Author: Chantal Gadoury
Narrator: Anne Marie Lewis
Length: 10 hours 22 minutes
Publisher: The Parliament House
Released: Dec. 31, 2019
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
This Christmas Eve, no creature was stirring, except, maybe, a mouse. At long last, can true love break the Nutcracker’s curse? For Clara Stahlbaum, this Christmas means the end of her youth. A daughter of the aristocracy, Clara is expected to give up her dreams of adventures and the extraordinary for more normal days as the wife of a cruel viscount. But when magical Uncle Drosselmeyer returns with his wondrous, dancing contraptions and one special gift for Clara, she is beckoned to the land of Winter Dream, where she is thrust into the greatest adventure of her wildest dreams. But will she be able to break the Nutcracker’s curse? Uncle Drosselmeyer’s apprentice Anton is handsome as he is mysterious. But what is it about him Clara finds so alluring? Winter Dream is a phenomenal retelling of The Nutcracker from the eyes of Clara Stahlbaum with all the magic of the Holiday season. If you loved S. Jae-Jones’ Wintersong, you’ll fall in love with this stunning tale of love, war, redemption, and Christmas magic. Listen to it now!
Amazon Bestselling Author, Chantal Gadoury, is a 2011 graduate from Susquehanna University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. Since graduation, she has published The Songs in Our Hearts, and The Songs We Remember, with 48Fourteen Publishing. Allerleirauh, Between the Sea and Stars, Blinding Night and WinterDream with the Parliament House Press. Chantal first started writing stories at the age of seven and continues with that love of writing today. For Chantal, writing novels has become a lifelong dream come true! When she’s not typing away at her next project, she enjoys painting, drinking lots of Iced Coffee, and watching Disney Classics. Chantal lives in Muncy, Pennsylvania with her Mom, sister and furry-‘brother’ Taran.
Singer and actor Anne Marie Lewis has enjoyed a richly varied and long career in the performing arts. She has performed across the globe from Carnegie Hall to Boise to Little Rock to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as well as in Canada, England and Scotland. Chicago area credits: My Fair Lady, Peter Pan, Into the Woods (Music Theater Works); 1776 (Porchlight Music Theater); Midnight Cowboy (Lifeline Theatre); Northanger Abbey, The Skin of Our Teeth (Remy Bumppo); Love, Loss and What I Wore (Oil Lamp Theater); bare (RefugeTheatre Project); Graveyard of Empires (16th Street Theater); Jake’s Women (Spartan Theatre); The Scullery Maid (Idle Muse Theatre); Moon Over Buffalo (Jedlicka Performing Arts Center); The Diary of Anne Frank (Metropolis Performing Arts Center); The Merry Wives of Windsor (Fury Theatre); Fancy Nancy, Elephant and Piggie (Northbrook Theater); Little Red Riding Hood, Camp Wonderland (Theatre at the Center), Don Giovanni, Shining Brow (Chicago Opera Theatre); Pride and Prejudice, The Sound of Music, Hansel and Gretel, Persuasion, Cosi fan tutte (Chamber Opera Chicago); Gianni Schicchi (DuPage Opera); La boheme, Die Fledermaus, Don Pasquale, Don Giovanni, Carmen (Opera Studio Highland Park). Regional credits: Die Fledermaus, Le nozze di Figaro (Pine Mountain Music Festival), Little Women (Lyric Opera Cleveland), La boheme (Quad Cities Opera, Arkansas Symphony, Battle Creek Symphony); Mozart Requiem, Schubert Mass in G (Carnegie Hall). International credits: Persuasion (Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Camden Fringe Festival, Buxton Fringe Festival, Victoria, BC). Anne Marie, a Pittsburgh native, is a proud graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Northwestern University. She maintains a private voice studio and has recently entered the wonderful world of audiobook narration and production, with fifteen titles to her credit. I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Chantal Gadoury. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
Q&A with Author Chantal Gadoury
- Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?:
- At the time of writing “WinterDream,” I think I probably hoped that one day I’d hear it read aloud. The idea of someone your writing to the world is both exciting and slightly terrifying too!
