Friday, July 31, 2015

Esprit de la Rose: Some More Fun!

Hi everyone! This is my follow-up post for the Five Enchanted Roses launch party! I'm just going to share some fun stuff that I ran out of time to share during my thirty minute slot, and give a more in-depth answer to a few of the questions.

Dream Cast

Jordana Brewster looks quite like Cecilia Lester.

Growing up can be a lonely affair, but especially when you are the half-Spanish daughter of a pirate living amongst stuffy and legalistic island dwellers. Add the death of your mother to the mix, and life becomes nigh-on unbearable. Desperate for a happy life, Cecilia coerces her father into ferrying her to London. But before they reach their journey's end, the Fee strike, determined to punish Captain Lester. Though she is combative and demanding, Cecilia's compassionate nature wins out and she attempts to save her father. Her plan goes awry, and she finds herself trapped aboard a cursed ship where she is the only hope for the inhabitants.

Her long black hair and shy but confident grin are the two most striking things about Cecilia, and Brewster captures both excellently. I've never seen Brewster in anything, but looks-wise, a younger Brewster would be perfect!

For the role of Captain Pepin, I have chosen Domhnall Gleeson 

A clever captain can avoid going down with his ship, but a ship will always follow the destiny of her captain. Pepin knows this all too well, and frankly, he'd much prefer the former fate to the latter, regardless of the consequences his actions will cause to those aboard said ship. Enigmatic, charming, and ironic, Pepin commands the cursed Rose with the help of poetically nonsensical phrases, threatening powers, and hidden secrets. His one ambition is to gain his freedom no matter what the cost. However, ocean paths are rarely so straight-forward. 

Gleeson looks exactly like Pepin. The red hair and cheeky grin are absolutely perfect, in my opinion. Also, this casting choice is the only place where Harry Potter crept into my story. While writing, I have to be VERY careful that what I am currently reading does not find it's way into what I'm currently writing. The same summer I wrote Esprit, I read the Harry Potter series for the first time. I paid very close attention to my writing to make sure I did not inadvertently copy anything, but, when watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Bill Weasley played by Domhnall Gleeson appeared and I went "Dude, that's what Pepin looks like!". 

Confession time: many of the themes from my stories come from internal snark regarding something-or-other. The Fee's physical appearance is no exception. The Fee are described as beautiful, nearly identical. The only truly differentiating thing about them is the specific color of their hair, eyes, and tail. This idea came to me after a day spent watching movies. Nearly all of the female leads, even though the movies were from completely different genres and times, looked similar. It made me irritated. Why is Hollywood so determined to press their idea of beauty on viewers? Why are they so determined to ignore the characterization and charm unique facial and physical features offers a story? And don't even get me started on the modeling industry. 

All that to say, if you Google the word “model”, though the images that appear will be different women, you will find that they look shockingly alike except for hair and eye color. However, since there are some inappropriate pictures that will no doubt pop up, actress Amber Heard looks quite like the Fee.

The appearance of the Rose's pirates were inspired by Howard Pyle's 'Flying Dutchman'. The creepy, soggy appearance of the sailors always gave me morbidly delightful shivers, and the glare of the man in the middle (presumably Davy Jones), helped me create the aura I wanted Pepin to have. If you ever get the chance, definitely buy a book of Howard Pyle's illustrations. They are excellent for story inspiration.

Of Pirates

There were a LOT of questions asking about the pirate theme of Esprit de la Rose and why I chose that. Well, I explained as best I could. I don't fully know the reason. I have always LOVED learning about pirates. I've always been a tad obsessed with pirates stories, legends, movies, and history. Still, I don't completely know why I chose this over my usual genre of fantasy (though there are fantastical elements in Esprit as well).

I DO know one of the inspirations for the Esprit de la Rose. It was too complicated to try to explain during the launch party, so I didn't mention it, but I believe it might have been the back-bone of everything Esprit stands for. 

I was watching the 'Behind-The-Scenes' extras for the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie once when I was probably around thirteen (yes, I'm THAT person), and Geoffrey Rush, the actor who portrayed Barbossa, said something about pirates that always stuck with me. I don't remember the exact quote, but he basically said that yes, pirates are incredibly exciting to read about, to watch, to fantasize about, but the reality of piracy was a very grim and terrible thing. They hurt other people, obviously, it wasn't just fun and games, but being a pirate would also be grim. Becoming a pirate meant forever ostracizing yourself from the rest of the world, it meant abandoning any hope for basic morality to be shown to you. It meant constantly battling betrayal, sickness, and a no-doubt early death without anyone who cared about you.

