Poured Over: Heather Walter on Misrule

“…It’s like if Tim Burton decorated Versailles for Halloween…” Heather Walter’s queer retelling of Sleeping Beauty kicked off with Malice, which we think of as more than just a remix of a familiar story—It’s a complex, character-driven story with action, political intrigue, betrayal, and of course, a slow burn romance…Heather’s closing out her Malice duology with Misrule, and she joins us on the show to talk about good vs evil, why readers love morally grey characters, the fun she has writing her novels, what she’s reading and recommending now, what’s next (hint: Anne Boleyn) and much more with B&N’s Kat Sarfas. And we end the episode with TBR Topoff book recommendations from Margie and Marc.

Featured Books:

Misrule by Heather Walter

Malice by Heather Walter

This episode of Poured Over was produced and hosted by Kat Sarfas and mixed by Harry Liang. Folow us here for new episodes Tuesdays and Thursdays (with occasional Saturdays).

A full transcript of this episode is available here.

Full transcript for this episode of Poured Over:

B&N: Hello, I’m Kat Sarfas, forever bookseller at Barnes and Noble. Today we are joined by the lovely Heather Walter. Heather is a native Southerner who hates the heat a former English teacher and current librarian. She is the author of Malice, a former speculative fiction monthly pick here at B&N and Misrule, the standing conclusion to the Malice duology. Welcome. Thank you so much for being here with us.

Heather Walter: Of course. Thank you so much for having me. I’m so glad to be here.

B&N: Yes. Malice. So this book was pitched to me as a queer retelling of Sleeping Beauty where the villain takes the stage there was so much yes about this book before I even read it but then you know, we all know the tale the curse, the wicked fairy, the kiss, but there’s always another version of happily ever after. And this wildly imagined take on a classic fairy tale offers epic world-building, you’ve got a rich history and events of magical hierarchy. To me, Malice is more than just a retelling. It’s a complex, character driven story with harrowing twists, action, political intrigue, betrayal, and of course, a slow burn romance that you never want to end. So I have to ask, Where did this story start? This is your debut novel, what was the spark that brought this all together?

HW: The very first bark I think, that I got from Malice was probably watching the Disney movie, The Sleeping Beauty animated one. And I was always just so struck by Maleficent character that I was just like, oh my gosh, and I hadn’t but I had all these questions even as a kid like, why is she the only one like why does she live in this abandoned castle, seemingly the same kingdom as it’s like regular kingdom, but she’s like the only one and she lives with all these like weird guys. And she, like doesn’t get invited to the party. But she seems like this very, like regal put together a villain. And all it takes is this one little non invite to spark like, I’m going to show up and curse your baby. Like even as a kid watching this, this seemed very extreme to me. So I always had a lot of questions I was always drawn to that villain. In particular, Malice was not actually the first book that I wrote, or that we tried to sell. And so we were actually trying to sell another novel when I was kind of going back and thinking about. I love villains. I’ve always wanted to write morally grey characters and villains. And so I kind of circled back to my initial love of the story and the character. And I thought, maybe now’s the time that I write it. And so I again started bringing up all those questions because it’s not just as me it’s all of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale retellings where there is the single Dark Fairy, and she does just kind of like get mad, show up, curses the baby. Sometimes we never see her again, in the version, sometimes she comes back, but I was just so curious about her. So I started kind of mapping out. I’m thinking like, how would I feel if I was the only one in the realm of this dark power? And what would it take for me to really lash out? And really, it’s funny, because you think like, oh, people get really, really mad about something they lash out. But that’s sometimes true. But it’s also true that those big extreme reactions like that often stem from love. And so I thought, what if the Dark Fairy and the princess were actually much closer in age, and they were in love. And that is really what kind of sparks this big, dramatic blow up. It’s not a party, but it’s love. And so from there, I think it’s going to be the fastest novela I’ll ever have written. After writing Misrule and working on other things. At the time, I thought writing Malice was normal, but I think it was the fastest novel ever, right? Because I was just plopped into my brain fully formed. And then the story just really just kind of carried itself.

