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Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Shadowskin by Bethany Cassel

Published: September 2013

Description:

Cursed with a deadly touch, Pomona never thought she would leave the royal gardens of Norarchland, where she uses her magic over plant life to make the gardens flourish. But when she discovers a magic mirror beneath the roots of an apple tree, she learns a horrifying truth: the life of the beautiful Princess Nevea is in danger, and Pomona is the only one who can save her. Pomona flees with the princess into the dark forest, where she is taken in by the mysterious Selene Magna and her huntress companion, Callisto. They claim that the Tenebrari-short, magical beings responsible for Pomona's curse-are trying to conquer all of the kingdoms of Archland. Even more, Pomona is destined to play an important role in their defeat. The cursed gardener must now embark on a journey far beyond her imagination to stop the Tenebrari, or else she and all those she cares about will be cursed forever.
     

GUEST POST
Weaving a Fairy Tale Tapestry

Once upon a time, there was a poison apple. This poison apple never wanted to hurt the princess with skin as white as snow, but evil dwarves made her do it.

In the very earliest stages of Shadowskin, the book was meant to be a straight retelling of the Snow White fairy tale. It was inspired by the question and subsequent answer of, “Why would the evil queen really want to kill Snow White? The poison apple is more than that . . . it’s really the queen’s daughter, cursed with a deadly touch.” This is where my main character, Pomona, originated. She was the personification of the poison apple in the story. At first, I was content to develop just this part of her identity and retell just one fairy tale, but, as things go with writing, things quickly got out of hand. I realized that Pomona was far more than just a poisoned apple, but that required some more development.

I can’t recall exactly the point when I decided to blend in other fairy tales, but the story quickly expanded to include many different fairy tale characters. I started with “Snow White and Rose Red,” which seemed easily connected to “Snow White” for obvious reasons. Then “Beauty and the Beast” found a place. One by one, each of these fairy tales appeared in the story until I realized that I had uncovered a much larger story. Now, in Shadowskin alone there are eight different fairy tales represented with an additional four honorable mentions. If the whole planned series is taken into consideration, there are twenty-one fairy tales woven together throughout (and I may have forgotten to count a couple). Some of these are well-known stories, while others such as “The Girl Without Hands” and “Jorinda and Joringel” are not.

Shadowskin but will not appear until the sequel), is both Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel. Both of these characters were isolated from people; both had notable singing voices; and both gave birth to fraternal twins, a boy and a girl. It only took a little math to realize that if Sleeping Beauty was really unconscious that long but her hair continued to grow, it would easily surpass the length that Rapunzel’s hair was said to be. I realized that these sorts of connections could be made with other tales. Magic mirrors and talking beasts, nightingales and dancing shoes appeared in more than one story. Why couldn’t they be the same as well? This sort of theme-tracing is known as motif analysis. Motifs are essentially the easily recognizable pieces of a narrative that help form the outline of the story. Motifs are patterns, and they’re often repeated, which is what I discovered in fairy tales. By connecting the motifs, I realized that I would be able to weave together the stories in a whole new way.

Of course, I didn’t want to make it obvious. While certain elements like glass slippers are hard to disguise, I tried in other ways to mask who each character is. So you will never see a character referred to by their actual fairy tale name. Their fairy tale identities might be hinted to in some way in their character names, but some of the references involve a little ‘six degrees’ action. Snow White, for example, is named Princess Nevea Alba, which is derived from Romance (Latin-based) words meaning ‘snowy.’ Her surname, Alba, means ‘white’—so while her literal name is not Snow White, it is still very much a part of her identity.

I like to lay Easter eggs like this throughout the book, not just with names but with items, locations, and so forth. Every item has a history and has passed through many hands. I hope finding the clues as to which character is which is enjoyable for those who have read as many fairy tales as I have and for those who haven’t picked up a fairy tale in a while. And if some of my clues lead readers to discover new fairy tales that they’ve never experienced before, then I consider my project a success!

This came as a result of noticing repeated themes and motifs that connected fairy tales to one another. For example, one character (who is mentioned in Shadowskin but will not appear until the sequel), is both Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel. Both of these characters were isolated from people; both had notable singing voices; and both gave birth to fraternal twins, a boy and a girl. It only took a little math to realize that if Sleeping Beauty was really unconscious that long but her hair continued to grow, it would easily surpass the length that Rapunzel’s hair was said to be. I realized that these sorts of connections could be made with other tales. Magic mirrors and talking beasts, nightingales and dancing shoes appeared in more than one story. Why couldn’t they be the same as well? This sort of theme-tracing is known as motif analysis. Motifs are essentially the easily recognizable pieces of a narrative that help form the outline of the story. Motifs are patterns, and they’re often repeated, which is what I discovered in fairy tales. By connecting the motifs, I realized that I would be able to weave together the stories in a whole new way. 

Of course, I didn’t want to make it obvious. While certain elements like glass slippers are hard to disguise, I tried in other ways to mask who each character is. So you will never see a character referred to by their actual fairy tale name. Their fairy tale identities might be hinted to in some way in their character names, but some of the references involve a little ‘six degrees’ action. Snow White, for example, is named Princess Nevea Alba, which is derived from Romance (Latin-based) words meaning ‘snowy.’ Her surname, Alba, means ‘white’—so while her literal name is not Snow White, it is still very much a part of her identity. 

I like to lay Easter eggs like this throughout the book, not just with names but with items, locations, and so forth. Every item has a history and has passed through many hands. I hope finding the clues as to which character is which is enjoyable for those who have read as many fairy tales as I have and for those who haven’t picked up a fairy tale in a while. And if some of my clues lead readers to discover new fairy tales that they’ve never experienced before, then I consider my project a success!

(don't miss the other authors and their books!)
About the author:
Bethany Cassel lives in a land surrounded by forests and cornfields, and she was lucky enough to grow up in the same house all her life. Falling asleep to the sound of waterfalls and seldom-disturbed quiet provided the perfect environment for her to develop her passion for writing. Inspired by the beautiful landscape around her, Bethany created Archland, a world with deep forests, rolling hills, and fierce winters, home to dozens of fairy tale characters.

When she is not writing, Bethany is a voracious reader, known to finish the likes of "Seraphina" by Rachel Hartman in two sittings (it was a great book)! Her favorite writers are, in no particular order, Sir Thomas Malory, J.K. Rowling, John Keats, Victor Hugo, Kendare Blake, Jay Asher, Toni Morrison, and Marissa Meyer. This list is by no means complete. She is about to earn her Bachelor's of Arts in English from SUNY Geneseo and plans to continue her education in literature in graduate school. Besides all things literary, Bethany enjoys archery and bow hunting, drawing, playing piano, and volunteering with ministries in her community. She currently lives in Western New York with four dogs, twenty-ish chickens (she lost count), a lizard, and a couple of frogs.



5 comments:

Claudia said...

Imi plac povestile cu zane, basmele... pare interesant.

Tressa S said...

Thanks for being on the tour! Love the pictures!!

Tressa @ Tressa's Wishful Endings

CCAM said...

@Tressa - I'm glad you "saw" them, their selection took me some time...

Alina said...

I'm not sure but maybe Wonderland.

A Backwards Story said...

I hadn't heard of SHADOWSKIN before the tour....sounds great! Not enough Snow White out there!

I agree with Tressa, great pictures!

...And, I want to live under the sea as a mermaid like Ariel <3