Why I Write: About Twisted Fairytales

Twisted Aurora by Jeffery Thomas

Twisted Aurora by Jeffery Thomas

On my poetry blog  I have a series of posts called ‘Why I Write’, in which I go a little more in-depth about the recurring images found in my poems. Now that I’ve really begun to sink in to my fiction writing career, I figured it was about time that I did that for this blog. Albeit, I don’t write as much fiction so there’s not going to be as much material to choose from. However, I feel like it’s important in understanding both who I am as an author, and what I’m trying to accomplish with my writing.

So we start with my biggest fiction project: the Once Upon a Reality series. As stated before, this series will take common women’s issues and look at them through the lens of classic fairy-tales. For example, ‘Till the Last Petal Falls uses the framework of Beauty & the Beast in order to highlight some important issues surrounding abusive relationships. The currently-in-edited-stage To Dwell in Dreams tackles prescription drug addiction and a form of post-partum depression through the lens of Sleeping Beauty. The third installment, in planning stages, uses the Snow White story to bring to light the abuse, confusion, and difficulty of growing up as an autistic female with an overbearing mother.

But why? Why these issues? Why not just write about them straight-up fiction (or non-fiction) style? Why feel the need to bring in the fairy-tales at all?

There are a couple of reasons for this. The first ties in to how I even thought of the series in the first place. I was reading another blog’s take on fairy-tales and the bad lessons that they teach us as children. I, being a lover of everything that’s been retold by Disney, was offended. I immediately leaped to defend all that is sparkly and magical. But then I stopped. Sure, the classics that I had grown up on had taught me plenty of good lessons. Wonderful lessons. But as I grew older, and ran into more morally complex and potentially dangerous situations, I realized that these lessons, though good, were no longer enough. Some of them that had been applied healthily as a child, such as learning to love people despite their exterior, were being warped into adulthood and becoming reasons to allow myself to be abused, or to stand on the sidelines and watch others be abused.

The more I looked in to the unintended ‘side-effect’ lessons of my favorite fairy-tales, the more I wanted to do something. Couldn’t there be a way to re-direct the original story into something that was more applicable to adults? It was from that desire that I began planning the series- I took the original plot and aligned it to what I saw as being the ‘bad’ message that the tale was sending to its audience. From there, I figured out how I needed to tweak the original story to make the new goal the driving message- whether that meant changing the story’s ending, or pushing the story more to the background in order to bring the goal forward, or tweaking the roles of certain characters throughout. My hope was to create stories that not so much re-told the original fairy-tale, but released their readers from the hold that the original tale might have had on them just enough that, while the original ‘good’ message of the tale remained intact, the ‘bad’ message would be somewhat neutralized by this new take.

It goes without saying that the topics that I tackle in this series are not happy-go-lucky ones. Even in later novels that are nowhere near as physically violent as the first, the themes are still dark. In polite conversation, most people avoid talking about these subjects, because they can become uncomfortable. They are things that we do not want to think about, or that we think about in depreciating manners that can turn dehumanizing for certain groups of individuals. For me, the fairy-tale framework becomes a way to ease people into the topic who might not normally want to talk about these things. The safety of the narrative allows the reader to immerse themselves into a new world, and a new way of experiencing life, rather than just pontificating at them and scaring them off the topic. Using fairy-tales also makes the issue much more relate-able- how many times have you heard your girlfriends (or guyfriends) talking about which Disney princess/prince they are more like or which story of theirs is most like their own lives? When forcing those timeless characters to go through situations that fit their own stories, and yet branch off into ways that are normally taboo… the taboo subject becomes more relatable. Instead of being on the outside looking in, readers are allowed to dip into a world that is terrifying and begin an honest discussion about it.

It is my hope that this series can contribute to the discussion of many things that have been deemed ‘uncomfortable’. I focus on women’s issues mostly because they are the issues that touch me personally the most- things I’ve had happen to me first hand, or seeing siblings and best friends endure throughout the years. From the question of ‘Why did she stay in that situation, if he did x?’, to questions of ‘What does it mean to have no sex drive in an oversexualized age’ and ‘What if I’m not excited about my pregnancy, at all? Can I talk about being scared?’ and ‘Why does it seem like my mother is always acting in competition with me?’. Relationships, situations, expectations that drive people to the edge…. things that we don’t talk about, or things that we assume about others that are largely untrue. I know that I alone can’t just solve all of these problems… but if I can just get one or two more people talking about it who otherwise wouldn’t… then that’s enough for me.

Stay tuned for the next ‘Why I Write’ in which I will go more in-depth into the way the fairy-tale is twisted in Till the Last Petal Falls- how much of that narrative was based on personal experience, some statistics regarding domestic abuse and ways in which you can help speak out against violence against women.

Indie Fic Review: Awesome

J.M Brink, reviewer for Indie Fic Reviews, left his impressions of the book on his website today. Here are some of the highlights:

This story was not my personal cup of tea…This wasn’t a broken fairytale- it didn’t say there was no happily ever after, or anything of the sort, more like a twisted, dark fairytale and the ending leaves you to decide if it was happy or not… But, and this is important, I read it; I finished it, and I genuinely looked forward to turning the page- the author did a fine job….

…I’m giving this one an awesome. The writing was good…the story was recognizable…and unique; all too often these attempts at retelling the story are a copy and paste of the original work with a few things edited, or the setting updated. This, on the other hand: pure original story with the old tale as a template, very nice…

For the full review, make sure to check out Indie Fic Reviews– J.M. is an honest, no-nonsense kind of guy who is really a joy to network with. I follow his blog for more reviews of small press and self-published titles (or submit my books to him again!), and you should too!

