Book Review

Indie Spotlight #1

It’s finally here!!

My first Indie Spotlight! From now on, on the 15th of every month, we’ll have this Indie Spotlight. It will include an interview with the author, talking about their book, and a giveaway for the book! I will try my hardest to make every giveaway international! And for this round we are super lucky! I have seven copies donated from the Author to give away and they are the coolest things ever, you’ll see why after the interview!

Who is our Author?

Suzie Plakson

Suzie Plakson

Suzie Plakson has been in love with fairy tale and myth ever since she was a young lass growing up in the wilds of suburbia. The idea for THE RETURN OF KING LILLIAN first came to her when she was a struggling theatre actor in New York City, doing odd jobs, improv comedy, and various off-off-Broadway productions. She eventually landed a lead in a national tour, which dropped her off in Hollywood, and since that time she has appeared in such films and television shows as MAD ABOUT YOU, LOVE AND WAR, WAG THE DOG, DINOSAURS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER and STAR TREK. She has also done voiceovers, written short stories and poetry, written and recorded an alternative country album, created an allegorical solo show, and produced sculptures large and small in her otherwise unused oven.

THE RETURN OF KING LILLIAN is Suzie’s debut novel. She narrates and voices all the characters in the audiobook.

Author Links

Website | GoodReads | Facebook | Instagram | IMDB


  1. So, retellings are very popular but I’ve yet to see one for The Emperor’s New Clothes. What inspired you to pick this story?

Well, actually the story picked me.  I was dream-visited by this red-headed woman in a scarlet velvet cape on horseback (some three decades ago now), and having followed the trail of breadcrumbs from that moment to the actual creation of The Return of King Lillian, I “discovered” somewhere along the way, that Lillian’s roots were in that famous fairy tale, and that her role in that tale was key.   

What’s so fascinating and exciting to me is that it was always intended that The Emperor’s New Clothes bit was to be revealed to us near the very end of the story as a surprise – that we would find out Lillian’s beginnings at the very, very, very end.  In other words, “spoiler alert”! But for many readers and listeners – even though The Emperor’s New Clothes doesn’t directly figure into the plot until Book III – that ancient tale has such resonance that, for some, the whole thing’s seen, in retrospect, as a re-telling.  

Whereas for other readers and listeners it’s simply a fun puzzle piece.  The proverbial other shoe drops and we see the bigger picture. Any way that anybody sees it all is just fine and dandy with me.   Just a heads up, though – to whoever’s out there contemplating buying The Return of King Lillian please know that we spend the lion’s share of the story knowing nothing about Emperor’s New Clothes Thing at all, and it doesn’t figure into much until the very end of the book.  

  1. The original story format is an audiobook, can you tell readers why this and not the traditional print/ebook format? 

Well, I would say this:  the story kept at me, simply wanting simply to be told, and finding the “right” form for it haunted me for many, many years.  It felt like it needed to be captured, in a way, like lightning in a bottle, which seemed to call for being expressed as two mediums of absolutely equal import. The manuscript was always being written with the intent of also serving as a script — yet was always meant to function as a physical book, a novel in its own right, whether anybody listened to the journey or not.  

One thing that thrills me to bits and pieces about it is that I’ve always longed to read fairy tales and I finally got my chance!  Having made my living as an actress, I was like a kid in a candy store, as I got to play a whole crowd of characters. The process was very satisfying, super challenging and heaps of fun. 

  1. The interesting thing about reading this was that you wrote things out phonetically where Lillian is concerned, was that a deliberate style choice? Admittedly it is one of my favorite aspects of your book.

Thanks for that, Haley – that makes me happy to hear!  Well, for fun, years ago, I toyed around, now and again with the idea of a diary (prompted by another dream of Lillian’s world) and wrote in first person present without re-reading it, just to play.   Years later, when I began the writing of the whole story in earnest and — naturally referring back to that old file — I realized: that this very conversational and uniquely colloquial way of speaking was simply the way Lillian speaks and, therefore, writes as she chronicles her adventures.  I just “heard” her that way and simply wrote it the way she sounded to me, internally. 

  1. What are other writing projects you’ve done, or have in mind for the future?

 I’ve written short stories and some poetry, some of which is on my website:   And some years ago, I wrote a solo show that I performed on stage, and I recorded a solo aternative country album called  “DidnWannaDoIt!” The video of the title tune is on Youtube here:

  1. What other books inspired you? I felt that this reminded me a bit of The Last Unicorn, a more modern tale still told with a lot of classical flare when it comes to fairytales.

That’s such a deeply flattering reference, Haley, thank you so much!  Honestly, countless books inspired me and countless old movies and film series inspired me – from Robin Hood to The Wizard of Oz to The Count of Monte Christo to Fractured Fairy Tales – a TV show my generation grew up on, a thousand years ago.  I suppose somehow everything I’ve ever loved in classic books and old films ended up in a blender inside my brain and poured out as a sort of King Lillian smoothie.

