Today is day 12 before CROWN OF ICE is released. So I am bundling the letters Q and R — Q for Queen and R for Royalty.
One of the interesting things I discovered while researching “The Snow Queen” and Hans Christian Andersen, is how Andersen felt about royalty.
In many fairy tales, the main characters are princes, princesses, kings, or queens. Not so in Andersen’s tales. Raised in a lower middle class home, Andersen was more a man of the people than a court insider. Although he garnered royal patronage over time, his literary fairy tales rarely focus on royalty. When they do — such as “Emperor’s New Clothes” or “The Princess and the Pea” — it is often for satiric effect. Most of Andersen’s protagonists are ordinary people, such as soldiers, tradesmen, or village girls.
In “The Snow Queen”, Andersen’s main characters are two rather ordinary young people — the boy, Kai, and the girl, Gerda. His queen — the Snow Queen — is more a representation of winter and the power of ice and snow than a real person.
In my novel, CROWN OF ICE, I chose to keep Andersen’s focus on “ordinary” people. Thyra Winther, the Snow Queen, is actually a village girl who’s been transformed by a wizard. Although her intelligence and strength of will are not exactly “ordinary,” she does not start life as a royal, nor is she secretly some “chosen one” who’s heritage is yet to be revealed. She is just another village girl — except for the little matter of her extraordinary intelligence, her skill at mathematics, and her indomitable will.
I like exploring the world of fantasy from the perspective of those who are not royal, or of the highest rank — perhaps why I love J. R. R. Tolkien’s use of Hobbits as main characters. Part of my enjoyment of such tales is that It’s the “ordinary” people/creatures who achieve great things, perhaps helped by “royals” and perhaps not. At any rate, I have always loved stories that include characters who are more like the general run of humanity, and this has definitely influenced my writing.
My protagonist, Thyra Winther, may be the Snow Queen, but she is also a village girl. She has been transformed and given power, but she has not lived a life of ease and luxury. This is important in relation to her character and the tone of the book. This is not a story about royalty. It’s a story about an ordinary girl who learns — through great struggle — to become extraordinary.