Category Archives: Guest Post

Are Fairy Tales a Waste of Time?

This is a guest post by Brent King.

As a Christian urban fantasy author I have been confronted, as have many of my writing partners, by those who doubt that fantasy, or fairy stories, have any anchor in the real world. Worse yet, some have argued that they take their reader far out of this world into an imaginary place that has no connection to reality.

Is this true? Are fairy stories a mindless waste of time? Do they lure our minds away from reality into an anchorless world of fantasy?

What Fairy Tales Do

It’s true, when we experience a good fairy tale it allows us to open up a place inside of us where we can actually believe its enchantments. It is thrilling to go adventuring with Kyran and Posy, or on a quest with Frodo, but does it snow-white-933491really have anything to do with our world?

The answer is a resounding “yes.” Fairy tales:

  • give us a lens to see the world in a startling new way.
  • help us to see our lives not only as they are, but as they could be (or perhaps should be).
  • touch us in their most signature way by how we experience their endings: that sudden, unexpected joy that washes over us in the miraculous grace of what Tolkien called the “eucatastrophe.”

But How Can This Be?

Fairy stories are only successful to the extent that they reflect our world. Who would be moved by a story to which they could not relate? The only reason why the fairy world attracts us is because it is fashioned after the truth of our world.

Indeed the fairy world is our world, a world of wonder we can experience in the real—right now. There is awe, wonder, and amazement in our world. There is beauty and redemption beyond all our evil and brokenness. The problem is that our eyes are often too compromised, shaken, pacified, unfocused, jaded, or injured to see it.

take-532097Where Fairy Tales Shine

This is where fantasy shines. In a world where the simple virtues of God have become routine and expected, a fairy tale catches us off-guard and we are surprised by the truth. It breaks through what CS Lewis referred to as our “stained-glass and Sunday school associations,” and the result is pure delight. This was JRR Tolkien’s point in his lecture on fairy tales:

“The peculiar quality of the ”joy” in successful Fantasy can thus be explained as a sudden glimpse of the underlying reality or truth.”

Teaching by Delighting

A good story both delights and teaches, and that is the power of a great fairy tale. It teaches by delighting. This anchors the fairy tale deep in the real world, powerfully connecting it to our lives in ways that are essential to society.

Are Fairy Tales A Waste of Time?

Are fairy tales a waste of time? Only if teaching truth is a waste of time. There is realm of awe and wonder in our world, scenes of beauty and redemption, yet many of us would miss them without a good story, indeed, without a grounding fairy tale.

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Brent KingBrent King is a freelance writer of Christian urban fantasy from Lake Oswego, Oregon. He also works as a massage therapist and health consultant. He has two sons, 20 and 23, who live in British Columbia, Canada.
Brent’s first book, The Grip of Grace: God’s Hand in The Lord of the Rings, was published in January, 2014. His debut novel, The Fiercest Fight, was published in November 2015.
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Literary Losers – Interview with a Villain

You may remember the review I wrote on Nathan Lumbatis’ spectacular new book, Daniel and the Sun Sword. Well, today I feel very privileged to be featuring a video interview between Nathan and the antagonist of his exciting story. You’ll really want to see this . . . it made me smile 🙂

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Thirteen-year-old Daniel is about to be adopted. But when he learns his new family wants him as a slave, he runs away with the help of his new daniel and the sun swordneighbors, the naïve and cowardly Ben, and Raylin, a mysterious girl with a shady past.

He begins to second-guess his decision when the cave they hide in transports them to the ruins of Machu Picchu, where they find themselves embroiled in a battle between ancient gods of Life and Death. To top things off, the God of Life draws Daniel into the fray by adopting him as his son and setting him on a quest to complete a broken, mystical sword, a task that will pit him against the god of the underworld.

Now, Daniel and his friends have just one weekend to find the shards before a hoard of supernatural enemies catch up. But that’s not all they face. A trap has been set that even Daniel wouldn’t expect, and he just took the bait.

Will the power of his Heavenly Father be enough to save them?

