We are so excited to welcome Janeen Ippolito to Lands Uncharted today to talk about her upcoming new release, Met By Midnight! Uncommon Universes Press (one of my favorite small presses, if you recall 😊) is publishing both Met By Midnight and Ashen by H.L. Burke - two very different but equally fabulous Cinderella retellings - on September 22nd! I'll share more about the author, Met By Midnight, and the blog tour below, but first Janeen is going to share about the inspiration behind her book!
Met By Midnight was inspired by a dream…and a breakdown.
We’ll start with the breakdown first, because that might have caught your attention. 😉 A little over a year ago, I reached an extreme level of burnout and depression and anxiety, the likes of which led to me taking a few weeks completely off work (which I hadn’t done in a very, very long time—one of the dangers of liking your jobs too much), along with getting some much-needed therapy, supplements, and making lifestyle changes.
As I slowly started mentally recovering, I tried to write again, and nothing was working. Nothing. I had two active book series, and I couldn’t figure out what to write for either of them. The only thing I could write was poetry.
You might be thinking “hey, at least you’re writing poetry”, but for me, fiction is therapy as much as ‘work’ so I was a slightly cranky Janeen about this predicament.
However, one night I had an intriguing dream about a young woman in a blue dress racing toward a castle, even though another person was warning her away. She was there to steal something. Something incredibly important for her people. However, when she got there, a young man caught her—and oddly enough, he didn’t seem at all surprised to see her. But she was shocked to see him. End dream.
A few days later, when I was oh-so-calmly expressing (aka, whining about) my lack of writing mojo with a friend, she suggested I start drafting the dream. So I went for that, and ended up writing the middle of Met By Midnight. Which made for a very unique first draft that drove me crazy some days! Yeesh.
As soon as I started writing, I realized it was a Cinderella retelling, which made me super-happy, since that’s one of my favorite fairy tales—Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine is still one of my favorite books of all time. And since some of my own breakdown had stemmed from excessive people-pleasing, I decided to dig into the idea of sacrifice.
Cinderella is often held up as this epic heroine of sweet submission, quiet strength, and sacrifice in the midst of persecution. But very rarely does anyone really get inside the psychological stresses and difficulties of enduring that level of constant mental, emotional, and physical abuse. How did she keep it together? Did she never want to smite those against her? How many tears did she bury inside?
For added fun, I made Renna, the main character of my story, a Mender. The fantasy government requires her to use her healing gift to benefit others (they control who), even though every time she Receives an illness or injury, she endures great pain to recover. And she has no choice, no say in the matter. After all, if she can, then she should, regardless of the cost. Right?
Oh yes, and lest you think the story is 100% angst and hard situations, there is a sweet romance, some quirky side characters, cute sibling moments, political intrigue, and a far-too-adorable dog. Plus, there’s most definitely a happily-ever-after. Everyone needs a breather! Even in the midst of hardship and sorrow, there is always humor, joy, and hope. And through writing this story, I wrote my own way into fresh hope as well.
What an inspiring story! And let me tell you, friends, it made for a wonderfully exciting, thought-provoking book! Not surprisingly, I was a huge fan of that happily-ever-after 💙 Thank you so much for sharing with us, Janeen! Here's a little more about her:
Janeen Ippolito believes in Jesus, true love, and the power of your unique words. She's a bestselling author of speculative fiction, writing resources, and poetry. She's also an editor, author coach, marketing strategist, and the president of Uncommon Universes Press. When she's not immersed in the geektastic world of words, she's helping her husband with his youth swordfighting ministry, exploring a slew of random hobbies, and posting up cute animal videos on social media. This extroverted writer loves to connect, so find her on Facebook, Instagram, and her website janeenippolito.com.
And here's a little more about Met By Midnight, which can be pre-ordered on Amazon!
An outcast prince. A captive healer. A single night that changes their destinies.
She lives a nightmare.
As a Mender, Renna is held captive to an endless cycle of receiving and recovering from the physical ailments of others—a cycle that led her mother to an early grave. When her father becomes deathly ill, Renna is desperate to save her only remaining family. Even if it means allying with criminals and taking an illegal mission into the royal palace on the night of their greatest ball.
He’s haunted by dreams.
Unable to be Mended, Prince Jaric’s existence is a curse to his family’s façade of health and security. Marrying him off at the ball and sending him to a distant dukedom is the royal solution—but Jaric has his own plans. For years he’s dreamed of a young woman, a strong-hearted Mender he would give everything for. When she arrives the night of his betrothal, he’s determined to discover her true identity.
Met by midnight, their fates are entwined.
While escape seems the only answer, powerful forces conspire to keep Renna and Jaric within their cages. Forces that undermine the foundations of the kingdom itself—and threaten any hope of a future together.
This YA romance features Cinderella in an original fantasy world with a dystopian twist.
September 15: Madisyn Zeller, Ashen book review
September 16: Jorie, Ashen inspiration post
September 17: Lands Uncharted, Met By Midnight inspiration post
September 18: Jess Elliot, Ashen book spotlight
September 19: Lauricia Matuska, Met By Midnight book spotlight,
September 20: Christina Morley, Met By Midnight, custom post
September 21: Denica McCall, Janeen Ippolito author interview
September 22: Ashley Martinez, Ashen book spotlight
September 23: Peter Adler, Ashen world building feature
September 24: Lands Uncharted, Ashen themes post
September 25: Selina Eckert, Ashen world building feature
September 26: H.L. Burke, Met By Midnight feature,
Janeen Ippolito, Ashen feature
September 27: Abigail Falanga, Met By Midnight themes post
September 28: Cathrine Bonham, Met By Midnight book review
September 29: Teisha Priest, Ashen and Met By Midnight dual post
September 30: Liz Delton, Ashen book spotlight
October 1: Kandi Wyatt, Ashen book spotlight
October 2: Olivia Neale, Met By Midnight book spotlight