Today I have the enormous privilege of chatting with Christian fairy tale author Melanie Dickerson. She has written a beautiful series of medieval fairy tale retellings which, if you haven’t read already, you most definitely should. One of those retellings (of course!) is based on the Cinderella tale. Here’s a bit more about it:
THE CAPTIVE MAIDEN
Gisela’s childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father’s death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother.
So when Gisela learns the duke’s son, Valten – the boy she has daydreamed about for years – is throwing a ball in hopes of finding a wife, she vows to find a way to attend, even if it’s only for a taste of a life she’ll never have.
To her surprise, she catches Valten’s eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart.
But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.
Was there anything in particular that sparked the idea for your retelling? What was it? How did it come about?
I knew I wanted to write a story with Valten as the hero, since he was the hero’s brother in the previous book. Since Valten was such a manly character, a knight who was trained for battle, I wanted him to be able to rescue a damsel in distress, and Cinderella seemed like a great damsel in distress kind of story, so I went with it.
How difficult was it for you to come up with a fresh plot for such a well-known story? Were there any tricks you used to imagining a new angle on the theme?
I was pretty faithful to the original premise, especially in the beginning of the story, but I added my own twists, since I already had a setting and characters in place. I just tried to imagine what kind of person would want to hurt Valten and would cause my Cinderella character to flee from the ball—but I ended up having her kidnapped by Valten’s nemesis, which made it more exciting.
Name your top three fairy tales, and explain why you love them.
1. Beauty and the Beast, 2. Cinderella, 3. Sleeping Beauty, because these are the most romantic, and I love romance.
What’s unique about the Cinderella-character in your book? How is she different from the Cinderella most people think of?
My Cinderella is named Gisela, and she is tougher, more of a tomboy, and is pretty defiant toward her stepmother and stepsisters. She only puts up with them because of her beloved horses.
Name one thing in your story which is completely new and unique from the original tale.
The second villain, Ruexner, who is the hero’s nemesis and kidnaps the Cinderella character from the ball, causing her to lose her slipper in the process.
Which character(s) in your retelling did you have the most fun writing?
Gisela was probably the most fun, because she is strong and spunky.
Which character(s) in your retelling was the most difficult to write?
The evil villains are always the hardest for me to write. The stepmother and Ruexner were the hardest because they’re so mean, and I had to try to think like them in order to write their actions and their dialogue. And there was no softening in either of them, especially the stepmother, and that’s hard for me to write.
What themes from Cinderella do you think resound well for readers today? What themes or lessons did you personally take away from this fairy tale?
I think everyone can relate to feeling like they have to do more than their share of the workload, and everyone can relate to wanting something, to having a dream, like dancing with the prince and wearing a beautiful dress and having everyone stare at you and wonder who that gorgeous person is. I like the hope this fairy tale gives, that if you hold on to your own integrity, good things will eventually come to you, if you keep believing and don’t give up.
Why do you think fairy tales (and their various rehashings) are still so wildly popular today?
I think everyone can relate to fairy tales, the whole good versus evil thing, and the reversal of fortune that happens in fairy tales, where the poor mistreated stepdaughter ends up married to the wealthy and beloved prince. Everyone prays for their own reversal of fortune story when things aren’t going so well.
Tell us about what you’re working on now.
I am working on a Little Mermaid story set in Medieval England and waiting for my Rapunzel story to come out in November, The Golden Braid.
Do you have plans for more retellings? If so, could you give us a hint as to which fairy tale(s) they may be based on?
I have a Rapunzel story releasing in November, and I have a Princess and the Pea/Beauty and the Beast story, titled The Beautiful Pretender, coming out next May, which is a sequel to The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest. I also am working on a Little Mermaid story that is as yet untitled that will come out November, 2016.
Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Melanie! It was a true honor!!
FIND MELANIE HERE