Ideal for readers who crave a mash-up between Rapunzel and Jane Eyre.
My Fairy Tale Inspiration – Ash Maiden (The Original Cinderella)
By Christina Bauer Author
As part of the launch tour for my new fairy tale romance, Towers and Tithes, the lovely folks at Bouncing Tigger Reviews asked me to share the folk stories that inspired me. Honored to share! In my case, a big part of my inspiration for all my books comes from the original version of Cinderella, what the Brothers Grimm called Ash Maiden.
How did this happen? Time to hit the way-back machine.
When I was nine years old, I got my hands on a copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales from the 1890’s. It had a pretty red embossed cover; it had lovely woodcut illustrations; it had gruesome stories that were freaking terrifying. I loved it instantly.
Thanks to this wonderfully nasty book, I got to know the original fairy tales in all their pre-Disney horror. Few of the stories had happy endings. Snow White, for example, was a dumbass who kept taking obviously-dangerous gifts from her stepmother until a pair of shoes danced her to death. The moral? Use your brain, twirp. There won’t always be a huntsman around to save your pretty face.
Ash Maiden was one of the few tales that ended well, but for one simple reason: Ash Maiden (what was later Disney-fied into Cinderella) worked her tuchus off…And not in the ‘sweeping the floors with happy rodents’ way that we think about today. Yeah, you read that right. Ash Maiden’s main challenge in life was NOT boring chores, her mean step-mother, or ugly step-sisters. Bizarre, huh?
Here’s the shocker (to me anyway): in the original story, Ash Maiden’s big problem was that she lost her mother and had grief work to do. And no, I am not kidding.
Don’t get me wrong; our lovely lady worked hard. She was forced to sleep in the ashes and given a not-so-clever nickname. But Ash Maiden didn’t weep every day because she had chores to finish or teasing to endure. She cried because she missed her Mom. It was mourning that drove Ash Maiden to plant a seed in her mother’s memory. Every day, she’d find time to be alone and cry, her teardrops falling on the tiny seed until, bit by bit, it grew into a massive tree.
SIDE NOTE: This is something I love about the original Grimm’s fairy tales. No easy answers. People had to empty lakes with thimbles, stay trapped in animal-form for centuries, or cry on a seed until it grew into a huge goddamn tree. Got problems? Shut up and grab a thimble, bitch.
Back to the story. For those of you who’ve lost a loved one, you know what Ash Maiden was going through at this point: the valley of the shadow of death, one tear at a time. And Ash Maiden’s ball gown? Fell out of that freaking tree, along with her famous shoes. In that tree perched a bird that led her to her Prince. There was no fairy godmother, no quick fix. It was this young girl’s unflinching bravery in facing her sorrow that brought about positive change in her life…and that thought inspired me to write nrave ladies who kick ass, take names, and fall in love.
I hope you enjoyed this insight on Towers and Tithes… and I look forward to seeing you on future launch tour!
Book Reading Order
FAIRY TALES OF THE MAGICORUM
1. Wolves And Roses
2. Moonlight And Midtown
3. Slippers And Thieves
4. Shifters And Glyphs
5. Bandits And Ball Gowns
6. Fire And Cinder
7. Fairies And Frosting
8. Towers and Tithes
Christina Bauer thinks that fantasy books are like bacon: they just make life better. All of which is why she writes romance novels that feature demons, dragons, wizards, witches, elves, elementals, and a bunch of random stuff that she brainstorms while riding the Boston T. Oh, and she includes lots of humor and kick-ass chicks, too.
Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.
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