Book Reviews

Interview and Book Review: Befriending the Beast by Amanda Tero

15Belle has returned unannounced to the castle to restore her relationship with the king, her father. Her hopes are dashed with the devastating message: “The king refuses to see you.” Convinced that God has led her home, she is unwilling to return to Lord and Lady Kiralyn.

Time is running out for the decision that will change her life. When tragedy strikes, will she and her father be pulled further apart or knit together? Could she stay at the castle even if she will never see her father again?

Amanda Tero is likely the YOUNGEST published author that I’ve had the pleasure of reading. It’s refreshing to see so much wisdom and purity coming from such a youthful package. You can read my chat with Amanda following the review as we talk about new stories, old stories, and life as a young author. 

What I Loved: I love the Beauty and the Beast so I was thrilled to get my hands on Amanda Tero’s retelling. She has such a creative take on the story that I admired right away. Tero stripped the story of all magic and romance and presented it in a brand new way. One of the highlights of the novella was the way Tero treated the gospel. The gospel was presented so clearly. The overall theme of forgiveness and following Christ’s plan for you life was also well handled and beautifully presented.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it Befriending the Beast 5 stars and I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys Christian Fiction, Christian Fairy Tale Retellings, or Christian Historical Fiction.

~ I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

And now for my interview with the author…

Me: You have such a unique take on this Beauty and the Beast retelling. Can you tell us how this idea came to life? What were some of the thoughts going on in your head?

Amanda: Well, those who know me personally know that I’m not a huge fan of romance. 🙂 It’s just not me. So, when it comes to stories, I am usually drawn to a non-romantic setting. 😉 With Befriending the Beast, I wasn’t actually trying to plot out a fairy tale retelling. God just placed the question on my mind, “What if the beast was Belle’s father?” And of course, from there, I began to wonder how to make it a believable story that would draw the hearts of the readers to Belle, even though there was no romantic interests for her (sorry, Anita, there aren’t romantic interests for Belle despite what you conjure up 😉 ).


Me: I know you have a BEAUTIFUL Pinterest board set up for Befriending the Beast, can you share the link please?

Me: Fairy tale retellings are becoming very popular. Fans LOVE the chance to revisit old stories. Do you have a favorite retelling? Why?

Amanda: Hmm… I haven’t read very many retellings, but I loved Shantelle Hannu’s A Dream Not Imagined (retelling of Cinderella). I loved how she took the story we all knew and added some great twists! She’s a teen writer, but I found it a refreshing read!

Me: Are you planning to write any more fairy tale retellings?

Amanda: At the present, no. But, God can always surprise me! 🙂

Me: You’re likely the youngest published author that I’ve read and yet you have a stack of published short stories and a couple of novellas under your belt. Tell us about your first publication. 

Amanda: Being homeschooled definitely enabled me to pursue my love of writing as a teenager as Mom catered my schooling to include a special dose of writing help. 🙂 Most of my stories written in my teens will never see the world. 🙂 My first publication would be “Letters from a Scatter-Brained Sister” in which Nicole pours out her heart to her newly married sister, who left her in charge of the kitchen. I got the fun, whimsical idea to write a story in which I could share kitchen mishaps that happened to me, my sisters, and cousins. I started it in October 2010 (age 19) but only wrote a few of the letters. My younger sister, Rachel, begged me to finish it, so for Christmas 2013, I surprised her and gave it to her as a gift. Honestly, that was the only dream I had for it. The next Christmas (2014), I wrote three other short stories for my three youngest sisters: “Maggie’s Hope Chest,” “Noelle’s Gift,” and “Deb’s Bible.” I’m not a big dreamer. These short stories were just something fun and special for my little sisters. I wasn’t necessarily planning on becoming a published author anytime soon. But in Spring 2015, I got a booth at the Louisiana Homeschool Convention for my music endeavors and Mom suggested that I print my short stories to sell there. That piqued my interest in what publishing for Kindle entailed. Within a month, the Lord allowed me to have an author website set up with the four short stories available in print and for Kindle. And you know what? People bought the stories and actually enjoyed them!

Me: Where have you taken your readers since then?

Amanda: In short stories, I have taken readers to a castle in medieval England, a lighthouse in the 19th century, and into the hearts of modern girls with daily life struggles. Most recently, I have exposed my readers to the trials and joys of Orphan Train riders at turn-of-the-century America.

Me: Who is your target audience and what should readers expect from you?

Amanda: Because of the content of my writing, my target audience is definitely pre-teens, though I hope all ages will enjoy it. I came up with a descriptive alliteration  for my writing: faith-filled, family-friendly, flinch-free fiction (and yes, that’s a LOT of F’s!).

Me: Is there a setting you’ve grown to love more and hope to write in more often?

Amanda: Medieval! Or maybe it’s a tie. I love a lot of historical eras, but America in the 1800’s and medieval England just draws me.

Me: Is there a setting that you haven’t tried yet but hope to? Or one that you’re slightly intimidated by?

Amanda: Now this would be the medieval era — which answers both questions. Lord willing, in the nearish future, I will be experimenting here!

Where will you take your readers next?

Amanda: As far as short stories go, I’m not quite ready to divulge this information to the public. 😉 But for novels … oh boy! Next is a journey from New York to Indianapolis to Missouri … and then everywhere that the 18th Missouri regiment traveled during the Civil War (which goes down to Mississippi). Nat is a boy on the move in Journey of Choice.

Me: What has writing taught you about life?

Amanda: It seems like every time I have a theme to write about, God reveals how much I need to work on these areas in my own life. In a way, the lessons that I “teach” my readers are lessons that God is working in my life as I write. It reminds me of God’s grace for daily living.

Me: I know you’re a young lady of many talents. Tell us what else you’re involved in?

Amanda: I’ll go for the nutshell here. I usually juggle writing, music (piano, violin, hymn arranging, recording, family music group, teaching), photography, and web/graphics design.

Me: What similarities have you found between writing and music?

Amanda: There are a lot of similarities. They both take dedication, commitment, practice, work. They both can be shared and enjoyed by others. They both can be used to glorify God. Anyone can plunk a chord on the piano and anyone can piece together a sentence, but to create something that is of true value, one must diligently study the craft and practice what they’ve studied.

Me: Publishing seems like an impossible task and yet you’ve tackled it at a young age. What word of encouragement could you give to someone that is still in the dream stages of something big in their life?

Amanda: There are a couple of things, actually. 🙂

– When I first began thinking about publishing, I heard a sermon where the preacher went on a “rabbit trail” about battle plans. God had different battle plans for different battles in the Old Testament, and just because one battle plan worked once, didn’t mean that’s what God wanted the next battle plan to be. Even though it was just a sidenote, it really spoke to me. It was very easy to try to find an author to follow, but the Lord used that sermon to remind me that, while I can get ideas from others, ultimately I needed to seek Him for His “battle plan” for my publishing. So first and foremost, seek God in this dream!

– Secondly, don’t be so eager to get out there that you neglect to polish up your work. I have read many young authors who don’t have enough eyes read through their work before it’s sent out to the world (this means that we read all of the spelling and grammatical errors as well as plots that needed one extra run-through–and it also means that this is what your name is attached to). I am far from being a perfectionist, but every time I’ve slowed down to be more careful, it’s been completely worth it.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Amanda Tero better! She really is as sweet as she appears on paper. And she’s the type of author that I would gladly hand over to anyone looking for a heartwarming story, but especially for parents looking for something wholesome for their children to read.
You can connect with Amanda online on Facebook and her website.
And you can pick up your copy of Befriending the Beast today!!

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