B&N: I love that you’re talking about how your favorite characters are usually villains. And I think that I honestly think that that’s such a secret truth for a lot of us. I think a lot of us secretly root for the villains. I think also, it’s just something about these morally gray characters. They’re just so intriguing. In general, why are we so intrigued by these villains?

HW: I think for me, I honestly think it’s because the villains do what we wish we could do. And like the secret dark parts of our heart. And so traditional stories a lot of times have these heroes that are always rooting for good. They’re doing the right thing, even when it’s hard like taking the high ground, not letting people get them down. And that is not 99.9% of us. Like truly though, whether you’re just like really petty about something or you’re mad at somebody or you’re just whatever, like we don’t always want good things for other people.

B&N: They’re just mornings when you wake up and you choose violence. You’re like, this is not the day. I am not the person.

HW: Yes, so I think we’re drawn to these villains because in a lot of ways, the villains are a lot more real than the hero rose, I remember recently rereading some of my childhood favorites and going, Gosh, these characters are boring. You just always do the right thing. And things always work out and good always wins. And I think especially in these times, we’re looking around and we’re seeing that that is just not the case. And so villains a lot of times subvert the normal way to do things, if you will. They subvert what they’re supposed to do. And they go after what they want. And I don’t know anybody who if given the freedom to just go after what they want, wouldn’t take it but we have all these societal constraints, you know, what’s wrong with this, wrong with that. And a lot of those are very good constraints.

B&N: Let me preface.

HW: Except for murder, arson. But in the deepest pits of our heart, we do just wish that we could reach out and take what we want and villains do that. And so I think that’s very attractive to a lot of people.

B&N: Absolutely. I don’t know what this says about me. But I love that Alice says Dragon’s Teeth. So much, instead of like any number of colorful like expletives that she could use, I generally try to get creative when it comes to expressing my frustrations, although I feel like it’s like, it adds like color to the situation, like when you’re just feeling ugh, although mine usually involve food, I feel like there’s a lot of like fudge, and like biscuits, and like cheese and crackers in my vocabulary, so I just want to know what we’re thinking when you’re writing that when you’re like, This is going to be her go to school, she’s angry.

HW: And so it’s actually funny, the very first draft of malice that I sent to my agent to read, I think they said, Gods teeth, or you know, something about Gods and my agent, one of her notes was like, they keep saying gods, and there are literally no gods in your book. She was like, there doesn’t seem to be a religious system of any sort. I’m really sure. While they’re saying this, I was like, Ah, she’s right. And so I had to kind of go back and think about, well, what would they say and then the kind of motif of Briar is the dragon from Queens and the dragon ships. And so for a while, I think it was by the dragon, and then it was just Dragon’s Teeth. And I was like, that works. I like that.

B&N: And that’s awesome. I like I kind of feel like as I was reading it, I couldn’t help but think like, how do I work this into my daily vocabulary without anyone looking at me like I was a nut case?

HW: Well, it’s funny, because people have not many, but I’ll see like tweets where they’re talking about the book, and you know, whatever. And there’ll be like Dragon’s Teeth, you know, and I’ll look at it and be like, Oh, that looks familiar. And I was like, you literally made that up Heather.

