Welcome, everyone, to another episode of—wait no, that’s not right. I mean, welcome back to my blog! In keeping with the theme of Fantasy February (a boat I hopped on at the end of the month), I will be doing the “Choose-Your-Own-Adventure” Fairy Tale Tag that I found over at Fairy Tale Central!
Remember those books written in second person POV that gave you a scenario and let you choose how to react, essentially making you the main character of the story? Just me? Well, I enjoyed them quite a lot as a kid. This is going to be a little different—just a list of prompts—but I like the idea of getting to be the protagonist of the fairy tale for a change. What could go wrong? (Last time I said that, I nearly got eaten by a dragon, but we don’t talk about that.)
I grew up reading fairy tales and watching the Disney movie adaptations like everybody else, but I only got into the fairy tale retellings genre recently. It started with Hope Ann’s Burning Rose anthology and moved on to Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley. I haven’t read extensively in the genre, but I am always open to creative adaptations of the original fairy tales.
So with that introduction out of the way, let’s begin! (Be sure to stick around until the end for a peek at something special I’ve been working on! Or you could go straight there and skip the tag questions entirely if that’s not your cup of tea. Whatever floats your boat.)
Les Questions (to be French about it)
Q. Your father the king has declared a contest for your hand in marriage. But he’s allowing you to decide what kind of competition it will be. What do you choose? Is there a penalty for losing, or do the losers just go home while the winner remains to marry you?
A. Well, you see, I am a writer. I can tell a lot about people through their writing. I’m sure a contest of skill, strength, or smarts would be a better idea, but I would call for a contest of writing. They would get three chances to prove their skill.
First, a scholarly essay about a subject related to the kingdom’s function.
Second, a short story about a subject of their choice.
Third, a book. (Yes, a full-length book, since while they’re writing it, I could get to know them and be able to make an informed decision by the end of the competition.)
The winner would get a royal title and a book published, the losers would not get either of those. Every writer knows how disheartening that is. To spend weeks, months, years on a manuscript, polishing it to perfection, just to have it discarded like a soggy ice cream sandwich wrapper by the people you want to impress the most.
Not that that’s ever happened to me. (Okay, maybe once or twice, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’m making it out to be. In fact, it was probably for the best.)
Q. You’ve just been told that you’re the Chosen One – the heir to your kingdom’s throne. Of course you demanded proof, but you didn’t expect quite so much of it to be brought forward. You grudgingly ask the state of the land. Your kingdom is at war with two neighboring kingdoms, a third kingdom is expecting your kingdom to ally with theirs and help them fight in agreement with an old treaty, there is famine in two counties in the north, and the barons of the kingdom are fighting over who will supply the palace with food for the next year. What do you do first?
A. Well, that’s quite a predicament. Remember the “Chosen One” I mentioned in my last blog post? Well, here’s another of those, only without magic powers and instead with responsibility. If I wanted to make this into a book by subverting the cliches, I’d have the Chosen One run away and learn a bunch of life lessons and coincidentally solve a bunch of the problems along the way to becoming a Responsible Ruler, but I’m not really like that.
I’d try to jump straight into being a Responsible Ruler but probably fail quite miserably. First order of business is to try to make peace with the other kingdoms and inquire how much help the third kingdom actually needs. Like, do they actually need troops, or can we just send supplies?
Assuming the peace talks dissolve into chaos, I’d ask the third kingdom to unite their army with ours and simultaneously fight all of our enemies. They’d probably refuse, but at least I made a last-ditch effort to save my kingdom. I’d then probably go into exile or hiding until a rebellion arises to overthrow the conquering army (although they would probably be much better rulers than me, so no rebellion would be needed).
As for the famine…uh… I don’t know how to deal with that, either. This all seems like the makings of a fallen kingdom. Maybe we just agree to pay homage to the enemy kingdoms in exchange for food? I don’t mind if they tax us and maybe station soldiers in the cities. I just want my people to survive.
Soooo yeah, I would probably be a very bad queen. I’ll gladly leave that to more competent people.
Q. You’ve set off to find your fortune but end up caught in a storm in the middle of the night in an enchanted forest…and there’s an ominous growl emitting from the trees. A warm looking cottage sits nearby but you’ve heard that questionable figures dwell in this wood. What’s your plan of action?
A. Well, first off, I wouldn’t travel alone. Second off, I wouldn’t get caught in a storm in the middle of the night in an enchanted forest. I would have a map and carefully plan my route to go around the enchanted forest full of questionable characters and have a safe place to sleep for the night.
But if I somehow happen to find myself in a situation like that, I would watch the cottage from a distance and peer through the windows to see if anyone was inside. Depending on who was, I would then plot my course of action.
If it is a family of people who look mostly friendly, I would knock. If it was only one person, male or female, I would not. (People living alone in the woods are more likely to be questionable characters than otherwise, and I would not risk it.) I would rather take my chances camping out in the woods, or a shed, or a barn, or a stable, depending on if the cottage people have one.
