I’ve been working a new novella that’s set in imaginary Lauele, Hawaii. It’s going into a boxed set of novellas by the Fairy Tale Ink authors, this one called Fractured Sea, that retells the classic Little Mermaid fairy tale. It seems like a perfect fit for my stories of Niuhi, sharks that can appear as people, right?
Wrong. So wrong.
This has been the most difficult piece I’ve ever written. The story has fought me at every turn, refusing to fit into the mold of a Western fairy tale. I’ve struggled, writing and rewriting, and eventually throwing out 90% of what was in my original manuscript. I’ve wanted to quit and then feared I’d have to because for the first time in my life I COULDN’T DELIVER.
But then, finally, at 2 am Monday morning, it clicked. I stopped trying to write the story I thought I needed to tell and started listening to the story that wanted to be spoken. I’m behind, desperately behind, but I think I see the way through and that’s more than half the battle.
While there are elements that can be mapped to the Little Mermaid, it’s much more a story about ocean ecology, colonialism, tourism, personal sacrifice, and how a wise ocean god plans for his people’s future. There are analogies and metaphors that I hope will lead readers to think more deeply about the relationships they have with both the mundane and the supernatural.
I know it’s a little ambitious and probably ridiculous to cram all of this in a story that readers are expecting to be a fluffy romance about unrequited love, but apparently these are the kinds of mo’olelo–of stories–that resonate with me.
And I can only write the words I’m given. The stories are always a gift.
Today I ran across a TedxManoa talk given by Brandy McDougall back in 2012. (Click to view her talk.) I wish I’d seen it sooner. It speaks to the need of writing stories, our stories, as a political and cultural narrative.
The stories are always a gift.
What do you do when you’re a matchmaker with an iron-clad wish-fulfillment contract to make Rellie’s happily ever after happen with the heir to the throne of Somewhere, but not only is the prince unwilling, he’s gone missing and the new-found love of your life has to fill in? What if true love had a darker side, a potion that compels love to seal the forever after deal? And what if Rellie didn’t like glass slippers and wanted something furry?
Add in Bubbles the boss from hell, fairy wings, and entrance packages with firework flourishes and you’ve got a glimpse into Kate’s less than glamorous life as a fairy godmother.
Fairy Godmothers, Inc. by Jenniffer Wardell is a rollicking romp through familiar fairy tale characters and landscapes with a bureaucratic twist. Slipping into Kate’s wacky corporate world is delightful; the writing’s sharp and reminiscent of PG versions of The Nanny Diaries and Bridget Jones’s Diary. As Kate rallies against fate, contracts, and clients readers will fall in love with her plucky bravado.
Fairy Godmothers, Inc. is the first published novel set in Jenniffer’s fairy tale/super hero/monsters-that-don’t-sparkle world. Beast Charming is scheduled for 2014 and there are several short stories on her blog that give you a taste of her hilarious work.
Fairy Godmothers, Inc., by Jenniffer Wardell and published by Jolly Fish Press, is available April 27, 2013 in hardback, paperback, and eBook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other purveyors of fine literature.