Guest post: Fiona Price on adapting fairytale settings

0914 Let Down Your Hair_Final Intro from Sophie:

I have always been interested in the use of fairy tales as an inspiration for fiction. Fairy tales are so rich that they can be mined again and again without losing any of their magic; and they are also so full of hidden depths that they can be interpreted in many different kinds of ways. I’ve used them myself repeatedly, in my fiction; and I love reading the work of other fairytale-inspired writers, such as Angela Carter, Tanith Lee, Kate Forsyth, Robin McKinley, Juliet Marillier, and many many more.

Interestingly, in recent times the theme of Rapunzel has come up several times: in the beautiful historical novel by Kate Forsyth, Bitter Greens; in one of the motifs in my own (YA) fairytale novel, The Crystal Heart; and most recently in a fabulous and clever modern adaptation of the Rapunzel theme, Fiona Price’s Let Down Your Hair. As the blurb for the book has it, it is a timely re-telling of the Rapunzel fairytale in the era of selfies and smartphones. And in this interesting guest post Fiona writes about how the setting she created helped to really focus the novel.

Welcome, Fiona!

Author pic 3

A big thanks to Sophie for inviting me to write a post for her blog. My name’s Fiona Price, and my novel Let Down Your Hair was published last month by Momentum. It’s a coming of age story based on the Rapunzel fairytale and set in the twenty-first century. I was inspired by the beautiful Russian building on the cover of Sophie’s latest book Trinity: The Koldun Code to write about the setting for my book.
When I decided to retell Rapunzel in the present, the first thing I needed was a tower. I considered a range of tall buildings for the job, and even toyed with making it a plane. But when I recalled the phrase “the ivory tower”, I decided I had to set Let Down Your Hair in a university. What better prison for Rapunzel than a place where scholars live lofty lives cut off from the world?
Setting ‘Rapunzel’ in a university worked on a couple of levels. For one thing, old-style prestige universities are built like storybook castles. Their buildings are made from ivy-covered stone, with giant libraries and halls lined with portraits. The other thing I liked was that it gave me an idea of who the witch was going to be. She’d be a senior professor, the type on a mission to change the world one conference at a time. A woman like the witch I created for my novel: Professor Andrea Rampion.
What would make a female professor lock a girl up in a tower? In the fairytale, the witch seems driven by the need to protect Rapunzel’s virginity. She locks Rapunzel up when she hits the age of puberty, and throws her out in a rage when she learns of Rapunzel’s affair with the Prince.
Protecting a girl’s virtue was never going to work as a motivation for Andrea. Most female professors would see dwelling on girls’ sexual behaviour as dated and patriarchal. I worked around this problem by shifting Andrea’s focus to something more progressive and intellectual: protecting her abandoned granddaughter Sage (my Rapunzel) from the sexist messages in the media.
Shielding a girl from all sexist messages wouldn’t be easy today. Sexualised pictures of women are on every smartphone, billboard and TV. Andrea would have to be ruthless about controlling everything Sage watched and read. She’d also have to monitor Sage’s company and movements, so she didn’t hear those messages anywhere else. Doing these things would cut Sage off from the world as surely as locking her in a tower.
What would Sage be like after twenty-two years of Andrea’s regime? With so few distractions and a dedicated teacher, she’d be brilliant at all things academic. Politically aware, with the ability to spot male privilege at seventy paces. But when it came to youth culture, technology and men, she’d be hopelessly ignorant and naïve. And both terrified and thrilled when she looks out a top floor window and a naked young man smiles up at her.
Once I’d found my tower and cast my main characters, I needed to think about the wilderness. In the fairytale, this is where the witch banishes Rapunzel when she learns of her affair with the Prince. When ‘Rapunzel’ was published, the ‘wilderness’ would have meant the forests of northern Europe. Presumably the witch hoped that Rapunzel would be punished for her sins by getting lost or attacked by wolves.
I let myself be guided by Andrea’s obsessions when choosing my modern-day wilderness. For Andrea, this would be a place where women are degraded and exploited by men: the red light district. Which is where Sage eventually finds herself, homeless, lost and surrounded by men on the prowl.
Retelling ‘Rapunzel’ as a present-day novel was a challenge I really enjoyed. If you’d like to take a look at Let Down Your Hair it’s available on all major digital platforms. Thanks again to Sophie, and I’d like to wish her and all of her readers a wonderful 2015!

