Today YA author Suzanne Selfors is here to discuss the inspiration for her latest novel, The Sweetest Spell. Suzanne is also the author of Coffeehouse Angel and Saving Juliet. You can contact her by e-mail if you so wish.
I don’t know why it took me this long to finally write a fairy tale. But writing The Sweetest Spell was a blast from the first word to the last, in part because I grew up on fairy tales. I guess the happily-ever-after formula is cemented in my story-craving brain. But I love the idea of playing with the formula, giving it a modern twist, messing things up.
Like many fairy tales, my story is about transformation. Cinderella, The Ugly Duckling, Beauty and the Beast are examples of such stories in which the unloved (Cinderella)/ugly (Duckling)/ selfish (Beast) hero becomes loveable/beautiful/selfless. My Ugly Duckling is a peasant girl named Emmeline Thistle. Born with a clubfoot, and born to the lowest economic class in the kingdom of Anglund, this dirt-scratcher girl is shunned by everyone. She is unwanted and unloved.
But, like most heroes, Emmeline discovers a secret about herself. She has the mysterious and rare ability to churn cream into chocolate, a substance that exists only in legend. A substance that is desired by everyone, including the royal family. And so, Emmeline Thistle is transformed from the most unwanted girl in the kingdom to the most desired. The duckling becomes a swan. The slave becomes a princess.
Though there is much comedy, romance and adventure in this story, there was one darker issue I wanted to explore – greed. With our economy in the tank and corporate greed gone wild, this seemed like the perfect time to explore such an issue. And it felt much more appealing to do so in a make-believe kingdom, where tax collectors control the population, and the king and queen exploit the peasants. Emmeline is one of those peasants. She’s a dirt-scratcher. She is poor and homeless. All that changes when she begins to make chocolate. But this blessing turns out to be a challenge and she’s faced with a dilemma. When you have something everyone wants, do you sell it to the highest bidder, even if that means going against your values? Do you choose comfort over integrity? This was the question I wanted to explore.
Of course, I didn’t forget about the boys. You can’t have a fairy tale without some strapping hunks. They’re in there too.