Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Leife Shallcross Interview - The Beast's Heart

Photo Content from Leife Shallcross

Leife Shallcross’ first novel, The Beast’s Heart, a "luxuriously magical retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale", will be published by Hodder & Stoughton in May 2018. She is also the author of several short stories, including Pretty Jennie Greenteeth, which won the 2016 Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Short Story. Leife has a bit of a thing for fairy tales, and is particularly inspired by those characters that tend to fall into the cracks of the usual stories. She can be found online at and on Twitter @leioss.


Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Canberra, Australia, and I still call it home! I lived in London for a short time in my 20s, and I’ve travelled a little, but this is definitely home.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in writing?
Firstly, write what you love, not what you think you should write. I wasted so much time waiting to grow out of loving fairy tales. Second, find your writing tribe. It can be a lonely business, and finding people who understand what you’re trying to do and can help you learn about the craft and the industry is invaluable.

What were your inspirations for the character development?
I can’t point to any specific fictional characters as inspiration for my characters in The Beast’s Heart. I think of it more in terms of finding the key thing for each of the characters that drives them through the story. For example, the father in my story is very much consumed by guilt – for failing to give his daughters the life he wanted to give them (and that they’d been raised to expect) and then his failure to keep his youngest daughter safe from the Beast. And Beauty’s oldest sister is quite academically minded, so part of her journey is about finding a different way to fulfill her desire for intellectual pursuits in her new, very different life.

Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that writing was not just a hobby?
I think it was in about 2010 or 2011, when I was talking to a friend about a short story she’d had published. I was so impressed she’d been brave enough to send her work out into the world, she inspired me to have a go. So I joined my local writers center and did some workshops and courses and started submitting my short stories for publication. It makes a difference, writing for publication as opposed to just for yourself, but I think writing for your own pleasure is absolutely the very best place to start.

Can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about THE BEAST'S HEART?
It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but from the Beast’s perspective. For my poor, broken Beast, winning Beauty’s heart is only the first impossible step. To truly free himself from his past, he has to unravel why the Fairy cursed him in the first place.

What part of Isabeau and/or the Beast did you enjoy writing the most?
All the romantic bits! Especially towards the end after [redacted for spoilers] and they [redacted for spoilers]. I enjoyed writing that part a lot.

What book would you recommend for others to read?
There are so many good ones. Two of my current favorite Australian authors are Angela Slatter (her Verity Fassbinder series is a dark urban fantasy set in Brisbane, Australia, and full of nasty fairies and broken angels, SO GOOD!) and Alis Franklin (The Wyrd series involves old Norse gods making mischief with humanity through global tech companies, settling old scores and rekindling ancient, fated romances (oh my heart) in a fictional contemporary Australian city).

What was your unforgettable moment while writing THE BEAST'S HEART?
Well, there was that time I did an edit and removed over 1700 unnecessary instances of the word “that” from the manuscript. I haven’t forgotten that (see what I did there?) But for moments of inspiration, the point at which I figured out exactly why the Fairy had cursed the Beast was a good one. I wrote the entire first draft not knowing, hoping no one would notice I’d skimped on that bit of backstory. But my beta readers weren’t having any of that, so I had to come up with something. And the point at which I figured it all out was very satisfying. It’s become such a keystone to the whole tale, it’s difficult to believe there was ever a story there without it.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’m currently working on a reimagining of Cinderella, but in this story she’s faked her father’s death to try and get him out of his disastrous second marriage, then she gets caught up in a plot against the crown. And I have another project in progress set in 18th Century London with magic and runaway heiresses and dissolute viscounts and murder.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Wow, that’s a hard question. I think perhaps I’d like to introduce my Fairy to Sim from The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee. I can’t tell you because spoilers, but by all means tweet me your theories or write me the fanfic.

Choose a unique item from your wallet and explain why you carry it around.
Pretty much the only thing in there that isn’t some kind of credit card or loyalty card is a black & white photo of my dad on a beach in Queensland from when he was pretty young - probably early 20s. He passed away just before I turned 18 and I still miss him.

Last thing you bought?
A book. Several books actually. *Looks at TBR pile* *sighs mournfully*

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
Oh definitely true love and heartbreak. *winces*

A sumptuously magical, brand new take on a tale as old as time—read the Beast's side of the story at long last.

I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both.

I am the Beast.

The day I was cursed to this wretched existence was the day I was saved—although it did not feel so at the time.

My redemption sprung from contemptible roots; I am not proud of what I did the day her father happened upon my crumbling, isolated chateau. But if loneliness breeds desperation then I was desperate indeed, and I did what I felt I must. My shameful behaviour was unjustly rewarded.

My Isabeau. She opened my eyes, my mind and my heart; she taught me how to be human again.

And now I might lose her forever.

Lose yourself in this gorgeously rich and magical retelling of The Beauty and the Beast that finally lays bare the beast's heart.


“What a delight! This is a beautifully crafted, deeply romantic reworking of the fairy tale.” —Juliet Marillier, author of the Blackthorn & Grim series

“A lush retelling of my favorite fairytale classic. Beautiful, poignant, and enchanting…Leife Shallcross’s Beast shines.”—C. L. Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of The Sea King

"Glorious…. retells Beauty and the Beast in a compelling and surprising novel filled with peril, darkness, romance and beauty." —Kate Forsyth, author of Bitter Greens and The Wild Girl

“Utterly beautiful. . . . Gorgeous writing, magical romance at its best.” —Sam Hawke, author of City of Lies

"Leife Shallcross weaves her words like a fairytale enchantment. . . . like nothing you've read." —Angela Slatter, World Fantasy Award-winning author of The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings

You can purchase The Beast's Heart at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you LEIFE SHALLCROSS for making this giveaway possible.
Winner will receive a Copy of The Beast's Heart by Leife Shallcross. 


  1. "What book would you recommend for others to read?" I recently enjoyed "An Improbable Pairing" by Gary Dickson.

  2. Follower of the Word series by Morgan L. Busse

  3. The Jane hawk series by Dean koontz