When I decided to write my version of ‘Sleeping Beauty’, I took the Grimm version as my starting point along with the Disney adaptation. My first attempt was a basic rehash, an amalgam of the two; not very exciting at all.
As I explained in an earlier post, when I first introduced my next novel, I was reading ‘Realm of the Ring Lords’ by the late Laurence Gardner, and that inspired me to take the story in the direction I did.
I always thought, before tackling any fairy-tale retelling, it was imperative to read as many books as possible in the genre. That stressed me out because I hadn’t and struggled to find the time (in which I wanted to write!) and, to be totally honest, the interest, to plough through them.
Then I heard this freeing piece of advice from Cait Reynolds in a WANA class (‘Amateur Hour is Over’) – the only reason for reading books in a similar genre to what you’re writing is to look out for things like tropes, stereotypes etc and when you’re done, put it aside. Reading what the competition is writing is not going to set you apart. If you want to challenge yourself and aim to write at a higher level, read traditionally published books and books that are included in literary awards, like Man Booker, the Orange Prize for Fiction and Costa Book Awards. To that I say, hallelujah!!
Here are the books I dipped into as I was working my way through various drafts. I won’t review them in any way as I’ve only read one in its entirety, years ago, and remember enjoying it very much; written by Robin McKinley, why wouldn’t I have enjoyed it?
Clicking on the cover of each book will take you to the Amazon page.
‘Thornspell’ by Helen Lowe tells the story from the point of view of the prince.
The rest are on my TBR list for after I’m done with the story:
Interestingly, 'A Long, Long Sleep' is sci-fi, not fantasy.
‘ Kingdom of Ash and Briars’ not only builds on ‘ Sleeping Beauty’, but also ‘Cinderella’, Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ and the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan.
When I realised just how many retellings there are of this one fairy tale alone, it stopped me in my tracks for a while and I almost gave up on it. But I have to say, with my editor’s help, I like where I’ve taken it so I shall see it through to the end.