Q. It is time to christen your dear new baby. It’s expected to invite the local fairies but they’re known for “gifting” babies with less-than-desirable characteristics (Ella Enchanted-style). Do you invite them anyway or “accidentally” forget to send out an invitation and risk the wrath of the petty (but powerful) fairy-kind upon your kingdom?
A. Mmmm…yes, the local fairies… Well, you see, I’ll circumvent the possibility of an unwanted gift by creating a wish list that all of the guests have access to. If they somehow decide their gift is preferable to a box of diapers, I’ll kindly decline their blessing upon my dear new baby.
Q. Your fairy godmother grants the choice of three gowns for your one chance to meet the prince at the ball: a dress the color of the golden sun, a dress the color of the silver moon, or a dress the color of the sky. Which dress do you choose?
A. Ooh, all of those sound very pretty. I’d have to go with the blue one, though.
Q. Your cursed beloved tells you that only when he marries a true-blood princess will he be set free. Do you choose to aid him by finding a princess that can set him free from his horrible curse? Or do you visit the witch of the forest and make a deal with her to become a princess – but you will only get to be with your prince one day a year.
A. My cursed beloved, you say? Well, if I really loved him, I’d help him find the princess so he could be free from the curse. No way am I consulting a witch in the process. Who knows, maybe at the end of the story, it would be revealed that I actually am the long-lost true-blood princess and the supposed princess is a fake. But that sort of stuff only happens in fairy tales.
Q. You’ve just completed a fairy tale adventure worthy to join the ranks of the world’s greatest legends. Alas, the kingdom’s most famous minstrel is also notorious for adding his own embellishments. Would you rather have your story lost to the world, your name and deeds forgotten, or to to be known as a hero throughout the land…just in a very inaccurate and mangled version of the story?
A. I happen to pride accuracy and honesty in writing. If this famous minstrel is taking too much poetic license, I have the authority to fire him, don’t I? I’ll just get a historian to write everything down properly. Although I can’t really fault the minstrel, now that I think about it. Embellished legends are often the ones that survive the ages because they’re passed down from generation to generation and each storyteller adds their own details. Who knows, the actual “boring” tale without any embellishments might not be so inspiring to future generations as a more fantastical story.
Q. You’ve just been approached by a man in a pointy hat who says you’re the chosen one destined to save a magical world. Before you enter the portal to this new world, you are allowed to take one piece of modern technology with you. What do you choose?
A. Why in the world I would trust a man in a pointy hat is the real question. I wouldn’t enter the portal at all. (I guess I’m a very boring person. I prefer to leave the adventures to my characters.)
But if I was somehow convinced that this was the right course of action, I’d bring along a camera to document my adventures. Maybe that ends up being the key to saving the magical world. Who knows?
Q. Your parents have angered a powerful witch in your land, and she has chosen to strike out at you to punish your parents. However, since you weren’t the one who actually angered her, she’s letting you choose your own fate: 1) sleep for 100 years and leave your parents to die of old age while you sleep, 2) be locked alone in a faraway tower so your parents will never find you, 3) lose your voice so you’ll never be able to speak to your parents, or 4) give you a fatal golden touch so that you can’t hug your parents lest you turn them into statues.
A. Oh, this is the easiest one yet! I’d take the golden touch. Hugging isn’t my thing, and think of how much the gold stuff I make will sell for! I could provide for my parents into their old age and the witch’s curse would actually end up being a great blessing!
Q. You just found out that you have a twin, and you two were separated from birth because an ancient prophecy claimed one of you would bring ruin upon the kingdom. Are you the prophesied twin of ruin, or is it your brother/sister? How do you figure that out, and what do you and your twin decide to do about it?
A. Uh…well, that depends. I’d probably bring ruin upon the kingdom through ignorance of how the kingdom is supposed to be run, so maybe a test of knowledge about the kingdom’s inner workings would be in order? I’d gladly give my brother the crown if I was the twin of ruin. But if he was the one, whether because of ignorance about the kingdom or some darker secret, I’d take the throne and keep a close eye on him. If it’s a prophecy, it’ll probably come true at some point. Any measure of caution won’t circumvent it. If I execute him, it might turn out that I was the twin of ruin and the killing brought the downfall of my kingdom. If I let him live, he might take the throne by force. There’s really no winning scenario here.
Maybe both of us should just go into exile! Yeah, that sounds like it might be best.
And with that, we reach the end of yet another awesome tag! If you stuck around this long, I’d like to share something special I’ve been working on!
I created a bunch of collages for my characters in Ashen Blaze and compiled them on a NEW page on my author website, along with a few descriptions of their personalities. It’s a great way to make the characters feel real. You can go check it out here! Alternatively, you can go visit my Newheart Author site and click on “Character Profiles” in the drop-down menu under “Books.” I plan to add more characters periodically, so if you want to get updates about when I do, you can join my mailing list (over on Newheart Author) or subscribe to this blog using the widget on my home page.
Not having something concrete to share with you all about cover reveal/publishing dates is frustrating, but I sincerely appreciate your continued support and patience. I’m making progress slowly but surely.
Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week!