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Karen Wiesner: The Stories Behind Classic Fairy Tales (Woodcutter's Grim Series), Part 3


Classic Tales of Horror Retold, Volume II Collection

by Karen Wiesner

Four Supernatural Fantasy Romance Novellas

This is the third of eight posts focusing on my Woodcutter's Grim Series and the stories behind classic fairy tales.

For the ten generations since the evil first came to Woodcutter's Grim, the Guardians have sworn an oath to protect the town from the childhood horrors that lurk in the black woods. Without them, the town would be defenseless…and the terrors would escape to the world at large.                                                

The second volume of the Woodcutter’s Grim Series focuses on a miniseries within the overall series dealing with a curse on the Shaussegeny family (who were mentioned in the previous three books as well as "The Amethyst Tower").


"Moonlight Becomes You", Book 4 

** Very loosely based on “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse”. When her child becomes deathly ill and none of the doctors and specialists can help him, Heather Rowe rushes to Woodcutter's Grim, hoping the boy's father can help their child. But Lance Shaussegeny's explanations terrify Heather, even though she's intensely attracted to him all over again. She soon learns that nothing in Woodcutter's Grim—including Lance—is what it seems. **

When I was putting together the first collection of Woodcutter’s Grim Series stories, I wrote a Story based on the children’s poem "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse"—something I adored as a kid and also when my son was very young. The story didn’t work out at all like I planned, so I set aside, figuring I could brainstorm and try to come up with another angle for the story that I liked still and didn’t want to forget. Well, later, when I was deciding on my contributions for the 2011 Jewels of the Quill anthologies, I remembered this story. I’d always been intrigued by the Shaussegenys, who were mentioned in all of the previous Woodcutter’s Grim Series stories. There were hints that the family was cursed by the evil in the town and made into werewolves, and I really wanted to explore that angle.

Even after I had the concept for this book worked out, I couldn’t think of a good title beyond “A Friend in Need” (which is what it was called when I first wrote a version it this and then found out it wasn't working and so shelved it). One day while playing a computer game, I was trying to brainstorm on the opposite side of my brain while I was playing. I toyed with the idea of moonlight, since it’s what brings werewolves out. Under the Moon, Moonlit Reflections, Reflections in Moonlight… Then I realized that the heroine Heather spends most of this story trying to deny what she subconsciously knows. “Moonlight Becomes You” struck me like a lightning bolt.

The classic nursery story "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse" is probably a moral story warning against envying those who are richer than you and instead being content with your lot, but my point with "Moonlight Becomes You" was the parallel in learning to live with monsters in our midst. 

"Bewitched", Book 5

** Very loosely based on “The Little Mermaid”. Glynnis Shaussegeny becomes bewitched by the mystery man who appears out of nowhere on the abandoned property across the lake from her family’s estate. But does Aric Sayer have even more dark secrets than she does? **

“Bewitched” continued the miniseries with Glynnis, the daughter of Marnie and Gav, and the mysterious new man who appeared across the lake. “The Little Mermaid” is one of my favorite fairy tales and so I knew I wanted to do a spinoff of it for my little horror town Woodcutter’s Grim. How to do it perplexed me for a long time because many of these stories are so loosely based on a classic fairy tale. It’s very difficult to fit a modern story into an older mold. I'd already set a precedence with everything that came before of not forcing something that doesn't want to go. In essence, I consider those "loosely based". For some reason, “Bewitched” perfectly fit into one aspect of the old fairy tale of "The Little Mermaid" and, after I realized that, the story pretty much wrote itself. It’s a fun, paranormal twist on a beloved story.

Glynnis had been in previous Woodcutter’s Grim Series books as a villain (since she’s the woman Kurt cheated on Diane with). I like to redeem characters, and I gave Glynnis motivation for her actions in that affair: Under the Shaussegeny curse, she believed Kurt was her chosen mate. In this book, she realizes he isn’t and never was when Aric Sayer appears. Since this miniseries become more paranormal romance than romantic horror, I wanted to start using some of the “lighter and softer” fairy tales as a basis for my modern retellings.