B&N: So let’s talk about magic. So there’s obviously Alice’s this villa magic was really, you know, she kind of doesn’t realize and taps into when we discover and we kind of go with her on that journey. But you also have this whole system of these like Grace abilities, what was your inspiration there? So like, you’re sitting down, and you’re like, I’m gonna tackle this retelling. But obviously, there’s so many other layers on here. And then you know, you’re working to create this sort of magical hierarchy. So where did you start with that?
HW: For the Graces and the magic system in general, I think one of the tiniest early germs of this story was from actually a different story where I was thinking about the idea of like, the Grecian graces and how they all have, like, certain attributes and certain abilities. And I was like, Oh, it could be fun if like, I wrote a story where I’ve got the graces, but then I’ve got this one who doesn’t fit in, I keep all of my ideas in like a note, and so when I was thinking about this story is kind of going back and looking at it. And I saw that idea. And I was like, okay, like this could work because Alice is the grace who doesn’t fit into the graces as we think of them as being beautiful and perfect, whatever it’s like so this could potentially work but then again, and every single Sleeping Beauty retelling, we have the good fairies, and then we have the single Dark Fairy and so the good fairies grant these attributes of beauty with grace, all of that and so I liked the idea of calling them the graces because they are gifted that way each one of them has a specific breed of magic that Oh, I can I can make you an elixir for beauty or you know, this, that whatever. So I liked that idea. And I also liked the idea of, because we have the graces who have been blessed by the therians who are going to like fool say, who live elsewhere and barely even in book one of their magic stems from goodness and then if there’s a good fair then there has to be the Dark Fairy. So when I was thinking about like, Okay, why is Alice the only Dark Fairy, the only bad one in this book? I was thinking about like, she has to have a past like she has to have come from somewhere. And so from there I thought about Okay, so we have a theory into Good fairies. But then somehow we had to have the Vela who came up. And they used to be theories. But then they changed their blood. And so now they’re like the bad ones or whatever. So it’s just kind of this like very old dichotomy that we’re all used to have good versus evil, all the theory and magic stems from good things, which naturally lent itself to, if the etherians we’re going to make magically gifted humans in the graces, it would make sense if these graces could only do nice things. Yeah, at the same time I wanted to really play with, okay, so we have this good magic, golden blood can only do good things. But they’re still doing really bad things with it. Like, yeah, like, all right, we can’t lie. And you can only grant beauty and you can only do all these good things. But they find these workarounds in order to use their magic selfishly in order to I mean, basically fought a whole war trying to exterminate another race, which is not a good thing at all. But they’re still considered these good people. So I really wanted to create this magic system that has the to dichotomous good versus evil, but at the same time, good is not always good and good can find a way to be selfish and greedy and evil in and of itself. And so I mean, I think the question at the heart of the book is, what is evil? And can we even define it?

B&N: That’s perfect. There are so many points as particularly obviously, like, literally, as Alice was discovering, you know, who she is, and everything that she has been taught. I love how you say how, like the victors write the history books. And that’s essentially what that is. And she’s getting it from one perspective that like, this is bad, and this is good. It was just very interesting to sort of take that journey and kind of knowing that they can’t be that perfect. Obviously, they fought this war, like, which is not good. And so how there’s something there, there’s something else there. And so I think the journey discovering that was just loads of fun, we’re gonna do a little spoilers for the end of Malice. You all should have read it by now because we’re getting into Misrule. And I gotta go into a little bit of tick tock and so I have to ask you, because I feel like I love you on TikTok. I think you’re so much fun. What that experience has been like with malice and being on having this book sort of take off and just get that love from that community. What does that been like for you? And then of course, I’m going to ask you like, what your favorite TikTok video is that you’ve done.

