11 k into the new book, so I am quite happy about that.
Because it is (very very loosely) inspired by Beauty and the Beast I give you this pic that I dug up. (GiS for Beauty and the Beast brings up a lot of Disney, sadly)
My earliest memory of the Beauty and the Beast story was from Story Teller (you will hear this a lot, I was a lonely child and I loved my Story Tellers) and I do love the illustrations they used for that one.
(If you have no idea what Story Teller is, it was a series of magazines and tapes that well…told stories. Most of them were highly abridged classics, but there was a wonderful variety, and it’s the reason almost every adult South African of a certain age knows The Marrog off by heart.
You can go see Beauty and The Beast here, but the tape quality is little stretchy.
Anyway, I always found Beauty and the Beast terrifying and disturbing. It wasn’t romantic, and it wasn’t happy. Even as a child I found so many of the concepts that lay under the skin of the story rather troubling. As an adult, I can see why now, but back then I just knew there was something off about the whole thing. So naturally it’s wormed deep in my brain, and in the way I view stories and fairy-tale romances.
And with that, I leave before I say too much about what I’m writing, though if you read this far I will reward/punish you with a snippet from the new book.
The car belched thick choking smoke into the forest clearing. The engine spat, coughed, and then with a roar, the car was lurching away. Sarah’s father didn’t even look back at her. He raised one hand in good bye, and that was that. He dropped it back to the steering wheel almost as soon as he’d lifted it.
Sarah and her grandmother stood silently watching the woods darken, until the sound of the car was a distant throb. “Wastrel,” said her grandmother. “Blackguard.” She sniffed. “Hard to believe sometimes that he’s my own true-born son.”
Sarah swallowed away the snot-thick feeling of her unshed tears. “I’m Sarah,” she said in a small voice.
“I know your name, girl, of course I do,” said her grandmother. “You will call me Nanna.” She drew herself straighter and held out one arm to the air. Down from the darkening skies, like a falling comet, came the white raven. It lit on her grandmother’s arm and bowed, raising its beak. “And?” Nanna said.
The raven answered her in human speech. Its voice was high and sweet. “The little king will be past the borderlands by now.”
“Hmph. Good riddance then.” Nanna twitched her arm. “The girl,” she said to the raven. “He called it Sarah.”
“Well met, Princess,” said the raven. It clacked its beak and stared at her quizzically. “You have her look to you.”
“My mother?” Sarah’s heart bounced up in her chest, hope catching her by surprise. “You know her?”
“I knew her once,” the white raven replied. “It has been long since last we looked in turn and looked the same. A thousand years have passed and the forests have grown smaller.”
“Er, okay.” It didn’t seem strange to Sarah that she was having a conversation with a bird. Vaguely, she was aware that it should have seemed weird, but there was a dreamy quality to the day’s ending that made everything seem utterly reasonable.