Taking a classic fairy tale and re-telling it in a fresh way is always a fun trope, especially when converting the action to science fiction romance. Recently a group of eight SFR authors tackled that challenge and issued a set of fun stories. I asked USA Today Best Selling Author Tiffany Roberts a few questions about the overall concept and then dug a little deeper to find out what sparked the story for each author.
Collaboration Blurb: Cosmic Fairy Tales is a collaboration in which several authors are retelling beloved tales with a science fiction romance twist. Each book is a standalone, containing its own Happily Ever After, and they can be read in any order.
Veronica for Amazing Stories Magazine: What was the spark behind the idea to create books around this concept?
Tiffany: The concept really just grew from a general let’s do a collaboration! attitude, and was actually one of a few inspired ideas the larger group came up with. All the great ideas posed by the larger group were voted on and narrowed down to two—Cosmic Fairy Tales being one of them. Many of us had long entertained the idea of retelling fairy tales with a sci-fi flare, and this allowed all the authors involved to find their inspiration and run with it in whatever directions their imaginations dictated.
ASM.: Who does your covers?
Tiffany: Each author worked with a cover artist of their choice, but to tie the series together, we went with a template created by Regine Abel so all the books had consistent branding and were visually tied together in some way. Tracy Lauren, Honey Phillips, and Bex McLynn worked with Maria Sparda, Tiffany Roberts worked with Cameron Kamenicky and Naomi Lucas, Susan worked with Kasmit Covers, Emmy worked with a close, personal friend, and Amanda created her own!
ASM.: And now for the individual author’s Q&A:
Susan Trombley, Rampion:
A free-spirited princess discovers an unusual person kept inside a mystery tower by an enigmatic caretaker with dark secrets that threaten everything she holds dear, and she must decide what path to choose before those secrets are discovered and the one she loves is destroyed.
Story spark: My first instinct when we decided to do a science fiction retelling of fairy tales was to go with Beauty and the Beast, because I love that story so much, but I wanted to do something different and challenge myself, as most of my stories have some Beauty and the Beast elements to them. I also envisioned a really tough, mischievous heroine, which isn’t the norm for a lot of fairy tales, so I decided to swap the roles in the Rapunzel tale and subvert it. Just for fun.
As for the artificial intelligence angle, that has been a subject I’ve wanted to tackle for a while now. I’ve flirted with the concept in my “Into the Dead Fall” series, but this will be the first book that really brings that concept to the center stage.
Bingeworthy TV series:
I love ‘Ancient Aliens’. I actually discovered it fairly recently, so I’ve been able to binge watch all the seasons and episodes pretty much daily. I’d always wondered what the memes were about until I started watching it. I love the theories. Not sure I believe them, but I definitely find them intriguing, and the show sneakily teaches me history, without making it boring, lol.
To Be Read List: Warlock’s Kiss by Tiffany Roberts, Bane by Regine Abel, Project: Adapt Found by Jade Waltz
USA Today Best Selling Author Tiffany Roberts, Escaping Wonderland:
Alice knows that Wonderland isn’t real, but with the terrifying Red King hunting her and chaos all around, her only hope of escape may lie in Shadow—a mysterious being with glowing eyes and a haunting grin who may be the maddest of them all.
Story spark: I always wanted to write a story inspired by Alice in Wonderland, and this collaboration presented the perfect opportunity to do so. For our sci-fi twist, Robert suggested that Wonderland could be an immersive virtual reality simulation—and from there, I pitched the idea that it was run in a mental institution that uses it to keep the patients docile (at least in the real world). The virtual reality aspect allowed us to explore the nonsensical, illogical, and unpredictable nature of Wonderland in the original story by Lewis Carroll, giving us plenty of room to allude to other versions of it while creating a world that was at the same time all our own.
Our first thought was to go with the Mad Hatter as our hero, him being one of the most popular characters across the most beloved versions of this tale—but it wasn’t very far into our planning phase that we realized the Cheshire Cat is more interesting and appealing to both of us. His particular brand of madness seemed more interesting to play with, and so our hero became our embodiment of the Cheshire Cat, a wandering agent of chaos.