HW: It was crazy. So I will be very open here. I’m 34 I did not consider myself as belonging to TikTok whatsoever. I joined maybe a year ago, maybe close to the week because I remember hearing about tick tock all the time. And I thought that’s for the youngins. Like, I don’t understand it. And then my agent sibling and friend, Chloe Gong, was all over TikTok but I mean, she’s, you know, much younger than I am. And so I was just like, where she can navigate it. But I started hearing murmurings about booktok. And I think we were liars. Got back on the New York Times bestseller lists. Yeah, because of it, like just crazy stuff. And so as a debut author, and even though as a lead title, like marketing is tough right now. And so it’s like, your publisher can only do so much for you. And I have been very lucky with my publisher very much pushing my book and supporting me, but you still have to do a lot of the legwork yourself, like you’re still selling your book yourself in a lot of ways. And so I remember I was just like, Okay, I’m gonna do it, I’m just gonna jump in, and I’m gonna do it, and I’m gonna have like, it’s gonna be fine. I’ll have like five followers. And it’s cool. And I truly wish I had footage of myself opening the account for the first time because I signed up and everything, and I got on it. And I had my phone and I’m just like, oh my gosh, everything is moving so fast. This is when of course, like the first time that you create your account, like the algorithm doesn’t know anything about you. So I was doing like the most random videos and so you know, you have to learn how to teach the algorithm you know what you want to see whatever but my first videos were just like, I would do like a video of like my book cover with like, some songs that I thought were like, I didn’t understand trends. I didn’t like that. And so my first videos did, I thought it was great when they would get like 60 views like watch this video. I was also comparing it to like Twitter and Insta, which are very hard to kind of crack those algorithms and get people being or stuff whatever they Yeah, and it was very fast. It was very like out of my comfort zone. But the first video that took off for me where I finally started to go okay, this is something I can maybe actually do. This was actually a video my girlfriend Lindsey from The Dedication and Balance actually we were going into Barnes and Noble on the day of launch and I was going to see it in the store for the first time and she was like I’m gonna video you walking in and I was like no Don’t like don’t care, like just I just want to see the book. Like, let’s just go and she was like, Well, I’m gonna do it. And she, and it was just a video on her phone. And so she sent it to me. And it was really cute. I’m just like, slapped it on TikTok like, I didn’t use the sound, I didn’t do anything. I was just like, I’m finding my book when the first time. And at that point, I was like, resigned to this is not really my space, like, Whatever, I’m gonna get whatever. And like a couple hours later, it had like, 10s of 1000s of views. It just hit that algorithm somehow. And I was just like, oh, wow, okay, so that was kind of like the hook that got me in and then I started I did, I had to, like learn I have Chloe can publish our DMS one day of how I would message her and ask her about like, what is the etiquette for dueting?

B&N: What are the tools here?

HW: Where do you find the noises that you use? So yeah, it was an education. I had to learn about, like, you know, trends and how to like, you don’t just use the songs that you like, Heather like, you have to use the sounds that like people are actually listening to in that moment.

B&N: That’s amazing. If you were just like, you were like, I’m only going to use my my sounds for TikTok trends. No, I totally get it. Yes, you gotta follow. There are the rules. Yes.

HW: The second part of your question, I really was just like, blown away. I hope it stays this way. Because right now, I was expecting like a lot of trolls, I was expecting like meanness and it happens a little bit. But I really have not seen that at all. The only time that I’ve had any kind of a negative experience. And it wasn’t even that negative was somebody posted this spoiler in the comments, and then everybody was mad about it. But I didn’t realize I could delete comments. And so like there’s like this discourse about like, why is this on here, someone needs to take this off. And finally I figured out how to delete.

B&N: I’m the one who needs to take it off.

HW: But yeah, everyone’s been so nice. They’ve just been so supportive. They love it, just making me feel good from someone, I suffered with a lot of social anxiety as a teenager and even into my early 20s. In fact, like me being on Tik Tok at all is huge, because I used to adamantly avoid any kind of like photography, any kind of video because I absolutely hated the way that I looked. And any kind of picture of myself, it would just be like, I don’t, I don’t want to look at this, I want to see this. And so the fact that I am like producing videos every day, where I’m just being like silly and getting on there and doing my thing, like, even five years ago, if you would have told me that I would have been that comfortable on a camera, I just would have laughed at you because it is just huge. And a big part of that is the community just not attacking me for being myself just like supporting and being like that. And so I really hope it stays that way. Because some platforms is very toxic now, like definitely don’t love being on those spaces. But Tik Tok has just been amazing. And truly I thought, you know, like, okay, views are great, but I can go into my sales and look at that. And if I have a video that hits the algorithm, like the sales do spike, so like, it actually works.

