On reworking an old fairy tale

I’ve been in a terrible mood this last year… writing has been largely like pulling teeth. The WIP I’ve been working on (Charlie) had me neck deep in research to the point where I wasn’t writing at all for days. So, I decided to stitch together an ode to my favourite odd couple, Beauty and the Beast, to cheer myself up.

My mom read a lot to me as a kid. All kinds of books… but I tended to gravitate towards this one illustrated copy of Beauty and the Beast (Deborah Apy) based on the 1756 version by Madame Le Prince de Beaumont that I mentioned in my last post.

I still have the book… it’s a little tattered and torn and the pages have darkened a bit, and the illustrations have gone murkier than they were before, but it’s what I consider one of my few cherished possessions. I loved the fact that the castle was immense and empty. I loved the idea of the mysterious hidden garden. It made me laugh how terribly angsty and melodramatic the Beast was… and it creeped me out to no end that he would stand there staring at Beauty while she slept: “…the Beast walked to the side of Beauty’s bed and looked at her longingly. He stood this way, for many hours, blood dripping from his hands.”

One of the most amusing parts was that in all the illustrations, the Beast was always done up in what looked like fancy bathrobes.

©1980 and 1983 by Michael Hague

The story was weird and I loved it. But, it wasn’t without its faults… for one, Beauty was a complete airhead. It made me wonder, more and more as I got older, what the Beast saw in her. I also didn’t like the nightly marriage proposals.

Oh… and I hated these two:

©1980 and 1983 by Michael Hague

Adele and Jeanette, Beauty’s sisters, two utterly despicable creatures. I never got why they were so horrible to Beauty… but then, that’s the nature of a lot of fairy tales—you have little backstory and characterizations tend to be exaggerated.

I could have gone dark with my version (and I may yet one day) but I wanted the first out of my fairy tale collection (because yes… there are more) to be a nice break from the seriousness of other things I’m writing, a break from the atrocities happening in the world, and something to put a smile on my face. And it worked. I love this silly story. :)

It’s a mix of the Apy/Beaumont version and the Disney one. I actually considered putting in a Gaston type character, but it felt superfluous. Instead, I went with a small cast, stuck close to the original Beauty and the Beast plot but added the much needed comic relief that the Disney version brought with the talking furniture sidekicks crossed with those from The Black Hole: A Spaceship Adventure for Robots. Then I filled it with sci fi and fantasy movie references and made the sisters a wee bit less evil. Oh and Juniper Bo might not be the bookworm that Belle is in the Disney version, but he’s definitely not the birdbrain that is Apy’s Beauty… and Marrex is a touch less melodramatic than Apy’s Beast. ;)

©1980 and 1983 by Michael Hague

Anyway, Beauty and His Beast available now at Amazon for kindle and in Paperback, and it’s in Kindle Unlimited for the time being. Michael Ferraiuolo will be doing the audiobook narration and that should be available in the new year.

If you’re interested in the version with Hague’s illustrations, you can find it at AbeBooks or at Amazon.

Hopefully my next book will be along shortly… Will it be Charlie? Or will it be something else I’ve been writing called The Blacksmith’s Apprentice?

 

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