Meet the Author of Once Upon a Time: Regina Rising

by Courtney Potter

Fans of ABC’s fanciful retelling of classic fairy tales, Once Upon a Time, have watched as Regina Mills (otherwise known as the Evil Queen) has morphed from Storybrooke’s ruthless mayor into a surprising ally and unexpected friend… all while (spoiler alert!) trying to reconcile the dark and light sides within her. If you’re anything like us, you’ve often wondered how Regina grew into her Evil Queen persona. Sure, we’ve had glimpses into Regina’s childhood on the show… but what about her teenage years? Thankfully, a new novel aims to answer that very question.

Written by Wendy Toliver, Once Upon a Time: Regina Rising follows the adventures of 16-year-old Regina—a girl very different from the woman known by fans of the series. She seeks romance, adventure, and approval. But getting approval from a mother like Cora is nearly impossible. For Regina, friendships have always been a rare commodity. Has Regina finally found a true friend? Or is it just another illusion? As Regina struggles to find her own identity and create her own destiny, she discovers that her fate might just be to become everything she despises.

D23 recently spoke with Wendy (who also wrote the first book in the Once Upon a Time series, Red’s Untold Tale) about what makes this new story so unique—and where it fits in the OUAT universe.

D23: Thanks for chatting with us, Wendy! First off, why do you think this is an important story to tell Once Upon a Time fans?

Wendy Toliver (WT): Regina is definitely a favorite of OUAT fans, who either love her—or love to hate her! The more we know about a character, the deeper understanding we have about the specific decisions—whether we deem them “good” or “bad”—she makes along her journey. We become invested in that character, and can’t wait for the next episode to air, or to turn the page in the book and find out what happens next. I hope Regina Rising offers a riveting look into the teen years of the Evil Queen.

D23: You’ve written a Once Upon a Time book before… What about Regina’s character made you interested in returning to this world?

WT: One of the many things I love about OUAT is how complex its characters are (kudos and respect to its creators, Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, and the entire OUAT team!)… and no one, in my opinion, is more complicated than Regina. There is always something up her sleeve! One thing I see her longing for season after season is true friendship (even if she might not admit it), and so I decided to look back to her teen years to discover why she finds trusting people to be so difficult. In addition, I wanted to explore 16-year-old Regina’s relationships with her parents and the dynamics of her community. As a teenager, she still has much to experience and learn, but her cunning is at the ready—and I hope readers enjoy Regina Rising as much as I enjoyed writing it!

D23: We’ve seen some of Regina’s past before; where does that fit in to this particular story? What timeline are we looking into?

WT: Regina is 16 for this novel; however, like the series, there are several flashbacks, so you’ll get glimpses into her childhood as well. She rides horses with her father, but Daniel Colter has not yet come to work in their stables. She knows who the young Princess Snow is, but they haven’t officially met. Her sorceress mother, Cora, has magic, but Regina has not yet experienced it. [This story offers] a deeper understanding of Regina’s battle between her inner-hero and inner-villain.

D23: Hmm… intriguing! Will we see any of Regina’s other fairytale friends featured in the book?

WT: You sure will! In addition to Regina’s parents, Henry and Cora, and her beloved steed, Rocinante; you’ll see Snow White, Queen Eva, King Leopold, and a small “cameo” by Granny, to name a few. I’m excited to introduce some wonderful (and wonderfully dreadful) new characters, as well!

Once Upon a Time: Regina Rising is available now in a bookstore near you and at your favorite online retailer.