Yesterday over on A Backwards Story, Bonnie hosted a guest post called "Who's the Fairest of Them All," from author Dorian Tsukioka. Today, Dorian joins us here on The Book Rat to talk about what got her into fairy tale writing, what mashups she's currently working on, and setting Beauty & the Beast in feudal Japan! And stick around til the bottom, because there's also a chance to win a prize pack of Dorian's books!
What is it about fairy tales that makes you want to incorporate them in to your writing?
I love the timelessness of fairy tales. They’re loved because they resonate with us. They’re full of truth (like ugly isn’t always evil, and beautiful isn’t always good). I also love happy endings, and fairy tales are very often full of them (though not always!). I’m a sucker for a happy ending, so even though I change and adapt fairy tales to become completely different stories, mine usually end with some sort of happy ending as well. Gotta love a “happy ever after.”
I love that your first two novels retell the stories of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. Which fairy tales might we see from you in the future?
I’m working right now on a mashup of Snow White & Rumplestiltskin! I have it set in ancient Egypt, and I’m totally excited about it. When I was thinking of creating a Snow White retelling, the ancient Egyptians came to mind because of their preoccupation with death. I thought it might be interesting to make a story that takes place mostly after Snow White eats the poisoned apple and is “dead.” What if Snow White is a ghost? What if she’s trapped in some sort of Land of the Dead? And what if she had some important task to complete…what if she had to save the prince, instead of him saving her? I can’t wait to share this adaptation with other fairy tale lovers!
What inspired you to set the tale of Beauty and the Beast in Feudal Japan? What was the most difficult part about doing so? The easiest?
Although I’ve long been an avid reader of fairy tale retellings (I’m a diehard Gail Carson Levine fan!), its only within the last couple of years that I’ve been writing them myself. They all began with a writing contest sponsored by writer Anne Elisabeth Stengl. In 2013, she hosted a contest titled “Five Glass Slippers.” I wrote the first draft of Cursed Beauty for that contest, and though I got great feedback, I did not win the contest. (I since revised the story. A lot. And then released it on Amazon.)
In 2014, I entered the second writing contest, “Five Enchanted Roses.” Two ideas simultaneously popped into my mind. One of them was to have my story set in the Amazon. The other was to set the story in old Japan. Although both stories come from the same fairy tale, they are vastly different. I loved the idea of setting my stories in very unique cultures that came with set expectations for female behavior. I like for my protagonists to be feisty, and struggle against the norms set for women. There are few places I know of that have as strict expectations for female behavior as feudal Japan.
The easiest part was getting background with Japan. I lived in Nagasaki, a southern prefecture of Japan for three years. I was fortunate to travel all over the country, visiting castles, and learning about the culture. The setting of the story is based on the area where I lived, a small village set between the mountains and the sea.
The hardest part was treading the fine line of giving enough background and foreign terms so that the reader could easily visualize the setting, but not so much that the reader becomes overwhelmed with too much information. Japan is part of me now. I even brought it home with me to the States (I met my Japanese husband while I was living there). I sometimes forget that not everyone is familiar with Japanese life and customs, so sharing just enough info was absolutely the most difficult part of writing the story.
(By the way, my other Beauty and the Beast story set in the Amazon rainforest was chosen as a winner for the contest and will coming out this summer when Five Enchanted Roses is released!)
If your life was a Disney movie, which would it be…and which character would best represent you?
I think I’ve always identified a lot with Ariel in The Little Mermaid. Not so much the yearning over the prince stuff (though Prince Eric is pretty hot, I must admit), but Ariel’s longing for a different sort of life. During college, I longed to live in a foreign country. After that, I longed to have a career. Later, I longed to have kids. And now, I’m longing to transition to life as a full-time writer. It’s my version of Ariel’s longing to be human.
If you could own any magical object from a fairy tale (spinning wheel, magic mirror, glass slipper, poison apple, etc.), what would you choose and why?
I have a deeply rooted fascination with magic wands. I’d love my own! Perhaps the good fairies’ wands from Sleeping Beauty, or maybe Cinderella’s fairy godmother. If any of them would like to gift me with a magic wand, I’d be happy to receive it. I think I’d love to help make other people’s wishes come true.
Which fairytale villain would you never want to reform and why?
Although I truly loved Disney’s recent live action remake of Sleeping Beauty in the movie, Malificent, I would never want to reform her. I think she’s so delightfully evil. She brings class and sass to being truly malicious and malevolent.
THIS OR THAT
Dragon or kraken? Definitely dragon! I’m planning on getting one of my own someday when my minivan finally wears out. I hope there’s room for car seats.
Mermaid or princess? Oooh, mermaid! I love the water. And the catchy musical numbers under the sea!
Hero or villain? Hmmmm….this is a tough one. Both? Can I choose both? I don’t think you can have one without the other. I particularly love heros who become villains, and then redeem themselves. Everyone has their flaws!
Prince or knight? Knight, knight, knight! Chivalry, honor, duty…what’s not to love?! I’ll take a hunky knight any day of the week.
Befriend the birds or the mice? Although I’m not personally a big fan of rodents, I’m really fond of Gus Gus in Cinderella. I’d love to him and all his friends on my side.
Dorian has offered up a prize pack of ebook copies of her fairy tale retellings, A Cursed Beauty and Ai of the Mountain! One lucky Fairy Tale Fortnight reader will win both books!
This giveaway is international, and ends April 22nd at midnight, EST.
To enter, make sure you are registered on the FTF giveaway registry, and then fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
ABOUT THE BOOKS:
A pair of glass slippers that can change her life? When something is too good to be true, it usually is...
Adelaide has lived her entire life cursed with a birthmark that makes people shy away. When an invitation to the Elder Prince’s ball falls in her lap, she knows attending would only cause people to shun her more.
A fairy godmother feels her pain and offers her a pair of glass slippers that not only transform her ragged dress to an elegant gown, but also removes the mark that covers her face. However, Adelaide soon learns that the beautiful slippers can steal away more than just her birthmark, leaving her cursed in a far worse way.
This retelling of the classic Cinderella story will resound with readers of young adult fiction who love paranormal fantasy, fairy tales, and a splash of romance.
AI OF THE MOUNTAIN
Ai must choose between her future, her family, the man she loves, and the power-hungry lord who will stop at nothing to possess her. -- Does she have a choice, or is she powerless to save herself and those she loves?
Eighteen-year old Ai has lived a quiet life in the mountains of southern Japan, until the feudal ruler of her region, Lord Nakaguchi, decides to build his opulent, new castle at the top of her mountain. Once Lord Nakaguchi meets Ai, he knows he must have her as his own - whether she likes it, or not.
Ai has no intention of succumbing to Lord Nakaguchi’s advances. She is already deeply in love with Kaito, a samurai warrior she has known all her life who loves her in return. But, their love is an ill-fated impossibility, made even more difficult by Lord Nakaguchi’s persistent demands.
AI OF THE MOUNTAIN is a fairy retelling of the classic story, Beauty and the Beast, set in feudal Japan, and will resound with readers of young adult fiction who love paranormal fantasy, fairy tales, and a splash of romance!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dorian and her husband lived in Las Vegas, Nevada, Durango, Colorado, and Colorado Springs, Colorado until her first born child came along. Then - much like the lure of the pied piper - the prospect of free babysitting brought her family back to Kansas City, where you can go to the opera, see a major-league ball game, and go cow tipping all in one night. Dorian does not suggest anyone actually go cow tipping.
Dorian is a full-time elementary school teacher and late-night writer. She loves writing young adult fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction stories. She thinks they rock.
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