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INTERVIEW WITH A VILLAIN

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PURCHASE THE BOOK HERE

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR HERE

The Fiercest Fight: Character Interview

I’m thrilled to announce the release of an awesome new book that you Christian fantasy lovers will not want to miss.  Adventure, danger, romance, dark creatures, life and death, and a strong and true message…you’ll find that and much more in The Fiercest Fight.  Also…that cover is simply amazing – I dare you to disagree with me!

Without further ado, here’s a fun and tantalizing character interview between the author, Brent King, and the protagonist of The Fiercest Fight, Tristan.

Character Interview with Tristan

Brent:
Hey! This is the first post in a blog tour to celebrate the release my debut fantasy novel, The Fiercest Fight. I can’t think of a better way to start than with an interview of my protagonist, Tristan.

Tristan:
*leans back in his chair and runs his fingers through his hair*
But I’m going to ask the first question: Why did you give me your red hair? You must have known how my schoolmates would tease me.

Brent:
Yeah, I did. But all you have to know is how to smile and say, “I know. Isn’t it cool?” It’s a small price to pay for such a distinguishing feature.

Tristan:
*shifts in his seat*
Easy for you to say! The guys were relentless.

Brent:
So is that what you hate worst about life?The Fiercest Fight Cover

Tristan:
Well, not exactly.
*removes sunglasses, shifts glowing eyes*
It used to be, but unfortunately, life got more complex. My issues now make my red hair trouble seem juvenile.

Brent:
*squints into Tristan’s eyes* It sounds like you’ve grown up a bit then.

Tristan:
I had to.

Brent:
Was it scary?

Tristan:
*slips sunglasses back on and nods*
Sometimes.
You would be scared too if you had to face…uh…do you believe in monsters?

Brent:
I-well…
*twirls a pencil in between fingers*
I’m not sure…

Tristan:
You would if you were me.

Brent:
I would?

Tristan:
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone?

Brent:
I thought I was asking the questions.
*eyes twinkle*

Tristan:
*lifts up hand and stares at it, flexing his fingers*
Well, to answer my own question then, I’ve hurt people pretty bad. I wish the beast had never come to me. He’s a fearsome—

Brent:
Beast?

Tristan:
*nods*
You wouldn’t understand. It’s too…unbelievable. Even Pastor Mike had a hard time at first.

Brent:
Are you talking about a wildcat or a wolf?

Tristan:
*rises and shakes his head*
Much worse than that! This creature would make you believe in God…or at least search for Him.

Brent:
I do believe in God. Do you?

Tristan:
Yes.
He offered me life or death. It wasn’t easy, but I chose death.

Brent:
*rises and shakes Tristan’s hand*
That’s a bit cryptic, but I wanted it that way.
*grins*

Tristan:
Thanks a lot!

Brent:
*calls after Tristan as he exits*
You’re welcome, and thanks for the chance to ask a few questions.

Well, there you have it: a few words with my protagonist. If you have any further questions for him, don’t hesitate to leave them below. I’ll make sure he answers them.

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FOLLOW THIS LINK TO ENTER INTO THE GREAT GIVEAWAY BEING OFFERED BY THE AUTHOR!

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Brent KingBrent King is a freelance writer of Christian fantasy and historical fiction from Lake Oswego, Oregon. Brent is a musician, a waterman, and has two sons, 20 and 23, who live in British Columbia, Canada. Brent’s first book, The Grip of Grace: God’s Hand in The Lord of the Rings, was published in January, 2014.

Cinderella Schemes #5: An Interview with Cameron Dokey

For my final post in the Cinderella Schemes interviews, I’m thrilled to welcome the epic Cameron Dokey. She is, as most of you are aware, the author of the acclaimed Once Upon a Time series of fairy tale retellings. She’s with us today to discuss her own spellbinding Cinderella story, Before Midnightand the universal truths we can glean from Cinderella herself.

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Was there anything in particular that sparked the idea for your retelling? What was it? How did it come about?

pumpkinThere was a very specific spark for the direction my re-telling ended up taking. I like to do quite a bit of research, reading as many variations of the “original” story as I can. One thing I discovered very quickly about Cinderella was that, in its earliest versions, her father is alive during the events of the story (though he’s not a very active character). This totally blew me away. What kind of guy lets this happen to his own daughter? I wondered. And that was the genesis for my re-telling right there.

