Q&A with Charlotte Henley Babb
Any fantasy-fiction lover probably has a healthy appreciation and respect for the basics: fairy tales. I had the pleasure of talking with Charlotte Henley Babb, author of Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil. Babb is a modern day purveyor of fairy tales that specifically will appeal to middle-aged women who still have hopes and dreams:
Q: Many heroines are young in fantasy novels, why did you decide to make Maven middle-aged?
CHB: It was time for some new fairy tales. I am middle-aged—on the cusp of crone-dom. I sort of remember being 16, but I know women who are my age and older still have life and dreams and hopes. They should not be invisible. My mom still goes out dancing every Friday night at 80.
Boomer women are one of the largest demographics with the most disposable income in America, and they read. So I found my market and myself, and wrote about a character who is finding her way through the second half of life on her own, as many women my age are. Being over 60 and single is not the end of the world, though at forty, I probably thought so, and one of my girlfriends said she would commit suicide if she were not married by 40. But I know three women who married for the first time at 50. Life is not over at the first wedding, nor at the first funeral.
Q: What was your inspiration for the book?
CHB: I made an off-hand comment to a friend that I felt like a fairy godmother who was trying to transform the toads and frogs in my classes into princesses and princes. I’ve always liked fractured fairy tales, and fairy tale stories, so that was the logical thing for me to write.
It was also a way for me to work through the experience of being alone for the first time in my life at 40. My husband had died, my daughter was with her dad a good bit of the time. The original story I started out to write will probably be book four, when Maven has a fling and has to decide if she wants to give up fairy godmothering—or go into her own story to hide from Fiona.
Q: Who is your favorite character in the book? Why?
CHB: I’m very partial to Maven, of course, as she is sort of an alter ego who got to escape reality. But she has taken on her own characteristics and the stories have developed. I really like Belle, because she fears nothing and takes no stuff from anyone. I’m doing some writing to learn her history and how she and Fiona came to Faery. Grizelda the Troll is another favorite. She gets by with eating whatever bugs her. In many ways, she is quite the innocent, despite her ravenous appetite and her loneliness.
Q: If given the choice, would you want to become a Fairy Godmother?
CHB: It would be fun to grant wishes, but I am not sure I could overcome the temptation to grant my own wishes and make things go the way I think they should. I’m not as disciplined as Fiona. This may become a problem for Maven as she gains in understanding and power. Many of her predecessors have gone into their own stories and gotten out of the fairy godmothering trade. She will be dealing with some, even trying to recruit them to come back as the stories develop.
Q: Will we be seeing any sequels to Maven Fairy Godmother?
CHB: I have a work in progress, working title That Darn Maven, which has Fiona taking her revenge on Maven by turning her into a cat. Maven must grant three wishes while she is a cat—one who can’t talk or walk on her hind legs—before the turning of the moon. I have it plotted, and about a third of it written. I’m combining that story with the story of the Handless Maiden, the Three Bears, and Jack and the Beanstalk. As I’ve been doing research, I’ve found a number of stories that have not been Disney-fied, and they are quite different from the stories I grew up with.
About the Author:
Charlotte Henley Babb is a Web designer and college writing instructor in Spartanburg, S.C. Charlotte began writing when she could hold a piece of chalk and scribble her name–although she sometimes mistook “Chocolate” for “Charlotte” on the sign at the drug store ice cream counter. When her third-grade teacher allowed her access to the fiction room at the school library, Charlotte discovered Louisa Alcott and Robert Heinlein, an odd marriage of the minds. These two authors have had the most influence on her desire to share her point of view with the world and to explore how the world might be made better.
In the meantime, Charlotte has fallen prey to steampunk and the gears are turning…corset, bustle and magic, oh my! She brings to any project a number of experiences, including work as a technical writer, gasket inspector, cloth store associate, girl Friday, and telephone psychic. She has studied the folk stories of many cultures and wonders what happened to ours. Where are the stories for people over 20 who have survived marriage, divorce, child-rearing, education, bankruptcy and widowhood?
Charlotte loves Fractured Fairy Tales and writes them for your enjoyment.
Connect with Charlotte!