{Guest Post + Event Giveaway} The Story Behind FAIREST OF THEM ALL with Carolyn Turgeon

Welcome to A Week of Winter in celebration of the fairest of them all...
not to mention the launch of Marissa Meyer's series-ender WINTER!
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and stop back all week long for fun guest posts, exciting author visits, giveaways, reviews,
and more for CRESS!
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I've previously reviewed MERMAIDGODMOTHER and THE NEXT FULL MOON by Carolyn Turgeon! Carolyn has also done an interviewguest post, and vlog with me, as well as co-wrote an exclusive poem, "Flight to the Deep," with fellow mer-author Sarah Porter for last year's Splash into Summer event!

A U T H O R   T R A I L E R:


Carolyn Turgeon is the author of five novels: Rain Village (2006), Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story (2009), Mermaid (2011), which is being developed for film by Sony Pictures, and The Next Full Moon (2012), her first and only book for middle-grade readers. Her latest novel, The Fairest of Them All, comes out in August 2013 from Touchstone/Simon & Schuster and is about Rapunzel growing up to be Snow White's stepmother. She lives in Pennsylvania and New York and teaches fiction writing at the University of Alaska at Anchorage's Low-Residency MFA program. She's currently at work on a new novel about Dante's Beatrice, set in thirteenth-century Florence.
Visit Carolyn at I Am A Mermaid, on her website

The Story Behind the Story 
Carolyn Turgeon

The Fairest of Them All is my third fairy tale retelling, the story of Rapunzel growing up to be Snow White’s stepmother. I’ve also retold the stories of Cinderella’s fairy godmother and the little mermaid (and her human rival) from Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid.” Even my first novel, though, Rain Village—which is the story of a young misfit girl who becomes a famous aerialist—started out as a retelling. I was in college, and I was majoring in English and Italian, and over one spring break I had two cool assignments: I had a story due for a writing workshop, and I had to write a paper for one of my Italian classes, comparing three versions of the “three rings story” that’s told in The Decameron and Il Novellino and other places. That’s what we were studying in that class, old old stories that were told and retold again, making their way from the East and into Italy, first in Latin and then in Italian. 

I loved the idea of stories that had such meaning and resonance that people would tell and retell them to each other over hundreds of years. And so as I looked at and compared these stories of the three rings, I started my own story about them. In mine the rings didn’t stand in for the three religions (in the other stories, a father/God makes two copies of one priceless ring and gives a ring to each of his sons; each son/religion thinks he has the real ring but only one of them does, the others have copies, and only the father knows for sure which one is real), but for the three suitors courting our main character, Alice, who has this one valuable ring. By the time I was done with the book, which took years, I’d dropped the three rings story—even though that’s what had inspired everything—and had made the whole book about this one minor character who’d shown up in that original tale. 

But still. The idea stuck. And as I moved on to fairy tales, I loved the way I could take these stories that had helped shape me, in Disney movies and in the older tales I discovered later, and really inhabit them, imagine what it’d be like to be them. And then retell them, changing them, illuminating some of their hidden parts. It’s a wonderful thing, stepping inside those stories and looking around some, the way people have been doing for hundreds of years, around fires and hunched over parchments and sitting in the local coffee shop working on a laptop. Who is that fairy godmother, for example? Does anyone think about her? I imagined what it’d be like to be a fairy whose job is to help the damaged, long-suffering Cinderella get to the ball. Wouldn’t she be jealous, just a little bit? Did she herself ever get to go to balls? I thought about the little mermaid and that human princess, the one who actually ends up marrying the prince in the original story. What if she knew the mermaid? What if she’d been there, watching, when the mermaid brought the almost-drowned prince to land? Wouldn’t that be what made her fall in love with the prince—wouldn’t you fall in love with a boy you’d seen in the arms of a mermaid, too? 

In The Fairest of Them All, I looked at the story of Rapunzel—and really, of all the young princesses who end up happily ever after, married to their princes, with futures stretching out brightly in front of them. And I looked at all the witches and evil queens and stepmothers, older women who were, in many cases, once those young girls with those same bright futures. And I realized they were pretty much the same women, that these older women were those princesses grown up, and so I went in and imagined how Rapunzel might turn out, after her happy ending. I imagined the evil queen in Snow White and how her bitterness and rage stem from the fact that she was once Rapunzel…. but then she grew up.

Thank you so much for such a great post, Carolyn! I always love when you stop by, and I was especially intrigued by today's post on the inspiration behind FAIREST OF THEM ALL! 

This guest post was first posted on August 9, 2013 for THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL's  blog tour.

O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Carolyn Turgeon
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Publisher: Touchstone / Simon and Schuster
Received: For Review

What if Rapunzel was Snow White’s evil stepmother? 

From the author of GODMOTHER and MERMAID, THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL explores what happens when fairy tale heroines grow up and don’t live happily ever after. 

Living in an enchanted forest, Rapunzel spends her days tending a mystical garden with her adoptive mother, Mathena. A witch, Mathena was banished from court because of her magic powers, though the women from the kingdom still seek her advice and herbal remedies. She waits, biding her time to exact revenge against those who betrayed her. 

One day Rapunzel’s beautiful voice and long golden locks captivate a young prince hunting in the forest nearby. Overcome, he climbs her hair up to her chamber and they fall into each other’s arms. But their afternoon of passion is fleeting, and the prince must return to his kingdom, as he is betrothed to another. 

Now king, he marries his intended to bring peace to his kingdom. They have a stunning daughter named Snow White. Yet the king is haunted by his memories of Rapunzel, and after the mysterious death of his wife, realizes he is free to marry the woman he never stopped longing for. In hopes of also replacing the mother of his beloved daughter, the king makes Rapunzel his queen. 

But when Mathena’s wedding gift of an ancient mirror begins speaking to her, Rapunzel falls under its evil spell, and the king begins to realize that Rapunzel is not the beautiful, kind woman he dreamed of.

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