Welcome to Smugglivus 2012! Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2012, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2013.
Recent Work: Princess of the Silver Woods, the third and final book in the Princess series and subject of today’s blog tour/Smugglivus crossover event!
Here to talk about her fairy tale inspirations and influences for Princess of the Silver Woods, please give a warm welcome to Jessica Day George, folks!
I have always loved the idea of the “damsel in distress” suddenly whipping out a pistol or a sword and saving herself, or twisting around a fairy tale so that it’s a whole new shape and it’s the princess who saves the prince. With Princess of the Midnight Ball, I explored the idea that the twelve dancing princesses were dancing every night because of a curse, and they had to work with one of their suitors to get free. With Princess of Glass I approached Cinderella from the angle that fairy godmother was evil (after all, what was in it for her?), and it was up to Cinderella and her friends to fight her off.
When I looked for a third fairy tale to finish out my saga of the twelve dancing princesses, I wanted something where the princess (or main character) was usually very passive. It’s Petunia’s story, and as the youngest of the princesses, she was the least affected by the events of Princess of the Midnight Ball. She’s also the baby, and the pet, of the family. I wanted something where you would think that she was too young, too weak, and too oblivious to danger to really fight back, and then VOILA! She whips out a pistol or a knitting needle and saves the day. I instantly thought of Red Riding Hood. It’s a horrible story, really. The point of the story is that because Red strayed off the path to pick flowers, and talked to a stranger, she dies. At least in the original. In the later, more kid-friendly versions, she still gets EATEN BY A WOLF and has to sit in its stomach until a woodsman CHOPS HER OUT WITH AN AXE. That is some crazy pie. But what if the wolf wasn’t a wolf? What if the wolves that everyone was watching out for, warning their daughters about, were really highwaymen? Daring, dangerous, handsome rogues? That would be a good argument for a) staying on the path and b) not talking to strangers. I also think that it’s very creepy when something familiar suddenly looks . . . wrong. Like realizing that your grandma has too many, too sharp teeth . . . and may not be your grandma at all. So I explored a lot of the images and elements of Red Riding Hood, but in my setting of Westfalin and my twelve dancing princesses.
But what about the wolf/highwayman? What was his story, and how does he fit into all this? What would make a handsome young man with good teeth and amazing hair turn to a life of crime, particularly in a country that is still recovering from war? Pickings were probably slim, so why do it? Well, I’ve always loved the story of Robin Hood. I’m a sucker for a cute guy in leather pants, what can I say? I love the idea of a nobleman trying so desperately to support his people that he has to turn outlaw. Robin Hood would have been robbing his colleagues, even friends and relatives, to support his peasantry. He wouldn’t have known most of them on a personal level, and if he was caught he would die, but he did it anyway. It’s a story at once exciting and deeply human, and I thought that this sort of tortured, outlawed earl would be a good fit for Petunia as well. They’re both of them overlooked, she as the youngest and he as a long-lost earl. They both feel like they can’t do anything right, and I don’t think either of them really understand the true nature of the danger that they’re in.
Thank you, Jessica! Make sure to stick around for our take on Princess of the Silver Woods.