- How did you select your narrator?
- Anne actually was the narrator to “Hook and Crown,” and I had really loved the way she told the story. When she auditioned for “WinterDream,” I was just captivated by the way she read Clara and brought her to life. I knew I wanted her to read “WinterDream” the moment I heard it.
- Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
- There’s always something real behind my writing. Even in this fantastical Christmas story, with magic and Nutcrackers – there are elements of Clara that are entirely me. The story behind the reason why I wrote this novel, is that as a young child I used to love to perform to these songs. I’d been a little ballerina, dancing around the living room with my Mom’s nutcrackers. She used to take me to see this show every Christmas, and it was a story that continued to live in my heart as I grew older.
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?:
- I am an audiobook listener! I love just having someone read to me, when I might not have the time to read something myself. It’s a great thing to have on long car rides, or when you can’t sleep (but don’t want to chance having a book fall flat on your face.)
- Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?:
- I think the intimate moment of The Nutcracker and Clara sitting in front of the fire in Mother Ginger’s Inn. They’re talking to each other about their lives, and the curse and themselves, and it really struck me as I listened to it. It felt so much deeper; I could feel Clara really starting to allow herself to trust him. And I think the ending was really resonating – I can’t say why without giving it away. So you’ll have to take a leap of faith, and take the journey with me!
- If you had the power to time travel, would you use it?
- Oh boy, would I? Yes! There are so many places I’d love to time travel to.
- How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?:
- Sometimes with a glass of wine, or an Iced Coffee — sometimes a movie that I’ve been wanting to watch. It’s strange, but when I finish a novel, I don’t really celebrate. I suddenly just feel really sad, or empty. It’s never easy letting go of a world you’ve just spent so much time in. I remember it being hard to let go of the world of WinterDream when it was over.
- What’s your favorite:
- Food – Eggrolls, and Burrito Bowls from Chipotle.
- Song – Right now, my favorite song is “Lover” by Taylor Swift or “Forever” by Lewis Capaldi
- Book – It’s a tie between “A Court of Thorns and Roses,” “The Beholder” and “A House of Salt and Sorrow.”
- Television show – Outlander.
- Movie – Ever After
- Band – Maroon 5, Civil Wars, BTS
- Sports team – I honestly don’t have one.
- City – Hands down, my favorite city will always be Denver, Colorado
- Are any of those things referenced in appearance in your work?
- Not in “WinterDream,” but I have mentioned or referenced a few of my favorite things in my other books!
- What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?:
- My advice is usually always the same. To never give up. To always write! But to also approach the idea of publishing a bit more realistically. It’s hard and rare to get a huge book deal that provides the sort of compensation that one could live off of. Don’t go into writing for money – write to share your message. It’s wholly yours, which makes it unique. Build a good group of people to share your work, and have fun!
by Chantal GadouryWhen writing “WinterDream,” – a retelling of the Nutcracker, there were a lot of things that inspired me to create the world and the characters! I’ll give you a glimpse into what helped bring “WinterDream” to life!
- The Nutcracker Ballet: Of course when writing about the Nutcracker, one would be inspired by the ballet, first commissioned in 1891. It’s been a part of our holiday traditions for decades, and it’s a story that many of us have heard, know, and love. Without the story of Clara (or Marie) and her Nutcracker, “WinterDream” never would have existed!
- The Nutcracker Music: I remember as a little girl, I used to dance around my living room as I listened to “The Nutcracker” ballet. There was something always so whimsical and magical about the music, and the love for the classical score traveled with me as I grew older. The song that speaks to me the most, and what started the idea of “WinterDream” was actually: The Nutcracker, Op. 71, Act 2: No. 14 Pas de Deux. When you hear this song, you’re hearing the entire novel in about 5 minutes.
