Fairy Tale Origins
Every story in the Princess Kingdom series begins with a fairy tale. I knew immediately that Beauty and the Beast belonged to Evanelle. Because she’s a girl traded for a rose.
But I’ve never enjoyed the creature aspect of Beauty and the Beast and knew I didn’t want to write an animal story. Could I get away with writing Beauty and the Beast with no beast?
I thought I could, if I incorporated the myth of Eros and Psyche. Fewer people are familiar with Eros and Psyche than Beauty and the Beast, however, most academics attribute Eros and Psyche as the origin for Beauty and the Beast as well as other similar fairy tales like East of the Sun and West of the Moon. And it certainly didn’t hurt that Eros and Psyche is my favorite myth.
Fusing these stories together was a simple (and fun!) matter of choosing what I liked best in each.
In Beauty and the Beast, Beauty sacrifices herself to save her father who, in most versions, has every intention of returning to the Beast.
In Eros and Psyche, she is sacrificed by her family on the mountain to the monster who lives there, because Apollo declares that her destiny.
For Enchanted Storms, I wanted that element of sacrifice, of a kingdom in peril and the weight of destiny. Evanelle is sacrificed to destiny because of the choices of her parents who vied for power beyond ruling a kingdom, beyond fairy magic. They sought the height of greatness and it cost them their daughters. But like Beauty and the Beast, in some ways she sacrifices herself; willingly stepping into the destiny her parents inadvertently summoned.
While Beauty is not actually traded for a rose, in many ways that is the price paid for her. If her father had not taken the rose, if the beast had not let him return home to give her the rose than she would have never gone to his castle.
And in Tattered Heart, I had created the legend of a princess traded for the most beautiful of roses. But legends are not always what they seem and the rose is not so much the price for her hand but a gift; a memoriam of a princess lost into the east.
There is little romance in Eros and Psyche. They are married, she comes to love him but also fears him because she never sees her husband, the supposed monster, until the turn in the story.
Beauty and the Beast, on the other hand, is full of romance and friendship as she falls in love with an actual monster.
I love good romance and friendship within a romance so a great deal of Beauty and the Beast is found in Kieran and Evanelle’s relationship; in the way they come to know each other and care for each other despite any beastly behavior.
An essential part of Beauty and the Beast is when he transforms from the beast into a man. In Eros and Psyche, the assumption of a monster reveals a handsome man when she finally sees him.
Since I didn’t have a beast, and she sees him from the beginning, I worked with an internal transformation. Not only does Kieran go from resentful and angry to accepting the destiny thrust upon them, he grows up and begins to rule his kingdom with purpose.
But in many ways, the true transformation belongs to Evanelle. Her complacency, the reckless way she speaks and lives becomes a life of purpose, of responsibility and with it the power to change herself and her life and her world.
In Eros and Psyche, a visit from her sisters turns the story. In their jealousy over her lavish home and spite, they convince Psyche to kill her monstrous husband. When she sees him, however, she realizes he isn’t a monster. He’s incredibly handsome and more than that, he’s a god. But the one rule was that she could never see him.
And in other version she burns him with wax from her candle. And one way or another, he leaves her.
Beauty and the Beast also turns the story with a visit, this time to her family. She stays too long, because she loves them, and because in some versions they convince her he’s a monster and she shouldn’t go back. But in many ways it’s because she waits so long, because he is dying, that she realizes her true feelings for him, confessing her love and setting him free of the curse.
I knew I wanted a visit with her sisters after Evanelle and Kieran leave. But it wasn’t within their characters or their relationship for them to be jealous or spiteful. So I used the visit to push Evanelle even further into her transformation and her power.
The Three Tasks
Perhaps the most important aspect of Enchanted Storms, for me, was the three tasks required of Evanelle in order to become who she was always meant to be. In Eros and Psyche, she is given three impossible tasks by Aphrodite in order to be reunited with Eros. In my writing, I wanted to play with obstacles – the things that stand in the way of a protagonist getting what they want. And placing three things in her way to Kieran seemed like the perfect approach. But I didn’t want anything so overt as tasks assigned to her so her “obstacles” are subtle.
Here ends the spoilers.
I listened to this every time I sat down to write Enchanted Storms. The first song in every novel’s playlist is something like the theme song – it sets the tone and the emotion and reminds me what the book is and what it feels like. For Enchanted Storms, that was Lullaby by Nickelback.
I love the angst and the passion in it; it sounds like there’s a storm coming and you can’t fight it; you can’t dodge it. But somehow in the middle of the storm you find something that means more to you than you ever could have imagined. And then you’re torn apart; reaching out desperately for each other in the maelstrom. But in your heart you’re never alone.
The other theme song for this novel became Requiem for a Requiem for a Dream by Jennifer Thomas. It’s a fiercely elegant song that balances quiet, tender moments with driving the characters into destiny.
The other songs hit a variety of emotional notes from quiet and lovely to playfulness and haunting angst. I can usually write light, fun moments well so I try to put a lot of energy and a good amount of darkness into the music I listen to in order to pull me into more conflict and more interesting stories.