Shonna Slayton was kind enough to answer a question about her new book, Spindle. Here goes:
Me: I would like to know what made you decide to do a retelling of Sleeping Beauty? The retelling sounds interesting and I am wondering what gave you the idea and also what helped you build up the story to be more complex than the original fairy tale?
To tell how I got to Sleeping Beauty, I have to talk about Cinderella.
My debut novel, Cinderella’s Dress, was inspired by two ideas mixing around in my head. The first was a picture book of the same name which showed a young girl sliding down a modern-looking banister with a fancy dress on. I immediately thought: Cool! Cinderella kept her dress and passed it down to her daughter. But that wasn’t what that picture book was about. I still liked the idea, though, that the dress became a family heirloom.
The second idea that mixed into the story was a line I read in a department store history book that mentioned women were not hired as window dressers in the big department stores until the 1940s when so many of the men went off to war and new opportunities opened up for women. This intrigued me because in high school I worked retail and had the opportunity to design several display windows. Why didn’t women have this job until the 1940s?
Somehow, those two ideas clicked in my mind, and I wanted to write a story set in the 1940s involving Cinderella’s heirloom dress and a fancy New York Department Store.
Back to Sleeping Beauty.
I enjoyed writing a mash up of history and fairy tale so much, I wanted to try it with another fairy tale. Which one to try next? I thought of several fairy tales that have an object that I could put into another time period. But when I thought about the spindle from Sleeping Beauty I knew I had the right one. Whereas Cinderella’s dress would be an heirloom any girl would love to have…a cursed spindle? Not so much.
Next, I had to choose a time period. What time would best display a spindle? It didn’t take too much poking around to find the spinning machines in the cotton mills in the 1800s. They were filled with spindles.
To help round out the story, I created several bubble charts listing the elements of the fairy tale in the center, for example, the spindle. From there I drew spokes listing things I knew about the spindle from the original fairy tale. Then I asked how, what, when, where, why, what if? questions until a new story started to form.
For the historical details I delved into the world of the spinning girls–their work, their living conditions, and created characters based on those I read about.
From there, it was a matter of trusting my instincts and following the new path the story was on.
SHONNA SLAYTON writes historical fairy tales for Entangled TEEN. She finds inspiration in reading vintage diaries written by teens, who despite using different slang, sound a lot like teenagers today. When not writing, Shonna enjoys amaretto lattes and spending time with her husband and children in Arizona.
Find out more about Shonna’s books, including how to download a free one, at ShonnaSlayton.com
In a world where fairies lurk and curses linger, love can bleed like the prick of a finger…
Briar Rose knows her life will never be a fairy tale. She’s raising her siblings on her own, her wages at the spinning mill have been cut, and the boy she thought she had a future with has eyes for someone else. Most days it feels like her best friend, Henry Prince, is the only one in her corner…though with his endless flirty jokes, how can she ever take him seriously?
When a mysterious peddler offers her a “magic” spindle that could make her more money, sneaking it into the mill seems worth the risk. But then one by one, her fellow spinner girls come down with the mysterious sleeping sickness…and Briar’s not immune.
If Briar wants to save the girls―and herself―she’ll have to start believing in fairy tales…and in the power of a prince’s kiss.
Thank you Shonna! This is my favorite fairy tale retelling to date!