Today we have a very special guest on Wonkomance: fabulous writer and all-around nifty person Jeffe Kennedy! She’s here to talk to us about grownup fairytales (also winning at grandparenting). Take it away, Jeffe:
This past weekend I had occasion to visit a Toys R Us in Denver. Not, by any stretch, my usual habitat.
It was my grandson’s birthday and he wanted a LEGO thing, of a very particular variety. Those of you with younger kids are likely nodding along at this point, because you *know* about this phenomenon, which is apparently pretty huge. Something we never dealt with when our own kids were little. In our ongoing attempt to be at least decent grandparents – those of you how know me will understand I am not a cookie-baking, babysitting sort of grandmother – David and I wanted to get our grandson something he would enjoy. He’s a serious minded kid, with an almost scary level of concentration for all things engineering. All around, we can get behind giving him things to build for hours on end.
Along with three books, one of them a lushly illustrated fairy tale. *ahem*
So, I had picked out the books – since I am a book-obsessed sort of grandmother – and David was in charge of selecting the ideal LEGO thing. Because, for better or worse, he’s got the knack for picking out what lights up our boy’s heart. While he did that, I searched for a little present for our granddaughter, who is two years younger than her brother and still doesn’t quite understand if there’s nothing for her, too. I wandered over to the pink area of the LEGO stuff. (And no, this won’t be a rant about the Big Pink Aisles, though I’ve read the rants from you parents of little girls and I get what you’re saying.) I spotted a glass case with sparkly castles inside. And they were on spinners, so you could rotate them. Two little girls stood there, playing and chattering in electrified excitement.
When they ran off, I couldn’t help but give a castle a little spin, too.
Because Sparkly Fairy Tale Castle.
Yeah, I have that in me. I dressed up as a princess – in fact I reduced my mother’s tiered, ruffled, taffeta-and-net wedding dress slip to tatters over successive years because it made the perfect ball gown. Especially when draped with a floral former bed skirt. (Scarlett O’Hara, eat your heart out!) Even today, I have shelves of fairy tale books and all of those princess fantasies left over. Yes, I absolutely dreamed of being rescued by my prince charming. The idea of the hero who would fight his way through a wall of thorns to wake me with a kiss sent my girlish heart thumping.
True confession: It still does.
For me – maybe for a whole lot of girls, as the marketing gurus seem to have figured out – romance has long been tangled up with princes, heroes, a taste of peril, a pretty ball gown and, yes, sparkly castles. More than just romance. It’s about the sex, too.
I mean, come on, the princess gets carried off by the prince – after he wakes her, or brings her to life, with a kiss. I know I’m not the only one whose girlish dreams of pretty dresses and handsome rescuers morphed into adolescent fantasies of being tossed over the prince’s lap and having those colorful taffeta skirts lifted. Locked in a tower? Oh yes. Married off to the Beast? Mmm hmm. Getting to be queen and taking revenge on anyone who’d ever slighted me?? Yes yes yes!
Okay, maybe that last one isn’t sexual so much.
Janet Webb from Heroes & Heartbreakers, who did a tremendously insightful (okay, really flattering) First Look at my new book The Mark of the Tala, wrote me she doesn’t read the genre – if there is a genre label that fits, she added – but I’d hooked her and she’s waiting for the sequel. I told her my publisher calls it Fantasy, but that I think Fantasy Romance also fits. Janet suggested Grown-up Fantasy Fairytale. I replied with “YES! All of our princess fantasies, but with the sex overt instead of subtext.”
Which led to this post.
Because that’s what it comes down to for me – the intersection of romance, fantasy and sexuality. It’s not hip these days, to be into the princess thing. I get why, with the Big Pink Aisles and the problematic Disney princesses. I’m an independent woman, a feminist, a scientist. I have a graduate degree in a fairly rarified field (neuroscience) and I make the lion’s share of the money in our household working for an environmental consulting firm. Which makes me the kind of grandmother who gives her granddaughter books about animal bones.
But I’m also a romance writer. I believe in love, intimacy and living out one’s sexual fantasies – in fiction or nonfiction.
Thus, when David found me in another aisle, I had in my hands a sparkly unicorn, being ridden by a fairy girl with big translucent wings and flowers in her hair. He frowned at it a little, and remarked that our granddaughter had really liked the soccer ball he’d gotten for her last. I said, yes, but now she has a soccer ball and I wanted to give her this. A little girl walked by just then and I held out my find and asked her if she liked it.
Her lips parted, eyes went big – I probably could have tracked the pupil dilation – and she breathed out, reverently, “oh yes – that is awesome.”
Nothing at all wrong with indulging in what lights up our hearts.
You can find Jeffe all over the internet at:
Her website: http://www.jeffekennedy.com/
Her blog: http://www.jeffekennedy.com/category/blog/
Her beautiful and very NSFW Tumblr: http://www.jeffescloset.tumblr.com