The other thing that putting a living father back into the story accomplishes is that it also let me do some re-thinking about the stepmother and stepsisters. I don’t know that I can claim that re-thinking the stepmother/stepsisters is a completely new idea, but I really did want to sort of rehabilitate them. If we jettison the notion that the stepmother is a straight out villain, what might her motivations for “mistreating” a stepdaughter be? Could it be as simple as a series of misunderstandings, eventually sorted out? I really enjoyed that aspect of the re-telling.

What original storylines, scenes, characters or props did you feel you just had to retain from the original Cinderella to use in your own version?

Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time series

One of the tricks about any re-telling is that you have to decide what you can and cannot do without. In the case of Cinderella, I think you need a ball, a glass slipper, and a pumpkin! They’re just such touchstones. And you need the stepmother and stepsisters and a prince, of course. But, as I hope I’ve successfully shown, just because you have to have them, they don’t have to behave quite the way that readers expect. Deciding what the core of the story is for you as a writer is not only fun, it also lets you decide what can stay and what might go.

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?

It has always seemed to me that one of the core lessons of the Cinderella story is the notion that, eventually, you will be seen and honored (or punished) for being who you truly are. I think, even more than the “she gets the prince” angle, this is what keeps us coming back to this particular story. She is misunderstood, put upon–in many versions we would say abused–but eventually, she comes out right. She stays true to herself, and her worth is recognized. I think we’d all like to believe that this aspect of this fairy tale that could come true for us. That someone will see us for who we really are no matter what the surface might suggest, no matter what others might say about us. And that, having seen us, they will love who we are and give us the opportunity to love in return. Now that’s a happy ending!

It was an honor to visit with you, Cameron. Thanks so much for visiting Finding the True Fairy Tale!

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Find out more about Cameron and her books here:

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BEFORE MIDNIGHT

Etienne de Brabant is brokenhearted. His wife has died in childbirth, leaving him alone with an infant daughter he Before Midnightcannot bear to name. But before he abandons her for king and court, he brings a second child to be raised alongside her, a boy whose identity he does not reveal.

The girl, La Cendrillon, and the boy, Raoul, pass sixteen years in the servants’ care until one day a very fine lady arrives with her two daughters. The lady has married La Cendrillon’s father, and her arrival changes their lives.

When an invitation to a great ball reaches the family, La Cendrillon’s new stepmother will make a decision with far-reaching effects. Her choice will lead La Cendrillon and Raoul toward their destiny — a choice that will challenge their understanding of family, test their loyalty and courage, and, ultimately, teach them who they are.

Cinderella Schemes #4: An Interview with Clara Diane Thompson

Time for the fourth Cinderella author interview! This time I’m talking with the beautiful Clara Diane Thompson, the author of The Moon Master’s Ball from the Five Glass Slippers collection. I had the privilege of being an influence reader for Clara’s enchanting story (see my review here), and I truly can’t wait to read more from her.

Clara chats with me today about how she came up with a fresh angle on the original tale, and what she’s working on now!

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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 imagine a new angle on the theme?

It was pretty difficult to come up with something new, something that might make readers think, “Hmm. I wonder how this could possibly be a Cinderella story?” To me, the Cinderella story has always been light, a bit shallow, and completely unrealistic…even though it is a fairy tale. So I immediately started thinking of a way to change the all around mood of The Moon Master's Ballclassic story, and my imagination instantly took to a darker path. My original idea started out completely differently than how it ended up. There was a ball, an eclipse, and an insane prince living in the forest…But something just wasn’t right. There wasn’t a theme to hold the story together.

That was when I pulled out my trusty journal and found an old idea about a prisoner hidden away amongst the clowns and acts of a circus. And thus The Moon Master’s Ball was born!

What original story lines, scenes, characters or props did you feel you just had to retain from the original Cinderella, and use in your own version?

Well, obviously the slippers had to stay, and I wanted them to play a more useful roll in the story, which I think turned out nicely. Then there’s the mice–that’s where darling Scatter came from, and, of course, pumpkins. With pumpkins comes a cool, fall atmosphere that fits so perfectly with the eerie feel I was going for. Apart from there being the classic pumpkin carriage, they are mentioned several times throughout the story.

