Interview with "Interstellar Cinderella" author Deborah Underwood

Meg Hunt form Scott Hull Associates Interstellar Cinderella - Cinderella
Meg Hunt form Scott Hull Associates Interstellar Cinderella - Cinderella


How did you get the idea for Interstellar Cinderella? I got the idea when I was in my apartment bantering with a friend who is playful and silly like me. For some reason we were talking about planets, and I heard “Interstellar Cinderella” come out of my mouth. I immediately ran to the big idea paper I had hanging on my door and scribbled it down—it sounded like such a fun story possibility! I was sure there must already be a book with that title, but when I checked, I found there wasn’t. I decided I’d better write it fast before someone else thought of it, too.

Where do you draw inspiration from?  How did Meg Hunt capture this inspiration in the illustrations? It sounds like Meg and I are similar in that we draw from many different sources. This book was absolutely influenced by the fact that I loved astronomy when I was a kid. The first thing I can ever remember wanting to be when I was a kid was an astronomer, and I loved science fiction—especially Star Trek--when I was growing up. And I also love animals, and fairy tales, and rhyme. And I believe that a girl with agency is a lot more interesting to read about than a girl who sits around waiting for a prince to stick a shoe on her foot. These are all reflected in the book, just as Meg called on everything from NASA photos to Christian Dior—I loved reading about that in your interview with her.

What do you think the illustrations by Meg Hunt brings to the story? Meg’s illustrations have such a wonderful energy! And they’re so rich and interesting. I love the character of Cinderella particularly. She looks like someone you’d want to have as a friend. And it’s great that Meg gave the prince darker skin—I so appreciated her adding that element, so more kids can see themselves reflected in the book. The palette of the book in general is fantastic, as is the clothing design. The various elements together give the book a fascinating and timeless feel.

What is your favorite illustration from the book? That’s a tough one! The one on the next-to-last spread (I won’t give any spoilers) is pretty great; I adore Cinderella’s facial expression and the fact that her step-family seems to fade into the background. But I think my favorite is the first spread of the book, with Cinderella and her robotic mouse Murgatroyd looking up into the stars and dreaming together. It reminds me of  sleeping out in the yard with a friend when I was a kid, looking up at the sky and talking about how we wanted to travel into space. It’s like the visual equivalent of a musical’s “I want” song, but Meg communicated that in a single image.

Especially with children’s books, illustrations are important.  How do you feel Meg Hunt translated that need into illustrations children reading our book will enjoy? There is so much to look at in every illustration! You can read the book over and over and spot something new every time. I think in particular kids will enjoy looking for Murgatroyd and seeing what he’s up to, and poring over all the interesting creatures sprinkled throughout.

Click here to learn more about Deborah Underwood