Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Guest Author: India Grey

Winners: Thanks for the great discussion everyone. I've run the random numbers and the winners are listed below. Congratulations!! Please email me your address at nalinisinghwrites AT gmail DOT com so I can pass it on to India.

Chelsea B (Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire’s Pleasure )
Manders (Spanish Aristocrat, Forced Bride)
Marilyn Shoemaker (Powerful Italian, Penniless Housekeeper)

I posted a couple of weeks ago about how much I enjoyed India Grey's novel Powerful Italian, Penniless Housekeeper. And as you all know by now, when I love a book, I find ways to stalk contact the author ;-)

India was gra
cious enough to agree to guest on the blog today, and she's come bearing gifts. Please welcome India to the blog everyone!

Fairy Tales
by India Grey

Each year as Valentine’s Day looms I usually find myself doing interviews with journalists who are after some kind of ‘expert comment’ on the whole soft-focus hearts-and-flowers-and-chocolates thing. I’m absolutely not complaining: writing is a seriously lonely business and usually my day is broken up only by conversation (mostly one-sided) with the cat, so the opportunity to talk to a real person is always hugely welcome. The trouble is I often feel a bit of a fake. These poor journalists, harassed by editors and struggling with deadlines and word count are mostly under the impression that I write stories about swooning heroines being swept off their tiny feet by identikit strong-jawed heroes and carried into the pink sunset. Along a beach. With violins playing in the background. And I hate having to disabuse them.

I think of the books I write as being modern day fairy tales for grown ups, and as anyone who has ever read a genuine, un-Disneyfied fairy tale knows, pink and fluffy just doesn’t come into it. In fact, it’s pretty bizarre that the term ‘fairy tale’ has become some kind of shorthand for airbrushed,
rose-tinted perfection (celebrities have ‘fairy tale’ weddings and live in ‘fairy tale’ houses) because perfection was the last thing I expected as a little girl when I opened my book of fairy tales.

Cruelty, loss, pain, suffering; those were the things that hooked me in and kept me turning the pages. It wasn’t so much Cinderella’s beautiful dress when she went to the ball or Rapunzel’s envy-inducing hair (although I did desperately want to grow mine that long) that brought me back to those stories time and time again, but the shivery horror at the thought of being orphaned and banished to the cellar as a slave in your own home, or sent to the forest to have your heart cut out as a punishment for being too beautiful. It was the tormented roar of the Beast and the yellow glint of the wolf’s eyes… and the strange mixture of feelings they stirred up that made me a seven-bedtimes-a-week fairy-tale junkie.

As an otherwise well-adjusted child I’m not sure exactly what it was about those things that gripped my imagination so fiercely that I can still feel its hold all these years later. Perhaps it was the way the stories played powerfully on the most basic fears all children have, of being abandoned and unloved. Perhaps it had something to do with the illustrations of the kind of dramatic, gothic settings which I now love using in my books – a huge, dark mansion with its miles of shadowy corridors, a crumbling stone tower in the middle of a lake, a house in a forest of silent, towering pine trees. Perhaps it was the whisper of sex – an echo of the explicit x-rated elements that were part of the stories hundreds of years earlier and which still curl, smoke-like, between the simply-written lines, so that I instinctively understood why the prince climbed Rapunzel’s hair to get into the tower and what drew Beauty to the compelling, disturbing beast. (And wanted to know more!)

Or maybe it was the seductive promise of the Happy Ever After that turned me into a fairy tale addict and fledgling romantic novelist. Society has changed beyond recognition since the days when stories were recited around the fire on endless winter evenings – when darkness and illiteracy meant people couldn’t read to entertain themselves, and a lack of central heating and Desperate Housewives ensured they were a captive audience – but people are essentially the same. We might live in an age of science and street lighting but deep down there’s a part of all of us that’s still afraid of the wolf and the dark woods. And still so wants to believe in happy endings.

In the books I write the Happy Ever After has nothing to do with magic wands and miracle cures – in fact, you could almost say it’s the antithesis of the fairy tale because it has to feel utterly, absolutely real. It’s about being accepted and loved as you are, flawed and vulnerable. And feeling whole and invincible through being loved.

What’s your best-loved fairy tale, or the element from one that made the biggest impression on you as a child?

I’ve raided my bookshelf and pulled out three of my books with fairy-tale influences to give away* to three random commenters (because three is the magic num
ber!) Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire’s Pleasure (Beauty and the Beast), Spanish Aristocrat, Forced Bride, (Rapunzel), and Powerful Italian, Penniless Housekeeper (Cinderella).

Thanks for having me Nalini!

India's Website: http://www.indiagrey.com/
India's Blog: http://indiagrey.blogspot.com/

*Giveaway closes Wednesday 24 Feb, 2010 @6pm New Zealand time. Please make sure to check back to see if you've won!