Which character(s) in your retelling did you have the most fun writing?

Oh, The Moon Master himself was my favorite to write! For some reason his scenes came so easily and naturally, I wasn’t having to drag the sentences and dialogue out of my brain! His character is just the type I love reading about, that could be why I enjoyed writing him so much.

Which character(s) in your retelling was the most difficult to write?Clara Diane Thompson

Tilly Higgins. It’s something about those main characters that get me every. Single. Time. I think it’s because I’m more detached from them, and was constantly wanting to get to the next scene with a more interesting character. Ha! But I can’t be too hard on her…after I struggled writing Tilly, she blossomed and became the timid, sweet maid I love today!

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?

Personally, I think the idea of a poor, kindly girl who is treated horribly by everyone getting the gorgeous dress and the prince makes story lovers happy! Everyone enjoys a sweet hero/heroine who gets all the goodness they deserve.

As for what I took away from the fairy tale, it would have to be how Cinderella didn’t act. In the Disney cartoon, it always drove me crazy how she never stood up for herself! I’d have to say what I take away from the story is it’s never wrong to have a backbone and stand up for yourself…just so long as you’re kind while doing it.

Do you have any plans for more retellings? If so, could you give us a hint as to which fairy tale(s) they may be based on?

Ooh, goodness, yes! I’m currently working on (as I’m sure many of you are as well!) my entry for the Five Magic Spindles competition. The one thing I’ll say about this story is that it’s unlike anything I’ve attempted before. I’m a bit nervous about it! Also, I’ve got the beginnings of a Puss in Boots story brewing in my mind, which is going to be loads of fun, I hope! And then there’s Rumpelstiltskin, too….

The list is never ending!

Thank you oh, so much for hosting this interview, Ashlee! I am enthralled by the premise of your own retelling, and can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!

I loved visiting with you, Clara!! And I’m pretty thrilled that you’re working on some more retellings – can’t wait to read them! Thanks again!

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five glass slippersAfter her terrifying experience there several years ago, the one place young housemaid Tilly longs to avoid is Bromley’s Circus. But when kindly Lord Hollingberry begs her to deliver a message to the mysterious Moon Master hidden away among the circus dwellers, Tilly can’t refuse . . . and finds herself ensnared in a web of enchantment cast by the loathsome Mrs. Carlisle and her beautiful goddaughter.

FIND CLARA HERE:

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Cinderella Schemes #3: An Interview with Melanie Dickerson

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:

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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. the captive maiden

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.

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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!!

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Cinderella Schemes #2: An Interview with Shantelle Mary Hannu

Here it is! Number Two in the Cinderella Schemes series of author interviews. (In case you missed it, last week I interviewed Cinderella’s Dress author Shonna Slayton.)

This week I’m speaking with the sweet Shantelle Mary Hannu, who released her debut novella quite recently, titled A Dream Not Imagined. She’s visiting my blog today to answer a few questions not only about her book, but about Cinderella and fairy tales in general.

First, here’s a little more about her new release.

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3 a A Dream Not Imagined (Paperback edition)A Maid, a Prince, and a Duke. A Gardener, a Stepmother, and a secret . . .

Ellie Abbington, a beautiful yet unassuming young woman, quietly longs for her life to change. Too privileged to associate with the servants—too underprivileged to associate with her own family; she dreams a dream of a prince and a happily ever after. 

But it could be that her own stepsisters, conniving Dezmarie and easily-influenced Adelaide, are dreaming the same dream . . . of the same prince. 

In the end, are dreams even all they’re made out to be? Especially with deep and long-hidden secrets about to be unearthed? 

A Dream Not Imagined is a non-magical fairytale novella based loosely on the classic tale of Cinderella.

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Name your top three fairy tales, and explain why you love them.

Well, I suppose I can pick three . . . but I love pretty much all of them!! ^_^ The Little Mermaid, because I’m fascinated with mermaids and the ocean depths! I don’t know; I just love the thought—so mystical! The Twelve Dancing Princesses, because of dancing and princesses, and gallant men to the rescue!! *grins* It’s charming and intriguing, and I simply love it! Rapunzel, because I just like the idea of a long, golden-haired maiden trapped up in a tower. The backstory. The prince. The terrible trickery; but then the oh-so-sweet ending!

