I love fairy tales. I grew up with the Disney versions, and then when I was in college I started reading the originals, and it was like a revelation, because here were these amazing stories with a lot of the fantastical elements I remembered ... but they were also supremely violent, twisted, and dark. You still get your happy ending (unless you're a character in a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, in which case it sucks to be you), but the path is a lot more treacherous than it is in the movie versions. Which is not to knock the Disney movies. I still love those stories and those characters. I wouldn't even say they're less "authentic," because the Brothers Grimm altered the tales they collected (goodbye sex, hello violence), Charles Perrault's "Sleeping Beauty" takes a different turn than the Italian version, and so on. Every teller changes the tales to suit their own taste and their audience. The Disney versions are part of our culture--they've claimed a place in a lot of hearts, even if the sharp edges have been filed down--and that's definitely something I want to play with when I'm writing about fairy tales.
But you can't ignore the dark origins of fairy tales, and, personally, I wouldn't want to. The darkness makes the beauty more real.
I like to look at the dark aspects of wish fulfillment. Things that we imagine would be so wonderful ... like, "I wish life was like a fairy tale." Well, okay, that sounds nice--but have you read some of those tales? Take Snow White, for instance: she's basically exiled from her home and has to depend on the kindness of strangers, she endures four murder attempts, and then when her stepmother finally succeeds in poisoning her, the dwarves put her body in a glass coffin, a prince shows up, takes one look at her, and decides she's so beautiful he's going to bring her corpse home with him. Uh ... that's not creepy at all. She does get her "happy ending," but I doubt anyone who wishes their life were like a fairy tale is wishing for a life like that. But what if you had that? What if your life was like a fairy tale?
I guess you should read Kill Me Softly to find out.
I definitely want to write more books set in Beau Rivage! I have so many more fairy-tale stories to tell, and I'm working on a companion novel right now. (It's Viv's story, if you're curious.) And while I don't have immediate plans to write a direct sequel, I'd love to do one eventually. BUT (and here's the important part) there's no guarantee that any of those books will be published. When a publisher considers turning a standalone book into a series, they want to know that there will be a big enough audience for those future books--and they determine that based on the sales of the first book. In this case, Kill Me Softly.
So if you'd like to read more books set in Beau Rivage, here are a few things you can do to help: 1) buy a copy of Kill Me Softly (or a hundred copies if you're a millionaire; that would be great, too), 2) tell other readers about the book (tell your friends, blog or tweet about it, leave a review on Goodreads or Amazon, etc.), 3) contact my publisher and let them know how much you'd love to read a sequel or companion novels, 4) check out Kill Me Softly from the library or request that your library order the book if they haven't already, 5) tell your local indie bookseller about the book. Basically, anything you can do to get the word out!
In the meantime, I will be posting some (free) fairy-tale short stories online so you can get your Beau Rivage fix.
My imagination tends to be sparked by really random things. One tiny detail--like a word I run across at exactly the right time--will start building a story in my head. Sometimes I'll know what kind of story I want to write, but it won't come together until that random detail enters my life and everything clicks. I would say (if you're feeling blocked and looking for advice): don't put too much pressure on yourself to come up with an idea. But always be open to the story your imagination really wants to tell. Let your mind wander. Your story is floating around there somewhere.
When I was a kid I got hooked on the X-Men cartoon, proceeded to spend all my babysitting money on comics, and even wrote/drew a shoddy X-Men rip-off comic called The eXcuses, in which Professor Xavier enlists Jubilee to train a new teen group of superheroes, including Dogboy (a kid who was part dog), En Passent (a guy who was obsessed with Gambit ... and had the same hair), and a telepathic girl whose costume was based on the tacky aerobics outfit I wore whenever I wanted to dress up as a superhero. So my love for superheroes goes way back.
With Dull Boy, I knew I wanted to write about superheroes, and while the idea was in its early stages the phrase "all heroism and no play makes X a dull boy" popped into my head. And I thought, hmm, yeah, actually ... if you were busy trying to (secretly) be a hero, your friends would probably think you sucked. I think my favorite thing about superheroes (aside from having powers) is the way being so extraordinary is both a blessing and a curse--and then the bond that develops between people who have these abilities, and either don't know what to do with them, or don't know what to do with themselves. Someone who feels alienated and alone becomes part of a team, and the thing that made them a freak is the thing that makes them valuable.
Not without a healing factor, no.
No, there will not be a sequel--and not because I'm an evil person who wants to deny you more books. I'd always intended to write a sequel, but, unfortunately, it wasn't in the cards, and I've moved on to other projects.
But if you liked Dull Boy enough to want a sequel ... thank you. That means a lot to me. I hope you'll enjoy some of my other works too.
Copyright© 2012 Sarah Cross