Now that I’ve pontificated about what my debut novel is NOT (click here to view On Desperately Ever After — Part I), perhaps I should explain what I was trying to accomplish in the first place.
Like so many women today, I grew up on Disney movies and fairy tales. According to my mother, I saw The Little Mermaid in theaters at least a dozen times (take that, Titanic!), and I definitely made my family listen to every sing-along I could find during our four-hour drives to Cape Cod (sorry guys). Even as late as high school, my friends and I often debated (sometimes quite contentiously) which of us was Sleeping Beauty, Jasmine, Ariel (me), Snow White, etc. The designations we came up with were based purely on looks, of course, but isn’t that pretty much how the princes determined their true loves anyway?
Then… shocker… I grew up. I got to know the real world. I experienced heartbreak and cursed the very notion of “true love” as a bunch of poison we were all force fed as a generation. I took a second look at the tales I used to love and wondered how each princess would have really felt in her situation. What would they have said if they had the freedom to do so? If their choices weren’t marriage, poverty or spinsterhood? If they had the luxury of deciding between the story’s chosen hero, someone else, or self-sufficient independence.
Was Cinderella really happy to trade indentured servitude for the confines of a royal life? How did Rapunzel fare when she got out of her tower? Could Sleeping Beauty have actually fallen for a stranger who found her in a bed and was presumptuous enough to kiss her? Did Beast really change when Beauty broke his curse? And did Beauty truly want to marry him in the first place, or was she just that filled with guilt over nearly getting him killed?
Admit it. These are all questions we’ve wondered at one time or another. Tim Manley, creator of Fairy Tales for Twenty-Somethings and the new book Alice in Tumblr-land, pokes fun at them with quite hilarious results in his cartoons.
But there’s a difference between examining the characters Disney hid behind a rose-tinted lens, and leaping to the opposite extreme entirely. Making them more realistic is not the same as making them miserable. If that was the case, what does that say about us?
The characters in Desperately Ever After — each of whom I’ve come to love like the truest flesh-and-blood friends — still live in a world slightly different from our own. But while they have castles, they also have cities. While they have crowns, they also have rush hour. Like us, they get pushed to the edge. They ignore problems that are right in front of their faces. They pretend they feel one way because they think it protects them, when really they feel the complete opposite.
Just like in our world, the villains in the United Kingdoms of Marestam aren’t cut and dry, the heroes aren’t perfect, and happy endings are never really endings at all.
Check back Wednesday for an interview with Dana Gynther, fabulous author of Crossing on the Paris!
4 responses to “On Desperately Ever After — Part II”
I actually just sort of wrote about this in my post… So You Hate Princesses… I never really saw this is as them being forced to do anything the didn’t want too… though I can never say I’m a huge fan of the Disney movies… mainly because of the singing… I don’t understand why people seem to hate and blame them so much now a days… but I’ve also always enjoyed the original tales that show them in a bit of different light that isn’t always so clean and polished as Disney makes them out to be… but I do love a good retelling so when your book comes out I’d love to see what happens after the Happily Ever After…
I did read your post the other day and loved it. There’s definitely nothing wrong with people wanting to find the sort of love they can rely on, and believing there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel. And kids don’t need to know life isn’t really that easy.
Adults, on the other hand, know that “true” love isn’t founded on looks alone, it takes more than one dance to really get to know someone, and evil curses are nothing compared to what relationships really have to endure. Add to that the original tales (which definitely weren’t meant for kids), and it’s hard not to wonder what “happily ever after” really means for everyone — real and fictional alike.
oh I agree with that… life is no fairy tale… and people should realize that on their own… I think that’s why I find it so ridiculous some of the articles I’ve read against Disney… it’s like they’re a cartoon… I mean if they don’t like it they should do what you’ve done or the other authors who have expanded on the fairy tales to perhaps how they want them to be… that is the great things about fairy tales is that for the most part they’re so vague you can do just about anything with them… and thank you, glad you liked it 😀
Thanks for the support 🙂