I’ve written several books from the point of view of a secondary character. My book King of Ithaka retells part of Homer’s Odyssey as seen by Telemachos, the teenage son of Odysseus, and my Dark of the Moon recounts the story of the Minotaur, told by Ariadne, the Minotaur’s sister, and Theseus, his killer. So you can see that I’m always interested in trying to figure out what lies behind a secondary character.
I’ve never been part of a stepfamily but of course I know a lot of people who are, and it has always struck me that what Cinderella complains about are things that a stepchild who finds herself in a new family with different expectations and responsibilities would complain about—they make me do all the work, my stepmother treats her own children better than she treats me, etc. So I decided to explore the idea that maybe things weren’t as bad as she has led us to believe, and see what her stepsister’s take on the situation would be.
The challenge that made me get stuck the longest was near the end of the book. If Cinderella isn’t the main character and if she doesn’t behave in a way that makes her deserve to live happily ever after, why does she get to marry the handsome prince? This was a problem that took me a long time to break through. The answer (don’t worry—no spoilers!) came to me, as answers to this kind of problem tend to do, as I was falling asleep. When I woke up, I wrote the ending.
I love how this book offers such a completely upside down, different type of “happily ever after.” What do you hope readers take away from the story’s ending?
I hope that readers take away a lot of things! Probably the most important is not to wait around for someone to rescue you from a bad situation. Take the initiative to do that yourself! Also, don’t believe everything you hear or read. As my mother always says, “Consider the source.” Who told you the story? Could they maybe have a distorted view of the situation?
Part 2 is coming on Wednesday!