Merry Wanderer of the Night  + [TIME]

Guest Post with Author Maureen McGowan!

Hey everyone! Help me welcome Maureen McGowan today! She's the author of the Twisted Fairy Tale series, which so far includes Cinderella, Ninja Warrior (read my review here!) and Sleeping Beauty, Vampire Slayer (read Misty of The Book Rat's review here) . She also participated a little during Fairy Tale Fortnight (you can read that here) and it's great to have her back!

Hi Ashley and thank you so much for inviting me to guest post on your blog.

While I’ve always loved the romantic aspects of traditional fairy tales, I wanted to write stories in which the heroines were strong and capable—not waiting around for a prince to save them.

One of my aims in writing Cinderella: Ninja Warrior and Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer was to “fix” some of the story elements that bothered me in the traditional versions of these classic tales. Both of my stories include the tried and true fairy tale themes of finding true love and good triumphing over evil, but there are twists, too.

The traditional Cinderella character was too much of a victim for my taste, and I never liked the idea that the prince needed a shoe to recognize her the day after supposedly falling in love. Plus, he falls in love at first sight—presumably because of her beauty— but then doesn’t recognize her the next day when she’s out of her fancy dress? What kind of message does any of that send to modern young readers about love or self-worth?

Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer probably has fewer similarities to the traditional tale. (There were no vampires in the original? An oversight, I’m sure.) When I first started the book, I thought it was about prejudice—humans’ misconceptions about vampires and vice versa. But as soon as I started writing, it became more of a child of divorce story. Sleeping Beauty has to learn that her parents’ and kingdom’s problems aren’t her fault— even if she’s cursed. This theme popped out at me as soon as I started thinking about how parents might react if they knew their daughter carried a curse. And what it would feel like to grow up with this huge weight hanging over you.

But, although I think the stories do have positive messages for girls and an overall theme of empowerment, they are by no means “issue books”. They’re meant to be fun, fast — paced, exciting and most of all—entertaining.

When I began to explore adding reader interaction to updated fairy tales, I had no idea how to pull it off, but I knew what I didn’t want to do: I didn’t want to include “wrong” paths or unhappy endings. (Even thought I know this has disappointed a few readers.)

Fairy tales by their nature promise happy endings—and pretty specific happy endings in some cases—so, I decided that each book in the series should have a single ending. As I started to write, I did look at a few choose-your-own-adventure stories, hoping for hints or clues as to how to structure my books, but I didn’t like the “bad choice—you die!” aspects of some of those “old school” stories.

The way I see things, each day we face choices, and the alternatives aren’t necessarily right or wrong—just different. Smart heroines (and smart readers) will make smart choices, so I wanted to present reasonable alternatives at each decision point without making it obvious which choice was better. Also, a capable heroine—even if she makes a mistake—should be able to face whatever challenges her chosen path places in her way.

When I decided on the structure, I didn’t realize what a difficult path I was laying out for myself! My choice created challenges for me—almost as tough as those facing Cinderella in her magic competition, or Lucette when she’s the only one awake and facing vampires in the night.

There were times while writing these books when my head was spinning so badly I didn't know which end was up!

But ultimately, I had as much fun writing them as I hope readers will have reading them.