Today I'm hosting my lovely friend, Andi Adams (Danielle Madafferi) in THE MADHOUSE to chat about dark fantasy, Snow White, and her upcoming debut novel, THE GIRL IN THE GLASS BOX. Enjoy her words and be sure to check out her novel this month!
With poison and apples,
-Stephanie M. Wytovich
It's funny to think that a story that began as a comedic fictional memoir based on Cinderella ended up as a YA dark fantasy based on Snow White. Even when I'm trying to be funny, it has the tendency to turn dark – go figure! And just to set the record straight, I started writing this story back in 2011, before Once Upon A Time, before Snow White and the Huntsman, before Mirror, Mirror. Maybe I'm psychic to know this particular fairy tale would become such a trend. (I wish the lotto numbers would hit me the same way, but I digress.) Actually, I avoided all interpretations of the story so I wouldn't be influenced by any of them. Not an easy thing to do – especially when Chris Hemsworth is involved! (Cue swoon.)
Either way, I've always been drawn to fairy tales, ever since I was a child. I think we all are to some degree. We all like the fantastical elements, and the way these stories give us hope for our own happily-ever-after. Funnily enough, Snow White was never my favorite. As I mentioned, this started as Cinderella (which oddly enough, is also not my favorite. Weird.) But I see many similarities between the two stories - two women who are put in charge of household chores and domestic responsibilities while the rest of their world is tumbling down. Cinderella grows up in a household of women and it is because of her position in the family she is cast aside as insignificant. But in Snow White, she runs away to find refuge from an abusive past and is given the menial task of taking care of the cooking and cleaning for a group of strangers. Why is that? Because she's the only girl?
Hmm… well, even though she takes up the same role in my story, her motives and its reception are different. They have greater significance in the overall story. I guess that's where this idea initially took root in my mind. It started as the exploration of characters whose motivations are ambiguous. I wanted to give them definition and consequence.
Because of this, I was driven to explore how gender roles and expectations help to shape the women in my version of Snow White. Both, in many ways are captives in their own worlds, even though they are both of high-born nobility. For as much money, resources, and education they have, they both comment often about their lack of freedom and what it means to be free. This is not to say that this is a feminist novel, per se. But it does strive to explore the concept of freedom and how it shifts even within the confines of a household where everything else remains equal.
I conceptualized the narrative to be a way to shed light on how Disney got it wrong. (Not to say there's anything wrong with Disney – I'm a HUGE HUGE fan! Just to set the record straight.) So what I mean by that is Disney presented a flowery, watered-down, child-friendly version of a very dark truth. Some of the story was right (which is why I kept in some unifying details), but most of it was incomplete.
Here are some questions I asked myself while constructing the story: Why does the queen resent Snow White so greatly? From where does that hatred come? (I imagine it's not really about the girl, it's about what she represents – a life the queen never had herself.) Why is 'beauty' such a valuable commodity in her eyes? Why does the queen rely so heavily on the opinion of that mirror? Where did it come from? (Mirror – "Glass Box" – idea of being trapped - get it??) Why does Snow White talk to animals? Seems a bit mental to me. (Even though, truth be told, I have had some magnificent debates with my dogs.) And what is the deal with Prince Charming kissing a dead girl? WTF?!? Gross. There are many things we are asked to buy into without any justification. My goal in writing this tale was to fill in some of those gaps.
I think this, above all, is what makes my story different than other fairytale rewrites from the villains' perspective. Many times, we see how the villain has been misunderstood and misrepresented, but everything else essentially stays the same. In this tale, everyone has a story. Even the princess who, in this case, starts out a spoiled brat - a character you'd be hesitant to root for. This tale strives to show the parallels of humanity and how behind an evil act (or even a good one) are all of the circumstances that brought it to fruition.
I really believe that. No one is born evil. Psychologists and doctors and brain specialists and whoever else may disagree (mind you I don't have a degree in any of those fields), but in my heart of hearts, I believe we're all born clean slates. We are defined by our choices, our environment, our influences, our disappointments, and our triumphs. Each and every moment shapes us and has the potential to change our path. And happily-ever-after is rarely so cut and dry.
Andi Adams writes, teaches, gets excited about performing random acts of kindness, invents words, and talks with strangers, as often as she can. She loves learning about the world, about others, and about herself, and uses that knowledge to write realistic fiction – everything from YA Fantasy to Women’s Lit. She has a passion for travel, for all things Harry Potter (of course!), and for her two dogs, who are also incidentally her biggest fans. The Girl in the Glass Box is Andi’s first novel.
The Girl in the Glass Box will be available through Amazon for ebook and print-on-demand, with a release date of June 7, 2016. Check out Firefly Hill Press' website for links and more info on upcoming releases at www.fireflyhillpress.com.