Gail said...

I have a soft spot for East of the Sun, West of the Moon (i kissing cousin of Beauty and the Beast). Which has seen a nice resurgence in past couple of years.

Blodeuedd said...

I see my tale went already, I like that one too, East of the sun, west of the moon and the different versions that are around.

Love a good HEA :D

Laurann Dohner said...

I would have to go with beauty and the beast as my favorite fairy tale. The fact that she could see beyond the outer image to the man below the fur... made me sigh in romantic bliss. LOL. Terrific blog post!

meljean brook said...

(Don't enter me, because I have all of these books.)

I love, love India's work. Her debut blew me away and I've been a rabid fan ever since.

And I've just got to plug her blog -- she's got one of the funniest out there.

Meljean :-)

Nalini Singh said...

I've just "found" India, so I'm really looking forward to catching up on her work!

Thanks for guesting here today, India!

India said...

Gail and Blodeudd - thanks for reminding me of that one. I had it in one of my many fairy tale collections when I was small but had all but forgotten it. (Can remember the pictures though, now you've reminded me.) I must get my hands on a copy again - I wonder where the original went?

Laurann, that's definitely one of my favourites too. I like that it's scary and disturbing, but - as you say - somehow deeply romantic. And the setting is SO good. Endlessly inspiring!

Meljean, so cool to see you here! Thanks for the lovely support - the fandom is entirely mutual!

Thanks Nalini for inviting me - it's a huge privilege to be stalked by you!)(And I'm not sure there's many people I could say that of...) (Is that a very badly constructed sentence?)

Willa said...

Fairytale? Well the Three Little Pigs was a favourite as was Goldilocks, although I liked the Three Bears better than her! Was sooo not into romance when I was young!

Now - Beauty and The Beast stories are a fave - to look beneath the surface and see the heart of a person.

Nalini is a great stalker isn't she?! Her court appearance is next week. *Grin*

s7anna said...

I love an adult take on fairy tales...takes it to a whole another dimension...My fave all-time fairy tale is Beauty & the Beast.

Happy Reading
Anna Shah Hoque

Jen said...

My favorite is Beauty and the Beast followed closely by Cinderella.

Nothing beats a HEA.

Chelsea B. said...

I always, ALWAYS adored Beauty and the Beast! I thought it was the ultimate love story :-)

India said...

Willa, one of my daughters is like that - totally wanting the action and comedy and none of the soppiness!

S7anna, Jen and Chelsea - I'm thrilled that I'm not alone in loving that story. It's clearly got a powerful pull which I'm definitely going to explore further now I know how many of us feel it. And in the meantime, check out what I found!
New film version! (Alex Pettyfer is beeyoutiful...)

becky4444 said...

I have always had a soft spot for The Little Mermaid - I just think the story is very romantic! Head strong woman falls for sweet and handsome prince. He loves her enough to fight for her. Makes me happy :)

Diane said...

Beauty and the Beast. I used to watch the show with Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman, would not go out on that night, or taped the show. I haven't seen re runs yet but I'm sure sooner or later there will be.

Julie said...

Another vote for Beauty and the Beast! :) Although I'd always be secretly a bit disappointed whenever he turned back into the Prince in the Disney version. ;)

Spav said...

I loved Aladin. I don't know if it's considered a faery tale, but I loved the genie, the flying rugs,... and the story between Ali and Yasmine.

Ang from Oz said...

Favorite fairy tales?? Well Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella are high on my list! I would love to win!

Linda Henderson said...

I've always loved Sleeping Beauty. I always found it so romantic that the prince would go to such lengths to save his love.

Christine M. said...

Definitely Disney's Beauty and the Beast! Belle's got brains and she can see beyond what the Beast actually wants to show her of himself. <3

mariska said...

Beauty and the Beast is my all time favorite. In fact I'm still adore this fairy tale till now :)

Amanda Holly said...

As I'm severely sleep depraved right now I'd have to say Sleeping Beauty! The idea of sleeping so peacefully and being woken up by the kiss of a handsome prince ... oooh!

I love, love, love India's work and am now a fan of her stalker! :-)

India said...

Just about waking up here (or trying to... need another cup of tea!) It's great to come back and read all your comments. Becky - that's a really interesting one and I love it too, because it involves such an agonising choice for her and is one of those stories where you suffer right there alongside your heroine. I had a version (could have been the original H C Andersen one) where it said that every step the Little Mermaid took on land was like walking on sharpened knives, which really made an impression on me.

Diane - I haven't seen that (so will be glued to youtube all day, no doubt) Thanks for the tip off!