This surprised me. I had taken for granted the fantasy that a couple hundred years can give a reality. I remember wishing that someone would write a pirate story that was "real", not just exciting.

The pirates of Esprit de la Rose are faced with questions of morality, while the Fee, like the rest of society, looks down in judgment. I tried to tap into the "realness" of what being a pirate meant through the fantastical elements of the Fee's world. Perhaps that defeated the purpose, but it really was interesting to think about what would happen if a group of people, who have already basically signed away their right to be moral and to have proper justice, are forced to face a morally ambiguous dilemma posed to them by the people who will kill them if they make the wrong choice. And then, there are the added complications of the people who did NOT choose a pirate's life, but were forced into it. During the 1700's, many soldiers found themselves turned into pirates because, after whatever war they had fought in finished, their countries would simply drop them off and offer them no other means to support themselves. Several of the characters are forced into piratical situations through no fault of their own. It was interesting to see how they reacted to the moral dilemma. 

Thanks for reading! If you haven't yet, feel free to check out Five Enchanted Roses on Amazon. (click HERE). And don't forget to visit Anne Elisabeth Stengl's blog for launch week interviews (click HERE).

Monday, July 27, 2015

Five Enchanted Roses: Launch Day!

It's finally here!

I am so excited and so pleased to share that Five Enchanted Roses releases today!

I am literally shaking with excitement.

Like, it's hard-to-write-a-paragraph-shaking because even my eyeballs seem to be shaking so I can't read properly.

So! Since I clearly am not going to be profound today... how about some info?

What exactly is in Five Enchanted Roses?

Well, the collection starts off with my retelling, Esprit de la Rose. To learn more about it along with an awesome giveaway, go check out Anne Elisabeth Stengl's blog post HERE.

Wither by Savannah Jezowski follows, which introduces the world to the most eerily attractive Beast ever. Attractive as in, character/personality-attractive. Although... the pale skin and eye thing is pretty boss too... I'm just going to shut up now, shall I? It also has an epic story, a fascinating fantasy world, and plenty of immersive dialogue, but the characters are truly the Thing that makes the story soar into the heights of awesomeness. Corwin and Lilybet are so compelling I would not mind reading an entire novel of them doing nothing but shop for groceries. And seeing as Wither is far more interesting than grocery shopping, it makes for one incredible read.

Then comes Stone Curse by Jenelle Schmidt! Well, since I already dashed any reader expectations of profundity with my above paragraph, I'll go ahead and say that Stone Curse has the CUTEST PAIRING EVERRR!!!! OTP. Definitely my OTP of the collection. On a more serious note, Stone Curse manages to twist and turn the tale of Beauty and the Beast at every angle, from the plot, to the characters, to the motivation, to the themes, that it is astounding the tale is as readable as it is. It tricks you into thinking the original Beauty and the Beast tale had it all wrong, and Stone Curse is the correct version. The characters are amazing, and the fantasy world is simultaneously vibrant and comfortable.

Rosara and the Jungle King by Dorian Tsukioka! Of all of the stories, this is the one that, to me, felt least like a Beauty and the Beast story, and yet, it seemed the most "fairy tale" in the telling. The plot was very decisive; there was nothing vague left to the reader's interpretation. Like a fairy tale, it had a moral that seemed fairly obvious at first, but grows deeper and more complex with the more thought that is put into it. I loved this story, with it's zany characters, unique setting, and dire stakes. I need a prequel. And a sequel. In fact, I need an entire Rosara series. Now.

And finally, The Wulver's Rose by Hayden Wand. This story technically stays truest to the original tale while simultaneously filling in the gaps where the original is lacking. I say 'technically' because the genius of The Wulver's Rose lies in the fact that the focus of the story was changed from the original. Instead of being a story that centers on two characters, it draws in the added depth and emotion that a family always brings. I knew the ending to Beauty and Beast's story in The Wulver's Rose, but I did not know the fate of the families involved, which kept the mystery and plot compelling. The writing style is beautiful, bringing to mind the diction of Austen and Thackeray.

It's a pretty darn awesome collection, if I do say so myself. Be sure to take a peek at it on Amazon HERE.

