ONCE upon a time, there were some little girls, and they liked stories about dragons, and princesses and wolves who dressed up as grandmothers and tried to eat little girls like them. It made life more exciting, to wonder whether they’d get locked in a tower one day with ridiculously long hair, or sleep for 100 years before a jolly nice prince came to save them – or they might one day meet a flying godmother who’d magic nice dresses from TopShop like Cinders had for the ball. But they never really noticed that in many of these stories were women who were STEPMOTHERS, and they were always EVIL. They didn’t notice because that was perceived as normal.
Once upon a time, I lived in a family that was all together. Then the next day it split. I was only 5. I loved my fairytale book, my dad gave it to my sister and I. I loved reading; I loved the pictures of Puss’s Boots, and the languid Little Mermaid. I wasn’t that bothered about the stepmothers. Then I grew up, and had a few of my own as I did so – stepparents I mean! After I had my own kids and split from their dad (and fyi, they didn’t like fairy tales that much – perhaps because they were boys), when I met the love of my life and moved in with him, I became, in theory anyway, stepmother to his two teens. And OH BOY did I realise how easy it was to be cast (by some) as the ‘wicked stepmother’.
Suffice to say, the ins and outs of this relationship aren’t relevant here, but I had enough material within the 6 months we lived together to think that a twist on Snow White’s tale might be…interesting!
And so the idea for THE STEPMOTHER was born (if you fancy it, it’s available here). And today, as publication day looms, I wonder why it is we’re still so obsessed with fairy tales and old mythology. However modern our world becomes, these tales are threaded through everything, countless re-telling,new Disney versions for the kids; Hollywood for the teens and adults eg annoying Downton actress as the world’s most grating Cinderella, Angelina in a brilliant version of Sleeping Beauty throwing some light on why the wicked fairy was so fed up with Sleeping Beauty; Charlize Theron as the Wicked stepmother to Kristen Stewart’s sulky Snow White (I’d be jarred too, being her stepmother).
In many of these tales the jealousy the ‘baddie’ feels is the same one our own media busily exploits: the secret of eternal youth; the middle-aged woman growing bitter & mad with envy over the younger women. This is the crux; and lies right at the heart of my new book…only maybe not in ways you’d imagine! I’m fascinated with family dynamics; as a student now of psychology, I want to understand why people act as they do – so often not rationally, despite seeming like ‘normal’ people. How what we grow up in shapes us. These are the questions I’m exploring…and – hopefully – being entertaining at the same time! ☺️
Last week I made a rare foray into the TV world where I used to spend all my working life, writing up a treatment for a female presenter interested in topics concerning most women of my generation. And one question that came up there was ‘CAN YOU EVER LOVE ANOTHER’S CHILD LIKE YOUR OWN?’ Well, can you?!
I’d be interested in what YOU think?! And in what you think of THE STEPMOTHER – please if you like it, I’d LOVE to hear from you, or for you to pop a quick review on Amazon. It really makes a difference.
Happy reading 🙏