Thursday, 9 February 2012

Author Spotlight (and Guest Blogger): Lindsay Townsend

I am truly delighted to welcome British writer, Lindsay Townsend to my blog today. I'm often in awe of Lindsay's prolific writing output and she still takes time to run several forums, such as the one I joined, British Romance Fiction. I'm even more excited that Lindsay is my first guest blogger as she has written the following wonderful post on writing from fairytales. I loved her short novella, A Christmas Sleeping Beauty, and the way she turned the helpless Sleeping Beauty idea on its head. I'm now looking forward to reading The Snow Bride.

The Snow Bride Blurb:

She is Beauty, but is he the Beast?

Elfrida, spirited, caring and beautiful, is also alone. She is the witch of the woods and no man dares to ask for her hand in marriage until a beast comes stalking brides and steals away her sister. Desperate, the lovely Elfrida offers herself as a sacrifice, as bridal bait, and she is seized by a man with fearful scars. Is he the beast?

In the depths of a frozen midwinter, in the heart of the woodland, Sir Magnus, battle-hardened knight of the Crusades, searches ceaselessly for three missing brides, pitting his wits and weapons against a nameless stalker of the snowy forest. Disfigured and hideously scarred, Magnus has finished with love, he thinks, until he rescues a fourth 'bride', the beautiful, red-haired Elfrida, whose innocent touch ignites in him a fierce passion that satisfies his deepest yearnings and darkest desires.

So a warm welcome, Lindsay. My blog is all yours today! Thanks for this great post.

Inspired by Fairy Tales

Hello! First I want to say a huge thank you to Rosemary for her having me on her wonderful blog. It’s full of good things! And second, I’m sure many writers use and adapt old tales, especially if they are writers of historical romance.

For myself, I’ve always loved fairy tales: African fairy stories, Old Peter’s Russian tales, Grimm’s fairy tales and the western classics – Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, The Goose Girl, The Frog Prince. The themes of love, sacrifice, keeping promises (the theme of the Frog prince) transformation (in The Goose Girl and Cinderella) justice (again in Cinderella) are epic to me and timeless, worthy of exploration in romances and modern stories.

Cinderella, the story of selfless devotion rewarded, is a popular theme for many romance stories, with the ‘prince’ often an Italian or Arab billionaire who sweeps in to transform the heroine’s drab, oppressed life. I’m sure there are romances to be written about the ugly sisters, too – positive stories where they grow from their petty spitefulness and obsession over balls and dances into generous, complete women, who also find love. That element of the happily ever after and the unexpected is strong in both fairy tales and in romance and both appeal to me greatly.

Fairy tales can also be epic, dealing with issues of life and death. Look at Gerda and her determination to win her brother out of enchantment in The Snow Queen. Look at Sleeping Beauty, where the prince rescues the princess from the ‘death’ of endless sleep.

Recently I did my own ‘take’ on Sleeping Beauty in my A Christmas Sleeping Beauty. I made it a story of transformation for both my heroine, Rosie, and the prince Orlando, who starts as a very arrogant and selfish young man who needs to learn to love and cherish. I didn’t want my Rosie to be passive, simply waiting to be woken, so she is active in the story both through her dreams and through her speaking directly to the hero in a letter. I also added more urgency by making it a ticking clock story – Orlando must wake Rosie in three days or he loses his chance forever.

The story of Beauty and the Beast has thrilled me since I was a child, with its dark and menacing beginning, the terrifying beast and Beauty’s courage and love for her father and ultimately for the beast. I was inspired by these basic tenets to write my own medieval version of Beauty and the Beast in my The Snow Bride. Magnus, the hero, has been hideously scarred by war and looks like a beast. He considers himself unworthy of love. Elfrida, my heroine, is also an outsider since she is a white witch, but she willingly sacrifices herself (as Beauty does in the fairy story) because of love, in her case her love for her younger sister, Christina, for whom she feels responsible. When she and Magnus encounter each other, I made it that they could not understand each other at first, to add to the mystery and dread – is Magnus as ugly in soul as in body? They must learn to trust each other, despite appearances, and come to love (just as in the original fairy tale).

I also added other fairy tale elements to The Snow Bride: magic, darkness, the idea of three (a common motif in fairy tales) spirits in the forest and more. Perhaps in the darker elements of my forest I was inspired by that other old fairy story – Red Riding Hood.

How about you? What inspires you in your reading or writing?

