Thursday, February 05, 2009

Princess of the Midnight Ball

When I was little I always wanted to be a princess. In fact when adults asked me what I was going to be when I grew up, I always told them I was going to be a princess. My older siblings tried to dismiss this career choice by pointing out that you had to be born a princess, and besides, queens had the real power.

But I was adamant. I wanted to be a princess.

This is because I adored fairy tales and princesses were always the ones wearing poufy dresses, looking gorgeous, and having fun and adventures. I wanted all of that. Especially the poufy dresses.

One of my favorite fairy tales was The Twelve Dancing Princesses. The short synopsis of this story is: Although the twelve beautiful princesses are locked in their room every night, every morning their dancing slippers are worn through. The King, vexed by this mystery, offers the hand of one of his daughters along with his kingdom to any man who can find out where his daughters go. If they fail, after three nights they will be beheaded. Many kings’ sons come to try and solve the riddle but they all fail.

Finally a soldier comes through town. He meets one of those kindly old magical women who just hang around street corners waiting to help the pure in heart. She tells him not to drink anything the princesses give him (which is laced with a sleeping potion) and gives him a magical invisibility cloak. He follows the princesses to an underground world where they dance with twelve princes (The Grimm brothers don’t say for certain, but I’m pretty sure these underground princes all look like the Jonas brothers.) The soldier brings back proof of this magical place to give to the king. Having solved the riddle, he wins the princess of his choice and the kingdom.

If you had asked me what the moral to this Grimm fairy tale was when I was a child, I would have said that it was either a) your father does indeed want to stop all your fun or b) if you are going to dance the night away with secret princes you should get sturdier shoes.

Now that I’m an adult I clearly see that this story is a cautionary tale for men: If you can’t figure out women and their secret worlds, you don’t stand a chance. Your head might as well be rolling on the floor. However, if you can stay awake long enough to discover the inner world of a woman, you get the whole kingdom.

And a very good moral it is too, men, so listen up.

This by the way, is not what Jessica Day George’s book, Princess of the Midnight Ball is about. At least not moral-wise. She does follow the fairy tale pretty closely, except that her version makes a lot more sense than Grimm’s did.

She explains who the underground princes are, why there are twelve of them and twelve princesses, and why they must dance every night. She also explains why the princesses have to keep it a secret, why the princes who fail to solve the riddle end up dying, and why there was that kindly old lady hanging around the street with magically items. (I don’t know about you, but even though I occasionally give money to beggars on street corners, not one of them has ever produced a magic cloak for me.) Jessica Day George even supplies what was missing in the original fairy tale, a villain who is capable not only of dooming the princesses but their whole kingdom as well.

The story is both believable and enjoyable and you will like the twelve princesses—especially the heroine, Rose. Galen, the soldier, is also a great character. (You have to love a man who not only sends flowers to a woman but can also knit his own socks.)

This is one book that the whole family will enjoy reading.
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Here are some questions I asked Jessica:

Were you like me as a little girl--did you always want to be a princess? If not, what were you going to be when you grew up?

I did want to be a princess! I had a whole imaginary world I lived in. I had a horse, and a pet wolf, and a dragon, and I had hair down to my ankles (can you imagine actually having to wash hair that long? ugh!), and I lived in a marble palace with a huge pool in my room for bathing. There was more, it was very elaborate.

What is your favorite fairy tale?

East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon, which is the basis for my book Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. Polar bears, trolls, and magic, oh my!

Did you imagine any specific person when you wrote about Galen or Rose? If so who?

I didn't, actually. Galen just popped into my head one day, marching along and wearing about five scarves because he was a knitter as well as an ex-soldier , and then I asked myself: what kind of girl would Galen fall for? What kind of girl would the oldest of twelve cursed princesses be? And Rose came from that.

I know you have small children. What's your writing schedule like?

Any free moment I can get! Usually the afternoons, now, when my four-year-old is watching a movie or playing, and the baby's sleeping. I used to write in the mornings, but with the late night feedings, I usually sleep until almost eight, and meanwhile the four-year-old has started waking up at 6:30! He just hangs out in his room, chatting with his toys and monkeying around, until I get up. What a nut!

What's next?

Dragon Spear, my third and final book about the seamstress Creel and her dragon friends!


Sounds great! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

23 comments:

Anna said...

Sounds like a good book! I'll have to check it out sometime! I do like the twelve princesses fairy tale. Thanks for the info! :D

Meredith said...

I have a feeling that you would like The Night Dance by Suzanne Weyn. It is one of the books in the Once Upon a Time series and is one of my favorites. I think that I will like Princess of the Midnight Ball.

~Meredith

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

What a fun interview! I can't wait to read the book. I, also, wanted the poufy dress as a kid. Sometimes still do... ;-)

Shari said...

First, I have Jessica's new book, but my daughter has confiscated it and won't give it back. I am looking forward to reading it, though.

Second, you have awesome taste in backgrounds!

Valerie Ipson said...

