Starflower Blog Tour Guest PostWelcome to the AWD stop on the Starflower blog tour! I had the pleasure of not only reading an ARC of Starflower (review to follow shortly) but also to have the author Anne Elisabeth Stengl stop by to post a little bit about her writing inspiration for the book. So relax and take a journey behind the scenes of Starflower! Feel free to leave a comment after the post! :-)
The Maiden and the Wolf:
Creating a New Fairy Tale
By: Anne Elisabeth Stengl
My initial inspiration for my fourth novel, Starflower, was a simple love of fairy tales. I have always had a soft spot for fairy tales above epic fantasy. I love the balance of simplicity and complexity within the classic themes. I love the recurring tropes and archetypes, the familiar characters facing unusual circumstances. How many times have we seen the Beauty and the Beast story played out? Its ancestor might easily have been the legend of Cupid and Psyche . . . and its descendants can be traced to such famous works as The Hunchback of Notre Dame or the more recent Phantom of the Opera. And we readers never tire of that story but will encounter it again and again with the same excitement as when we first read Mlle. Barbot de Villeneuve's famous version of the tale.
When I began writing the Tales of Goldstone Wood it was with the hope of adding my own variations on these classic themes. And in Starflower, the tale at the very heart of the novel is "The Maiden and the Wolf."
The theme here--best known in the children's version of "Little Red Riding Hood"--is one of innocence pitted against evil cunning. The contrast is so stark that even when we encountered it first in the childhood tale, we were struck to the core. Who among you does not know the story of "Little Red Riding Hood" and the evil wolf who, in many versions (though not all), succeeds in deceiving our heroine to the point of devouring her alive?
But there are other versions of the same tale, darker versions. Some of them do not have happy endings. In some, Red Riding Hood depends on the woodcutter to rescue her from her foe; in others, she uses her own wits to escape the cunning of the wolf. Either way, the theme is strong, one of the strongest in all the realm of fairy tales.
So when I first began developing the ideas for Starflower, it was with the intention of creating my own take on this classic story. My hope for each of my novels is that they will strike a familiar chord in the hearts of my readers. I want each reader to walk away thinking, "This is a story I know, though I don't know how I know it."
This, of course, does not mean I want any reader to be able to predict how the plot will play out! Indeed, I believe the twists and turns of Starflower are enough to keep most readers guessing to the very end. Nevertheless, the familiarity of centuries--the links to old tales, old legends--should touch readers on a heart level that they scarcely knew existed.
That is the point and purpose of fairy tales. A new fairy tale is not something completely original. What would be the point of that? A new fairy tale is something as familiar as our childhood memories, as near to us as those stories we learned before we knew we learned them.
There are many fairy tale themes to be found in the pages of Starflower. The maiden locked in a high tower . . . the enchanted sleep . . . the transformation caused by a prince or princess's kiss . . . But at its core, this is a story about the Maiden and the Wolf. The battle of Love against Hate. It is a simple story, but oh, so complex in its simplicity!