AND, you are all officially invited to the Five Enchanted Roses launch party tonight! It starts at 7:00pm eastern time on Facebook. Check it out HERE!

Don't forget to check out Anne Elisabeth's blog every day this week! Each day, she's interviewing one of the my fellow authoresses. Trust me, you won't want to miss out on the chance to learn more about them and their stories!

Thanks for your support! I hope you have as much fun reading Five Enchanted Roses as I did working on my little piece of it. ^_^

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ring Around the Rose: Of Themes

Here it is! The final Ring Around the Rose! I'm feeling a bit sad, aren't you?

What are your thoughts on the themes in Beauty and the Beast? And which version of Beauty and the Beast is your favorite?

Beauty and the Beast has always been a story very near and dear to my heart. No doubt like many others, my first introduction to the story was Disney's interpretation of the classic tale, which also happens to still be my favorite retelling. Disney did an incredible job adapting the story to the screen, making is accessible for modern audiences, and staying true to- while also rounding out- the themes in the original.

I could go on and on about the various themes and my thoughts on them, but for the sake of your eyeball health (staring at a screen too long is bad for you, ya know), I'm going to focus on the theme that has affected me the most and how it is incorporated into Esprit de la Rose (don't worry, there are no spoilers).

Being Different

Before Annabeth Chase, Katniss Everdeen, and Hermione Granger, there was Belle. As a bookish, curious, stubborn little six-year old, seeing one of the Disney princesses act like me was so comforting. At six, my feelings were, naturally, shallow. It was nice to see a Disney princess with brown hair. It was nice to see a Disney princess who liked horses. It was nice to see a Disney princess who preferred books over princes. But as I reached middle-school, I began to realize why Belle was truly comforting.

It was because she was different. She was different from the town's folks; they sing an entire musical number about it. She was different from Gaston, who attempts to force her into his idealized version of what women ought to be. She was even different from the Beast, but that's okay, because he actually respects the things that make her different.

Her differences eventually bring her a much better ending than the rest of the townsfolk- she falls in love with a man who respects and loves her, she continues to be herself, and she lives in a great big castle with a library.

Keeping this in mind, little twelve-year old me would smirk. Ha, I'd think. Belle was different and smart and she had an awesome ending to her story. Just wait and see what the people who bully me think when I have an awesome ending and they don't.

Then you grow up some more, and you discover something much deeper and darker concerning being different.

The fact that Belle was different caused the towns people to mock her. She was isolated and friendless. She had no one to talk to. Worse, narrow-minded thugs like Gaston grew determined to destroy the things that made her different.

The fact that Maurice was different caused the towns people to mock him. He was ridiculed and cruelly treated. The people laughed as he was thrust into an insane asylum wagon.

The fact that Beast was different caused people to fear and hate him. They spread rumors and lies about him based on his appearance. They stormed his home and attempted to kill him. They took advantage of his mercy and still tried to destroy him.

Yes, Belle's story ended happily. But being different comes at a very high price. Eventually, you have to take a moment and ponder if it is actually worth it. Is it better to live under the illusion of happiness at the expense of being yourself, or is it better to be yourself for the chance of being truly happy?

The answer seems obvious, but it actually took me a long time to consider it.

I've made the right choice.

Being different- physically, mentally, and emotionally- is a major theme of Esprit. It was great fun creating a cast of characters with many, many different backgrounds, beliefs, personalities, and quirks, then essentially thrusting them into the same situation. Then all I had to do was sit back and watch the fireworks. In a more serious vein, the main theme of Esprit is grace. Why is grace necessary? Because we are not all the same. Grace is necessary for moral issues, like broken trust or backstabbing. But it is also necessary for more petty issues; I think cats are obnoxious, you love cats and are a bit annoyed at my opinion. In the latter case, grace is necessary because differences are necessary.

The villains, the Fee, of Esprit strive to make everyone fit into their little box. They want to rip away the differences, be it a difference in opinion, physical attribute, situation, anything. They despise different people.

I've learned to accept being different. I've learned to enjoy being different. I hope my thoughts on this particular theme come out in Esprit de la Rose.

Thanks to everyone who participated in Ring Around the Rose! Be sure to check out Savannah's post on Tuesday!

(I'm sorry for posting this on Sunday instead of Monday. Ya see, I have college orientation on Monday so I would not have been able to post it then. And I have no clue how the heck the little "schedule post" thingy is supposed to work.)