I'm hooked. I'm getting this for my daughter, so I can read it! Don't worry, I'm getting yours, too, Janette. Thanks for sharing the interview with us.

Heather B. Moore said...

I'm excited to read this book. Although I'm a little peeved because if I WERE ever to write a fairytale book, it would be on this story line. Oh well. Maybe I'll wait about 10 years.

Right now my writing schedule is noon-2:00 when my daughter is at preschool. I'd better stop reading blogs :)

Julie Wright said...

I got the email today that my order for this bok has shipped. I am so excited to get it! And I simply adored your book, My Fair Godmother. It was clever and well worth every mintue of reading.

Janette Rallison said...

Heather, I thought the same thing! Ah well, a bunch of people have done Cinderella . . .

Ginger said...

Haley and I are both reading the book. I got it from your Goodreads.

David G. Woolley said...

Janette:

Sorry to cut in here on all the fun discussion, but I have dissed by none other than Kerry Blair. I asked what I thought were three legitimate questions about your latest release, My Fair Godmother, over at the Frog Blog. She simply refused to pass them on to you for answers becuase they weren't serious enough for her. Can you believe her arrogance? When I complained she told me I'd have to ask you directly. So here I am. And these are my three questions. You do know Jeff Savage and Rob Wells, don't you? Authors both, over at the frog blog.

Here they are in reverse (twisted) alphabetical order:

C. On the cover of My Fair Godmother, is that a photo of your husband in a wig or is it Jeff Savage? I know I've seen that tutu somewhere before.

B. How often do you get fan mail from 14-16 year old boys not including Rob Wells?

And finally:

A. If this book is turned into a movie, can you tweak it enough so I can have Jeff Savage's role. I so want that wand!

Janette Rallison said...

C. The tutu looks familiar because it is Kerry's. She's good about lending things to me that way.

B. Rob has never written me email, but I'm still hoping.

A. The part of bitter leprechaun is still available. Do you want me to put in a word with the producer for you?

A1/2 Bill Gardner and James Dashner are both mentioned in this book. Jeff Savage should definitely be nervous as should you, David, since you have never signed any of your books for me.

David G. Woolley said...

I only sign books for people who read that kind of stuff...

Alas, there are no godmothers, no wands, no tutus, nothing that would interest you of Jeff Savage. Sorry.

I am working with a really cool compass these days if that tweaks your curiosity. Probably not. I should have said a really cool GPS decoder ring from a sixth century BC cereal box. Why don't I ever write what I mean?

Tristi Pinkston said...

I love fairy tales and I love Jessica Day George, so I'm definitely grabbing this one!

Lillian Syville said...

The Book is amazing, along with all of Jessica Day George's Books. Im in love with them.

kaykay said...

im sorry i havent chated for over 2 years. i have a ? for u do have a thick book like 1 like stephine meyers i of her boks that she made bc i have finely started reading more and im 13 almost going on 14 thats said that i just started like reading again. So do u have a a book thats real thick like 300-400 pages long. Im sorry i have nt read all of playing the field YET but i promise u its realy good and i will. thakz kayla

kaykay said...

hey dont say ur old bc ur not i think ur still young and beautiful
love kayla

kaykay said...

sorry and also it realy all wasnt her it was realy my cousion sky u rember her. U might not but she keeps me updated on the most amazing books that everyone likes (not say that ur books r bad i think there good)

Janette Rallison said...

Hi Kaykay,

Try My Fair Godmother. It's actually about 360 page book, but because my publisher was trying to conserve paper (and thus costs) they made the print smaller and put three additional lines of print on every page, thus chopping off about 50 pages from the length.

kaykay said...

thankz i will try and ask for it for my birthday. are u friends with stephine meyer im just cureus.hey can u go 2 my blog and lok at the one that talkls about my friends sister and her. Well they fight all the time and there parents told me that they have no rules and they let there kids hit each other and its not a realy good thing 2 do. Also be there when there in a fight. I just want 2 run back home when they r.

kaykay said...

how long is this book Life-Love-Pursuit-Free-Throws ?

Janette Rallison said...

Free Throws is 185 pages.

Stephenie and I both live in Arizona and for awhile were in the same writers' group so I talked with her a few times before she became ultra famous, but now she likes to keep out of the public eye so I haven't seen her in years.

kaykay said...

o im still asking for it bc it sounds so good but i try 2 show of the book that i have the baseball 1 and tell ever1 that ur books r good bc i want ur books 2 become popular 2 bc i think that they should bc i love them. can u make like 4 books that go together like she did or ur people wont let u? bc i think that would be kool. the schools libery and the public libery in our town doesnt have any of ur books and i have been asking them 2 get some THEY WONT GRRRR. well i guess i will keep trying.
Well i hope ur having a good day love kayla
p.s. i just remembered the liberian wants 2 read my book but i dont loan my books out but u should trust a teacher or a liberian.

Anonymous said...

The story of the twelve dancing princesses was my favorite when i was little i used to get it out at least once a week :)