A Cinderella Story... Or Not!
When I first started writing The Man Who Could Never Love (titled, incidentally, The Bride’s Awakening in the UK), it was going to be a Cinderella story. The hero Vittorio suggests a marriage of convenience to the heroine Anamaria; he is not attracted to her at all. I couldn’t wait to write about how she is transformed in his eyes from ugly duckling to beautiful swan (I know I’m mixing fairy tales here, but they’re variations of the same theme, right?), planned on showing how stunning she looked in a gorgeous dress with great make up.
Yet as I got into the story, I found my characters had other ideas. The first time Vittorio took Ana shopping, she got mad. I wanted her to swoon over all the gorgeous clothes, but instead she turned them down:
“Ana,” Vittorio murmured, “you will look beautiful in these clothes. Surely you want to look beautiful?”
“Perhaps I just want to be myself,” Ana said quietly. She didn’t add that she was afraid she wouldn’t look beautiful in these clothes, or that she wished he thought she looked beautiful already. It was too difficult to explain, too absurd even to feel. She didn’t want Vittorio to want to change her, even if she was willing to be changed. She shook her head and pushed past him to the door. “I’m sorry, Vittorio, but I’m not going to be your Cinderella project.”
Ana leaves the boutique, much to Vittorio’s frustration and confusion. Yet at that moment he begins to want to understand her, and slowly he awakens to the beauty she already possesses--without any fancy clothes or makeup.
It occurred to me then that I was writing a different kind of fairy tale, one where the Prince starts to fall in love with Cinderella while she’s still in rags; the other ducks see the beauty of that little swan when they still think he’s a strange looking duckling. Ultimately Vittorio falls in love with Ana as she really is, without wanting to change her, and that, for me anyway, became a more powerful story than one of only outward transformation.
Do you enjoy reading Cinderella stories? I have a copy of my Balfour Brides book, Zoe and the Tormented Tycoon, to give away to one person who comments or emails me at firstname.lastname@example.org! Happy reading,