Monday, November 12, 2012

Guest Post: Inspiration by Charlotte Henley Babb

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How far back does the inspiration go? All the way back.

My mother told me fairy tales when I was little—the Charles Perrault versions that are the most popular, and are the ones the Grimm brothers collected from their neighbors. The very first toy I ever remembered wishing for was a baby doll dressed as a pink fairy with wings, but my mom didn't know that, and I didn't get it, even though she worked at the store where it was hanging in a display. I was three years old.

I remember watching Rocky and Bullwinkle when I was eight or ten and wondering if the government knew what the stories were about and how the writers got away with the satire. The stories were very silly, of course, but they pointed out how stupid people could be. And, of course, there were the fractured fairy tales with the snarky narration by Edward Everett Horton. It wasn't so much that the stories were funny, but that they had a wise and knowing twist.

I wear size 11W shoes, usually Birkenstocks 42R. Even as a young woman, my feet were too big for cute shoes. Shopping for clothing was a humiliating experience of being the wrong size and the wrong shape. I felt sorry for Cinderella's ugly sisters who did not have a magical helper to make them clothing that fit perfectly. I learned to sew from my mom, who made a lot of my clothing.

Maven, my main character came to me when I was first playing on the electronic bulletin boards back in the 80s, before the internet was invented. That character developed into Belle, the mistress of the Twilight Lounge, but the name Maven, a word that means a person of specialized and esoteric knowledge, settled on a fairy godmother character who always fractured fairy tales.

I commented one day that as an adjunct English instructor in a community college, I felt like a fairy godmother who had classes full of budding princes and princesses, and my job was to help them transform themselves.  My own life was falling apart at the same time. My first marriage failed, my second ended in widowhood, and then I fell into infatuation with a coworker while working through bankruptcy, depression and my daughter's teen years.

Clearly, I was in no position to write romance. So I wrote about a woman at the end of her rope, who at the time looked a lot like me. At first, I wrote about her adventures after she became a fairy godmother, but when I started studying goddess lore with a teacher, I was convinced to start the story at the beginning, which lead me to write about the events happening in my life. The story I set out to tell will probably be the fourth book in the series, and the first few chapters of it have been written, along with bits and pieces from the third title, as I am outlining the second.

The more I studied goddess lore, the more I began to look into fairy tales to find the older versions, the originals, the less sanitized and Christianized versions. I've learned that our popular fairy tales are fairly modern, dating from the 1600s, like the translation of the King James Bible, and they represent a kind of feminine liberation that is only coming to fruition now, with all the focus on the young woman with her life ahead of her, in conflict with the elder woman: her mother, stepmother, mother-in-law or evil queen.

So as a woman of a certain age, I wondered where the stories for the elder women were, and if there were none, then some needed to be written. I am an elder now, and I am writing those stories, hopefully with a spark of amusement at the foibles we share. That's where inspiration comes from.

Author Bio: 
Charlotte Henley Babb is the author of Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil, available from  Muse It Up Publishing (, Smashwords, Amazon and B&N. Her websites are and


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