The birth of the book|
One night in the spring of 2003, I lay in bed reading the Grimms’ Fairy Tales. I was drafting my second book, enna burning, and wanted to seek inspiration from the old tales. That was the first time I discovered “Maid Maleen.” It’s the story of a noble lady who refuses to marry a rich king because she’s in love with a prince. In anger, her father locks his daughter and her maid in a tower for seven years.
It was a fairly interesting tale, had nice story movement and other fairy tale curiosities that caught my interest. I might have just enjoyed it and moved on, never thinking much of it again, if not for one thing—the maid. What did she do to deserve such punishment? How did she feel about being locked away? What was the relationship between her and her mistress during all that time they spent in the tower? The Brothers Grimm drop her from the story about half way through, and I got pretty irritated with them about that. I wanted to hear more about her, what happened next, and if she ever found a happily-ever-after. So I kept mulling over the tale, asking myself questions, taking notes. The more I thought, the more frustrated I felt. That’s how I know when I’ve got a story worth pursuing—if the story is satisfying, there’s nothing more for me to say, but if it frustrates me, the storyteller part of my brain starts to work to resolve it, and slowly I find myself with another novel to write.
Fall of 2005, I began writing what I then called Diary of a Lady’s Maid, telling the story in diary format from the maid’s point-of-view. While I took great inspiration from “Maid Maleen,” I deviated dramatically from the original tale in order to find the maid’s story. It was a wonderful exercise for me, to explore a new landscape, write in a new format, pull on an ancient tale but find a new one inside it. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so attached to any character as I was to Dashti the lady’s maid. This was an incredibly rewarding book to create.
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