B&N: It is a safe space. And I feel like it’s a place for people to be vulnerable and emotional and raw. And I think that kind of just goes to what you were saying about how I think I always say that, like, I wish this space like existed when I was younger, when I was teenager, obviously, I was talking about these books and talking about authors and loving these worlds that it was just crazy to me to think that other people didn’t know they existed. And I’m sort of like living in this world in between my actual reality, but to have a place where you can go and express these feelings and then really just interact with authors like you and just have that connection. I think that makes all the difference. You obviously you have a connection to a book, you have a connection to a character and then to be able to talk to the author and to have that connection with the author and feel just like the circle is completely like you are now like completely entrenched in this world and how it was made and how it was formed and where it’s going. I’m not surprised how well it’s doing and what it means for book sales because I think we all kind of want that personal recommendation. Like I think we want someone to tell us how much I love a book that just give us like the highs and the lows of like what’s about but like how it made them feel. And I feel like that’s TikTok. It’s just rmotion, which I love. It’s so much fun. I’m gonna ask you to talk about your head bobbing video.

HW: Oh my gosh, that’s so funny. So yeah, and I will say it has done so well it did hit a million views like the last time I talked to you I was like it might have million views and it did. A reason for that is because it was getting some push so like disclaimer on that it was getting some like, made an ad and like push it out. But before then even before then it was like 250 like the biggest viewed most viewed video I’ve ever done and it was so like, I couldn’t believe it. So it was like Thanksgiving week I think around and I really tried to push myself to do at least one video a day and it was like getting late and I was like Oh, I gotta do some content like whatever. And so at the time, I was struggling with plantar fasciitis, which if you’ve never had, I do not wish it on anybody but I would have it’s basically like your heel hurts all the time. And the main treatment is just like stretching, stretch all the time. So it’s great. My, I call them my old ladies foot stretches and so I’m like on my stepladder, stretching my foot out looking at the TikTok discover trying to figure out like what my contents gonna be for that day. And I saw that the head bob video, you can’t guys can’t see me, but I’m doing it. It’s okay. Going around. And so I was like, I guess this is the one that I’m going to do today. And so like literally it was like split decision stretching my foot out. I’m in my like, chalky Hallmark Christmas sweatshirt lighting. Just like I’m holding it. And I’m doing the head bob. I actually I think I had to do like one or two takes but I remember complaining to Lindsay afterward that like I was like this made me give me kind of a headache because of the way that I kept like trying to bump my head like in time to the beat. So I did it. I like made it about Malice. And then I thought it’ll be fine. And then again, like, for whatever reason, the algorithm hit it up. And like in 24 hours, it had like 100,000 views, book spikes, it was just so crazy. And I just kept telling people like, look at this stupid head bob video that I just did. Like, it’s as silly as video I’ve ever done ever. And it was just like something that I just slapped on there. And it just took off. It was crazy.

B&N: I think that’s it. I honestly I feel like that’s exactly it’s like those videos where you’re like, Okay, I’m gonna be totally authentic in this moment. And I’m not really gonna think about it. And it’s gonna, like, put a little piece of my true self like out there for everyone. Like, be what it is. That’s what takes off because I think there’s just that connection. Going back, spoiler alert everyone the end scene of Malice, right? Sort of reminiscent of an iconic ending in a certain book called Carrie. But so without spoilers. What can people anticipate from Misrule?

HW: Full disclosure, Misrule was so hard for me to write because that was a very iconic ending to Malice and full story about Malice is when I wrote it, I really kind of envisioned it as a standalone because like, you get to that end, you’re just like, Oh, she’s full villain now.

B&N: And like, just like burn it all down.

