Sunday, May 18, 2014

Rumpled by Lacey Louwagie Excerpt & Interview

 Re-telling / Fantasy

Date PublishedMarch 3, 2014
Gold for a poor girl,
Beauty for a twisted man,
A child for a powerful sorcerer . . .

Rumpelstiltskin can change anything he touches into gold, but he cannot change his own twisted body. The sorcerer Laurus can make Rumpelstiltskin tall, strong, and handsome—but he will only work his magic in exchange for a child in its first year of life.

When Emily’s deluded father claims she can spin straw into gold, the King demands proof. Caught between a mad father and a mad king, Emily’s life hangs in the balance. Rumpelstiltskin will help keep up her ruse for three nights—if she promises him her firstborn child.

When the King decides to marry Emily, the pretense must continue for much longer. And what Emily offers Rumpelstiltskin in return for his continued help has the power to change everything.

This retelling of “Rumpelstiltskin” is best suited for ages 14 and up.

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Every night, we spent three hours together after the rest of the palace had gone to sleep. The first two hours, I taught her to calm her mind, to feel and direct the magic we all carry in our bodies, to memorize the incantations. I explained to her that neither the straw nor the gold thread were significant to transmutation. “I simply used what you'd been given to create something that matched the expectation. But once you learn to transform one substance to another, you can create thread from dust or rocks or a pile of dung. Or you can create coins or buttons or parchment, for all I care. The principle is the same, regardless.”
But despite Emily's dedication, I could not coax a single transmutation from her hands even after weeks of teaching. One night, in frustration, I said, “Perhaps if you feel what happens when I transmute . . .”
I rummaged around my room until I found a length of cord. I took one of her hands and placed it atop my own, both hands palms down. Then I bound our wrists together and reached for the empty glass upon my desk. As I attempted to transmute it into a block of gold, Emily gasped and tried to jerk away at the feel of the power passing through my fingers. I dropped the glass before the transmutation took hold, and it shattered upon the floor.
“You see?” I said. “This is painful, Emily. If you want to learn this, you mustn't fear it. Respect it, yes, but don't fear it. Magic is like a wild horse; if it senses your fear, it will trample you.”
Emily was trembling, her eyes fixed upon our knotted hands. My anger dissolved at the sight of her slender, white hand cupped over my own gnarled, hairy one. It was then that I realized I'd mirrored the simple hand-fasting wedding ceremonies the peasants employed. With my other hand, I transmuted the cord into rose petals that softly fell away from our wrists, setting her free. 

Lacey Louwagie

Lacey has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil and fold a few pieces of paper together. Her first book, full of pictures of unicorns, started her on the path of writing science fiction and fantasy. She has worked as a freelance writer and editor, magazine editor, reporter, and librarian. She lives in a tiny house in South Dakota with her husband, two cats, a dog, and hundreds of books.

Where are you from?
Currently, I live in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I grew up on a farm in Southwestern Minnesota, then spent seven years on the shores of Lakes Superior in Duluth, Minnesota, after I graduated college. A part of my soul will always be there.

Tell us your latest news?
Now that I've finally got "Rumpled" out in the world, I'm returning to my work-in-progress, which is a retelling of “Rapunzel” that has been on hold since last summer. I'm on draft 2, which I'm hoping to finish by November so I can participate in NaNoWriMo; I'll probably be working on a retelling of Snow White or the sequel to "Rumpled."

When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing before I even knew how to write by putting together booklets of illustrations; I would then tell the story to my mom, who sometimes wrote it down. Creativity was very encouraged in our household, so I guess I started because it was fun, I loved books, and I loved drawing unicorns! Once I learned how to write, I added words to my picture books, and over time my writing became more and more words and fewer and fewer pictures.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I started considering myself a writer after I decided it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, when I was ten years old. At that time, I had a teacher who made the class write stories almost every day. One day he caught me after school while I was waiting for the bus and asked me if I had ever considered being a writer. I said no, that I wanted to be an actress. He told me my writing was very good and that I should keep at it. That's when my dream reoriented itself from acting to writing, and I started to take it very seriously. Since age 13, I've been writing almost every day.

What inspired you to write your first book?
It's hard for me to pinpoint what counts as the “first” book; there were the unicorn picture books in the beginning, and then I wrote a bit of novella-length fan-fiction as an adolescent. I wrote my first full-length novel, a high fantasy called “Till the Stars Fall From the Sky” when I was fifteen. I was inspired by a love of dragons and feelings of isolation—similar to “Rapunzel,” my first novel featured a protagonist who spent much of her life cut off from the rest of the world. The story was really a metaphor for my own feelings of claustrophobia and isolation, growing up as an awkward, bookish teen in a school that prized sports achievement and popularity above all else. I made the mistake of becoming a cheerleader in an attempt to “fit in,” and I absolutely hated it. But because I wasn't a quitter, I stuck out the season. I survived all those tedious basketball games by daydreaming about the novel I would write when it was all done. And come the end of the season that spring, that's exactly what I did!

Do you have a specific writing style?
My writing really straddles the line between literary fiction and genre (fantasy) fiction. On the literary side, I spend a lot of time on character development and really care about the sound and feel of the language, the way the sentences are put together. But my subject matter is almost always within the realm of science fiction and fantasy. I read all over the map—science fiction and fantasy, literary fiction, memoir, young adult, classics—and I think this all melds to keep my style from sounding too much like any one particular kind of writing. I really like to write my stories in first-person—first-person narration has been a favorite style of mine since I was a kid—so I try to let the character's “voice” inform my style to a certain extent. But I also know that a little bit of me—the way I sound when I write letters, or in my journal, or any other novel—leaks into anything I write. 

How did you come up with the title?
It's funny, because with most of my stories, I end up naming them something kind of flippant when I save them on my computer. I have to be careful, though, because sometimes those names stick. "Rumpled" was like that—because it's a story about Rumpelstiltskin, I thought "Rumpled" was a cute way to refer to it. I was open to changing the name eventually—but as people started to read it, they also told me how fitting the title is. And it's true. Not only is it a play on Rumpelstiltskin's name, but it also brings to mind a state of being disheveled, and even might have a slightly sexual connotation (think: rumpled bed sheets). All of those implications play into my retelling of Rumpelstiltskin—so I kept the name. Hey, if it's not broke, don't fix it!

What would you like my readers to know?

I know that there are a LOT of books out there begging for your attention, especially if you're someone like me whose interests span several genres. Because of that, I really appreciate the readers who give indie pieces like mine a chance. I want those who are considering it to know that I spent three years on it, and that I am a professional editor with over ten years experience. Although this is the first independent piece of fiction I've published, I've been writing for over half my life. I think in "Rumpled" you will find a piece that is as carefully polished as something from a traditional press. If you're interested in learning more about my work, you can find me at 

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