Guest Blog: K.E. Saxon
Good morning, readers! Today I thought I’d share my journey to creating my contemporary reworking of the fairy tale romance, Diamonds &Toads, but first, let me give you a short description of the story:
Inspired by the Gordon Laite illustrations in my childhood book, My Little Golden Book of Fairy Tales, and with a nod to the 17th century author of the fairy tale, Charles Perrault, DIAMONDS & TOADS is a modern take on the tale of the same name, but with more emphasis on the love story. Crossing genres between hot/steamy contemporary, comedy, and fantasy romance, it is written in two parts, the first concentrating on the “good” Perrault sister, who is blessed by the family fairy with a fortune from diamonds and an engagement to the man of her dreams, while the second concentrates on the “bad” Perrault sister, her curse (her every utterance an obscene and humiliating quip), and her “frogman” ex-lover. In both parts, the fairy’s often comical appearances and maneuverings serve to further the plots to their “happily-ever-after” conclusions.
For those not familiar with the original fairy tale on which my modern take is based, it’s the story of two sisters, one gentle and kind, the other selfish and cross, each of whom encounters a fairy in disguise, first a beggar woman and then a fine lady. The gentle sister is kind to the beggar woman and is blessed with diamonds and roses tripping from her mouth each time she speaks, while the selfish sister is rude to the fine lady and is cursed with toads and serpents flying from her mouth each time she speaks.
When I decided to try my hand at reworking a fairy tale, it only took a moment for me to decide upon Toads & Diamonds (a.k.a. Diamond & Toads). Firstly, because it is not a fairy tale that has been redone often, and secondly, because it also happens to be one of my favorites from childhood. The romance is already in place, one only had to expand on the story to develop and show each character’s arc in order to get each character to her (and his) happily-ever-after conclusion.
As a person who enjoys the glittery, fairyland-like Disney versions of fairy tales, and also as a person who doesn’t actually believe in fairies (but who wishes with all her heart and soul there really were fairy godmothers), it was a no-brainer that I would write the story as a comic, light, sexy romp set in the real world of modern times, with the fairy playing matchmaker. I wanted the magic to be part of the storyline in the same way that Samantha Stevens’ magic was part of the storyline in Bewitched.
I wrote the “bad” sister’s story first—actually, only ever intended to write that story—it wasn’t until after I’d put Isadora’s story to bed that my muse began to taunt me to round the story out with the “good” sister’s story as well. In fact, I’d already begun plotting and working on another contemporary romance, when one morning I awoke with the idea that the good sister should actually have a secret “bad girl” vice of being a dominatrix!
After that idea took hold, I couldn’t ignore the urge any longer to write her story as well.
My only problem was that I needed somehow to mesh the fact that Delilah is a good, gentle, biddable soul with her secret vice. I knew that her arc needed to be learning to stand up for herself, and I knew that being a dominatrix was the pinnacle of showing that she could do such, however, how to put the two together? Thankfully, during a brainstorming session with my wonderful critique partner, she suggested the idea that the domme thing be a means of learning to assert herself. That was the key that unlocked the whole story for me and after that, the rest of Delilah’s story fell into place. Now I had the conservative, wealthy, socially prominent hero who needs money fast, serendipitously having the opportunity to become engaged to Delilah just when the fairy’s magic starts to work and she’s made millions in diamond stocks. Boy, is he shocked when he discovers her dirty little secret. The shock soon turns to fascination and then the sparks really start to fly, both in and out of bed.
For Isadora, the “bad” sister, I needed something ‘real world’ to represent the toads and lizards spewing from her mouth each time she speaks. Inspiration struck with the idea that she be cursed with the inability to control her speech, with having every utterance be of a humiliating and inflammatory nature. I had a great time coming up with things for her to spout against her will. I also wanted to redeem her. I thought, “What would drive a young woman to be so image-conscious and self-involved?” Well, a mother who rides her to fit in and constantly reminds her she’s better than all her peers, for one thing. So what type of hero would create the most tension to a woman who is an image-conscious social climber and force her to embrace the person she really is deep down inside?” Why, a guy who lives on an old houseboat, is more comfortable in jeans and flip flops than designer clothes, and who is not even remotely interested in “society”. In fact, as a marine biologist, Sam is in his element out on the ocean for months on end. Add in the fact that she dumped him years before because her mother didn’t think him suitable, and that her mother actually wanted her to snag her half-sister’s new fiancé instead, and you’ve got a real pressure cooker of conflict and angst when Sam shows up unexpectedly at the engagement party.
Thank you for stopping by today and I hope you enjoyed learning a little about how I developed my characters and the story.
Thank you so much, Lucy, for inviting me to post here today!
Once upon a time, there were two sisters, one blessed,and one cursed by fairy magic…
So each sister’s story begins.
Delilah Perrault is blessed with riches beyond her wildest dreams and the man she’s had her eye on for ages–even though he secretly has designs on her newfound wealth instead. Delilah’s half-sister, Isadora, is cursed with having her every utterance come out as an obscene and humiliating quip, just when the gorgeous hunk she dumped years before under pressure from mama swaggers back into her life.
If you like Bewitched, Sex and the City and Gossip Girl, try out this modern girl’s fairy tale.
K.E. Saxon is a third-generation Texan and has been a lover of romance fiction since her first (sneaked) read of her older sister’s copy of “The Flame and the Flower” by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. She is a member of the West Houston Chapter of Romance Writer’s of America and is a devoted subscriber to the Romance Divas online forum. She has two cats, a 24-year-old cockatiel, a funny, supportive husband, and a garden that’s been fried by the recent drought. When she isn’t in her writer’s cave writing, you can find her puttering in her organic vegetable garden or in her kitchen trying out a new recipe. An animal (and bug) lover since before she could speak, she made pets of all kinds of critters when she was a kid growing up. Her mother even swears that she made a pet of a cockroach one time (but K.E. doesn’t believe her). She likes to write funny, sexy romances.