Hi everyone and welcome to another Friday Author Spotlight! Today I have Charlotte Henley Babb returning with her book Maven Fairy Godmother.
She began writing when she could hold a piece of chalk and scribble her name–although she sometimes mistook “Chocolate” for “Charlotte” on the sign at the drug store ice cream counter. Growing up in the red mud and sweet tea Carolinas, she played with the fairies in the woods and the aliens in the back yard. She has studied the folk stories of many cultures and wonders what happened to ours.
When her third-grade teacher allowed her access to the fiction room at the school library, Charlotte discovered Louisa Alcott and Robert Heinlein, an odd marriage of the minds. These two authors have had the most influence on her desire to share her point of view with the world and to explore how the world might be made better. Her favorite authors include Sir Terry Pratchett, Robert Aspirin, and Esther Friesner.
She has taught English in high school and junior college, written procedure manuals, and edited writing association newsletters. Her presentations at education and writing conferences on using the Internet, blogging, using social media, and writing science fiction have been well-received.
Her first novel, Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil, was published in 2012 and won 2014 Sharp Writ Book Awards for Sci-fi/Fantasy and an honorable mention in the 2014 National Federation of Press Women communications contest for adult novels.
She brings to any project a number of experiences: technical writer, gasket inspector, wait staff, fabric and craft retail associate, craft artificer, secret weapon, and telephone psychic.
Currently working as an adjunct on-ground and online writing instructor, she writes fractured fairy tales, steampunk, and Southern fried fiction for people who have survived love’s last kiss.
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A dead cellphone calls with a job offer and a promise of dragons.
Imagine if Terry Pratchett sat down with Kathy Bates to make up fractured fairy tales for Edward Everett Horton to read aloud: you’d get MAVEN FAIRY GODMOTHER: THROUGH THE VEIL.
Giving up what’s her self-esteem for coffee, her last chance to redeem her life comes as a job offer to be a fairy godmother. But Faery is shrinking, the other fairy godmothers have disappeared, and nothing she does turns out right. How can she put together the happily ever after each of her clients wants with her boss standing in her way?
MAVEN FAIRY GODMOTHER: THROUGH THE VEIL is fast, fun read that shows that none of us is ever old enough to know better as we try to wish for we think what will make us happy.
Get it now on Amazon!
Read on as Charlotte tells us where she gets her ideas:
How far back would I need to go? All the way back.
When I was little, my mother told me fairy tales—the Charles Perrault versions. A pink fairy doll with wings and a wand was the very first toy I ever remember wishing for. I was three years old–circa 1954. I got a teddy bear.
When I was eight or ten, I used to watch Rocky and Bullwinkle. It was just after the McCarthy era, and I wondered if the government knew how subversive the stories were (even if I didn’t know that word then), and how the writers got away with the satire. They were just silly kid’s stories, of course, but they pointed out how stupid people could be–especially government agencies and spies. My favorites were the fractured fairy tales with the snarky narration by Edward Everett Horton. The stories were ironic more than funny, but they had a wise and knowing twist.
Unlike most women, I HATE shopping, especially for shoes…Cinderella was NOT my favorite story with her tiny feet. I wear size 11W shoes, usually Birkenstocks 42R. Even as a young woman, my feet were too big for cute shoes. Shopping for clothing was a humiliating experience of being the wrong size and the wrong shape. I felt sorry for Cinderella’s ugly sisters who did not have a magical helper to make them clothing that fit perfectly. I learned to sew from my mom, who made a lot of my clothing, and I made Barbie clothes for my fantasies. Now I make steampunk costumes.
Maven, my main character, came to me when I was first playing on the electronic bulletin boards back in the 80s, before Al Gore “gave us” the internet. That character developed into Belle, the mistress of the Twilight Lounge, but the name Maven, a word that means a person of specialized and esoteric knowledge, settled on a fairy godmother character who always fractured fairy tales.
I commented one day that as an adjunct instructor at a community college, I felt like a fairy godmother who had classes full of frogs who needed help transforming themselves. My own life was falling apart at the same time. My first marriage failed, my second ended in widowhood, and then I fell into infatuation with a coworker while working through bankruptcy, depression and my daughter’s teen years…interesting times.
Clearly, I was in no position to write romance. So I wrote about a woman at the end of her rope. At first, I wrote about her adventures after she became a fairy godmother, but when I started studying goddess lore with a teacher, I was convinced to start the story at the beginning, which lead me to write about the events happening in my life.
NEVER take writing advice from someone who doesn’t write.
The story I set out to tell will probably be the fourth book in the series, and the first few chapters of it have been written, along with bits and pieces from the third title, as I am drafting the second.
The more I studied goddess lore, the more I began to look into fairy tales to find the older versions, the originals, the less sanitized and Christianized versions. I’ve learned that our popular fairy tales are fairly modern, dating from the 1600s, like the translation of the King James Bible, and they represent a kind of feminine liberation that is only coming to fruition now, with all the focus on the young woman with her life ahead of her, in conflict with the elder woman: her mother, stepmother, mother-in-law or evil queen. Keep in mind that few people lived to be 60 years old, so the older woman was likely in her mid-forties. When I was 18, my mom was 36. If Juliet’s mom had her at 13, then she was barely 26 when Juliet killed herself.
So as a woman of a certain age, I wondered where the stories for the elder women were, for the passage into middle age and old age. I found none, so then some needed to be written. I am an elder now (64!), and I am writing those stories, hopefully with a spark of amusement at the foibles we share.
The ideas come from perspective on life–laughing is more fun than crying.
What fairy tales do you, as readers and writers, love…or love to hate? Share your thoughts in the comments below!