Lindsay Townsend

Lindsay Townsend is fascinated by ancient world and medieval history and writes historical romance covering these periods. She also enjoys thrillers and writes both historical and contemporary romantic suspense. When not writing, Lindsay enjoys spending time with her husband, gardening, reading and taking long, languid baths – possibly with chocolate.
Author's Other Works:

A Knight’s Vow – Kensington Zebra
A Knight’s Captive – Kensington Zebra
A Knight’s Enchantment – Kensington Zebra
To Touch The Knight – Kensington Zebra
Flavia’s Secret – Siren-Bookstrand
Blue Gold – Siren-Bookstrand
Bronze Lightning – Siren-Bookstrand
Escape to Love – Siren-Bookstrand
Silk and Steel – Siren- Bookstrand
Chasing Rachel – Siren-Bookstrand
A Secret Treasure – Siren-Bookstrand
Holiday in Bologna – Siren-Bookstrand
Palace of the Fountains – Siren-Bookstrand
The Snow Bride - Siren-Bookstrand
A Christmas Seeping Beauty - Muse it Up Publishing
Midsummer Maid - Muse it Up Publishing (Forthcoming)
The Lord and Eleanor - Ellora's Cave (Forthcoming)

Among other places, you can find Lindsay on her historical romance website; Bookstrand; Kensington; Amazon (UK); Amazon (US)
Twitter: @lindsayromantic


Myra Duffy said...

A fascinating blog, Lindsay and such an interesting take on fairy tales. I look forward to catching up with your work.

Paula Martin said...

Hi Rosemary and Lindsay
Great blog - I love the way you've adapted the 'theme' of the fairy story into a novel. Now Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs might be an interesting one to tackle :-)

Lindsay Townsend said...

Thanks, Myra!
Many thanks, Rosemary, for having me a guest! And I'm blushing at your intro of me!
Thanks again, my fellow Muse sister!

Lindsay Townsend said...

Thanks, Paula!
The Snow White story would be a lot of fun, I think, espec if the dwarves turn out (like Tolkien's and Pratchett's) to be both male and female.

Wendy said...

Your Snow Bride sounds wonderful, Lindsay. Beauty and the Beast as fairytale elements in the real world of fantasy, I love that idea. And you combine all this with the mystery of the missing brides. A must-read on my growing list of books from Muse authors.

I like your blog Rosemary

Deborah Swift said...

Interesting post - I love fairytales too, and think we can learn a lot from their structure. For me I think a novel is just a bigger more complex version of the stories we were all told as children. And for most people the child is still there buried somewhere, so as Lindsay says, it's great to tap into those deep memories.
My favourite tale is probably The Sleeping Beauty.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Good morning, Lindsay - love that post!

Myra and Paula - thanks so much for your comments.

Nice to see you Deborah, and Wendy (thanks for liking the blog).

Jane Richardson said...

The Snow Bride sounds wonderful, Lindsay, and you know how much I LOVE the title! I really like how you use fairy tale themes, it's such an effective idea. I loved how Angela Carter used them too, in a very subversive way.

Great post. :)

Jane x

Gilli Allan said...

Fab post. Fairy tales did it for me too, as a child. And though I have often thought about it since beginning to write, I have never consciously based a book on a fairy tale structure.
Lindsay is obviously the expert. I'll leave it to her.

Margaret West said...

I'm a fairytale kinda gal. I love them and wish my kids were still young so I could rewatch them all again. I love historicals as well, even though I can't write in that genr!! Paranormals are my inspiration though and I think fairy tales fits that genre quite well. Good luck with your book Lindsay.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Thanks, Wendy - I hope you enjoy my 'Snow Bride'.

Hi Deborah and thanks. I took the idea of Sleeping Beauty and added, 'What if the princess doesn't wake when she's kissed?' and moved on from that.

Jane - I agree about Angela Carter - I loved her 'Company of Wloves'. (Glad you like my title, too!)

Gilli - I think all story-tellers (which you and I and other authors are) use fairy tales, or the fairy tale structure. Thanks for calling me an expert! I certainly don't feel to be.

Margaret - I agree about faery and paranormal being natural 'fits' - both dark, magical genres. Thanks for the good wishes.

Celia Yeary said...

Lindsay--your creativity astounds me. Even more so, your dedication to your craft and career seems to have no bounds. When I think of you it's to remind myself of how very much you do for others selflessly, so much more than I do. Snow Bride does sound like a great love story. Fairy Tales are popular right now, so you've nailed this one! Best wishes for further success!