What are your feelings on the original version(s) of Cinderella?

I usually love the more original versions of fairytales. Like, I adored the movie Cinderella (2015), and that one stuck pretty close with the original storyline I think. But it is fun to throw in something fresh and new. And maybe change things about a little so there’s not “love-at-first-sight”, ;P

Name one thing in your story which is completely new and unique from the original tale.

It has a little mystery twining throughout it, 🙂

Which character(s) in your retelling did you have the most fun writing?glass-slipper

I must say, the stepmother and Dezmarie (eldest stepsister) were pretty fun, and interesting, to write! XD I also enjoyed writing Ellie (Cinderella), and kind of delving into her character.

Why do you think fairy tales (and their various rehashings) are still so wildly popular today?

There’s just something about fairytales that captivate. I don’t even really know what it is—that mystical world. Those mysterious happenings. When true love reigns. Evil gets trounced. The lovely lady and the strong, handsome knight. And certain fairytales have truth and deep lessons to them, 🙂

Tell us about what you’re working on now.

I’m getting a fantasy novel ready for publication—it’s with beta readers right now. And I have about 20,000 words on its sequel, Diamond Dark! I adore fantasy, so this is exciting stuff!

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 would love to write more retellings!! I actually have a Beauty and the Beast one that I haven’t decided if I’ll publish or not yet. I also started a Rapunzel retelling randomly . . . and I might just join the contest for writing a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Oh, and I’m also planning for the third book in my fantasy series to be a subtle retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. So much fun, ^_^

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Disenchanted by Janet Ursel

Today I welcome author Janet Ursel. Her upcoming debut novel, Disenchanted, will release July 14. She is giving us a peek into how and why she decided to write this intriguing book. The premise looks amazing, I must say. What do you think?

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Disenchanted+by+Janet+UrselIn this Christian fantasy, one young wizard with a hunger for wisdom and some dangerous secrets finds himself pitted against another ready to reach for power with the darkest forces possible.

Wizards have never in the history of Coventree, renounced Wizardry. But Blayn Goodwin finds himself growing detached from the practice of Wizardry, even as he rises through the ranks to become the youngest member of the Supreme Council. He has lost interest in the usual gods in favor of a god without a name, not that he makes that fact public.

Edgar Savile has his own traitorous secrets and kidnaps Blayn’s eldest son to prevent Blayn from probing into them. Meanwhile the Supreme Wizard, suspicious of Edgar, sends Blayn to retrieve an ancient book from the Other World, hoping it will arm them against Edgar’s treachery.

What Blayn finds is not what anyone expects, and threatens to tear Coventree’s fraying system apart at the seams.

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In a parallel earth, populated by witches who fled Cromwell’s England, an influential wizard turns his back on witchcraft at the worst possible time, leaving his land of Coventree vulnerable to a traitor who plans to subject it to the rule of the Black Priesthood. It’s a book for a general adult audience, although younger men might be especially fond of it.

So how does a woman on the downhill slope of middle age decide to write something that’s a little outside of her normal demographic? There are a number of reasons. Although I read very widely, and have a degree in languages and literature, I have always had a special fondness for speculative literature. I love the scope for imagination, and how by examining issues outside of their familiar context we can gain new perspectives. Plus they’re just so much fun. My first favorite books were the Narnia books: I was lending them out to my friends by the time I was seven. I guess we were nerds before the word was even invented. I moved on to Asimov and Heinlein and Clark and Tolkien in my preteen and teen years and I am honestly still reading them along with a good number of younger writers.

I am also a contrarian. I had heard that first novels are usually biographical in nature, so I figured if I wrote about a tall, dark, quiet, young wizard in another world, I would avoid that trap. I have no desire to write my life story, not even symbolically, so this way I was safe. Or so I thought, anyway. It mostly worked.

