Lillie Lainoff ~ One for All
Tania de Batz is most herself with a sword in her hand. Everyone in town thinks her near-constant dizziness makes her weak, nothing but “a sick girl”; even her mother is desperate to marry her off for security. But Tania wants to be strong, independent, a fencer like her father – a former Musketeer and her greatest champion.
Then Papa is brutally, mysteriously murdered. His dying wish? For Tania to attend finishing school. But L’Académie des Mariées, Tania realizes, is no finishing school. It’s a secret training ground for a new kind of Musketeer: women who are socialites on the surface, but strap daggers under their skirts, seduce men into giving up dangerous secrets, and protect France from downfall. And they don’t shy away from a swordfight.
With her newfound sisters at her side, Tania feels for the first time like she has a purpose, like she belongs. But then she meets Étienne, her first target in uncovering a potential assassination plot. He’s kind, charming, and breathlessly attractive—and he might have information about what really happened to her father. Torn between duty and dizzying emotion, Tania will have to lean on her friends, listen to her own body, and decide where her loyalties lie…or risk losing everything she’s ever wanted.
One For All is loosely inspired by the Three Musketeers – do you think Tania shares any traits with the original Dumas characters?
When I set out to write a retelling/reimagining of The Three Musketeers with teenage girls as the main characters, I knew that I would have my work cut out for me: I wanted to make sure that I honoured the original characters while also doing justice to my own Musketeers. Instead of directly mapping the personalities of adult men onto young women, I took an abstract approach to character, one that I applied differently depending on the Musketeer. Tania, for instance, shares many similarities with D’Artagnan. A desire to be part of something greater than themselves, their courage… and some other potential spoilers! Contrast Tania’s interpretation with Portia’s—the original Porthos is bold, is hungry in a literal sense—he eats and drinks frequently. Portia, on the other hand, is hungry in a figurative sense: she is hungry for women’s rights, she is hungry to be seen for who she is, she is hungry for so, so many things.
Tania is determined to show people that she can do anything, despite her illness. What other messages do you want readers to take away from One For All?
Writing Tania’s story of learning to love herself taught me how to love myself. The act of finishing ONE FOR ALL was a way of telling myself that I am worthy, just the way I am. And the act of putting this book into the world is my way of telling readers that they are worthy, just the way they are. If readers take away anything from ONE FOR ALL, I hope it’s that.
What gave you the idea for L’Académie des Mariées?
I talked about lightbulb moments when explaining the inspiration behind ONE FOR ALL (Editor’s note: Find out more by reading the Q&A from @readingbetweenthenotes on Instagram this week!) – how what I thought was a lightbulb moment was anything but… But L’Académie des Mariées? That was a true lightbulb moment. Perhaps, like my retroactive realization of where ONE FOR ALL’s inspiration came from, I’ll figure it out one day. But I just knew, instinctively, that the guise of a preparatory school for brides was what the story needed. And those moments, those organic plot discoveries, are some of the best parts of being a writer.
Thanks to Titan Books for the copy of the book and to Lillie for answering my questions. One for All is out now! Review coming soon…