When I was first “getting serious” about my writing, I joined a local writers’ club. Turned out most of the authors were into ‘literary’ writing and pooh-poohed any type of genre fiction at all. In fact, a past-president of the group told me that ‘romances are written by and for people with an eighth grade education.’ I quit right after that. Nowadays, I’d point out that the average romance reader has university education, I’d point to authors like Jennifer Crusie, Stephanie Laurens, Diana Gabaldon and Eloisa James who all have PhDs. (Stephanie is a scientist who is working on a cure for cancer, and Eloisa James is a Shakespeare scholar at Fordham University. For more on changing the image of the average romance reader/writer, read this article.)

Today’s guest is no slouch either. A member of the Toronto Romance Writers, Robie Madison holds an honors specialist degree in Classical Civilization and English and a Master of Education. She’s published by Ellora’s Cave and Samhain Publishing, her paranormal romance Love Partner won the 2006 Dream Realm Award, was a 2006 Ecataromance Reviewers Choice Award nominee, and placed second for a From the Heart Romance Writers‘ Lorrie award in 2006 as well. Desperate Alliance is a 2008 Dream Realm finalist, as well as a finalist for a 2009 Eppie. Good Enough for You has been nominated for a 2009 FTHRW Lorrie, and in 2008 a Sensual Reviewer’s Choice award.

Phew! Anyway, the point is Robie is an incredibly talented and highly educated romance writer…which makes me think that maybe I should introduce her to that other writers’ group so she can dispel that “grade eight” fairy tale once and for all …


The literary fairy tales we are familiar with today began as oral stories. In both forms, the fairy tale provides cultural insight—expressing the concerns and lessons of its time. Fairy tales fascinate both adults and children and musicians, artists, and authors are all fond of adapting and remodeling these stories to express human condition. It is therefore not surprising that these tales have long been a popular “source” for romance plots.

One of the reasons is the power of transformation for the protagonist(s) these story types offer. “…it is the celebration of wondrous change and how the protagonist reacts to wondrous occurrences that account for its major appeal. [Zipes, p. xix] In romance, love is the power that can transform both the heroine and hero, bringing them together and offering a different vision of the future. It also helps that these tales of wonder usually conclude with a romance genre standard—a happily ever after (HEA).

My latest release, The Man of Her Dreams draws on The Little Mermaid fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson for inspiration.

In the original story (with no reference to Disney, please!), the mermaid’s goal is to gain an immortal soul—something, according to folk belief, that supernatural beings do not have. So she sacrifices her voice to become human for the chance to make a prince fall in love with her and thus obtain an immortal soul.

In The Man of Her Dreams, I flip this idea to put my unique spin on the story. My hero Owain is a supernatural being—but in this case a cursed one, forced to exist for some of the time as a water horse. His deepest desire is to break the curse and live as a mortal with the (mortal) woman he loves and so he makes a dangerous bargain with the Fairy Queen.

Anderson’s HEA for the little mermaid did not include a prince. When this first quest fails, the mermaid unknowingly passes another test—she refuses to kill the prince for a chance to return to the sea— and is rewarded with the promise of an immortal soul. Owain, too, faces a challenge to achieve his happily-ever-after.

Putting a distinctive twist on a favorite but familiar plot offers readers a chance to revisit and rethink their expectations. Consider:

Cinderfella by Susan Wiggs from Merry Christmas, Baby! (Harlequin, 1996) = you guessed it from the title, “Cinderella” is a man and the glass slipper is a cowboy boot!

Red by Jordan Summers (Tor, 2008) = the book’s tagline reads, “What if Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf turned out to be the same person?”

What are some of your favorite Fairy Tale re-takes?

[Reference: The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales. Edited by Jack Zipes.]

Robie Madison

Robie Madison on Fairy Tales and Romance

23 thoughts on “Robie Madison on Fairy Tales and Romance

  • July 27, 2009 at 4:11 am

    I have not read any romance novels (that I can think of) that are fairy tale remakes. But, I did love Wicked. That would be the closest one that I can think of.

    Amy M

  • July 27, 2009 at 4:32 am

    Hi, Robie (and Leah!),

    I do enjoy some Fairy Tale re-takes–one favorite is Amy Fetzer's Taming the Beast (an older Desire). It's very fun to get a fresh take on an old favorite 🙂

    –Fedora (using her husband's account)

  • July 27, 2009 at 5:03 am

    I haven't read any fairy tale re-takes but The Bride and the Beast and Charming the Prince both written by Teresa Medeiros are titles that are reminiecent of fairy-tale titles.