HW: When it sold, my editor was like, Ah, we’re gonna need more and I was like, oh, which at the time, you know, like shiny new book deal. I was just like, okay, cool. Yeah, future Heather can do that. Future Heather can do like literally. Future Heather has been like, ah, it was very hard to write because I truly did not really know what happened next. And then with all the love from Alice and everybody just really loving and being attached to Alice in a way that I hoped for. But I didn’t fully anticipate I felt a lot of pressure to give readers the story they deserved and to get out of the story that she deserved. Plus book twos are always hard to write. I had always heard that and I was like, oh, it’s gonna be hard. It’s gonna be fine. But no, it is like soul sucking difficult. It is very, very hard. So I wanted to write it. But one thing that I think finally did get to that place where it is now obviously, it’s coming out like in a month. So it’s done, but one thing that I’m excited about that I hope readers are excited about and anticipate is the world is basically like a 180 from Malice and Misrule. And so at the end of Malice, you can kind of tell that’s where it’s going a little bit. Because like there is nothing left. And so Alice is like completely rebuilding so that the book actually starts. And if you have a paperback of Malice, you can actually read the prologue. I’m like, exactly what happens after that last scene and Malice, but it starts like a few months after, Alice’s big thing that she does at the end, and she meets a new character, and they decide that they’re going to kind of form this court of creatures just like them. So instead of it being Briar with all of their hierarchy and the magic system and the corruption, they’ve decided that they’re basically going to create this like evil commune and live in the ruins of the palace. So it’s like if Tim Burton decorated Versailles for Halloween is like how I like to envision that yes, because it’s like you’ve got I love all of the new characters. My personal favorite are the imps, which is basically impulsivity, personified. They do literally whatever pops into their head at any given moment. They’re like little sour patch kids running around.

B&N: That is perfect. I imagine extremely fun to write.

HW: Yes, I love them so much. So I love the imps. I love the new characters. And I do think that Misrule raises even more of the morally gray questions. One thing that I strove for was you really can’t rely on any one character to be any one way, like everybody at some point or other kind of goes off in their own direction. It’s hard to talk about that spoilers.

B&N: Sorry, I know.

HW: Because I don’t want to give too much away either. Everybody has a lot of moral grit, like literally every single character does. Like there’s nobody in that book that is either all evil or either all good. And that’s what I love about it, personally.

B&N: So this is the duology. Yes?

HW: Yeah.

B&N: And you’re confident that this will be the end?

HW: As of right now. I have no plans to write a third book, I have seen some early reviews of Misrule where they’re just like, Is there gonna be another? There’s nothing on the table. There are no secrets that I’m keeping. Would I return? Could I see a possible like, continuation of the story? I could, absolutely. But I don’t know that it’s going to be anything more than fanfiction.

B&N: All right. A few months back, you were in New York, and I had the lovely opportunity of going to lunch with you. And it was lovely. I’m gonna start the story off by letting everyone know that we both ordered the boomers special, which I don’t know why it was named that there was nothing I mean, personally offended. But I don’t know what that does. For me, whatever. It was a really good lunch. But you did give me and everyone else that was there a wonderful sort of sneak rundown on a new novel that you are working on now. And I would love if you would give us just a little taste and an update on where you’re at with that. Because honestly, I can’t stop thinking about it. And I feel like it pains me because I feel like there’s only obviously there weren’t that many people there and it’s like, those are the only people I can talk to about it. You’re here so I can talk to you about it again.

HW: So the next one is right now it’s titled Crimson Crown and it’s another duology it is another villain story, this time about the rise of Snow White’s Evil Queen, it is a tudor-inspired retelling and I have based the character of the Evil Queen on Anne Boleyn. And so it is kind of a loosely loosely loosely based rise of Anne Boleyn plus how did the Evil Queen kind of become the Evil Queen and in the book it follows a character named Eilis, she is a witch and in this kingdom, which is at times were celebrated, they’re persecuted it’s kind of back and forth. But they’re just coming off a time when they were like heavily celebrated had this like alliance with humans. But then there’s this religious faction called the order of light, which has risen again and witches are now basically hunted and not even just like shunned, like hunted and so Eilis and her Coven are living in this basically a convent, but they’re pretending to be sisters of the order of light and they’re like hidden away and so they’re they’re trying to figure out how to stop basically the massacre of witches and how to kind of come back from being persecuted. Eilis is she actually has a block and her power like she can’t she has like she is always she has her power but she can’t use it and she thinks the answer to that is going to be actually going to the white court where the order of light rules where there is a king and trying to figure this out. So while she’s in hiding with her sisters, she winds up going into the white court this is where it kind of the Anne Boleyn thing is gonna get tied in where she eventually will meet the king and all of this stuff will happen and eventually she will become the evil queen that we all know and I love her. So it’s it’s a little more of a I feel like Malice was I always said it was loosely based off of Versailles had a kind of like Versailles kind of world to it. This one is a little bit more historical. You’ll definitely see like the tie ins if you’re if you’re a Twitter fan, you’ll see the Woolsey the Cromwell, the Henry Catherine of Aragon, like you’ll see all those people, but very much in a different setting.

