Today, I have a guest – Maureen McGowan, who is in my RWA chapter. (Maureen, just so you know, has the very best shoes. Always.) And I’m visiting a joint blog, run by Maureen and pals, called Get Lost in a Story.
Here’s the permalink to my post over there.
And heeeeeeeere’s Maureen!
Thanks for having me visit your blog, Deborah!
When I was given the opportunity to launch a new series of updated fairy tales with a choose-your-own-path element, at first I wasn’t sure how to tackle it.
I’d never written for teens, never mind younger kids and I wasn’t a huge fan of classic fairy tales—at least not the versions popular to kids of my generation, based on the movies by that big company that shall not be named.
And neither was I a big fan of choose-your-own-adventure stories. Don’t get me wrong, I thought the concept was cool, but I also thought that smart characters could get their way out of almost any situation and I didn’t like the idea of writing stories where the readers would be expected to make decisions that were clearly wrong, or out of character for my heroine. Or ones that might lead to death.
But as soon as I started to brainstorm ideas, I got excited. First with the idea of writing fairytales that I’d want to read—either when I was ten, or now. Fairytales where the heroines aren’t victims waiting around for princes to save them. Fairytales with tons of adventure and danger. Fairytales where the heroines save themselves—but still get the Prince. Those were fairytales I could support!
Then I thought about all the choices we make in life, (not to mention all the plotting decisions authors make while a story unfolds), and how there’s often more than one “right” answer to any particular problem, and I got excited about writing different routes through a book—and the idea that a heroine could reach her goals in more than one way.
The result was my first two books, Cinderella: Ninja Warrior and Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer.
Yes, both stories still have the requisite happily ever after that I think fairytales should have, and both certainly contain the tried and true themes of good triumphing over evil and true love conquering all… But both stories also explore other themes.
Cinderella: Ninja Warrior is also about believing in yourself, and seeing beyond superficial things to the true person inside. Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer is also about the dangers of prejudice, and about a child coping with parents who argue—learning their fighting isn’t your fault (even if you’re literally cursed).
Beyond that, I didn’t feel much obligation to stick to the original stories. I included some traditional story elements and “fixed” those I didn’t like. For example, if life was so bad with her stepmother, why didn’t Cinderella just leave? I wanted to create a scenario where she was literally trapped and already fighting to escape when the story begins. I also never liked the idea that the prince needed a shoe to recognize her the day after falling in love. Or that she was expected to love him simply because he was a prince.
It was fun to mix things up and to drop in winks to the original stories. For example, depending on which choice the reader makes, Cinderella doesn’t necessarily even go to the ball or get a fancy dress. But no matter which route the reader chooses, the prince falls for her anyway—and she him—and she battles and defeats her (very evil) stepmother.
And with Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer? Well, tell me that a girl cursed to be asleep during the day and the only one awake every night to defend her kingdom from vampires isn’t just slightly more exciting than a girl cursed to sleep for a hundred years. J My way lets the heroine be part of the action.
Thanks again for having me, Deborah! Anyone who’d like to keep in touch, please do. Here are a few places where you can find me.
Maureen McGowan’s first two books, Cinderella: Ninja Warrior and Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer were released on April 1, 2011 by Silver Dolphin Books and are suitable for readers 10 to 100. Her next series, a sci-fi thriller trilogy aimed at the 14+ crowd, will be launched in the spring of 2012.