Greetings, Champions! The time has come for the last of the Frog Prince/Timeless Fairy Tale themed posts. (At least until 12 Dancing Princesses launches, which sadly has been pushed back to early January since it is turning out longer than expected. Sheesh.) Today we’re going to cover what has been looming on the horizon of the Timeless Fairy Tales’ world since Beauty and the Beast. War.
For starters, I need to make a quick statement about war. It’s not glorious, it’s horrible, awful, and my heart goes out to anyone who has fought in a war or experienced the effects of war. Additionally, the battles fought in the Timeless Fairy Tales won’t reflect human conflicts but the battle between good and evil so it’s not going to be as mind-shatteringly horrible as it is in real life. Okay, let’s proceed.
With the ending of Frog Prince revealing that few surviving Chosen have plotted and grown over the century and are the cause of all the conflicts in the Continent, I had so many of you asking how I thought to do this, and how I was able to draw so many threads together.
The short answer is history. I am a big fan of history–mostly because I find it interesting with all the twists and turns, but also because Scholar Pierre was right. We constantly repeat history, or at least we repeat specific themes in history. But when it comes to starting wars there’s usually a couple of events that will serve as catalysts. 1) Someone royal (or rich, preferably both) is killed or mysteriously goes missing. Many credit the assassination of Franz Ferdinand as starting World War I. King Richard III assumedly killed his two nephews, princes and the rightful heirs to the throne, then dealt with two separate rebellions and was slain in battle. 2) The people themselves rebel. The biggest examples of this are the American Revolution and the French Revolution.
There’s obviously many many more reasons for wars, but these specific two are the ones I’m most familiar with in my admittedly very small knowledge of history. Since I knew I wanted the enemy, the Chosen, to represent a dark ideology (because, spoiler, they’ve only gotten worse every century since Rakel kicked them out of Verglas) I knew I wanted to underline how different the countries are and the politics between them (ie: the strained relationship between Loire and Arcainia, Verglas being in debt to Arcainia, Erlauf not winning any friend competitions due to invading Trieux, Ringsted being unwillingly isolated) and then use the darkness to bring them together.
Similarly, I knew the most effective way to make the countries feel the strain so they would be willing to come together was to put pressure on their people (Remember reason 2) AND the royal families. This was actually pretty easy to ponder through, mostly because of Angelique.
The entire Timeless Fairy Tale series spawned because I read a volume of fairy tales, and thought it would be absolutely wretched/hilarious if all the fairy queens/enchantresses/fairy godmothers who showed up were actually the same person. This worked perfectly into my plan because it meant that all of these horrible/awful things were all happening at the same time, and most fairy tales specifically involve royalty. (Hellloooo, reason #1!)
So how did I figure out how to create all these individual countries and portray the politics between them so it would be more dynamic when I brought them together? The answer is City governments. To run a city, things are broken out into departments, like: library department, parks and rec, Administration, fire/EMS, water and sewer, etc. While the city departments work to do what’s best for the city and to serve it, just as it is in any organization the departments have differing opinions on how to achieve that. The city will have a set budget, after all, and departments are always desperate to increase their budget so they can do more great things! But that means Fire/EMS–who save people and serve the front lines–might not be very sympathetic to the library director who really wants to get a new computer room. And Administration–who also handles accounting–might get really mad at fire/ems when they accidentally buy too many chemicals and blow their budget.
To be frank, you would often see these departments act like mini-kingdoms. Department heads who got along would sit together during meetings and support each other. If things were tense between departments everyone would be stilted and silent. I saw this up close and in person because for several years I worked as a newspaper reporter who covered a small rural town. (It often seems like the smaller the town, the more charged the politics since everyone is mushed together.)
However, there were always things the departments would work together for no matter what they thought of each other. The Fire/EMS department might have a show-and-tell day at the library, the administration office will sell tickets to the policemen breakfast, employees from water and sewer will run in a marathon held to raise funds for park and rec, and on it goes.
So when I built up my countries I tried to embody the struggles I’ve seen between departments. (And not just in city governments, but in supermarkets, small companies, I’ve found divisions like this in many of the places I’ve worked, the city government is just the easiest one to illustrate.)
So you mix up slightly contentious countries, combine it with strained royal families, add in all the catastrophic events from the fairy tales and what do you have? A continent filled with people who are facing some pretty grim odds. But while you often see the toll my books take on the royal family, you don’t often get to see the average citizens the royals are very concerned with. So how can I show how BAD things are when I can only dialog exchanged between my princes and princesses to deliver bad news? Again, the answer is in Angelique.
Angelique is a great embodiment of the strain the Continent and its people are feeling because she’s been there for almost every calamity in the past 16 years. You can see the progression of how bad things are getting based on her state of mind. (She’s about ready to lose it in Swan Lake and actually yells at a monarch in Sleeping Beauty, something she never would have dared to do back in the days of Puss in Boots.) Angelique also represents the knowledge you the reader have that the characters do not have. (Ariane does not know that Dylan was silent for a summer and sacrificed her pelt to contain a sea witch. Cinderella doesn’t know Elise sewed shirts for her brothers to break their curse.)
Angelique reminds you of all the storms, evil witches, invasions, and ogres the people have had to deal with, which adds darkness to the already black depths of the evil the continent is facing. She is really the key to the entire series, not just because of her power but because of her constant presence. Rakel freed people wherever she went in Verglas. Angelique, however, beats back the darkness so it never has a chance to settle.
But that brings about quite possibly the most important question in the series: How long can Angelique hold out against strain and exhaustion and keep fighting back? How much more can she do?
Thanks for reading, Champions! I hope you found this information dump interesting!