  • July 27, 2009 at 5:06 am

    My favorite fairy tale re-take is A Spell for Susannah by Jody Wallace. It is a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, which used to be one of my favorites, only in this one the princesses are a little older, if you get me.

  • July 27, 2009 at 5:25 am

    Thanks Leah for the fabulous introduction — I'd be more than happy to "chat" with that group. 🙂

    And Happy Birthday!

  • July 27, 2009 at 5:31 am

    Amy — I have yet to see Wicked. It's on that long to do list.

    Thanks Fedora, Karen and Nancy for the reading list. 🙂

  • July 27, 2009 at 5:37 am

    Great intoduction. Now I know you even better. 🙂

    Can't think of any books I've read, though I'm sure there are many based on fairy tales, especially since we know wonderful stories have a new twist on an old tale.

  • July 27, 2009 at 5:49 am

    I really loved Juliet Marilliers book Daughter of the Forest, it was a remake of HC Andersens The Wild Swans.
    Sad and even if she followed that story it was totally different

  • July 27, 2009 at 8:00 am

    I'd have to go with Beauty and the Beast.its been retold different ways,through TV series and movies.

  • July 27, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Robie, I don't remember reading any books that were based on fairy tales. Nice to meet you!

  • July 27, 2009 at 8:37 am

    Hi MJ 🙂 Thanks, Blodeuedd for another story suggestion. Oh, and elain8, I loved that B & the B TV series too. Good reminder.
    Thanks, Rhonda for stopping by.

  • July 27, 2009 at 8:45 am

    I just recently read Her Big Bad Wolf by McKenna Chase and Jana Mercy. It was really fun and spun the whole tale around from what I have thought it as before. Thanks for the visit…. Shell

  • July 27, 2009 at 9:29 am

    GJ Woodrum at Shadow Fire Press has some really good, funny, and very different kinds of takes on familiar fairy tales. They are short, cheap and a good, quick read.

    I enjoy different takes on the usual fairy tales. Beauty and the Beast is a favourite that has been told in many different ways, Cinderella too.

    I need to find some of these that have been mentioned….they look good.


  • July 27, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Some of my favorites are: BEAUTY/Judith Ivory, A ROSE IN WINTER/Kathleen Woodiwiss, DEBUTY AND THE BEAST/Linda Jones (all are Beauty & the Beast retakes), SOMEONE'S BEEN SLEEPING IN MY BED/Linda Jones (Goldilocks retake), and JACKIE AND THE GIANT/Linda Jones (Jack & the Beanstalk retake). There's more, but I'll stop with those few.

    There's an even bigger list at this site….


  • July 27, 2009 at 10:04 am

    The one that pops into my head is The Scarletti Curse by Christine Feehan. It's a re-take of Beauty and the Beast the most. They have to break a curse on him, but he isn't actually a "Beast".

  • July 27, 2009 at 10:15 am

    I'm stuck on Into the Woods!


  • July 27, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Teresa Medeiros' (spelling?) "The Bride & The Beast" is a great historical take on "Beauty and the Beast" Super sweet and fun. 🙂

    rachie2004 @ yahoo . com

  • July 27, 2009 at 11:14 am

    "Rose In Winter" by Kathleen Woodiwiss is WONDERFUL!! Kind of a retake on a fairy tale. 🙂

    A neat concept!

    lyoness2009 AT hot mail *dot* com

  • July 27, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    I enjoyed Teresa Medeiros THE BRIDE AND THE BEAST.

    armiefox at yahoo dot com

  • July 27, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Thanks to everyone for the list of reading/research material. 🙂

  • July 27, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    I love all the takes on Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf. Have been trying to think of a title but nothing on the tip of my tongue.

  • July 28, 2009 at 5:38 am

    I have to say both Teresa Meideros and Kathleen Woodiwiss. Two really enjoyable stories and takes on Bauty and The Beast. Enjoyed seeiing you here. Have a great day 🙂
    Carol L.

  • July 28, 2009 at 6:45 am

    Thanks for stopping by Lindseye and Carol

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