Hello ladies! Your coauthored novel, Awakening Beauty, was released from Samhain Publishing yesterday. It’s the latest in your Fairytale Fantasies series, so let’s talk a little about that.
What made you think there was more to these women’s stories than what readers had previously been told?
Marie: I suppose, as adults, we realized there’s more to “happy ever after” than a handsome prince and a kiss. Fairytales are full of magic and beauty; and in the end, the good heroes and heroines always triumph over the evil villains. There is something about these tales that stays with us as we grow up. But fairytales are a child’s perspective; we decided to look deeper, to blur the edges, and, without losing the magic, to consider the adult emotions and motives of the characters.
Bonnie: I have to add that I find working on fairytale stories relaxing. There are already certain expectations of the story in place and all you have to do is twist them—kind of like bonsai trees. With historicals or contemporaries you have to get a lot of facts right or risk reader displeasure. With paranormals about shifters or vamps you must build a world. But with fairytales, it’s a given that magic happens and there’s usually a vaguely medieval feeling to fairytale land. Overall, I find these stories easier and more fun in some ways than any other genre I’ve written in. Plus, there’s Marie to apply her clever brain to the plotting and that’s a big bonus!
Marie: Largely by thinking of the adult perspective. What happened after Cinderella married Prince Charming? She barely knew him. Was she really happy “ever after”? Why did Rumplestiltskin want the child of the miller’s daughter who married the king, and how could she have been happy with such a greedy, gold-digging husband anyway? How would Sleeping Beauty really cope if she slept for centuries and was wakened by a modern, self-made “prince of industry”?
Bonnie: I think finding the crux of a story you want to tell is easy. It’s fleshing out an entire plot around the theme that can be difficult. With Cinderella Unmasked, I knew I wanted her to have erotic adventures at some balls. (In fact, at first I wanted to call it Cinderella’s Balls, because by the end she grows a pair. I thought it’d be funny.) But having Ella enjoy a series of sexual dalliances was clearly not enough to hang an entire story on. A. she had to learn something more about herself and B. there should be some outside danger. Marie came up with the great story of the stepfamily trying to steal her throne.
Marie had been reading Rumplestiltskin to her daughter and thought the story showed a horrible relationship—king loves girl only because she’s pretty and spins gold. What a creep! So in Demon Lover we decided to make the “villain” of the story be the hero instead. The being who helps her spin gold is a powerful king of the underworld. Shades of Persephone.
With Awakening Beauty, I simply thought it’d be interesting to see a medieval girl dealing with modern life. That’s as far as it went at first, but we quickly made it about a young woman’s awakening self determination and willpower, plus a lot of other stuff with magic and fairies.
Is there a fairytale you’d love to retell, but consider it taboo or off limits?
Marie: No, we think they’re all fair game!
Bonnie: They’re fairytales. How taboo could they be? It’s only the very adult things we have the characters do that could become taboo if we pushed far enough.
If you have a sequel in the works, any hint on which fairytale you’ll tackle next?
Marie: We’ve been kept too busy with our own solo-projects recently, so we haven’t been working on any new Fairytale Fantasies. There are still a few I’d like to play with, though!
Bonnie: I think Marie had an idea for Red Riding Hood and I’ve always been extremely fond of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, those wild hussies, but we have no immediate plans for another collaboration. Again, we’re currently very busy with solo projects.
Thanks for your time, ladies. I have just one more question before you go. How did your writing team form? Can you give us a peek inside your working relationship?
Marie: You’re welcome – thanks so much for having us!
Basically, the editor we share at Samhain brought us together. Bonnie had an idea that became Cinderella Unmasked and she wanted to co-write it with someone “compatible”. Our editor recommended me, I’m happy to say, and although I’d never co-written before, I found the experience very rewarding! We bounce ideas off each other, discuss various developments in the plot and the characters, and in the actual writing we do a bit each, either a chapter or until we reach a natural break, and then pass it on. The other goes over what was written, makes her own suggestions and then writes the next bit. It works surprisingly well!
Bonnie: The very first book I wrote (Finding Home) was co-written. At the time I was too intimidated to tackle an entire novel by myself so I wrote it with a fanfiction pal. Since then I’ve co-written a few other times just for fun with various writers, luckily finding good matches every time. Writing is a very solitary occupation so sometimes it’s good to turn it into play time, to find a writer whose style is similar enough to yours and bounce a ball back and forth rather than hitting it against a wall all by yourself. That’s lonely.
Thanks for having us, Hailey.
All of the Fairytale Fantasies are available at Samhain Publishing and many other distributors. You can click on any of the covers above and follow the links to more information.
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