B&N: Yeah, so was there something that drew you to that more historical where you’re like, Okay, to your point, I’ve done this, this gilded Versailles world, and now I want to draw more or like, you know, retelling in a way and now I’m going to move more historical. Was there a shift? Was there something that you’ve always wanted to do?

HW: Not from the world itself, but Anne Boleyn for sure. I have always been very fascinated by her. I’m actually waiting on this book to comics was to come tomorrow. I’m so excited. It’s called 500 years of lies. And it is basically about how Anne Boleyn has been made into this like temptress for the last three to 500 years. And we really don’t have any evidence about her to support that. I do think that Anne Boleyn was a very early feminist as much as one could have been a feminist in the 1300s. Like I know that was probably difficult for her. But this idea from like rewatching Tudors sounds like

B&N: This is research.

HW: It is research, I feel that her story since her death has been told by men and by women who didn’t really love her so much. I can point to, you know, some modern historians who just really despise her who feel like she came in with these designs to steal the throne to get the man to do whatever it is that she needed to do. I just don’t think that that was her. I think she had an In fact, if you look at some of the historical documents, a lot of the stuff that she was trying to do right before her downfall was pass legislation that would have helped the poor would have helped women would have been trying to kind of take some of the corruption out of the church. And at the time, Cromwell was kind of like the main religious guy in the country. And these laws would have directly impacted him and his bottom line. And so it’s kind of like, did she just like make Henry mad because she was either sleeping around or she couldn’t give him a son? Or was she actually going after the rich people in the country? And they were like, nevermind, lay you out. So yeah, I think the idea of the Henry and Anne as being a love story is a complete fallacy, because it’s like, you don’t cut somebody’s head off if you’re in love with them. Yeah. And I would be very interested to see this story repeated in modern days, because a lot of people point to Oh, look at Henry’s love letters to Anne. Look at how he pursued her. And he just loved her so much. And I’m kind of like, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that Anne would go to the Queen Catherine and be like, Hey, your husband keeps hitting on me. Can I go home? Catherine would be like, yeah, sorry, like, go home. And then Henry would write to her about how much she loved her and how much she wanted her around. That’s sexual harassment. He just like harassed and harassed and harassed her and I think at some point, and kind of was like, Okay, well, this dude is not going to go away. So what can I get out of the situation? So it’s not necessarily like me wanting to paint and as this victim because I don’t think so. I think she made some bold moves. I think she made some bad moves. Sometimes. It’s just this like, again, a dichotomy that we have, even with, like historical women where they’re either Madonnas or they’re these temptresses.

B&N: Yep. And it’s like, there’s no in between. It’s like, it’s either you’re in one bucket or the other.
HW: So my goal with this one is to paint, I don’t know realistically we’ll never know what Anne Boleyn was like, but my interpretation of how she actually might have been not someone who ever really wanted thrown because Anne Boleyn herself, never would have thought of the throne for herself, ever. She wasn’t even that much of a nobility. She was rich, kind of but like she had no claims whatsoever. Divorce was not really a thing back then. Like, I just really don’t think that was in her sights. I think what she wanted was she had ideas of her own, and she wanted to implement them. And she saw a path and she decided to go down it and it didn’t go well.

