Series: Once Upon a Time #1
Published by Half-Faerie Publishing on 11/15/2013
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
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Every night, Kerrin tells her daughter a fairy tale. Mirabella's favorite is "Beauty Beauty"--the story of when her mother met her father. As Kerrin spins the tale wrapped around the most dark, and equally light, period in her life, she considers these questions:
What is beauty? When is it nourishing... And when is it treacherous?
Indie-film director, Kerrin Mayham was the frontrunner for the Golden Pinnacle's "Director of the Year." Winning meant generous financial backing for her next project, and the most beautiful men in the industry competing for the leading role of Demion Glass. The opportunity Kerrin had sacrificed to achieve was within reach. So were her personal demons.
The core story is a retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen tale "Beautiful," and the novella is the first release in Heidi Garrett's Once Upon a Time Today collection. In these stand-alone retellings of popular and obscure fairy tales, adult characters navigate the deep woods of the modern landscape to find their Happily Ever Afters. (Adult language & situations, no explicit sex)
Interview with author Heidi Garrett
Can you talk a little about what the book is about?
Beautiful Beautiful is about one woman’s experience with valuing, seeking, and craving beauty. Three stories in one, it includes a pivotal time period in the woman’s life, the glimpse of the plot of a movie that she’s directing, and her sharing that experience with her young daughter in an improvised fairy tale years later. The core story is a retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen tale, “Beautiful.”
Where did you get the idea for the book?
I’ve been wanting to write contemporary fairy tale retellings for almost a decade. It’s taken me some time to figure out how I wanted to tell them. I wanted to create some coherence across the collection, while making each story stand alone.
What message do you want readers to get from reading the book?
I hope they contemplate their own ideas about beauty, and I would love it if a mother felt inspired to create a fairy tale from the events of her life for her child.
How long did it take to write the book?
The actual writing was spread over about two months. The preface to that was the conceptualization, which took place over about five months, and entailed considering, and rejecting, certain ways of structuring the story.
Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?
The mother-daughter relationship between the main character, Kerrin, and her young daughter, Mirabella, was the most fun to write. I love them both as characters. I lost my own mother when I was four. That hole created something of an obsession with the mother-daughter bond in me. I don’t have children, but I suspect that I write all of my books for an imaginary daughter.
Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?
With the first four books I wrote, I didn’t use outlining, writing schedules, or deadlines. The first three aren’t published. The fourth one, Nandana’s Mark, is, and it was one of my most challenging books to write. The cosmology in The Queen of the Realm of Faerie is intricate. The series has a single overarching plot, with several subplots, a significant one being resolved in each installment.
When it came to completing the next book in the series, The Flower of Isbelline, I worked under a deadline for the first time. I knew I needed a new approach. I decided to write chapter summaries, before I began writing. I was amazed at how that simple effort improved the entire process of writing the novel.
Now, I always sketch out chapter summaries for everything I write, even for my novellas and short stories. Everything I’ve written, since I began this practice, has taken an unexpected direction at some point. However, with the chapter summaries, it’s easier to revise the plot outline, once those unexpected surprises show themselves.
If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?
One of the reviewers expressed a desire to see more of Mark. If I was going to change something, maybe it would be that.
How did you come up with the cover?
I wanted an image that alluded to the main character’s dilemma: the “beautiful” men in her life. As far as the actual design and execution, I’m fortunate in that my husband, the artist in the family, does that.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’m not sure I ever made such a definitive statement to myself. I’ve always written privately. For me, it’s like breathing. The definitive point for me was when I decided I would self-publish.
What are your favorite books and authors?
My recent favorites are The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman, Leaf Storm by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Little, Big by John Crowley.
What are you working on next?
Finishing Half Mortal, The Queen of the Realm of Faerie Book 4.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
The standard: Write the best book you can. If you’re going to self publish, get a great cover, and write a compelling blurb. Learn as much as you can about self publishing. Otherwise, trust your voice, and focus on telling a great story with great characters.
How do you juggle writing with family time?
I have a small family. My husband, my two cats, and me. I have a room that I write in. When I go in there, my husband leaves me alone. My cats don’t understand that concept.
Excerpt for Beautiful Beautiful
The doorbell rang.
“Would you get that, Norah?”
Joanie worked on Kerrin’s chignon. That morning, Norah and Joanie had taken her to breakfast. The three had spent the rest of the day at the spa together. Then her two friends had followed her home.
“You’ve got company,” Norah called from the hall.
“I wasn’t expecting anyone,” Kerrin yelled back.
“You’ll want to see these people. I’m bringing them to the bedroom.”
“Is she kidding?” Joanie pulled her hands away from Kerrin’s head.
Kerrin frowned as her hair fell from the loose knot that wasn’t really working.
She glanced around her bedroom. It looked like a moving company had delivered a roomful of boxes and up-ended each one before they’d left. She’d been hunting for her grandmother’s rhinestone pumps. The ones Hannah had worn on her wedding day, eighty years ago to the date.
As far as Kerrin was concerned they were magic shoes—doubly enchanted today, and if she wore them, she’d definitely win. The problem was, she’d forgotten all about them. Until two hours ago, they’d been shoved out of the way, along with a lot of other stuff Kerrin had never bothered to unpack, when she’d moved into her home.
Now they perched on the rosewood chest at the end of her bed, like Dorothy’s ruby slippers, but the rest of the room was a wreck.
Norah led a young man and woman through the pile of boxes. Dressed casually, the man in jeans, the woman in leggings, they tactfully ignored the mess.
Kerrin smiled at them before crossing her eyes at Norah. Joanie cleared one of the chairs, trying to create a place to sit.