Thanks, Fiona! And the same to you. (Sophie)

To find out more, check out Fiona’s blog:

Follow her on Twitter: @FionaSLPrice

Guest post: Lauren Dawes, author of the Dark Series

Author Photo (low res) DarkDeceit_Final-768x1024 To those of you who don’t know who I am, my name is Lauren Dawes and I am the author of the Dark Series published by Momentum. Fellow Momentum author Sophie Masson has asked me to be a guest on her blog, and gave me free rein over the topic.
I’ve decided to give you all a little insight into the process I went through in writing the first book in the Dark Series, and also introduce you to a couple of my characters.
Let’s start with why I decided to write this series. First of all, I love Norse mythology. When I was younger, I was fascinated with runes, to the point where I tried to teach myself the runic alphabet and use it on a daily basis. Alas, like my soirée into teaching myself Greek, it only lasted about a week. By the way, the book titled “Learn Greek in 25 years” is completely accurate. In any case, that is where my love for all things Norse has stemmed from.
In December 2012, when the idea for “Dark Deceit” struck, I hastily scribbled down some rough notes about a potential plot and characters. I started off with the basics: protagonists and antagonists. Korvain, one of the protagonists, is the last of the pure-blooded Mares. ‘Mares’ are dark elves and were considered to be horribly evil creatures by the Vikings. According to Norse mythology, dark elves used to sit on a person’s chest while they slept at night, slowly pouring bad dreams into their heads. They gave these ‘spirits’ the name ‘nightmare’. Instead of using that idea, I changed it so my Mares became assassins because of their inherent perceived ‘darkness’.
The other protagonist sharing the limelight with Korvain is Bryn. Odin’s first Valkyrie now runs a successful nightclub in Boston and lives with her other sisters. The Valkyries left Odin’s service, and have been on their own since the 1920s after the All-Father committed an unforgiveable act. Bryn is still the leader of the group, and takes the job of protecting the other Valkyries very seriously.
Once I had my characters set, I had to think about the world I wanted them to live in. I chose Boston as the setting for the Dark Series after I visited the city while on my honeymoon in 2012. I fell in love with the history, and I knew that it would be the perfect city to set my books in. In “Dark Deceit” it’s explained that an event called “The Fall” was the beginning of the end for the gods and goddesses. The Nine Worlds—the worlds for the Aesir and Vanir gods, the light and dark elves, the dwarves and giants—disappeared. The humans had simply forgotten them, and so these beings settled on Midgard (Earth) and have been living side-by-side with the humans for nearly a thousand years.
The hardest part of writing the book was plotting the story. I didn’t have all the answers right away with it. The plot developed with time, and after many revisions. I actually almost threw in the towel completely with this book when I couldn’t quite get past some initial plotting hurdles.
Thankfully, I saw it through, and have ended up with a series that definitely does justice to my love of Norse gods. “Dark Deceit” firmly sits in the realm of dark urban fantasy. The fight scenes are graphic and bloody, and my characters are gritty and raw. I wanted them to be both loved and hated, and I think I’ve achieved that.
If “Dark Deceit” sounds like a book you’d like to read, you can get it on all major platforms. And if you’d like some more information about either books, check out my website:


Dark Deceit Blurb:
The time of Odin is over. The Aesir gods now live among the humans in their bustling modern cities. Their brutal dominion over the other gods and their eradication of the entire dark elf race may have ended, but their actions have not been forgotten.
Korvain is one of the last full-blooded dark elves, and is feared like no other. His ruthlessness and cold heart are legendary, but when he is given the task of killing one of the most fabled goddesses of all time, he is left with an undeniable desire to make her his own. Failure in his task means only one thing: death. Will he follow his orders, or will he follow his heart? Bryn’s whole world crumbled when she left Odin’s service to protect the other valkyries. Now living with the humans, she is the only thing standing between them and total destruction. But her beliefs are about to be shaken to the core when she meets Korvain—a volatile, completely irresistible dark elf who threatens to take away more than just her innocence …

Dark Desire Blurb:
The time of Odin is over. The Aesir gods now live among the humans in their bustling modern cities. Their brutal dominion over the other gods and their eradication of the entire dark elf race may have ended, but their actions have not been forgotten.
With the death of Adrian still haunting Taer’s every waking breath, she dreams of getting revenge on the dark elf responsible for her brother’s murder. But when the one person she’s depending on to train her in the art of weaponry refuses to help, she has no other choice but to get instruction from the most unlikely of people. Driven by an undeniable desire, Taer finds herself learning more than just how to fight.

About Lauren Dawes:
Born in South Africa and raised in Sydney, Lauren Dawes is an urban fantasy/paranormal romance writer and the author of the Dark Series.
In 2009, she quit her full-time Teaching English as a Second Language job to finally begin writing “that book”, letting her over-active imagination pour out onto the digital pages much to everyone’s horror. The catch phrase “I didn’t know you had such a dark imagination” only fuelled her to write more, where her love for Norse mythology and gods finally got the spotlight.
She currently lives with her husband and daughter in whatever city they happen to be posted to, and her cat, Oscar, who has inspired more than one character quirk or scene in her books.