Today I have the pleasure of welcoming author Jack Heckel to the blog to talk to us a little bit about the changing nature of fairytale heroines and Prince Charming in his newest release, Happily Never After. As I'm a HUGE fan of anything relating to fairytales, I immediately added this book to my list. I hope you enjoy Jack's thoughts as much as I did!
Hi, this is Jack Heckel, author of Once Upon a Rhyme and Happily Never After. Before we get too far along, I’m incredibly excited to have this opportunity to do a guest blog for Supernatural Snark. In my series, The Charming Tales, I’ve taken fairytales and asked the question, “What if Prince Charming didn’t save the day?” That simple question has led to some interesting answers, especially involving the female characters in my books.
Although the books are called The Charming Tales, one of the main protagonists is Liz Pickett. She’s the older sister of Will Pickett, who becomes known as the Dragonslayer, when the Dragon in question accidentally impales itself on Will’s pitchfork. Although she’s very practical, she has a romantic heart and hopes that maybe she can find her own fairytale. In most fairytale stories, she would be set up to be the damsel in distress in need of rescue.
However, I believe that the role of the helpless princess or maiden doesn’t work in our culture. One of the things that I enjoyed the most in the movie, Frozen, was that neither Ana or Elsa needed someone to save them. They had their own strengths, from when Elsa decided to accept her abilities to when Ana was ready to make the ultimate sacrifice to save her sister. The global success of the movie speaks to the sort of heroines we expect in our stories.
For Liz’s part, she has a point where she is imprisoned and feels helpless, but it’s Elle, our version of Rapunzel, who helps talk her into not accepting her fate and doing something to stop the schemes of our lead villain. Once Liz gets her mind set, she starts on a path where she isn’t waiting for her fairytale ending, but where she’s determined to find it on her own. When she does find love, she has to take action to keep it. No spoilers, but the end of her story might not be how she would have written, but it’s one that she gets to choose.
As far as villains go, the primary antagonist of the books is the Princess Gwendolyn. She was the helpless prisoner trapped in the Dragon’s Tower, waiting for her Prince Charming to come save her. Unfortunately, he never came. Will Pickett, the accidental hero, saves her, and she later learns that he didn’t even kill the Dragon. She decides to seek her own justice by plotting to remove King Rupert and Prince Charming for never bothering to try and save her. While she does go a bit mad in the process, her desire to have a wedding and become the princess of legends may not seem too unreasonable considering what she went through. After all, isn’t that how fairytales are supposed to end?
Characters in fairytales tend to be flat and two-dimensional. They react in ways that we expect as they head off to their own ‘happily ever afters.’ It’s been a fun and fascinating journey to take those characters and add depth to them, placing them in positions that they wouldn’t encounter in the original tales and seeing what happens. One of the great things about these stories is that they are retold and changed by each generation. We live in an age where fairytales and myths are changing to reflect our world, from Maleficent even to the new Star Wars movies. I hope that everyone enjoys the journey and shares their own thoughts.
Thank you for stopping by Jack!
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HAPPILY NEVER AFTER
The Charming Tales #2