Julie and Christine, it's interesting that you raised the point about Disney because I wanted to ask whether you thought Disney had taken the magic out of the stories, or added a whole lot more? I discovered fairy tales through books but my daughters, growing up in the age of video, had their impressions shaped much more by the films. The Disney version of Beauty and the Beast is good because it combines a bit of a Bluebeard element in that he forbids her to go into certain rooms in the castle. I like that.

Spav, I'd say Aladin definitely counts! You're right - it's SO romantic - the ultimate love against the odds story. And the desert setting and sexy clothes (have an image in my head of Aladin's bare chest now!) don't hurt either. Good choice!

Ang, I love your profile picture! And glad to see Cinderella get a mention too!

Linda, I love that one too, and the forest of thorns is such a powerful image. I also love the idea that we're all half-sleeping until we meet the one person who can make us come alive. (With a kiss, of course.)

Mariska, welcome to the Beauty and the Beast camp - you clearly have excellent taste. I really thought that Cinderella might be the most popular choice, so it's really interesting to me that this story is special to so many people. Thanks for sharing.

Hello Amanda - lovely to see you here! Ha - you're right about the huge appeal of a long, long sleep and the kiss of a handsome man at the end of it, but right now I'd settle for a lovely cup of tea instead. Isn't real life disappointing!

Fuarie Ai said...

mmmm Fairy tale fairy tale....I have no clue really but I was always hit by stories like Romeo and Juliet Forbidden love is always great...

Theft and Cobbler status almost....was that a fairytale? What about....I just don't know but my head is swimming with a ton of disney movies.

Rachel said...

Dear India,

Does Enid Blyton's The Magic Faraway Tree count? Or The Wishing Chair? Or am I a serious literary lightweight?!

Enter me not in the draw though, oh goddess of romance. I have them ALL.

Lots of love,


Abby Green said...

India, great blog, you capture the appeal of fairytales so well! I used to drive my aunt mad when I was small begging her to tell me fairytales over and over again.
Don't enter me for the comp - am already a HUGE fan of India's books, she's a star..

dobby said...

Another vote for Beauty and the Beast. I absolutely love Belle who was a bookworm and who looked beyond the surface. Great fairytale.

And also Mulan. Who doesn't love a strong kick-ass heroine who manages to save the day and the hero? I don't know if Mulan counts as a fairy tale, though.

India said...

I'm with you on being a total sucker for a forbidden love story Fuarie Ai, and Romeo and Juliet is the ultimate. I guess the main difference between it and a fairy tale is that there is no happy ever after.

Rach, Enid Blyton doesn't count because it's all too NICE! Nothing like a good old dose of abuse and neglect and violence in a childrens' story, I say! (And from that TV programme in the autumn I think Enid B just saved all that for her own children in real life...?)

Abby, I bet you were insanely sweet as a little girl - I can't imagine anyone saying no to you. Bet your aunt was putty in your hands, but now you have to return the favour by reading your god-daughter lots of fairy tales. Go out and buy her a big book of them right away!

Dobby, I took my eldest daughter to see the film of Mulan when it first came out. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it but I was absolutely captivated. It was so romantic and delicious and modern, and yet timeless. Even if it isn't quite a traditional fairy tale, I'm definitely letting it into our top five today!

Manders said...

I always have trouble deciding between Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty. I think both girls fall for the man under the beast/prince and I wish everyone could find their true love as in fairytales.

I look forward to finding your books India!

CrystalGB said...

My favorite faery tales are Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella.

Ingrid J. said...

Hmmm...fairy tales...Like many here I think Beauty and the Beast has always been a favorite of mine, as I identified with the book loving herione even as a small girl (started reading moms romances and anyhting else I could get my hands on by age 10):P And always looked deeper than the surface in others as I knew what it was like for others not to (was a pudgy quiet child that was relenlessly teased/ridiculed).

Ingrid J.

India said...

Manders, I agree - with your fairy tale choices, and the idea that we all deserve love like that. (wistful sigh.) Actually, that reminds me that no-one's mentioned the Princess and the Frog as a favourite... I must admit to me the frog wasn't nearly such an appealing disguise for the prince as the scary beast!

Great choices Crystal! (Does GB mean you're over here in the little old UK?)

Ingrid, I started reading romance at that age too, and like you loved the refuge it gave me from real life. I also read it because of promise if offered of future happiness, at a stage when it felt like I was always going to be invisible and fairly powerless to control anything. I think those are themes you find in fairy tales and romance novels a lot. Hope you're still reading them and feeling the love!

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

Sorry, a day late but I just have to say and India knows this, I'm such a fan and I've read everyone of her books.

Like Daisy, as a little girl I adored fairy tales and one birthday received Grimms Fairy Tales which I still have.