"The Little Mermaid" classic fairy tale that we all know and love has several contradictory interpretations by scholars. On one end, it might speak of a female only gaining a soul through marriage (say what?) or a self-sacrificing action that proves true love exists and therefore magic happens to reward the selfless act. On the other end, female empowerment--breaking free of the male conventions that can bind all females in some ways--are the order of the day in "The Little Mermaid". Or this story could simply have been prompted by the myths of malevolent mermaids preying on lonely sailors. 

"One Night of Eternity", Book 6

** Loosely based on “The House That Jack Built”. Gavin has broken the covenant with his wife. Although he regrets his faithlessness, the house he's built for himself is beginning to tumble down around him. Only his mate's undeserved forgiveness will free him from his punishment to re-live his betrayal over and over for all time. **

I’ve always been intrigued by the children’s poem, "The House That Jack Built", and when I started brainstorming on fairy tales that would make a good transition into my Woodcutter’s Grim Series, this poem was one of the first that I wanted to use. I came up with a simple, line-by-line outline of the story based on the poem, and the book really wrote itself after that. I just found it such a cool, circular idea. I especially enjoyed writing the story of a couple who has endured marital infidelity and how sin becomes so twisted in a paranormal situation like theirs. Their obsessive love for each other was obvious to me from their first moments thinking of each other in the opening chapters.

The origin of the nursery rhyme, sometimes titled "This is the House that Jack Built", seems to merely be one of repetitive, progressive verse.

In my modern retelling, the hero has to enduring his night of infidelity for all eternity, over and over again, progressively as punishment. How can he ever break free? The title came to me even before I worked out all the details in the outline.

"Beauty is the Beast*, Book 7

** Very loosely based on “Beauty and the Beast”. When Ransom Shaussegeny attempts to cure the family curse, he becomes a werewolf trapped in beast form and isolates himself inside the family fortress. Upon meeting a beautiful enchantress, he falls under her spell. Will the evil in Woodcutter’s Grim have the last laugh by dooming him, the woman he loves, and his family for all time? **

Another huge fairy tale favorite of mine has always been "Beauty and the Beast", and it was the obvious choice for the final story to wrap up this miniseries. Ransom’s family had accepted the curse they live under, but he’d never been willing to. He wanted to break the curse and he certainly didn't want to pass it on to a woman he’d fallen in love with. The idea that the hero is trapped in his werewolf form was beyond compelling to me, mingled with the mystery of a heroine who isn’t all she seems. In that situation, who is the beauty and who is the beast?

This title was one I chose for a modern story I wrote a long time ago and one that I can't imagine will ever see the light of day. In that coming-of-age tale concerning a young girl too beautiful for her own good, beauty *is* the beast. But it was the perfect title for this story, so I had to steal it off that book.

Ironically, the twist in this story of Tess's origins worked so perfectly in HUNTER'S BLUES, Book 9 (A Mirror Darkly World Novel) that I wrote much later for the series.

The origin of the classic fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast" seems to have stemmed from the Cupid and Psyche chronicle from an ancient Latin novel in which a woman is banished by a jealous god and forced to marry a beast. What followed is more than a little convoluted but makes for interesting reading nevertheless.

Reviews and Honors for WOODCUTTER'S GRIM SERIES, Volume II:

5 star review and Top Pick from The Romance Reviews

5 star review and Reviewer's Top Pickfrom Readers Favorite

5 star review from Huntress Reviews

5 star review from Linda's Reviews

4 1/2 star review from Love Romance Passion

Have you ever written a series that came to you in a non-linear order? Have you read any that were published out of order? Leave a comment to tell me about it!

Happy reading!

Find out more about this collection and Woodcutter's Grim Series here:

Karen is an award-winning, multi-genre author of over 140 titles and 16 series. Visit her here: 

This post first appeared on Alien Romances, please read the originial post: here

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Karen Wiesner: The Stories Behind Classic Fairy Tales (Woodcutter's Grim Series), Part 3


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