How I came up with the idea of writing Cinderella’s evil stepmother is easy. Reviewers stated things like “too bad we don’t know what happened to the evil stepmother. She should get her due.
I’d already written the first three books, The Wronged Princess (where Cinderella’s slipper slides onto the foot of her batting-eyed evil stepsister, Esmeralda and Prince Charming ends up engaged to the wrong girl.) The Unlikely Heroine (While Pricilla was not of a mind to marry and have children, is most sensitive about her larger foot.) The Surprising Enchantress (And Esmeralda, who does wish to marry and have children, also has this annoying fluttering eye syndrome, most intendeds have trouble seeing past.) The series is a great hit. But, as I said, people were curious regarding the stepmother’s end due. So I began writing her story.
Originally, I thought the story would be short, and something to give away free with the other books. But as most writers understand, things change, become complicated, and well, frankly, very sad.
My writing career began in 2006. I was googling writing prompts on a whim and saw one that read What if Cinderella’s slipper fits one of her evil stepsister? I thought, mmm. I can do that. I love Cinderella. Of course, the version I grew up on was the Rodgers and Hammerstein with Leslie Ann Warren and Ginger Rogers. So I wrote it. Somehow the sisters became friends. Throughout the series, however, one thing remained constant: Cinderella’s evil stepmother was truly evil. She kept trying to kill Cinderella, even after both other daughters were happily married.
In reading the first three books, one learns that Hilda is a horrid, horrid person. But as her past unfolds, it becomes clear that there is more to her than meets the eye. After all, she adored her two daughters. Would do anything for them. And, yes, she was a bit of a hot head, and not inclined to take her studies seriously. And at some point (a significant point), Hilda was unable to turn back.
Her tale precedes the first three (though it should definitely be read last). The reader sees how her views and prejudices were shaped. There was no possible way she could or would apologize in how she treated Cinderella. She should, but that would not have been true to her character.
I am a romance writer. Which means I require the happily ever after. And the last thing I want to do is tell you that this is a depressing story. But, Hilda’s is a story that had to be told. One that can perhaps give the sisters an understanding of why their mother behaved so. So, yes, while this story is dark and she didn’t quite attain her own “happily-ever-after” the story is enlightening and offers closure. As my friend Alicia Dean quoted, “A darkly emotional look at the events that spawned one of the most hated women in fairy tale history. Price of Scorn is immensely compelling.”
Well, suffice to say, I’m quite proud of that quote!
Blub: Did you ever wonder why Cinderella’s Evil Stepmother was so mean? So evil? Fourteen years after Prince Charming and Cinderella are crowned as Chalmers King and Queen, Cinderella, Pricilla and Esmeralda gather at their mother’s deathbed. Lady Hildegard Roche has nothing but resentment and scorn for the stepchild who culminates all that was stolen from her.
In a story of enlightenment and shock, the sisters learn how tragedy shaped their mother into the woman she became. The question is: Can the sisters forgive her?
Hilda squinted in the afternoon sun over the array of blooms that normally calmed her. “Lord Roche,” she began. “I cannot—” The words were more difficult to say than she’d envisioned. Her knees shook beneath her skirts and she forced herself to move, lest she collapse. At the low terrace wall, she laid her hands atop.
“Please, your grace. I must apologize for placing you in such a precarious position.”
She glanced at him, his earnest expression tugging at her.
He began to pace. “’Tis true. As I said, I am looking for a wife. But, I feel there is something truly special about you.”
Her short laugh erupted at the irony. “Me, special? Lord Ro—”
“I have not explained to anyone why I need a wife.”
He stopped before her, captured her gaze. “Anyone can see how much you love your children. Your face lights up the dark just saying Lady Pricilla’s name.”
Something inside melted a little. “Oui, Lord Roche. That is so. She—they—are my world,” she said softly. Steeling herself against long dead dreams, she straightened and her tone sharpened. “That changes nothing, sir.”
“Do you fear for your children?”
“Every day,” she bit out, feeling as if Gustaf still had his hand gripped about her throat, squeezing.
“They’ve nothing to fear from me.”
She looked away from his gaze back over the garden. She almost believed him. But a woman was always under a man’s control.
Bio: Kae Elle Wheeler, (aka Kathy L Wheeler) authors both contemporary and historical romance. She was born in Presque Isle, Maine, grew up in Dallas, Texas but migrated to Boulder then Longmont, Colorado where she attended high school. Her college degree from the University of Central Oklahoma is a BA in Management Information Systems and vocal music minor.
Kae is an active member of the Oklahoma Romance Writers. She also belongs to The Beau Monde, a historical Regency chapter, and the Dallas Area Romance Authors. She loves the NFL and holds NBA Thunder season basketball tickets, and Celebrity Attractions Broadway season tickets. She also adores musical theater, reading and writing, of course—and just to round things out to scratch the singing itch—karaoke.
Kae lives in Edmond, Oklahoma with her musically-talented, attorney husband, Al. They have one grown daughter (who recently had her first baby) and one bossy cat, Carly, who acts as if she was the rescuer rather than the rescue-ee!
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