The way that societies change through history also fascinates me, and by placing my story in a different world, but still working with very human dynamics, I got to play with these ideas. That sociology of religion class finally came in handy! I also wanted to show what it would be like for someone with an unsatisfied spiritual hunger to encounter the God of the Bible when it was something totally foreign to his experience. We tend to forget that early Christianity exploded across the ancient world because the message of a God of love who wanted to make his temple in human hearts was such a radical departure from the gods who needed to be appeased or coerced or approached through intermediaries that it just blew people away.

I also wanted to break free from foolish stereotypes. Modern Christians tend to either deny that there is any power at all in witchcraft or else live in abject fear, like medieval peasants. Neither one of these attitudes is balanced in my opinion and I wanted to fill my world with normal human beings who happened to practice a pagan religion. People who love or don’t love their kids, or their books, or power, or stability, or knowledge, or country. Real people. All different kinds. Just like real life.

After I decided I wanted these elements, then I had to find a story. This is the hardest part for me, but I put it together piece by piece, with just a very rough idea of where I wanted to end up. I’m not going to talk too much about this now, because I don’t do spoilers. But I did my very best to make it an exciting story with believable people. While I love deep and heavy ideas, novels are supposed to be fun to read, not philosophy textbooks. Heavy ideas are like bones: they hold everything up, but you shouldn’t see them, just feel them if you squeeze a bit. So those who like to squeeze will find something solid underneath, and those who don’t should have a lot of fun watching the body move.

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JanetUrsel200After raising five children and one husband, Janet Ursel came to the obvious conclusion that writing novels was an essential part of the recovery process. Her studies in languages and literature, along with her experience as a pastor’s wife, market analyst, and ESL teacher, made her uniquely qualified to explore the life of a wizard in a parallel universe, so she did. She can be found at janetursel.com and on too many social media sites in one universe, and alternating between Canada and the United States in another universe.

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Cinderella Schemes #1: An Interview with Shonna Slayton

As a way to celebrate the release of A Wish Made of Glass, I’m doing a series of interviews with other authors who have written retellings or renditions of the Cinderella story. I’ve got some pretty spectacular authors lined up, so I hope you’ll join me every Monday from today until August 3rd.

In the first of these interviews I am hosting the lovely Shonna Slayton. She is the author of Cinderella’s Dress (June 2014) and its sequel, Cinderella’s Shoes (October 2015).

Without further ado, here’s what Shonna has to say about writing her re-vamp of this age-old tale . . .

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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 imagine a new angle on the theme?

My two Cinderella novels are spin-offs of the original story, told from the point of view of the descendants of all the characters. The novels are set in New York City during the 1940’s starting from around D-Day in 1944 until the summer of 1947 where I move the cast to post-WWII Europe.

I had been going through a fairy-tale binge when the ideas for Cinderella’s Dress started to take shape, but I never intended to write my own retelling. So many people had already produced such wonderful retellings that I was too intimidated to try my hand at it. Instead, I wanted to “tell the rest of the story” using the objects Cinderella might have bequeathed to her children: her dress, her glass slippers!

When I was younger my parents dragged me around to antique stores, and at the time I hated it, but now I have a fascination with old objects and the stories they silently keep. What would Cinderella’s children…grandchildren…hand writinggreat grandchildren do with her dress? Her shoes? Would the children fight over them? Would these items remain full of fairy-tale magic? If so, what could they do? These are some of the concepts that had me daydreaming a new angle for the well-known story.

What original storylines, scenes, characters or props did you feel you just had to retain from the original Cinderella to use in your own version?

During the first draft I started to parallel the Cinderella story pretty closely. Almost like a retelling where my main character, Kate, had a wicked stepmom, and she had an older sister who took advantage of her, but not far into the writing I realized that wasn’t at all what I wanted to do. I really wanted to change it up even more.

Back in medieval times there was a job called “Keeper of the Wardrobe.” As the job title suggests, a keeper maintained the clothing of the royal family. I latched onto that role and made Kate’s family the descendants of the original Keeper. They became the ones responsible for the safety of the dress. And since the 1940’s was a pivotal time in fashion, I had a lot of fun placing the story in an upscale department store, and talking about the arrival of Dior’s New Look.

