Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Welcome Bettie Sharpe!

Today's guest of honour is the wonderful Bettie Sharpe who has written (among other things!) some adult re-tellings of  fairytales for Carina Press. Welcome Bettie!

Fairy Tales and the Fun of New Versions by Bettie Sharpe

Many thanks, Marie for holding this fun, fabulous week of fairy tale posts and contests.

When I was a kid, my favorite fairy tale wasn’t Cinderella, Snow White, or even Beauty and the Beast, it was Puss in Boots. I loved the way the wily, stylish cat fooled everyone and outwitted an ogre. I loved the cat’s cleverness, and the boldness with which he dragged the Miller’s Son on an amazing adventure. I wanted to be wily and clever and stylish, too. I wanted to have amazing adventures.

The only problem with the fairy tales I loved was that there weren’t a great many that featured clever girls having amazing adventures. Instead, we got heroines like Cinderella or Snow White who cooked and cleaned until they were rescued and married by their respective nameless princes. When fairy tale girls did show a little curiosity and initiative like Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, or Bluebeard’s wife, they were punished with a grandmother-devouring wolf, a hundred-year coma, or a serial-killing husband.

The fearful fates for female fairy tale characters were no accident. In his book Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion, fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes claims that the founder of the fairy tale genre, Charles Perrault, deliberately altered common folktales in order to emphasize the traits he thought were ideal for boys, and those he thought were ideal for girls. Big surprise: those traits are polar opposites. Male characters in Perrault’s genre-founding fairy tale collection, Histoires ou contes du temps passé or Les Contes de ma Mère l'Oye (Stories or Fairy Tales from Past Times with Morals or Mother Goose Tales) are bold and clever, like the cat in Puss in Boots or Jack of Beanstalk fame, but female characters are patient, beautiful, and long-suffering like Cinderella and Snow White.

Though I continued to love fairy tales even as an adult, I always longed for stories where the female characters could have their own adventures and shape their own destinies. I wanted bold, brash, brainy heroines—heroines who weren’t pretty, passive, and perfect, but instead had real strengths, and real flaws. And I wanted those heroines to meet and marry men who loved them just the way they were.

What do you do when the stories you want to read don’t exist? You write your own. At least, that’s what I did. In
Ember, my free novella retelling of Cinderella, the prince is cursed to be charming, and the Cinder Girl is the clever creation of a slightly wicked witch. In Each Step Sublime, my short story retelling of the Little Mermaid for the Agony/Ecstasy erotic anthology, the Mermaid takes a certain pleasure in her pain. And in Cat’s Tale: a Fairy Tale Retold, Cat starts out as a vain, beautiful woman with a shoe collection to make Carrie Bradshaw weep with envy. When an evil wizard turns her into a cat, she has learns that she is more than just a pretty face.

Which fairy tales are your favorites, and which would you like to see rewritten? Leave a comment in the comment section for a chance to win an ebook copy of Cat’s Tale: A Fairy Tale Retold.

Thanks for reading!


Here's an excerpt from Cat's Tale:

“What shall I call you?”
It was on the tip of my tongue to tell him my name, but then I thought better of it. The Lady Catriona was a dream to him, a prize to be won. He would not want her if he learned she had been turned into an animal by her ex-lover. I did not want to alter the image of Catriona he had in his head—the glimpse of my face through the carriage window those years ago.
And so, I did what I have always done in order to get what I want. I lied. “We cats, among ourselves we do not have names.”
“Well, then, I shall have to make up a name.” He was silent for a moment. “I know. Let’s call you Boots.”
“Let’s not.”
Definitely not. ‘Puss’ isn’t a name, it’s an invitation to ribald puns.”
“What am I to call you, then?”
“Call me Cat.”

Today Bettie is offering an ecopy of Cat's Tale to one lucky commenter who answers her question above: Which fairy tales are your favorites, and which would you like to see rewritten? The contest will close at midnight tonight and the winner will be announced tomorrow on this thread.


  1. BETTIE! BETTIE! HI! I want the book.

    I like Beauty and the Beast because I watched the movie about a 1000 times when my kids were little and it was one of the few that didn't grow really tiresome. Plus the versions of the story with lots of grovel in them are satisfying.

  2. Love the sound of Cat, Bettie :).

    Are you doing any more fairytales, or have you turned to other things just now?


  3. Hi Kate! :D Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorites, too. It's probably the one fairy tale I'll never write my own version of because there are already so many great versions out there that I love. Robin McKinley's two Beauty and the Beast stories are some of my favorites.

    Hi Marie! Thanks for hosting. I've enjoyed the other posts, and look forward to the rest of the week. To answer your question, I have outlines for a few more fairy tale stories on my hard drive, but right now I'm working on a full-length fantasy novel.

    1. Sounds good, Bettie! Look forward to ALL of those :).


  4. I actually can't get enough of reading different versions of The Beauty and the Beast ^-^ But another I would love to see rewritten is 'The Bird of Truth' or 'Trusty John' by The Brother's Grimm :)

    1. Interesting, Fiza - I haven't come across those titles!


  5. Hi Bettie :) I absolutely loved Ember. What a terrific read. Hmmm.. as for fairy tales? I really like Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood. Plus I'm a big fan of that tv show Once Upon a Time on ABC.. it has a whole mashup of fairy tales going on. :)

  6. I think I would vote for Snow White because of the possibilities. Does the stepmother witch have a demon consort (the mirror)? What is her real motivation for going after her stepdaughter (such a powerful witch shouldn't be that worried about a pretty stepdaughter). Just what went on with the huntsman? Is there some sort of menage with those seven men?

  7. I have always loved Beauty and the Beast the most, and it is so classic. Beauty is a strong character full of heart. She makes her own choices. I adored both of Robin McKinley's retellings. Snow White is always ripe for retelling, but it would be fun to see a darker Rapunzel, or Rumpelstiltskin. Oh! That one could be TREMENDOUSLY creepy.

  8. Liking all your favourite fairytale ideas!

    And a big thank you to Bettie for being our guest of honour today!

    I'll be back in a moment with Bettie's winner of Cat's Tale...


  9. And the winner of Bettie's Cat's Tale is...


    Congratulations, Carol! Could you please send me your email address to Marie AT MarieTreanor DOT com - no spaces.