If you haven’t heard about the After Happily Ever After anthology, this interview series is a front row seat into the creative minds of the authors who have re-envisioned the fairy tale world beyond the final credits. Lorraine Sharma Nelson gives us a beastly spin on a popular fairy tale.
You have a very full life and career, including your work on the New England Regional Board for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. What draws you to this arena, and how did it come about?
Working with UNICEF on behalf of the world’s impoverished children goes back to the days of my childhood. My parents worked hard to help underprivileged children in all the countries we lived in when I was a kid. My dad always told my sister and me that if we were fortunate enough to live comfortably as adults, we would also have a responsibility to give back. He drummed that philosophy into us, so naturally, when I grew up, donating to UNICEF seemed like the most natural thing in the world to do. I went from being a donor to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, to being on a committee, to eventually being voted onto the New England Regional Board. Knowing that my family is playing a part in helping children not only survive malnutrition, starvation, and childhood diseases like Polio, but also get a chance at an education, is immensely satisfying on levels I can’t begin to express.
With such varied pursuits, how did you find your path to writing? Naturally, having a Bachelor’s in English Language and Literature and a Master’s in Mass Communications lends wonderfully to the craft, but not everyone ends up delving into the creative writing spectrum.
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. It’s as natural to me as breathing. By the time I was ten-years-old I’d written so many stories, my parents assumed, as did I, that I would grow up to be a writer. The idea of not being able to put pen to paper, or firing up the computer when inspiration hits, is something I can’t even fathom. For a long time, my children, and volunteer work, and life in general, took precedence, but I’m finally writing and submitting, and loving seeing my stories in print. I feel very fortunate to be able to pursue the profession I’ve always had a passion for (try saying that three times fast). Long live writers.
Do you have a favorite fairy tale, one that particularly speaks to you?
That’s a tough one, as I heard all kinds of fairy tales and folk lore in the different countries I grew up in. So many of them spoke to me at different stages of my life. I don’t think I have a particular favorite, although there are times I get the urge to revisit certain fables.
You’ve chosen “Beauty and the Beast,” and have tackled the very pragmatic view of a less recognized hurdle in relationships — when we discover that the person we met or fell in love with has changed is no longer that person. It’s a very poignant subject to my mind, because it’s an aspect of human relationships that doesn’t get much fanfare, but this happens in many different relationships along with marriage. I’d love to know more about how you ended up delving into this concept, how this evolved into the story you wrote.
I read “Beauty and the Beast” as a child, and watched a couple of screen versions of the story. Even at a young age I felt betrayed when the Beast, who was warm and caring, was suddenly replaced by this stranger, this human. I could never understand why Beauty wasn’t outraged by this sudden and disturbing turn of events, and didn’t demand that her beloved Beast be returned to her. Of course I was too young and innocent to consider the ramifications of a marriage between a human and a beastly animal. All I knew was that it was wrong that he was replaced by a human. Beauty deserved to be with the person she fell in love with, even if said person was a shaggy creature with fangs and claws.
Why choose “Beauty and the Beast?”
I needed to know, once and for all, what happened to Belle and Adam, after he reverted back to his human form. My story, “Beauty and the Beast: The Beast Within,” takes place after they’ve been married for a month, and Belle has come to the realization that she is still in love with the Beast, not this stranger who’s taken his place. The story of “Beauty and the Beast” is such a universally-loved fable, made even more so by the Disney version released in 1991. Surely there were other people out there who ‘shipped Belle and the Beast as I did? Maybe they were as curious as I was to know what happened to them. Did they live happily ever after, or was their marriage plagued with problems? Enquiring minds (mine) needed to know.
Lorraine Sharma Nelson grew up globally as a child, but for most of her adult life she has called the United States home. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature, and a Master’s in Mass Communications. She is on the New England Regional Board for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, and is grateful for the opportunity to do her part in helping children worldwide. In addition to being a writer, Lorraine is also a wife, and a mom to two amazing children. She is an avid sci-fi geek, who loves traveling, reading, movies, and coconut cupcakes, though not necessarily in that order. Lorraine has written a number of short stories, and is published in horror, sci-fi and fantasy. Her latest short story, “Beauty and the Beast: The Beast Within” is published in an anthology entitled, After the Happily Ever After, fromTransmundane Press, Dec. 2016. The story takes place after the Beast has transformed back to human form and marries Belle. After a month of marriage, Belle realizes that this is not who she fell in love with. Prince Adam is very different from her beloved Beast. And this is where the problems begin. Lorraine has a blog post on the Transmundane Press website, on the dark side of “Beauty and the Beast.”
Her website is currently a work-in-progress, but please feel free to drop by anyway: lorrainesharmanelson.com.You can also find her on Twitter: @loneriter