Saturday, April 19, 2014

Embracing the Fangirl Within

My addiction to fairytales started early in life and has never really abated. Whenever life feels complicated, disappointing, or too sad to handle, I turn back to fairytales. Getting wrapped up in everything from Once upon a time to happily ever after tends to put things in perspective.

No, I don't harbor the belief that I'm a Disney princess with nothing more important to do than wait around for Prince Charming to make his appearance. And no, I don't believe in happily ever afters that don't require a lot of work.

But I do believe in fairytales. And I love sharing my take on them.

My current project is Twelve, a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. For those of you unfamiliar with the original German tale, it goes some thing like this: A king is disgruntled when night after night his twelve daughters wear out their new dancing slippers.  In an attempt to put a stop to their taboo behavior, he offers the hand of one of them to the man who can solve the mystery.  Imagine twelve mischievous princesses escaping to a magical land every night and various suitors from all stations of life who are desperate to bag one of them, and you already have the makings of a great adventure. (To learn more about the beautifully illustrated version pictured above, follow the link to Amazon and grab your own!)

Based on the original, but with a magic all its own, my version features Ari, the eldest daughter of Lord Bromhurst, and Jonas, the gardener who is in love with her.  Theirs is a friendship born of years of shared confidences, as you'll see:

Excerpt from Chapter One of Twelve:

                “Where can he be?” Ari asked no one in particular as she plopped pebbles one by one into the pond.  She sat on the bank, her legs curled up and her skirts spread around her.  The straight nut-brown hair parted over her intelligent brow and framed the slim oval of a face.  Her soft pink lips tucked into a frown, and the warm caramel-colored eyes carried a look of concern.
                “Ari, are you talking to yourself again?”
                She hopped up at the sound of my voice, turning with a smile and reaching out to take my hands.  “Jonas, what took you so long?  Didn’t you understand my message?”
                I chastised myself for wanting to take her in my arms, and made myself hold her fingers lightly instead. “It was Gregor again.  He’s rather ruthless with a rake handle.”
                “Oh, my poor Jonas.” Her tone was teasingly sympathetic, but a part me thrilled to the possessive my.  So annoying.
                “Come sit by the lake,” Ari continued, “and we’ll have our talk.”  She motioned for me to sit beside her on the bank.  I longed to place myself close enough to sling an arm around her shoulders, but I made myself take a seat a safe half-foot away and fold my arms tightly over my chest to keep them in check.
                “So, we have a plan,” she said with a twinkle in her eye.
                This came as no surprise—something was always brewing in that clever mind of hers.  “When don’t you have a plan, Ari?”
                “Fine, have it your way."  The twinkle vanished, replaced by narrowed eyes and pursed lips. "When I’m not making plans, I’m planning to make plans.  Satisfied?” 
                Unfolding my arms, I put them behind me and leaned back to more fully take in the flash of anger in her eyes.  I’d never met a woman more beautiful or intelligent, and with her family, that was saying something.  Unable to stop it, a grin crept over my face. 
                She rolled her eyes.
                “If you don’t want to hear what it is, why don’t you go back to work?” She made shooing motions, like a queen dismissing her underlings.  “I’m sure Gregor has missed you by now anyway.”
                Of its own accord, one of my hands reached for hers, closing over the slim fingers before I could pull it back.  I cleared my throat, hoping the hand clasp would only serve to add sincerity to my declaration.  “I’d love to hear about your latest plan, Ari.”
                Her cheeks pinked as she dropped her lashes, her lips curving into a gentle smiles.  My heart stopped for a second, before she lifted her eyes once again, and sailed into recounting her latest scheme. 
              “Father’s being a perfect barbarian.  It’s always: ‘Young ladies should do this’ and ‘Young ladies should do that.’  I’d have no objection except they’re the most tedious things.  Needlepoint, lessons in Latin, and such nonsense.”
                Pleased that it was no longer aimed at me, I watched the play of annoyance across her face, animating her calm features.  
              “It’s enough to drive a woman mad,” she concluded.
                “So?” I prompted.  
                “We’re going to trick him.”
                Raising my eyebrows, I tried my best to convey silent incredulity.
                “I know what you’re going to say.  We always try to trick him and it never works.  But you’re wrong.  This time, we’ve considered every scenario.”  I loved when she talked like that, unveiling the exceptional mind behind the placid good looks.
                “Something always happens,” I reminded her.  “Like the time Larela tied all the embroidery thread into a great knot to get out of finishing her sampler.  True, she didn’t have to do needlework for a month, but only because he made her untangle every last strand.”
                “That’s Lari,” she tipped her gaze skyward in a silent plea for patience with her youngest sister.  “You know she’s far too impetuous to think things through.”
                “Then what will you do?” I asked.
                Her lips curved up into her widest grin, the mischief-filled one that affected my pulse more than I cared to admit.  I hoped she couldn’t feel it thrumming in my fingertips.  “You’ll know when it happens,” she said airily, drawing her fingers from mine and tilting her chin to look down her nose at me, even though I was a good head taller.
                “Then why did you ask me here?” I asked, mildly exasperated. 
                “Perhaps if you hadn’t made me wait a quarter of an hour, I’d have revealed the whole thing.”
                I shook my head ruefully.  Being the confidant of a clever woman was a tricky endeavor.  Almost as tricky as being in love with said woman while professing only friendship.  I eyed the pond glumly, thinking I could put an end to my misery by leaping in.
                Interrupting my thoughts, Ari leaned close enough to whisper in my ear, “I’m glad we’re friends, Jonas,” her breath tickled my neck and her flowery perfume enveloped me.  Momentarily stunned, I couldn’t move, even when she stood to leave.  “I have to go, Bree will be waiting.  But I promise to tell you everything soon.” She treated me to the impish grin again, “Trust me, this plan is foolproof.”

* * * * *
(Excerpt from Twelve, rights reserved by the author)

For more of Twelve, check out Arguing with Myself & Twelve for the Fourteenth. Rampant fangirling is encouraged.


  1. Like the sound of this! Fairy tales are at the back of practically every story ever written aren't they!!

    1. The more I delve into the classic fairy tales & create my own, the more I see them in everything, Carol :) Thanks for dropping in!