MASQUE will be 1 year old on February 1st! I’m going to be hosting a big giveaway early next year (keep your eye out for great prizes!), but in the meantime, here’s a blog post on my inspiration for MASQUE and–most particularly–Isabella Farrah.
Isabella Farrah is probably the most fully-formed character ever to spring from my brain to the page. The first moment I ‘met’ her, I knew almost everything about her. I knew she loved tea and fine biscuits. I knew she had red hair. I knew she had an irrepressible and somewhat sarcastic sense of humour. I knew she was nosy. I was quite certain she was stubborn. I had more than a hint of the fact that she liked fine clothes, assuredly didn’t like horses, and was always dressed to the nines no matter what the occasion. And as the daughter of the Civetan Ambassador, it was obvious that she knew how to handle people.
Knowing all that, MASQUE was the easiest book I’ve written. It was just a matter of my fingers trying to keep up with my brain. I may have even given myself typist’s sprain in several fingers.
Therefore it feels like a bit of a cheat to talk about inspiration when it comes to Isabella. You see, I didn’t exactly feel inspired by anyone or anything to write her. She was just there. I was excited at the idea of writing a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and Isabella simply swept in and took over the story. It wasn’t even a matter of me reading a character I liked and thinking ‘Oh! One day I’d like to do a character like that!’
Isabella is certainly not free of inspiration and heritage, of course: she’s a product of a long and varied reading career. Built into her are thousands of hours of soaking up authors like Austen, Heyer, Pratchett, Aiken, Wrede, Wynne-Jones, and so many more. She is, however, the character who leapt most obviously from my own imagination. I can pinpoint the genesis of most of my other characters. Isabella feels like she was always there at the back of my mind, just waiting to come out and play.
MASQUE itself certainly has its own distinct genesis of inspiration. I had previously written a Red Riding Hood retelling (WOLFSKIN) that was seeing some pretty hefty revisions (aka, being rewritten from the ground up) and I knew that I wanted to write more retellings. Oddly enough, MASQUE came about because I was thinking of the fairytales that I wouldn’t rewrite. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favourite fairytales, but with such great contenders already in the field, I felt that it had been done nearly to death. What possible twist could I bring to the story that hadn’t been done before–not to mention being done better than I could ever do it? Then I thought: ‘But if I did do it, this is how I’d do it–“
–and the rest, as they say, is history.
Looking back on this first year of MASQUE, I’m delighted at all the new people I’ve met, and all the feedback I’ve received. So whether you’re re-reading MASQUE or diving in for the first time, I hope you have at least as much fun reading as I did writing it!