B&N: Yes, I suppose hindsight is 20/20. But no. And I just think I’m so excited, because I just again, I love how you talk about villains, I love talking about these morally gray characters, going back to now it’s going back to this role going back to Alice, and just who she is and what you did with her as a character. And you know why so many people are drawn to her drawn to the story. And then when you were talking about this new project that you’re working on, again, I mean, now historical, but another sort of morally gray, I mean, again, there are people who, they just push her into that bucket, that villain bucket and you just want to like close the door on that story. And it and I loved how you were like, huh, not so fast. Let’s sort of hear this woman understand her story. Understand that we all make choices. And we don’t just make them out of a vacuum. There’s obviously things that lead up to, and again, just with Alice about how it’s not like she didn’t get invited to a party, or you know, the original theory back there, like didn’t get invited to a party. And she was like, Nah, like, you’re all curious. Like that. Obviously, that’s a little less realistic. Let’s really explore and I love what you’re doing. And I can’t wait to read this next project. I can’t wait for everyone to get their hands on Misrule. So, so excited. So I’m going to ask you a few fun questions now, just sort of off the cuff, because I’d love to know what everyone’s reading and watching. So what are you currently reading right now? Other than your research? I mean, I know I must say, Well, I guess like you’re really like entrenched in it right now.

HW: I’m lucky enough to have a copy of The Final Strife. I think it’s Saara El-Arifi, I’m not sure and I don’t have it in front of me. So I don’t know her her last name, but it’s coming out with Del Rey, I think in June or July, definitely summer. It’s wonderful. It takes place in a world where the classes are divided by their blood types. And so it’s like the embers are kind of the highest class with red blood and then we have you have other like dust have blue blood. And then like the lowest test has clear blood. And it is kind of a little bit similar to my new project where you have an ember who has red blood, but she has like actually being raised as a duster. And like it’s trying to get in and tip the power balance. So a lot of like espionage, a lot of angst in that one. I’m just about halfway through and it’s excellent. I think it’s going to be really, really great. So that one’s really good. And then one that I always recommend, especially if you’re fans of Malice is The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri, which is so good. It’s so much betrayal in it. It’s about a princess who’s in trouble and mad at her brother for being mean, and thinking about how Tasha would feel if she heard me describe her.

B&N: Yeah, that’s about it.

HW: And then a servant, her servant, Priya, who also wants to kind of like topple the power balance, and both of them are kind of like at odds, but it’s also sapphic. And so like, all kinds of stuff happened. So moral grayness, like, amplified by 500 times for Jasmine Throne. Loved it.

B&N: Oh, love it. Okay, so obviously, you’ve had a really big year. What was your favorite memory from this last year? With everything I’ve ever say? Like with everything happening with your books? Has there been anything that like has stood out to you?

HW: Oh, for sure. I mean, I know like, we’re talking like on this podcast for Barnes and Noble, but honestly, like the Barnes and Noble being picked for a book or the month was like, that had to be like, at least top three and so great. And I know none of you can see it. But I did want to show you you can see my look, I have the

B&N: You framed it. Yay! Everyone who can’t everyone who can’t say when they’re came to New York, she saw the beautiful signage that we had in the stores and we shipped it to her so she would forever have it and forever have that it was the February Well, I don’t know if it doesn’t say the month but it was our February speculative fiction pick, Malice, and then we were so so excited. And then my last question for you is so then you know, you’ve got this book you’re working on, Misrule is coming out. What are you looking forward to most in this year?

HW: Oh, my goodness, I’m looking for you know, it’s with Misrule coming out. I’m looking forward to that. Honestly, like having that duology out. I’m looking forward to getting a workable first draft of this new project. Once I can get it like on the page, and it’s all great, it’s not just a mess. Like I’m very much looking forward to that. So yeah, I think that would be like my top two, or the launch of Misrule. Obviously, it’s going to be amazing. Getting to hang out with glucagon. We’re both just a couple of villains like we know each other because we have the same agent and so like we’re always just like.

B&N: I’m just picturing you and her. Just a couple of villains.

HW: It’s gonna be great. I had joked with her that we are the two old men Muppets they sit like in the balcony and they just like heckle and judge everybody and it’s pretty much us.

B&N: Love that image. I like never that just like takes up permanent residence in my brain from now on.

HW: So you should all come to the lunch so you can see us some be oldman Muppets.

B&N: Amazing. Okay, so Heather. I think that’s pretty much how we’re gonna wrap it up here. Old man Muppets. Heather, thank you again. This has been wonderful. Malice and Misrule, the spellbinding books of the Malice duology are out now.