Mindy Hardwick said...

Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales. I can't wait to read your story!

Gwen Kirkwood said...

I have really enjoyed this Lindsay. I have never thought of using Fairy Tales as inspiration for my own writing but I loved them as a child and they have stood the test of time over generations of children. What better foundation than that could anyone choose, and we all need a sprinkling of magic fairy dust in out lives. I shall look forward to reading the Snow Queen - lovely title and intriguing blurb.
Thank you Rosemary for introducing us to Lindsay.

Christina Courtenay said...

Great post, Lindsay! I too love fairy tales and really enjoy stories based on them - looking forward to reading The Snow Bride! My favourite fairy tale ever is Rapunzel, I've always been fascinated by long hair ...

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks everyone for showing Lindsay such great support!

Lindsay Townsend said...

Thank you so much for all these comments - I think it shows how drawn we are to fairy stories!

Celia - thank you so much. I really appreciate your support and I love your western romances - those are epic tales.

Mindy - I have the Disney BB and always finish in a happy blubbing heap. And there was an 1980s series of Vincent and Katherine, Beauty and Beast that I always watched. So, I agree - it's a powerful tale to me, too.

Hi Gwen! Lovely to see you. Thanks so much for your supprotive comments and interest. I'd love some fairy dust right now - I'm sure we all would.

Christina - hair! I so agree with you about hair! I love hair! I've short hair but I've always wanted long, flowing hair. I think Rapunzel is a great story, too - I love her name, also.
I also like hairy blokes (maybe the beast element again?)

Vikki said...

Great post Lindsay. I'm drawn to the darker elements of fairy tales and love the sound of your book The Snow Bride!

Debs Carr said...

Great post. This book sounds interesting.

I'm so impresses by how much Lindsay manages to do.

Pat McDermott said...

Great blog, Rosemary. Lindsay, I'm so happy to see that fairy tales still provide inspiration for wonderful new stories. I grew up reading Andrew Lang's books, and Irish fairy tales, and whatever I could get my hands on. I intend to get my hands on The Snow Bride soon. Best to you!

Karen Cote said...

Fabulous blog you guys. I love learning more about the people I interact with on a regular basis. This gives the richness I already see in your talents more of a personal touch. Great job!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for commenting, Vikki and Debs - I certainly loved A Christmas Sleeping Beauty!

Hi Pat - good to see you, thanks for coming over!

Hello Karen - nice to see you, thank you!

Barbara Elsborg said...

The new takes on fairy stories sound fun!!! And you're going to join me at Ellora's Cave!! Congrats.

Jenny Twist said...

I've always been fascinated by fairy tales, even more so after reading Peter and Iona Opie's definitive work. I must re-read it with special reference to Beauty & the Beast. Thanks for sharing this, Lindsay

Lindsay Townsend said...

Thanks, Vikki, Debs and Pat. I hope you all enjoy my 'Snow Bride'!

Thanks Karen - this really is the beauty of blogs, the way people can get to know each other.

Hi Barbara! Yes! I'm doing EC edits right now for the 'Lord and Eleanor'. Thanks for the welcome to EC!

Hi Jenny - thanks again for commenting. You are always wonderfully supportive of fellow authors.

MANY THANKS AGAIN TO ROSEMARY! Blog-Mistress and Marvel!

Chris Longmuir said...

As a child I was addicted to reading and loved fairy tales. This blog has brought that all back and I find the idea of the Beauty and the Beast in this current story to be intriguing.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for visiting, Barbara and Jenny!

You're very welcome, Lindsay (blush!)

Thanks for that comment, Chris - very intriguing idea!

Joan Fleming said...

Such an interesting post, Lindsay. I'm looking forward to reading some of your long list of puglished work to see how it's done! Thank you, Rosemary, for inviting Lindsay on to your blog.

Patsy said...

Very appropriate book for the weather we're having!

Talli Roland said...

Hi Lindsay! Love the cover -- and very appropriate for the UK weather right now.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for the comments, Joan, Patsy, and Talli.

Anonymous said...

How exciting, I always loved 'once upon a time' fairy stories, and it's great to see Lindsay bringing these wonderful tales back to life in a modern way, I'll be looking forward to reading some of these now. Thanks Rosemary.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for dropping in, Susan!

Gwen Kirkwood said...

I think the number of comments is evidence that both Lindsay and Rosemary give their time to helping others so generously. Thank you both.

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