Bingeworthy TV series:
We don’t watch TV very often, and because of that limited screen time, we don’t really tend to re-watch anything. Sometimes we’ll binge a series in the time off we take between projects—we’ve done that for several seasons of ‘American Horror Story’, ‘Game of Thrones’, ‘Stranger Things’, and several other shows, but just as often we find ourselves scrolling through lists on a few different streaming services and finding nothing that really piques our interest. Typically, we like character-driven stories (with characters that can be flawed but likeable) that have touches of sci-fi, fantasy, or horror.
TBR List: The Melier: Prodigal Son by Poppy Rhys, His to Keep by Taylor Vaughn, The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black
Bex McLynn, The Ugly Dukeling:
He wanted to take without giving, and she accepted his offer.
Story spark: It all started with the pun ‘dukeling’ instead of ‘duckling.’ From there, the story just flowed from a swan amongst ducks to an alien amongst people. Plus, I got to explore a mash-up that I’ve been dying to try and have seen others do—SciFi Regency. I came close, placing my story on a world that mirrors ours, but I still have a dream to write about an alien ship hovering over 19th century Hyde Park!
Bingeworthy TV series: I could watch ‘Farscape’ over and over. I loved the dynamics between the characters and how John strived so hard to do good, but a human’s sense of goodness was at odds with the worlds and aliens that he encountered. The writing and acting were fabulous, and I loved the creativity and skills that went into designing, constructing, and acting with the puppets. Loved it!
TBR list: Experiment by Marina Simcoe, Dark Matters by Michelle Diener
Emmy Chandler, The Lion and the Mouse:
When large leonine alien finds a mousy human woman in his hunting trap–stuck in his enclosure on a zoo planet–she begs him to set her free, promising to return the favor as soon as she can. He takes her to his home for her own protection, and sparks fly–until he realizes her family owns the global zoo that has kept him prisoner his entire life.
Story spark: The original fable, “The Lion and the Mouse,” seemed to me to fit perfectly into the human woman/alien man dynamic, and I’m a sucker for a “beast” of a hero. So I basically threw my lion and mouse into the same space and helped them overcome cultural barriers to give into a sizzling attraction. Writing this one was SO much fun!
Bingeworthy TV series: Right now, I’m binging ‘The Expanse’, and I feel like I’m late to the game!
TBR list: I’m really looking forward to Tiffany Roberts’ Escaping Wonderland and to catching up on several Ruby Dixon’s Bound to the Battle God series!
USA Today Best Selling Author Regine Abel, The Hunchback
Esmeralda, the greatest Vestal of her time, is courted by the two most powerful men of the First Circle, one of them a god. Yet, she only has eyes for the Fallen named Kwazeem the Hunchback. But their forbidden love can only be her downfall.
Story spark: Like a lot of women, Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale. However, I wouldn’t choose that specific story because the majority of my novels include that theme in one form or another. Just like with my first fairy tale retelling, Bluebeard’s Curse, I wanted to write about a story that had never been retold before, or at least very rarely. I also wanted a story where the hero got a raw deal in the original version so that I could give him the happily ever after he deserved. No one is more deserving of a HEA than Quasimodo. He should have gotten the girl instead of a gentle pat on the head. And, in my story, he definitely gets her!
I hesitated between the Hunchback and The Little Match Girl who also sorely needs a MUCH happier ending. But as I was taking my parents on their first trip to Paris earlier this year, it tipped the scale in favor of Quasimodo.
Bingeworthy TV series or movie: I’ve repeatedly watched the movie ‘Ready Player One’. I grew up playing games and lived through their evolution from the days of Pong to today’s augmented reality. I experienced first-hand the development of game consoles, each one more amazing than the last thanks to new technological advances. I have worked in the video games industry for the past 15 years. This movie, just like the book that inspired it, has so many nods, winks, and Easter eggs for all of us old school gamers. I always go into hardcore geek mode whenever I see it.
TBR list: The Experiment by Marina Simcoe, Kiss of Eon by Anna Hackett, Minotaur: Prayer by Naomi Lucas
Tracy Lauren, The Frog Prince:
Stolen from earth as a child, Madison will do anything within her power to get home. It isn’t until a green alien crosses her path that her dreams are finally possible, only they may not be the ones she’s been holding onto for all these years.