A Captivating Modern Adaptation of a Classic Fairy Tale

My call for reviews has been answered! Here’s another four-star review of the book posted on Amazon from Jelena Subotic, an up-and-coming journalism student:

A modern day adaptation of the classic ‘Beauty and the Beast’ fairy tale, ‘Till the Last Petal Falls is an engrossing exploration of love, abuse, and enduring friendship. The book starts off fairly slow but is hard to put down towards the middle when the action gets thick. Without giving too much away, the book is about a young college graduate that moves in with a man that she has never met and after meeting his vivacious staff, and learning of his shocking secrets is left to make some of the hardest decisions of her life. ‘Till the Last Petal Falls is worth reading not only for the gripping plot but also for the underlying lessons.

Although I was glued to the book after a while, I initially struggled with both the choice of character names and the dialogue seeming out of touch with modern speech at times. The common descriptions of the characters’ clothing at times seemed a bit too descriptive but there was an attention to detail throughout the book that was appreciated.

The “Author Bio” section states that this is one of the books in a series mixing traditional fairy tales with modern issues and after reading this one, I can’t wait to read the rest.

 

Thank you, Jelena! As a debut author, I know that I’m bound to make plenty of stylistic mistakes when it comes to description and what not- with the release of this first book, I’m really beginning to learn what is working and what will probably not work for the rest of the series- so it’s important for me to know what doesn’t work so I can start to tweak that now for future installments. This has given me plenty to think about in terms of To Dwell in Dreams. Thank you for reading, and taking a chance on a new author like me- I’m glad you liked it overall!

Progress Report: Feedbacking and Reviews!

Cool news, friends- the first beta-reader has now completely gotten through the entire first draft of To Dwell in Dreams! I definitely have some work to do here and there, and I knew that, but having that feedback is going to make it that much easier for me to pinpoint where the biggest issues with this manuscript is, and where I can improve this new book so that I can eventually present to the public the best version of it possible! Also getting some great advice from my older sister about how to write the chapters that take place in the UK- since she lived there and was stationed there for awhile, she’s been catching all the small problems that I’ve had in describing those parts of Lyn’s life! Oh, I just keep getting so excited to edit this so that I can send it out for publication consideration… good thing my beta readers are keeping me from rushing the whole process!

On another note, another blogger review of Till the Last Petal Falls will be coming out sometime this week from J.M. Brink, which I’ve been anxiously awaiting! Cross your fingers, let’s hope this one is a good review as well!

Speaking of reviewing, if you or someone you know has already read ‘Till the Last Petal Falls, would you mind leaving your own review, either on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads? New authors like me rely on reader reviews in order to help spread the word about this book and to convince other readers to pick up the title (and bookstores!). Reviews also let me know what I did good, and what I could improve on, so that I can progress as an author and keep writing better novels than the last. Simply leave a comment on the book’s page stating one or two specific things that you enjoyed about the book (while avoiding spoilers, if possible!), and then one or two specific things that could have been improved on (style-wise, description-wise, story-wise, or even the level of violence or cursing). I would really, truly appreciate it!

I’ve been thinking of some kind of reward to give to my fans for when a certain number of reviews has been posted, but I can’t think of anything off of the top of my head- what would you all prefer? If I hit ten reviews (can be negative or positive, but to ‘count’, they must be comprehensive as to why the reviewer liked/ didn’t like the novel) on any of the three sites mentioned above, I will either:

– Draw a character from ‘Till the Last Petal Falls as I imagined him or her (with a caveat: I’m not great at drawing, but I really will try)

-Release my planning notes for any character (I’ll hold a poll for when that time comes)

-Post a first draft chapter from my next manuscript (with the understanding that the sample posted is a rough, unedited first draft and can/will undergo many changes before publication)

-Post a drawing of the main character from my next planned novel

-Another option that I haven’t thought about that you will post down below in the comments!

Let me know what you think of this option!

Want an Autographed Copy of ‘Till the Last Petal Falls?

If you order your copy of ‘Till the Last Petal Falls directly from me, I will autograph it for you. Just click here  and enter ‘Autographed Copy’ as your subject line, then denote how many copies, and to whom the copies should be addressed.  The cost for an autographed copy of ‘Till the Last Petal Falls remains the same as any other ($16.95 for the paperback, still waiting for the eBook to be released), though shipping rates will apply.

If you haven’t thought about getting a copy of ‘Till the Last Petal Falls, why not check out this video trailer? 10% of all author royalties are donated to battered women’s shelters in Colorado.

 

Updating my Social Media

So today I went on a bit of a blitz updating my social media streams. After adding Pinterest to my line of connections to the world, I decided I needed to go back and update many of my current streams. I’ve now fixed up the websites quite a bit, and now I’ve finally created a new Tumblr that is all on its own- completely unaffiliated with my personal blog, I can now follow and connect to other Tumblr blogs as Elizabeth , instead of as a branch of a different blog. I will keep my old tumblr up for a short while, just to let current followers switch over, but hopefully this will enable me to connect with people in more of a straight-foward, unencumbered way.

Book Blog Tour: The Power of Stories

In one of the last stops of the tour, I take a moment on The Lindsay Show  to talk about the power of re-tellings specifically, which may give you a glimpse at how I finally decided on re-telling Beauty and the Beast as my first serious project.