Amanda Deed revisits a well-loved fairy-tale against the backdrop of Australian convict history in The Captive's Song, touching on freedom, hope, and trust.

What was the inspiration for The Captive’s Song?

I’ve always loved Fairy Tales, particularly Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Rapunzel. Having created a retelling of the first two, I was ready to try Rapunzel. However, I love to work with a theme in mind, and I just couldn’t find one I was happy with. Then I had a conversation with one of my sisters-in-law about it. That conversation led me to the idea of using the penal system, instead of a wicked witch, as the antagonist who locks my heroine away, and Olivia’s struggle with freedom was born.

Who or what inspired Olivia and Michael’s characters?

The characters were mainly inspired by the original Rapunzel story characters. I also researched many convict stories to help develop Olivia. I probably draw characteristics from several people in my circles, but nothing specific that I can remember.

Did you incorporate much of your personal experience into this book? If so, what did that look like?

Not so much. Except perhaps, for trying to show love and grace to the prickly people in my world. That’s a tough gig for anyone, and I hope that journey shows through in Mick’s attitude toward Olivia and the other prisoners.

There are some powerful themes in The Captive’s Song, including hope, betrayal, love and trust. Did anything spark your interest in these themes?

Hope is probably the biggest one. Without hope it is easy to fall into despair. I wanted to show that through Olivia’s journey to freedom. That true freedom is not about being free from a prison or a tower or from a set of rigid rules. True freedom is something that happens on the inside of a person, and that brings hope.

What was the biggest hurdle in writing The Captive’s Song?

Real life actually. I had a difficult few years, and I stalled about two thirds of the way through writing this novel. I found it hard to be creative in that head space. When I finally got past my struggles, I finished it quite quickly.

What aspect of The Captive’s Song are you most excited about?

Well, I love our Australian history, and convict history is especially interesting, so I loved being able to weave a story around that. I was very excited to go to Tasmania last year and visit some of the sites mentioned in this novel, particularly the Cascades Female Factory. Beautiful in it’s surrounds, it was the home of decades of torment and earned itself the nickname The Valley of the Shadow of Death from the convict women who found themselves there.

Was there anything about writing this book that was a new experience for you?

Yes, I originally wrote this book in first person, present tense, which made all the action and emotion up close and personal. I really enjoyed doing that. I did have to shift it all to third person later, as it wasn’t working so well with two viewpoints, but I still kept the present tense.

What do you hope your readers will take away from The Captive’s Song?

Two things I guess. One, a new appreciation for what women went through in our convict history. And two, that we can all find that hope of freedom in our lives, no matter what our story is.

Do you have any other projects in the works?

Always. I am currently working on a medieval speculative fiction, with four teenagers and their supernatural gifts trying to do good and avoid being burnt at the stake at the same time. I am also working on a second contemporary romance for the Trinity Lakes Romance Series.