Chatting (Again!) with Caroline Lee!
Now, you may recall five days ago when Ms. Lee was kind enough to let me ask her some questions about the 12 Mail-Order Brides of Christmas series. While we were at it, we talked a bit about Everland, too!
Me: As someone who just adores the EVERLAND EVER AFTER series, where did the original inspiration for it come from? (Are you a fan of "Once Upon a Time"?) :)
Caroline: I actually make a point to not watch other fairy tale re-imaginings, just because I don’t want to accidentally steal anything! And I don’t know if I could tell you where I came up with the idea…I’ve actually tried to remember, but I can’t! It’s like it just popped into my head: What do people like that I can combine with the Old West? Cinderella! That was my first book, and it went from there. I did Little Red next (even though it technically comes first, so that became book one), then Beauty… now I have nine fairy tales, some more obscure than others.
Me: I appreciated the way you brought in Snow-White and Rose Red for ROSE RED - because it's a fairytale that doesn't always get attention. Did you think of it and immediately go, "Oh, a wounded hero in a barn!" which is such a delightful and classic western trope?
Caroline: When I’m plotting each Everland book, I try to distill each fairy tale down to its basic elements. In the original Snow White and Rose Red tale, there’s a wounded bear who the sisters care for all winter (instead of, you know, assuming it’ll eat them, like any normal person…). In the spring, the bear turns into a Prince (who had an evil spell cast on him, etc. etc.) and marries one of the sisters as a reward. Well, I knew I couldn’t do shapeshifting, because the magic in Everland is more coincidental magic—things that maybe just happened by coincidence, but with perfect timing, that sorta thing. So I distilled the tale down to the basic element: A figure who appears evil/bad/negative, and the heroine cares for him even while thinking he’s evil/bad…only to discover his “goodness” as part of the reward/climax. As for the “Wounded hero in the barn”… I just needed a place to stick my bear for Rose’s care, without her horrible mother learning about him!
Me: What are your holiday traditions?
Caroline: We have a “Countdown to Christmas” box, with 24 little drawers. Each drawer has a finger puppet I made years ago, and a discussion question (sometimes a piece of candy!), and the boys open them one each night starting December 1. We also wrap 24 kids’ Christmas books and stick them under the tree, so each night in December they get to open one and we read it that night. It’s the same books each year, but they don’t get to read those any other time of the year. I’m excited to see how Princess Wiggles does this year with our traditions—it’s her first Christmas! (She’ll turn one on December 28th—where did the year go?)
Me: Any hints as to what is to come in EVERLAND?
Caroline: Snow White is finally getting her story! Look for Snow in early 2018, and it’ll set up some important elements for Everland’s future. I need to tie together the orphanage and the Gypsy magic (introduced by Daj in The Mermaid) with the Guild of Godmothers…because soon you’ll get to read about contemporary Everland! The Guild is still active in modern days, of course, only they’ve had to be a little sneakier. ☺