  1. Are there any more plans for retellings or perhaps even a play based off The Return of King Lilian?

Oh, dear God, no – I’m exhausted! All I want now is a glass of champagne, some very cheesy pizza, and a nice, long nap. And then maybe I’ll go climb Mt. Everest or something.  But honestly, I adored creating it and recording it. And after having it steeping inside me for literally half my life – it feels pretty delicious to have finally, actually realized such a long-held dream.

  1. Any advice you would give to other self/indie published writers out there? Maybe things you wish you had known beforehand or things you learned in the process?

Especially as a first-time author, the whole landscape of the business of publishing and self-publishing is a thorny wilderness to me – much like show business, it’s fraught with intricacies and policies and closed doors and radio silence and secret shibboleths and such.  Truth is, I’m clueless about how to crack the code with all of that. So, let me speak only of one particularly constant, even relentless lesson I learned with respect to the writing and the performing process itself: 

Truly, before writing or preparing any performance, I would do well to put up a massive sign in my psyche that says:  “ANY AND ALL MISTAKES WELCOME!” 

Over and over and over again, I found that if I just allowed a “stupid” or “bad” or “wrong” word or phrase or idea to come forth, then the better and even the best word or phrase or idea was always waiting to pop up right behind it.  But if I didn’t allow, or even beckon the “wrong ideas,” I wouldn’t have come upon the right ones.  Sounds simple, but it ain’t always easy. “Oh, no – that’s too dumb, too bad!”   The possible internal shame of being “wrong” can really intimidate the best ideas back into hiding under the couch. 

  1. What’s a retelling you’ve enjoyed? [This could be a movie, play, any format!]

One truly perfect retelling that immediately leaps to mind for me is the movie Ever After — that moving, funny, gorgeous, brilliantly acted Cinderella reconfiguration starring Drew Barrymore and Angelica Huston.  I also remember adoring the Gregory MacGuire’s book Wicked when it first came out — so gorgeously written!  Oh, and speaking of gorgeously written, I think Madeline Miller’s Circe is one of the most ingenious, poetic, truly magnificent retellings of Greek myths ever.  

  1. And finally, this brings us to our last question here today! If you could choose someone’s ultimate reaction to your story, what would you most fantasize it would be?

I would love, more than anything, for The Return of King Lillian to be a source of inspiration and joy for readers and listeners, a certain place of dependable solace from the mad, mad world for listeners and readers, to which they might return, now and again, to put their feet up and relax.


The Return of King Lillian is a new hero’s journey that celebrates the healing power of art and music, the wisdom of animals, and the majesty of nature. It’s a metaphysical myth filled with comedy, calamity, and a cornucopia of colorful characters. – Suzie Plakson


The Return of King Lillian is a mythic journey tale – a metaphysical fantasy for dreamers and nonconformists of all ages.

So, why the manly moniker in tandem with the womanly name?

“The Firstborn Child of The Emperor-King Inherits the Ruling Crown, the Title of Emperor-King and All Powers Thereof.” (Item 37, The Royal Manual)

Enter Lillian, the firstborn child of said Emperor-King. Cast out of her Kingdom by malevolent forces, mysteriously waylaid by Destiny, the spirited, self-reliant Lillian sets off on an exuberant journey to find her way home and claim her birthright. As she travels through marvelous and mystical lands in search of her origins, Lillian encounters and befriends a kaleidoscopic cast of characters. Most of the tale is told by Lillian herself, as she chronicles her extraordinary adventures.

The audiobook of The Return of King Lillian is performed by the author, Suzie Plakson.

Book Links

Book Website | GoodReads | My Review

The Giveaway

Suzie has been amazing and offered seven of these credit card styled flash drives which are pictured above, and on them are a PDF of the book and the entire audiobook!!

She has generously donated seven of these!! SEVEN!


Add The Return of King Lillian to your GoodReads tbr and show me proof that you’ve done that whether you link. me or take a screenshot! That’s it! [You cand o that in the comments here or on any of my social media accounts!]

THIS GIVEAWAY IS INTERNATIONAL and I’ll pick winners on February 25 and will mail them out that Friday afterwards!

Once more here is the link for the book

And there we have it! The first Indie Spotlight is done!

By TheCaffeinatedReader

A Caffeinated Reader and Musician, destined to write lacklustre book reviews with the over-ample amount of free time.

13 replies on “Indie Spotlight #1”

What a fun interview to read, Haley! I can’t imagine how freeing it must be to have finally finished a project of such a huge undertaking, and I loved reading about how the story kind of took root in a dream in the 80s! Also, Ever After is legit one of the best retellings out there.

I am supremely hyped about this new series and am going to go check this book out on Goodreads now. *grumbles*

Liked by 1 person

yay for indie spotlights and yay for giveaways, especially international giveaways! 🎊

The Emperor’s New Clothes fascinated me growing up, I can’t think of any retellings either so I’m definitely interested to see this one – even if it doesn’t tie in until the end. and I’m super intrigued by the audio origin and colloquial prose, it sounds uniquely memorable!

my TBR cried a little bit but of course I had to add this one to the pile 📚

Liked by 1 person

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