You’ve retold so many classic tales in a new context. How do you go about choosing which classic tale to use each time?
It varies. Sometimes I start to get a story idea based on a fairy tale, and I adapt it to the characters I have picked out to “act” in the story. And other times I have a character in mind and I try to think of which fairy tale will best suit them to “star” in.
Can you walk us through the process of tearing down the original and then rebuilding it into something that’s your own?
I pick and choose the elements of the original fairy tale that I like and I think of how to make those elements work in a realistic, historically accurate story. Sometimes when I’m plotting and I get stuck, I think back on the “spirit” of the original fairy tale and the elements of the story. Sometimes that will give me an idea I can incorporate into my story.
Any of these tales that you’ve wanted to do but haven’t figured out how to crack it yet?
Yes, several. I haven’t figured out how to do Rumplestiltskin, Twelve Dancing Princesses, or Little Red Riding Hood. These and other fairy tales don’t have a romance element to them, and without romance, it’s impossible to please me, if you will forgive the reference. But I’m doing a story based on The Wild Swans, which has no romance, so it doesn’t mean I won’t ever figure out how to do those.
How much of what you do is “speculative” (you’re inventing a world) vs. “historical” (it’s a real place, you just have to do the research)? How much work does it take to create the world of each book?
I try very hard to be historically accurate to the time period, the geographical area, and the political climate of the place and time. However, I do invent most of the towns in which I set my stories so that I won’t have to do quite as much research.
Click thru to discover what ties together Melanie’s novels…