I loved Sleeping Beauty and the Frog and the Princess.

Shannon said...

Welcome India!

Hmmm, favorite fairy tales? I was mostly into Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, and the Three Little Pigs when I was young. But, I did like some love stories like...

Beauty and the Beast because even a beast can find love! LOL!

Cinderella because even the most unlikely person can find love with a prince!

Rapunzel because the outcome was good even if the prince had to use her hair to climb the tower. (I think I just liked her name.)

India said...

Marilyn, you're not late and it's lovely to see you. (Check me out, making myself right at home at Nalini's blog!) How lovely that you still have your Grimm's fairy tales - just goes to show what a fabulous, priceless gift it was. Every little girl should have one!

Shannon, did you use to wince when you got to that bit, imagining how painful it must be to have someone CLIMB your HAIR?! I did. I'm glad you mentioned Red Riding Hood, because although it's not a love story it does have quite sensual elements which I've used in my next novel (which is part of a continuity series and is called Emily's Innocence.) I had great fun playing around with the images from the book, so just hope it works...

Sue (okibi_insanity) said...

Well my mom was so tempted to name me after Snow White because I was such a pale child. I guess Snow White would have a huge impact in my life if I was actually name after her. As a child, I always been a big fan of The Little Mermaid. I enjoy being near a body of water.


Jen Dempsey said...

Haha, add my vote to Beauty and the Beast. I was never gaga over any of the other fairy tales growing up, but that one always got me.

Eshani said...

I really enjoyed your post :) I love how you described the appeal of fairy tales even to adults. I absolutely loved fairy tales as a child, and I think even now, one of my biggest draws to romance is that promise of happily ever after. One of my favorite fairy tales is Cindrella - I just love the idea of overcoming difficult circumstances and loneliness to find love and joy.

kaikes said...

One of Grimm's fairy tales that I've always loved was the Princess in Disguise. I think the reason that I loved it was because the princess was clever and the king was clever and it took a little time for them to fall in love and she sorta saved herself. It's the sort of romance that I still love to read about.

Shannon said...

India said: "Shannon, did you use to wince when you got to that bit, imagining how painful it must be to have someone CLIMB your HAIR?! I did. I'm glad you mentioned Red Riding Hood, because although it's not a love story it does have quite sensual elements which I've used in my next novel (which is part of a continuity series and is called Emily's Innocence.) I had great fun playing around with the images from the book, so just hope it works..."

I did use to wince at that part in Rapunzel. Climbing on someone's hair just is not pleasant, LOL!

I'll definitely have to "Emily Innocence," and your other novels for that matter because I'd love to see the sensual elements you have put in place, for sure!

India said...

Snap Sue! I'm not sure my mum was of enough of a romantic persuasion (both my parents were science grads) to think of naming me after Snow White, but growing up I sure identified with her because I shared her colouring - and there weren't that many pale role models in the sun-kissed 70s!

Jen, that's interesting. It's definitely a powerful story. I'm looking forward to getting hold of a couple of different versions and re-reading it now.

Thsnks Eshani! Who can resist a happy ever after? I loved the way you summed up Cinderella. Did you ever see the film 'The Slipper and the Rose'? It came out in the late 70s when I was little and my mum took me to the cinema to see it. I was totally, utterly gripped. Got hold of a DVD copy last year for my girls and was gripped all over again! (Them, not so much. Sigh.)

Kaikes - I don't know that one! It sounds fab so I'm going to go and google right now. (My amazon order is getting more expensive by the second...) Thanks for mentioning this one.

No - and if he was a big, muscular prince (as we'd have to hope he was, right?) it would have been pretty barbaric. Why didn't he bring a rope and throw it up to her?

'Emily's Innocence' is out in August I think. It's part of a continuity series called The Balfour Legacy, about 8 sisters/half-sisters. I didn't have much input into the actual plot outline but was able to put my own spin on its interpretation. The Red Riding Hood element struck me as being appropriate because it's a story about a young, innocent girl who unwittingly comes face to face with wickedness in the form of the wolf, who tries to tempt her away from the path and into the dark forest. It's an image I couldn't help returning to in the book (which has a young, innocent heroine and a wicked playboy prince as a hero. Not a wolf exactly, but close!)

Nalini Singh said...

Winners: Thanks for the great discussion everyone. I've run the random numbers and the winners are listed below. Congratulations!! Please email me your address at nalinisinghwrites AT gmail DOT com so I can pass it on to India.

- Chelsea B (Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire’s Pleasure )
- Manders (Spanish Aristocrat, Forced Bride)
- Marilyn Shoemaker (Powerful Italian, Penniless Housekeeper)

s7anna said...

Congratulations to all the winners!!!

Chelsea B. said...

Thank you very much! I sent an email!