Now, for the sequel, Cinderella’s Shoes, which comes out in October, I had a bit of fun with adding more references to classic Cinderella tropes. Some are obvious, but others more subtle. The story moves from New York to Europe so it seemed appropriate to add more fantasy to the sequel the closer my characters got to the source, so to speak.

What type of research, if any, did you do for your retelling? How deeply into the history of Cinderella did you dig?

I didn’t research the original Cinderella tales very much at all, since I was only taking pieces from the story. For Cinderella’s Dress I spent most of my research time learning about New York in the 1940’s, department store window dressing, and 1940’s fashions. I was thrilled to discover actual historical events to tie my plot points to. (Seriously thrilling—often gave myself goosebumps over it!)

For Cinderella’s Shoes, I dove into research of post WWII Europe. This research was a bit trickier considering much of what we know from Eastern Europe has only recently come to light. As an English speaker studying Polish history, I felt frustrated at the lack of information available compared to the wealth of information that was available for New York during this same time period. Nonetheless, I did find some fascinating bits of info that I was able to include in the story. Much of what I learned about WWII and the aftermath was quite terrible, but given that I was not writing a realistic novel like Code Name Verity, I put a lot of what I learned into the backstory of a new character, and only hinted at what she went through during the war.

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 do! This summer during Camp NaNoWriMo I am writing a new fairy-tale/historical mashup, and if you check out my Pinterest boards, you could come up with a pretty good guess as to both the fairy tale and the historical time period.

Thanks for having me on your blog, Ashlee! I’ve enjoyed following your publishing adventures this past year and look forward to more fun with you.

Thanks, Shonna! Sooo fun to visit with you, as always!

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CINDERELLA’S DRESS

cinderellas dress coverKate simply wants to create window displays at the department store where she’s working, trying to help out with the war effort. But when long-lost relatives from Poland arrive with a steamer trunk they claim holds the Cinderella’s dress, life gets complicated.

Now, with a father missing in action, her new sweetheart shipped off to boot camp, and her great aunt losing her wits, Kate has to unravel the mystery before it’s too late.

After all, the descendants of the wicked stepsisters will stop at nothing to get what they think they deserve.

CINDERELLA’S SHOES 

(Available Oct 6, 2015)

The war may be over, but Kate Allen’s life is still in upheaval. Not only has she discovered that Cinderella was real, but now Cinderellas Shoes by Shonna Slaytonshe’s been made Keeper of the Wardrobe, her sole responsibility to protect Cinderella’s magical dresses from the greed of the evil stepsisters’ modern descendants.

But Cinderella’s dresses are just the beginning. It turns out that the priceless glass slippers might actually exist, too, and they could hold the power to reunite lost loved ones like her father—missing in action since World War II ended. As Kate and her boyfriend, Johnny, embark on an adventure from New York to Italy and Poland in search of the mysterious slippers, they will be tested in ways they never imagined.

Because when you harness Cinderella’s magic, danger and evil are sure to follow…

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FIND SHONNA HERE

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COVER REVEAL: Where Shadows Lie by Tialla Rising

Check out the book cover and trailer reveal for Tialla Rising’s upcoming release, Where Shadows Lie, and continue below to enter the giveaway! 
 
Release date: June 2015Synopsis via Goodreads:

His dark past haunts him. His new life taunts him.
 
After twenty years in the gangs and a hefty prison sentence, an early release gives Shawn the opportunity to turn his life around.
 
But that isn’t so easy when gangs are involved.
 
Only a year into his fresh start, the gang catches on and makes Shawn’s life miserable. After all, once a gang member, always a gang member. His very blood belongs to them.
 
Threats become promises. Whispers become actions. Words become bullets. He must fight – not only for his life, but to save his honor, prove his integrity, and protect the woman he loves.
 
An ember of hope glows in the darkness, strengthening his resolve. Will her support and his determination be enough to dispel the shadows of his past?
 
A story of discovery and faith, love and perseverance.

BOOK TRAILER
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tialla Rising is a Christian young woman living with her family in the mountains of Arizona. She loves to write and will passionately spend hours long into the night developing her stories. Like most writers, Tialla fills her spare time with reading from her favorite fantasy and mystery genres. A good book, a stormy day, and an iced coffee comprise her favorite moments.


www.therubyvial.com 

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