Hints and Insight from Kate SeRine
Here there might be spoilers – Beware! Or read all the books in the Transplanted Tales series first – that’s cool.
The Better to See You
Along Came a Spider
Our first question should be about world building. There’s something…Harry Potter about the Transplanted Tales, in that their world exists in our current world. You don’t ask us to imagine another planet or a Narnia. You don’t ask us to believe that these characters simply exist in our world, like vampires. You ask us to consider two separate worlds residing in one and then make us believe. Amazing. How did you come up with the Transplanted Tales universe?
The idea for the Transplanted Tales came to me during a conversation with my eldest son, who was 8 or 9 years old at the time. We like to have what we call “What if” conversations where he’ll ask me a question that’s totally out there and then we chat about it. The question that day: “What if fairytale characters were living next door to us?” We went on to discuss who it would be, what that Tale would do for a living, and so on. And as we chatted, I started to get a very clear picture in my head of a tough, hard-hitting version of Little Red Riding Hood — all grown up and ready to knock some heads. I practically ran to my computer to get it all down. All the other details just fell into place as I began writing.
In creating your characters and interactions, you’ve used readers’ general feelings and preconceptions of fairy tale and literary characters and both built on that and tore those associations apart. Was that intentional, or just character and story flow? Did you sit down and plan, or are you more organic, like “wouldn’t it be cool if…”? A little of both?
Oh, it was totally intentional! I have a very wicked, twisted sense of humor and have a great time turning all these stories on their heads to come up with something unexpected. Some of the characters were planned—working with Little Red Riding Hood meant I’d need to bring in the Big Bad Wolf in some way, and I figured the “biggies” would have to make an appearance (Cinderella, Snow White, etc.), but the actual twists on those characters often came to me as I was writing or doing research. If I was stuck on what to do with one of the characters, I would do some reading to see if anything about the origin of the story or the story itself would trigger something crazy.
Believe it or not, one of the characters I spent the most time researching was Lavender Seelie’s brother, Puck. Obviously, most people know him from Shakespeare, but Puck has a very long traditional in folklore that predates the Bard.
Seriously, how did you come up with Snow White as a madam? Jim “Prince” Charming as such a skeeze? And the “Willies” for the Shakespeare characters. Pure genius in a name.
LOL – You know, I don’t know if I’ve shared this with anyone yet, but Snow White’s character in the Tales was inspired by Mae West’s quote, “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.” And with Snow White being such a pristine, innocent character in name and deed, I couldn’t resist. Same kind of thing happened with Prince Charming. I had a lot of fun turning him into a philandering, unethical a**hole. One of my very favorite scenes in THE BETTER TO SEE YOU was in the beginning when he and Lavender square off. I still chuckle when I read it.
The Willies just sounded funny to me. Shakespeare’s plays can be rather bawdy and the double-entendre made me grin.
So, I guess, basically, I do all this just to amuse myself and hope it entertains other folks as well.
How do you mix all that with such sexy romance, thrilling mystery, and suspense?
It’s funny — I didn’t start off intending to write mystery or suspense, but it kind of morphed into that as I went. I really enjoy reading plot-heavy novels and so that’s what I tend to write. As Red’s voice took on that noir feel, the mystery/suspense elements all fell into place. And, for me, romance is a must in every project. I gotta have a happily ever after.
As for weaving all those elements together? Part of it is practice. I wrote my first novel when I was fourteen, but I guarantee you my writing is way better now after writing numerous other novels and partial novels in the twenty-*mumble* years since then. Part of it is study. I’ve read a little bit of everything from all genres and pay attention to what works and what doesn’t and try to figure out how to incorporate certain techniques into my own work. And then part of it is just instinct. I go with my gut.
You announced last week that you contracted with Kensington to write a novella continuing Tess and Nate’s story, giving us a glimpse into the trials and tribulations of their relationship hinted at in the second and third books. How did the addition to their story come about?
I’d always intended to tell this story. Nate does something rather drastic at the end of RED that I knew he’d have to pay for in some way, even though his intentions were noble and just. The Fairytale Management Authority was pretty understanding, of course, considering he took out a murderer and ultimately saved lives, but those who’ve read RED and already know Nate’s secret, realize that the FMA isn’t the only authority to which Nate has to answer. And they’re less forgiving.
And a contract for the fourth book in the series – congrats! Gideon! Okay, so, bribe, blackmail, pester, chocolate, champagne, whatever it takes. We gotta know. Who is his heroine?
Hehe. Her name is Arabella Locksley, but you wouldn’t know her by that name because the storytellers got her story all wrong…
Any plans for more? Puck, Mary, Snow, Cindy, what’s going on with Lavender’s parents, and the Pigg brothers? Or have different characters and stories been invading that clever mind of yours?
We’ll have to see where the series goes and if it continues. I’d certainly be open to writing more Tales under the right circumstances. I’ve planned books 5 and 6 in which Al Addin and Mary Contrary would both get their page time. And there are certainly other characters who would be coming back to visit. I don’t know that I’d do much with Snow or Cindy—they’re too much fun to use as foils for my heroines.
If I write another novella, it might be fun to do a story with Puck. He’s such an irresponsible, egotistical jerk it has really surprised me how much people like him. But he shows signs of finally growing up and being “tamed” at the end of book 2, so maybe there’s hope for him yet…
All that being said, I do have other projects I’m working on, so I’d be okay with bringing out something new as well.
Give us some inside info on any (or all) of the main characters–stuff that didn’t make it into the book. Thoughts, feelings, background, anything you know about them that we don’t. We love hints and insights!
Oh, wow. There’s all kinds of stuff that didn’t make it into the books. Let’s see…
Tess “Red” Little – Her father was mayor of the village where she lived in Make Believe, which made her affair with Seth even more scandalous. When Nate calls her cell phone, the ringtone is “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult.
Nate Grimm – I reveal a lot of his backstory finally in GRIMM CONSEQUENCES, but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned that the 1940 Lincoln Zephyr he drives was won in a poker game with Nicky Blue—one of the few times he’s actually beat his closest friend at the game.
Seth Wolf – He’s a big fan of BAND OF SKULLS (he’s wearing one of their concert T-shirts in book 2) and THE BLACK KEYS. His favorite poets are John Keats and Robert Browning.
Lavender Seelie –She likes to make chocolate chip pancakes for Seth on Saturday mornings. And she’s grown very fond of washing dishes (those of you who’ve read THE BETTER TO SEE YOU will know why *wink, wink*).
Trish Muffet – She has several degrees, including an MD, from various colleges and universities, but she never uses the title “Doctor”. Once tried to dye her trademark blonde ringlets brown, but turned them green instead. It was a reeeeeeally long few hours before they reverted to their natural color.
Nicky Blue – Made his initial fortune during Prohibition and expanded his business interests from there. Owns the Tale pub, Ever Afters, but pays Bob “Old King” Cole to run it and be the “face” of the business.
And, oh, all right… I’ll give you something on Gideon. When I write about him, I’m kind of picturing Chris Hemsworth (Thor) with the longish red curly hair of Josh Knowles from the History Channel’s FULL METAL JOUSTING (might have to look this one up if you’re not a nerd like me). Yummy, right? This is such a tough gig.
Thanks, Kate, for being such a good sport and for the great answers!
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