hair band you break out in song too when you just cannot figure out the next line to write and that [insert expletive] of a muse is off on her own hunt)?

I’m trying not to eat a lot of sugar and carbs, so I eat olives. Big jars of Kalamata pitted olives that I get at Costco for cheap. And lots of lime Perrier. When things are really not going well, it becomes kettle chips, clam dip, and Coke. Or a dark chocolate Kit Kat.

CG – LOVE olives, love love love them, and … oh dear you drink Coke.. sigh

CG – What do you do when you’re not writing? (ie: What festive things do you do for fun? Or What things do you do when you make yourself have fun, and what is on the top of your to-do list when you actually take two days for you (and family) 

Honestly, I am soooo boring. The most exciting thing I do is ice skate. I take figure skating lessons, and I can do single jumps and some spins, and I even have a competition program that I haven’t worked on in forever. The last competition I did was summer of 2012. (I won the gold medal, but that might have had something to do with the fact that I was the only entrant in my category…)

I love to travel, though haven’t done much of that lately. For my fantasy two days off I might go to Hawaii. Or back to Alaska to visit friends there.

CG – If your book was a meal what would it be? Meat and potatoes? Vegetarian? A light nouveau cuisine? Perhaps a Wendy’s Baked Potato and a side of Chili?

My book would be a plate of yummy Austrian pastries. (That someone else made.) Involving dark chocolate in some way. austrian-pastries

I’m actually really bad at the whole meal-planning thing. I love how you can now get  real food already cooked for you at the grocery store. Unless I’m cooking for a special occasion, I don’t do recipes or anything. For everyday cooking (when I do it), it’s like—broil the meat. Steam the vegetable (if I’m even having vegetables). Melt cheese on top of stuff. Done. I don’t even tear up lettuce for salads—I buy it in bags where they already did that for you. Sometimes I slow cook a pot roast and eat it for 4 days in a row. My friends and family despair of me.

How about a drink go along with yesterdays amazing recipe?

CG – Oh I know, let’s create a drink (with or without booze) representing your book! It will be the hit of the holiday parties!

The Winter Demon (aka a White Russian)

  • 2 oz vanilla vodka
  • 1 oz Kahlua or other coffee liqueur
  • Light Cream
  1. Pour vanilla vodka and Kahlua over ice. Fill remainder of glass with light cream.
  2. Serve in a silver goblet, chilled to perfection by snow demons in your palace of ice.

Optional: Add a spell to bind the heart and mind of anyone who drinks it, to make them your slave forever. Stir widdershins (counter-clockwise) seven times.

CG – WTG on those magical numbers! I LOVE IT! *dialing the phone* “Honey, we need Kahlua, vodka and some brimstone!” *GRIN*

Fast and Furious – Don’t pause, just answer with the first thing that comes to mind!

  • Wine, Shot Glass and a bottle or some ICE cold beer (domestic, import or micro)?  Shot glass, salt and lime. 
  • Bottled or Tap water? Tap
  • With or Without Ice? Always ice! I like my drinks either very hot or ice-cold.
  • “It was a dark and stormy night…” or “Once upon a time…”? “Once upon a time,” because after that, anything can happen.
  • Fairy Princess or Evil Stepmother? Evil stepmother. But that’s because I’m a writer–evil stepmothers cause trouble, and trouble is what stories are about.

  • Warp speed or Worm holes?  Have to go with wormholes—Stargate is probably my favorite TV show ever.
  • chronicles-of-narnia-the-lion-the-witch-and-the-wardrobe-white-witchHundred Acre Wood or Narnia? Tough call—but I read the Narnia books more times, so Narnia it is. (CG – pattern here?)
  • A murder of crows or a flock of snow geese? Since crows figure prominently in Bitter Snow, I’ll have to go with the murder…
  • With or without nuts? Without. Definitely. Nuts are only acceptable on their own, not inside things. I’m weird that way.
  • Learn battle techniques from a Viking or a ninja? Ninja. Sneaky and stealthy. Although, if the Viking’s really hot…I might reconsider. 


CG Anything you would like to add… appearances, upcoming releases, where I can find someone to adjust the algorithms for my time machine?

Check out my web site for news and upcoming releases. (And I think you need a sonic screwdriver to adjust your time machine. Want to borrow mine?)

CG – YES please!!!


Meet the Author

Lauren-Sweet---AuthorI was born and raised in New Jersey, and books were a big part of my childhood. When I was about three and a half, I became obsessed with a Little Golden Book about a goat that gets a bucket stuck on its head. Since no one would read me the goat book as often as I wanted, I learned to read it myself—and haven’t stopped reading since. It was only inevitable that I turned to writing, so I could create more of the kind of stories that I like to read!

My favorite genres are mystery, sci-fi and paranormal/fantasy. I’ve always been fascinated by myths and fairy tales, and I love incorporating elements of ancient lore into modern stories. I have a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska Anchorage, and I currently live near Portland, OR, where I am a freelance writer and editor. My other esoteric skills include astrology, figure skating, and the ability to do a perfect split.

Website ~ Blog ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Twitter


Bitter Snow Series Description

“We are the rulers of Midwinter. In the most powerful cold of the winter, in the deepest dark of the year, we hold sway, and all of your hearth fires cannot stand against us. We are the winds that howl down the chimneys and extinguish your candles. We are the northern lights and the hungry wolves; the bitter crack of ice and the killing frost. The raging blizzard and the deep, soft, final sleep of those lost forever in the snow.”

Bitter Snow is a modern retelling of the fairy tale “The Snow Queen,” in nine novellas. It’s my all-time favorite fairy tale, about a girl’s quest to save her childhood friend from the evil Snow Queen, through her courage, determination, and the strength of her love for him. Each volume is about 80-90 pages (32,000 words). The next three installments are scheduled for release in spring/summer 2014, with the final three to follow later in the year.

Bitter Snow: Volume One of Bitters Snow

Whatever you do, don’t open the door.

All Gilly Breslin wants for her sixteenth birthday is for her best friend Kai to see her as more than just the girl next door he’s known forever. So when she receives a mysterious, romantic invitation to meet him at midnight, she knows she has to go.

But it’s St. Nicholas’s Eve, the ancient festival of Bellsnichol, when demons roam the dark winter landscape. Tradition demands that everyone in the tiny town of Bremerton stay inside, doors shut tight against evil.

Gilly thinks it’s just a quaint old superstition. She has no idea that a malevolent power has been unleashed in Bremerton—with Kai as its target. But when she answers her door at midnight, her romantic date turns deadly…and she’s drawn into an ancient web of fear and darkness that threatens everything she loves.

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble


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  1. Hi Kriss, I meant to come by earlier in the day, but I was all crazed with final edits for Dark Solstice! So I guess that’s some excuse 🙂

    This is the most fun interview I’ve ever done. Thank you so much for having me! And I love the additional pics! (Plus the snow falling across the web site–forgot to mention that yesterday.)

    Who do you think should play Niko in the movie?

    • AS HUGE of a fan of Ian as I am, Brian Dougherty is PERFECT! He still has the younger face and is looking on the verge of going bad boy rogue. I love it! It was a blast, especially your Shania PHOTO (look closely at her face)

      • I’m leaning toward him too! Especially the photo you picked–it’s very Niko. I didn’t realize what you did with the Shania photo until you posted about it on FB and I came back and looked – LOL! I was so busy looking at the caption I missed the face. I’m now a country music star. 🙂

  2. The covers of this series are beautiful. But the pastries, make me want to leap into my computer and take them!

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