Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How I Retold Han's Christian Andersen's "Beautiful"

Since the third tale in my Once Upon a Time Today collection, The Tree Hugger, will be releasing on August 26th, I thought I'd do a series on how I retold each tale. I'll begin with Beautiful Beautiful the first tale in the collection, which is will be free on Amazon August 20th through 23rd, so pick up a copy if you don't already have one!

I chose Han's Christian Andersen's "Beautiful" for the first retelling in my collection because beauty is something that has always moved and fascinated me, it's one of my obsessions. I do believe that whether one wishes to acknowledge it or not, beauty has a lot of power. However, the question of what is beautiful, is very personal. And though our perceptions of beauty are influenced by our families and culture, we all ultimately perceive the beautiful distinctly.

You see, I could go on and on...

In Andersen's tale, a male sculptor is besotted with a beautiful but quiet young lady. He misinterprets her reticence as depth and proceeds to marry her. As he lives with her, he discovers his wife's lack of speech isn't so much that "still waters run deep", more that she's rather passive and insipid. His awareness of her nature comes too late. It doesn't help that the young lady's overbearing mother moves in with the newlyweds.

I won't go into the rest of the tale here [SPOILER ALERT], but suffice it to say that by the end of the tale, the sculptor's eye for beauty has altered and matured.

To make this tale contemporary, I chose a female protagonist, Kerrin Mayham. She needed to be driven by beauty, so a film director seemed like the perfect profession. I wanted to remain true to the protagonist misjudging the interior of someone who was physically beautiful. Enter aspiring actor Anthony Zorr.
While he doesn't have an overbearing mother, he does have an aggressive agent in Marni Lamb. The story unfolds from there.

I added the narrative frame after the core story was written because I wanted to add another layer of enchantment to the tale. Allowing Kerrin to create a fairy tale by drawing from the experiences in her life, allowed me to recreate one of the special memories I shared with my own mother who seemed to spin the most fantastical tales out of nothing when I was child. But who knows? Perhaps she was drawing from the well of her experience too.