Thursday, June 22, 2017

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: The Beast is An Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Hello everyone! Today we're featuring one of the early releases of 2017 - The Beast is an Animal. The book was released and published early on this year. Some of you might have already read it. Initially, upon seeing the word 'beast' in the title, I thought that it might be related to Beauty and the Beast. However, it is not like that. The story itself is not based on a single classic fairytale. I interviewed Peternelle to find out more info about the Beast is an Animal. Stick around for a special giveaway at the end!

In reviews that I have read, it was mentioned that your story has a fairytale vibe. By any chance, is there a fairytale that inspired you to write The Beast is an Animal?
No single fairytale inspired the novel, but I was inspired generally by all the classic fairy tales I read when I was growing up, particularly those by the Brothers Grimm. In those fairy tales the characters often behave very badly, and rarely is anyone allowed to be completely innocent. If you think of “Hansel and Gretel,” for example, Gretel is forced to kill in order to save herself and her brother. At the end, they return home to their father, which is supposed to be a happy conclusion to the story, but he’s also the one who led them out into the forest to starve in the first place. So the idea of no one being purely good was very interesting to me.

What kind of research did you delve into for this novel?
Since my novel is entirely a fantasy, including the setting, I didn’t have to do a lot of research. The landscape was roughly inspired by Wales, so I did a little research into sheep herding there and a few other practical things such as clothing, but not a lot—which is a good thing, because for me a little research goes a long way.

How different was the original version of the story from the last version? What changed?
Very different. In fact I originally wrote the prologue for a different novel—a contemporary fantasy. Then my agent asked me if I could write an entire novel in the style of the prologue, which I was delighted to do, because I realized while writing it that dark fairy tales were my first love for a reason. Still, the novel evolved and evolved over time. At one point I began the action later in my protagonist’s life, but then I went back and started the story much earlier. And there were many other changes along the way.

What is your favorite line from the book? Why?
Hm, I hadn’t thought about that. I love the nursery rhymes that I wrote for the novel. So perhaps my favorite line is from the first nursery rhyme that I wrote: The Beast is an animal, It has a pointy chin, It eats you while you sleep at night, leaves nothing but your skin...

Can you give us a background about the cover art? What is the concept behind it? Does it refer to a specific scene?
I entirely credit my publisher, Margaret K. McElderry Books, and the cover designer, Sonia Chaghatzbanian, and the photographer Sarah Ann Loreth, for that gorgeous cover. They didn’t ask me in advance what I wanted, and I’m glad they didn’t, because I never could have suggested something so perfect for the novel. I don’t want to give anything away about the novel, but the sense of “is that a tree, or a woman, or both?” is very appropriate. I love the way the two blend together and you’re not quite sure what you’re seeing.

Can you tell us something about your next book, which is a dark fairytale?
I really don’t want to give much away about it at this stage, but I will say that I love the prologue, and I think it will appeal to those who love THE BEAST IS AN ANIMAL. It also has a strong yet conflicted female protagonist, because that’s always important to me, as well as a very powerful sibling relationship, which was fun for me to write.

Thank you, Peternelle!

About the Author:

Peternelle van Arsdale is a book editor who never thought she’d write a book, until one day she had a glimmer of an idea that became The Beast Is an Animal. She lives in New York City, where she is at work on her second novel.

Find Peternelle: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Book Description:

Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 28th 2017 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Alys was seven the first time she saw the soul eaters. Twin sisters, they radiated an energy that excited Alys. Through them she felt the wildness of the forest, and The Beast within it. Too late, she learned of their power to destroy.

By the time she is fifteen, Alys knows too much about both the lure and the danger of the soul eaters. She lives in a world of adults who are terrified of their power, and who cower behind high walls and grim rules. Fear of the soul eaters—and of The Beast—rules their lives. Even more, they fear the ways in which The Beast may lurk among them—and within a girl like Alys.

For Alys has a connection to the soul eaters, and The Beast. And she hides a truth about herself that she can reveal to no one, for fear she will be called a witch. As the threat posed by the soul eaters grows, Alys must undertake a journey through the wild danger of the fforest. But the greatest danger is not outside her. Alys’s secret about who—and what—she is terrifies her most of all. And in order to save her world, she must also risk losing herself.


Thanks to Peternelle and Simon & Schuster for sponsoring this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: Finished Copy of The Beast is an Animal
Scope: US

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get your daily dose of YA and MG debut goodness in #CelebratingDebutantes2017
Click the button above to be redirected to the main page where you can browse the list of novels and authors that we are featuring.


  1. I've heard nothing but good things about this book! I'm fairly new to reading YA, although I have read my fair share of adult horror (one of my favorite genres), so I'm definitely thrilled to find there's a thing called YA horror :-)

    Great interview, and thanks so much for the chance!