Story spark: Originally I had planned on doing a Peter Pan re-telling that I’ve had floating around in my head for a while now. But around the time I started writing, I read a few books where women were abducted and were able to go home and retrieve their child/children–which is awesome, because I have little ones and reading about being without your babies is a trigger for me. But I just started thinking… what if there was a kid who didn’t want to leave Earth? In my head, this disgruntled young woman who’s caught up in her mother’s happily ever after was the perfect lead for The Frog Prince. (Keep your eye out for that Peter Pan re-telling though! I haven’t given up on it!)
Bingeworthy TV series: As far as TV… sigh. My kids are little so we binge watch a lot of ‘Wild Kratts’ in our house. Though I can vaguely remember the days when I would force my husband to binge ‘Star Trek TOS’ and ‘NG’ every night. There have been a few shows I’ve gotten into lately. Unfortunately, they’ve all been cancelled. I think I’m cursed.
TBR list: Next on my TBR list is re-reading all of Bex McLynn’s books. I just finished Bane: The Ladyships Book 2 and I have the most depressing book hangover ever. I fell in love with Therion.
Honey Phillips, Jackie and the Giant:
He’s big and green and looking for a mate…
A big green alien, a feisty heroine, an evil storekeeper, and some helpful plants – this sweet and steamy fairy tale is not the story you remember!
Story spark: Several different things came together for me. When we originally discussed the project, we were talking about making the “monsters” of the fairy tales into the heroes. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of a castle in the clouds and I loved the idea of turning an evil giant into the hero! The second part was when I sketched a really bad mock-up of the cover and realized I was turning his hair into vines. I’ve wanted to play with a plant-based alien for a long time now and this was the perfect opportunity!
Bingeworthy TV or movie: I rarely watch TV series – when our TV is on, it’s usually on the Food Channel! But I love watching and re-watching almost any science fiction movie. Some of my favorites are ‘Serenity’ (of course!), any of the Riddick movies, ‘Independence Day’, ‘Armageddon’, ‘The Fifth Element’, and many others!
TBR list: Experiment by Marina Simcoe; Nadine’s Champion by Ruby Dixon and, of course, the rest of the Cosmic Fairy Tales!
Amanda Milo, Contaminated:
A Beauty and the Beast retelling with a (nearly) enchanted killer flower, and a hero creature from a lost planet who gets startled by a frightening alien beast.
…She calls herself a human.
Story spark: I found Alien Next Door: In Space No One Can Hear You Clean by Joey Spiotto on ThinkGeek, and laughed my tail off. It’s a spoofed children’s picture book where a Xenomorph from the ‘Alien’ franchise is this cleanly, domestic being who loves his cat and walks his facehugger. After being scarred as a child by a couple of movies, this is the book you need. It turns our terrifying monster into something cute and relatable. Which got me thinking: THIS would be ultimate Beauty & the Beast story. What if an alien who looked (somewhat) like a Xenomorph was actually a little (or a lot) obsessive compulsive, a clean freak, and gentle and shy? What if he was suffering from a misfortune of genetics that could nearly be cured by a special bloom? Then what would this monstrous-looking creature do if a hairy little human suddenly dropped into his well-ordered, quiet world… and tried to steal his seriously important flower?
Bingeworthy TV series: ‘Firefly’. We don’t have TV and it’s rare for us to sit and binge watch anymore, but when we do, we always hit our Firefly collection. The show has an interesting premise, it has lovable, flawed characters, and it has *hilarious* one-liners that you can apply to an endless number of your day-to-day situations. Movies: ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ & ‘Deadpool’, lately. The first one is sweet and funny, the second one a littttle violent (Disclaimer for those that have not seen it: in truth, it’s a LOT violent) with wicked, irreverent humor.
TBR list: Ooooh, fun question! Fantastical (Fantasyland Series Book 3) by Kristen Ashley, Tooth and Claw: A Lords of Arcadia Novel by R. Lee Smith, Eidolon (Wraith Kings Book 2) by Grace Draven