Once upon a time, Ruby believed in magic…
When Ruby volunteers to take her mother's housecleaning shift at the gothic Cottingley Heights mansion, she thinks it's going to be business as usual. Clean out the fridge, scrub toilets, nothing too unusual. But nothing could prepare her for the decadent squalor she finds within. Rich people with more money than sense trashing their beautiful clothes and home just because they can. After the handsome Tam discovers her cleaning up after him and his rich friends, Ruby has never felt more like a character from her sister’s book of fairy tales.
Tam sees beyond Ruby’s job and ratty clothes, and sweeps her off her feet, treating her like a real princess, but Ruby is sure this beautiful boy is too good to be true. And as one tragedy after another befalls Ruby and her family, Ruby painfully learns that magic is all too real, and it always comes with a price.
Kathleen Bolton is a professional writer and editor. Currently, she is a contracted writer to . Her projects include Confessions of a First Daughter, a YA series about the misadventures of the U.S. President’s teen-aged daughter, and Secrets of a First Daughter, both published by HarperCollins Teen, under the pen name Cassidy Calloway. Her current project, Slumber, under the pen name Tamara Blake, released July of 2013 and is a dark suspense fantasy novel for teens. She is the co-founder of Writer Unboxed, one of the foremost online communities for writers of fiction.
Kathleen lives with her husband and daughter in upstate New York.
Visit her at HarperCollins Publishing, or Goodreads for more.
WHY I LOVE FAIRY TALE RETELLINGS
By Kathleen Bolton, author of SLUMBER under the pen name Tamara Blake
I love fairy tales. Most of all, I love fairy tale retellings. The popularity of television shows like Once Upon A Time, Grimm, and Teen Wolf tells me I’m not alone. Scan any book shelf, and a half a dozen adapted fairy tales will be available. Readers want to read them, and writers want to write them in their own vision. These stories are tried and true, and have survived the test of time. I never tire of reading a new version of Cinderella, or Beauty and the Beast, or Ugly Duckling. Although I know (or suspect) how the story will end, the entertainment comes from enjoying the fresh spin on an old tale.
I’m enthralled when adapters play around with the characters and rejigger their motivations. In the movie Snow White and the Hunstman, for example, Snow White becomes a warrior princess. She’s not passively sleeping in the forest, waiting for the prince to awaken her with a kiss. She fights to regain her throne. The Wicked Queen is given a good reason why she needed to usurp the throne. And the Hunstman, instead of a bit player, takes center stage and becomes a change agent. The predictable became the unpredictable while retaining the bones of the original fairy tale.
Currently, it seems that fairy tale adaptations are moving toward darker retellings. Disney, for example, the entity that “imagineered” the Little Mermaid’s fate to a happy ending, will now re-visit 1950’s staple Sleeping Beauty to give villain Maleficent her own story (genius move). Hansel and Gretel are now witch-hunters. In Once Upon a Time, Little Red Riding Hood turns out to be the wolf.
A dark spin on classic fairy tale elements was what the editorial team at Working Partners and I envisioned for SLUMBER. A modern day “Cinderella” in the protagonist Ruby journeys through a scary forest to reach a mysterious mansion where she meets an enchanted “prince” who seems to be both hero and villain, a shapeshifter whose motives are not always clear. Ruby is put through a series of obstacles testing her loyalties.
As is found in darker fairy tales of Rumpelstilskin or The Little Mermaid, the magic in SLUMBER always comes with a price. In SLUMBER, the choices Ruby makes with magic might end up destroying her. This element of “dangerous magic” is a staple in older fairy tales, shaped during more perilous times when people for the most part lived near dark and mysterious forests, the supernatural was accepted by all, and life was more uncertain. In SLUMBER, we wanted to explore that darker thread of magic and weave into a story set into today’s world to achieve a juxtaposition between traditional and modern.
I firmly believe that fairy tales will be retold for as long as humans need the catharsis of a good story. The problems the characters face don’t change over the millennia. Human beings all seek love, or want to find treasure, or trick the bad guy. Fairy tales provide writers a rich canvas to explore these primordial human desires, while entertaining us. Like the little black dress, fairy tales will remain the classics of storytelling.