- The Nutcracker in the Movies: I might be dating myself a little, but back in 1990 there was an Animated feature of this holiday tale, entitled – “The Nutcracker Prince.” As a child, I remember seeing it on the Disney channel, and I fell in love with the Prince, with Clara – and their magical dancing scene. It remained in my memory for years – and was one of the stemming pieces in which inspired “WinterDream,” – and all the characters, including Uncle Drosselmeyer and the Mouse King. In 1993, Warner Brothers released a version of George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker,” famously starring Macaulay Culkin. (And I remember eating that movie up!) In doing my research for this book, I watched several versions of the ballet, and there are so many to choose from!
- Christmas at home: You can’t have “The Nutcracker” without the magic of the holiday. It’s true that the Nutcracker is centered around the holiday of Christmas – because without “Christmas Magic,” the wooden toy wouldn’t come to life! I actually started writing “WinterDream” right in front of my Christmas tree. There’s just something about being at home, during Christmas, with a tree and lights and feeling the love. All of that and more helped to fuel what I imagined for Clara and her family during the opening scene at her family’s party!
- Queen Victoria and Albert: It’s no secret I’m a sucker for romance. I’d just started watching “Queen Victoria” on the BBC, and really loved the romance between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (which also led me to watch “The Young Victoria” over and over again. As I watched, I wanted to sort of capture this royal romance in Clara and the Nutcracker. I’m not sure if I did that entirely, but – they did stand as an influence in the way I wrote the two characters together.
- Beauty and the Beast: Every fairytale has some sort of twist to it, to make it all the more interesting. Cinderella has to leave the ball by midnight. Rapunzel must keep her Prince a secret from the witch. Snow White must be kissed by her True Love in order to awaken. For the Nutcracker, in “WinterDream,” I needed there to be a spell – something to free him from his wooden bonds, and to give Clara a reason to be sent to WinterDream, and to fight for what she loved. Beauty and the Beast and the spell that Beast is placed under played a role in the way I viewed the Nutcracker – and a little of the struggles that he faced. He might not have been a fury beast, but he did have his own obstacles he had to face as a wooden soldier.
- Mrs. Weasley: Mother Ginger was entirely based on the movie version of “Mrs. Weasley” from Harry Potter. I loved her spunk and her whit – but her kindness, and her willingness to place food in front of someone and make them feel at home. She just makes you want to stay forever, and bake in her kitchen.
- The Princess Bride: The Nutcracker has these lines of dialogue that are very resonant of “The Princess Bride” – more important, Wesley. As he’s fighting against the Mouse King with a sword, he’s throwing out insults that are just as whity and beloved as the ones we hear in the classic ‘80s movie. I think anyone who reads this, is definitely going to get some Wesley vibes.
- War and Peace (2016 Miniseries): I love anything that I can find on the BBC if it has to do with historical drama, and romance. And I was so intrigued by the idea of a miniseries of “War and Peace,” (starring one of my favorite actresses, Lily James.) After having seen the show, and listened to the score, I felt as though I was able to see an older side to St. Petersberg, and how society of the past had been. Having already been familiar with the story of the Romanovs (and having watched a ton on the family and the history) – along with classic movies like Doctor Zhivago, I knew I wanted to give a nod to the Russian Ballet origins. Traditionally, The Nutcracker is a German tale – but began as a Russian Ballet. I felt it only right to bring Clara and her Nutcracker to Russia – and used influence from War and Peace to make it happen!
- Girl Power: It might seem a little cliche to say, but girl power was something I really wanted to bring to “WinterDream.” We all love a strong heroine/hero. I’m all about writing characters (and in this case, women) who are strong, independent, brave – but most importantly – real. We all have our moments of weakness; those times when we’re unsure of how to go on – if we can go on. . . but have the willpower to try. Clara finds herself in a few situations of battling against mice and facing unexpected villains – and doing so with her own sort of bravery.
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