Pitch Madness #5 – Bethany Simonsen and “Fairly Grimm Tales”

Pitch Madness #5 – Bethany Simonsen and “Fairly Grimm Tales”

1. Let's hear your pitch.
Grimm villains are re-imagined and redeemed in this twist on the classic tales. Maleficent must avert the horrific fate awaiting Aurora, while Gothel faces an unbearable sacrifice in order to secure Rapunzel’s happiness.
(I’ve since reworked it based on advice from our wonderful slush readers.)

2. If you were querying me, what would the teaser of your book be?
Fairly Grimm Tales is a new twist on classic villains. These powerful women aren’t inherently evil; instead, they are flawed humans with extraordinary gifts. When faced with impossible choices, who will they sacrifice, and who will they save?

3. Who is your target audience? What genre is your book?
Adult Fantasy

4. How did this story come about? Who or what inspired you/this story?
I love fairy tales. I’ve enjoyed so many of the recent retellings, on tv, in movies, and in books. One night a question popped into my head: Could I make Maleficent good? (And not in the Disney movie way.) I wanted her to still do all the terrible things that exist within her story, but I wanted her evil actions to somehow be to Aurora’s benefit, even though they’re still dark and twisted.
I then applied that same approach to Mother Gothel. I wanted a way to redeem the characters, to give them more depth than the originals. Their stories really became tragedies; my villains are just as much victims of complex human nature and cruelties of fate as Aurora and Rapunzel are.

5. Is this your first book?
This is the first book I’ve tried to get published. I have one other Adult Fantasy that I’m going to have to rewrite one of these days, and another Adult Fantasy WIP that’s running way longer than it should. I’ve been writing since I was in Kindergarten, though. I’ve always had that drive, that itch in the back of my head to get something out on paper.

6. Why did you enter #PitchMadness?
I happened across a post about Pitch Madness a month ago, and I thought it sounded interesting. I made a goal this year to genuinely try to get published, to push myself out of my comfort zone. I’m not good with people, I’m you’re stereotypical socially awkward author (probably part of why I write). Pitch Madness seemed like a good thing to try; it’s free, increases my exposure to other writers, editors, and agents, and it really can’t hurt to enter. And I’m glad I did, because I’ve learned a lot of things and made quite a few new author friends.

7. Do you have any past experiences with this story you would like to share?
I’ve written for forever, like I said. I’ve done NaNoWriMo several times; it pushed me to get back into writing seriously as an adult, and I’m thankful for that. I did some editing work for free in college. I have one short story that was published 2 years ago, in a NaNo fundraising anthology. My story is S.A.R.A., a robots-pygmalion mashup. The anthology is titled “Believe Me Not: An Unreliable Anthology.” Every entry had to use an unreliable narrator, and the phrase “a cuticle in the space station.” It was an interesting challenge!

8. What can we expect from your story in the future, do you have any plans?
I’m hoping to get it published, obviously. Since my book is a pairing of fairy tale retellings, I’ve got a few ideas for doing a second volume, with a Rumplestiltskin redo and a funky Pinocchio-vampire-Snow Queen mashup. But I’m working on something completely different right now, so that’s on the back burner.

9. Can we hear an excerpt?
“Are you coming to the burial?” I asked the Woman bluntly. The sun would be going down soon, and we couldn’t put the unbearable task off any longer. She merely stood, stiff and silent before the warped mirror, staring at something I couldn’t see beyond our reflections.
I walked away, my own spine rigid with suppressed tears and anger.
We all worked together to dig a hole deep enough to protect poor River’s body. It was hard, slow work, but the stream helped soften the dirt enough that we could dig with our hands. Ten pairs of hands made the work go quickly.
Daria gently placed what was left of our River in the grave. Daria had always been the best of my sisters, the kindest, the least selfish. I wished sometimes that she had been my mother, even though she was two years younger than I. She was taller than me, just like everyone else, though, so I could still pretend.
Silently, we worked to cover River’s body. The meaninglessness of our efforts—the solemn digging and filling in of the hole—abruptly threatened to make me laugh. Bitter laughter was better than tears, I told myself. River was beyond our help now. At least hers was the last in a too long line of grave markers. At least she wouldn’t grow old and suffer from the same nightmares as the rest of us. At least she wasn’t hungry or sick any more. She was beyond fear and pain.
I envied her for that.

10. Have a website or social media platform for your story?
My blog is also a WIP, so for now, I just use my Twitter account for writing and promotion.

11. So will much of your retellings be familiar?
Yes it will in a central sense. Familiar protagonists and antagonists will appear in these retellings, but they won’t be immediately apparent to the reader.

12. If you could retell a protagonist story, and make them evil, who would you pick and why?
Well, that Pinocchio-vampire-Snow Queen mashup? Pinocchio isn’t a good boy.


You can connect with Bethany on Twitter @Bethanyrambles