Norah handed Kerrin a creamy envelope and velvet embossed box. “Frank’s studio sent these, along with Mel and Lynn to do your hair and makeup.”
Kerrin’s name was written on the envelope in calligraphy. Things like this didn’t happen when you directed indie films. By the time shooting was over, you were fortunate if there was any budget left for a wrap party.
“If you’ll sit down,” Lynn pointed to the vanity. “I’ll get started on your makeup. Mel will do you hair.”
Norah raised her eyebrows as Kerrin ripped open the envelope. “Frank looks forward to seeing me tonight.”
Joanie made a crude gesture.
Kerrin tilted her head towards Lynn and Mel, waiting patiently for her to sit down, so they could do what they’d come to do.
“Open the damn box,” Norah said.
Kerrin handed her Frank’s note. Her hands shook as she opened the expensive case. When she saw what was inside—an exquisite diamond choker—she couldn’t help but exclaim.
Joanie squealed and slapped her butt. The girl had a one-track mind.
“It’s going to look perfect with your gown,” Norah said.
The backdrop of the final, breath-stopping scene, in A Scorched Heart, had been a setting sun. A nod to those closing frames, the colors in her sunset-inspired gown, progressed from its blue-gray bandeau bodice, through lavender, gold, and orange, to end in a fierce train of red. Kerrin appreciated the aesthetics as much as the fairy tale princess motif.
Her gaze roamed over the chaos of boxes. Bittersweet memory tugged her heart. In one of them was a junkyard crown—one she’d used to play dress up, when she was a child.
“Honey, that bling would make a dirty sheet look good,” Joanie brought her back to the present.
Kerrin couldn’t laugh at the lame joke. She was too touched by a sense of enchantment.
“It was made to go with my grandmother’s shoes.”
Mibi clapped her hands. “Magic shoes!”
“Made of diamonds,” Kerrin exaggerated.
“Were they expensive?”
“They were a gift from her fairy godmother.”
Mibi folded her arms across her chest. “I wish I had a fairy godmother.”
“I’m sorry, honey, only orphans get fairy godmothers.”
“Was the girl an orphan?”
“That’s sad,” Mibi said.
“So she got magic shoes instead of a family?”
“Something like that.”
“What happened next?”
Excerpt for The Girl Who Watched for Elves
The first card in the tarot reader’s tableaux, depicted a smirking man, sneaking away, his arms full of swords. “Everything was lies and deception,” the tarot reader said.
The girl’s tongue itched. “It’s what my family knew best—how to hide the truth. Carefully layered in lies like butter rolled into dough when you make a croissant.”
The tarot reader nodded, encouraging, as his gaze dropped to the spread configured before him. He pointed to a second card that looked like a medieval tower exploding. Bodies flew through the air.
“Yes, it was kind of like that after my father won the custody battle.”
The young woman squirmed—they’d reached the part of the story she hated the most, because it brought her to the last day she saw her mother alive. She was not quite five.
Excerpt for The Girl Who Dreamed of Red Shoes
There was a young girl, an orphan, who lived in the forest. She scraped out a meager existence, living on nuts, berries, mushrooms, and whatever vegetation she could find. As lonely as she often was, there was also a happiness in her heart. She loved to come across squirrels running with nuts in their paws, or chipmunks playing hide and seek in the dirt and the brush. She also loved to rest in the cradle of low-lying branches and watch for blue jays. The most magical days, were the ones where she might catch a glimpse of the robin’s red breast, because red was her favorite color in the world.
The girl drank from rivers and streams, and sometimes, if she hid in the long grass and didn’t move at all, she might see a doe bring its fawn to drink. On rare occasions, the antlered buck might join them, regal and proud.
At night, the girl searched for grassy meadows, so she might sleep beneath the stars, and when the days got shorter and colder, she’d search for large rocks that she could burrow against.
Everyday she wore the same tattered dress, but sometimes she came across a swatch of dirty, but colorful cloth, dropped by a sparrow or a mouse. The girl collected these strips. When her pockets were stuffed with them, she went about dying them with raspberry juice so they would be red, like the breast of her favorite bird.
She began to collect string, and one day, she came across a needle in an abandoned nest. Within a few days, the girl had created a pair of red shoes, of sorts. They were funny little slippers, but they kept her toes from freezing, and softened the pinch of pebbles she walked on. The girl came to cherish them more than anything, because she’d made them.
Excerpt for The Girl Who Couldn’t Sing
“You can’t sing.”
It just couldn’t be true. Heather Baker slid her Takamine guitar into its fur-lined case.
Artistic success was ninety-nine-percent perspiration. That meant, raw talent accounted for a measly one-percent. If you worked hard enough, you could achieve anything.
That’s what Heather believed, and that’s what she would continue to believe.
The woman was just plain wrong—plain and wrong. She didn’t have the courage to attempt something amazing, or face anything that terrified her.
She’d probably never even colored outside the lines.
Heather left the studio and headed for her red Isuzu pickup. Every interior entrance and exit in her mind was on lockdown. The echoing statement beat against her inner windows and doors, like a frenzied bird. She refused to count the number of voice teachers who’d made similar declarations. It was too painful.
Dreams of being on stage and strumming her guitar, with a hot flamenco rhythm, while she sang like an angel, were what kept her going.
What would she do without them?
She slammed the truck door and gunned the engine.
1st Place: $25 Amazon Gift Card, 1 Exclusive T-Shirt, and 1 “Happily Ever After: Bracelet
2nd – 5th Place: 1 Exclusive T-Shirt and 1 “Happily Ever After” Bracelet
Open to US only. Open December 8th – 23rd