Fairy Tale Mistakes, Fixed
One of the things that Lani and Krissie and I have been talking about is our long-delayed collaboration on Fairy Tale Lies. It’s been long delayed because we all have other books we have to finish first, but we love the idea and we love our characters and plots . . .
Actually that wasn’t true. We all loved their characters and plots. Lani’s writing a really pissed-off Rapunzel who just got scammed by a wolf in conman’s clothing who looks a lot like Robert Downey, Jr., and Krissie’s writing a really pissed-off Cinderella who just got dissed by a Grand Vizier who sounds a lot like Alan Rickman. (When you’re collaborating, you have to give your collaborators concrete references until you’re far enough into the book that all the characters become who they’re going to be and are clear to everybody.) I was writing Red Riding Hood as a grandmother who goes into the woods to keep her teenage granddaughter from making the Family Mistake and ending up knocked up by a wolf. Lani and Krissie were fine with it, and I loved all the metaphor-and-symbolism richness of Red going back into the woods as an adult, but I couldn’t make it catch fire for me. I collaged it, I wrote the intro scene for it, but I could not make it work. Which was okay, I have Liz and Zelda’s books to work on. But it bugged me just the same.
So this time when we were sitting in front of the fire with handwork and tea, and we talked about the back story for the antagonist, I said, “I don’t want to write Rip [our Big Bad], but I’d love to write Goldie [his henchwoman].” I’ve written the antagonist on the two previous collabs–Xan and Kami–but I had no interest in Rip, and Lani loves his placeholder (have you seen Dodgeball?) so everybody was happy. Except Goldie doesn’t have a POV, so I didn’t have much scope. She’s just a grown-up Goldilocks who lives in the woods in a gypsy caravan and guides people through to the other side so they don’t get killed by the wildlife, human and animal, and spies for Rip. She’s little and cute and blonde and lethal: do not fuck with Goldilocks, she was raised by bears. When we first brainstormed her, she was Kristin Chenowith, but I kept seeing her as more of an Amy Poehler, bright and pretty and savage.
The more I thought about Goldie in that caravan, the more intrigued I was. She’d have a fluffy little poodle like our Mona, and she’d name it our nickname for Mona: The Iron Muffin. And Muffin would be like Goldie, bright and cute and little, with teeth that can rip your throat out. Wolves would back away from Muffin. And then there was that brightly painted gypsy caravan . . . I loved the idea of that caravan.
Okay, you’ve seen this coming a mile away, but I didn’t. It took until last night for me to say, “I think I want to switch heroines.” It was really hard because I LOVE the Red Riding Hood story, I have many books analyzing the Red Riding Hood story, but that was all intellectual. Goldie got me viscerally, and you can figure out intellectural but you cannot create visceral. Plus Goldie’s back story, once I started on it, actually made more sense than Red’s in the context of this particular conflict. Plus The Iron Muffin. I wished Red the best of luck and moved into Goldie’s caravan.
Of course that meant I had to find Goldie a hero, peel off my old character pictures from the Fairy Tale Lies collage and put the new characters up, and figure out exactly what’s going on with their story together (because although there’s an overall plot of Our Girls against the Big Bad Rip, this is essentially a triple romance novel), but that’s all easy now because Goldie is so My Girl. Plus so much fun stuff: When the hero says, “I was raised by wolves,” Goldie says, “Tell me about it. My brother is a bear,” and neither one of the realizes the other one is being literal . . . well, I just get all happy inside.
Here’s the revised start to my collage. (Lani and Krissie are doing their stories on scrapbook pages; this is just Goldie’s story although the other two heroines are definitely part of it which is why they’re there to the left and right.) There’ll be a ton more stuff on here by the time we’re finished, but that’ll happen as we work because we’re definitely going to write this one.