I am happy that Kate Forsyth was so kind to participate. I really like her Eileannan-books, especially Tower of Ravens. The Rhiannons Ride-Trilogy recently got published in Germany. Today however Kate Forsyth gives some great and detailled information on her next big project:
I am working on a new historical fantasy novel for adults entitled ‘Bitter Greens’. It interweaves a retelling of the Rapunzel fairytale with the extraordinary life of one of its first tellers, the French writer Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de la Force. Banished from the court of Louis XIV for her scandalous love life and historical novels, she devotes her years locked away in a convent to writing a collection of fairytales which become so popular she is eventually able to buy her freedom.
The book will have two main characters – Charlotte-Rose, who lived in the second half of the 17th century in France, and Margherita, who was born in Venice a century earlier but was sold by her parents to a sorceress for a handful of bitter greens. At the age of twelve, Margherita is locked away in a tower without any doors or stairs, deep in a forest, far from any city. Other characters that appear in the book include Moliere, King Louis XIV and his mistresses, and the inquisitors of the Chambre Ardente in the French sections, and the artist Titian, his courtesan muse, and castrati singers in the Italian sections.
I’ve wanted to write a retelling of the Rapunzel fairytale for a very long time. I was always curious about why the witch locked Rapunzel away, and I always felt a strong emotional link to the idea of a girl locked away in a tower on her own as I spent a great deal of my childhood in hospital, due to a savage dog attack which resulted in the destruction of my left tear duct, and so to severe chronic infections of my left eye. I was often in fever and in pain, half-blind, unable to control my own tears. The Rapunzel fairytale – with its motifs of lonely solitude, imprisonment and, ultimately, the healing power of tears – really resonated with me. I began to research the fairytale quite a long time ago and the more I discovered, the more fascinated I was. The first version of the story was told in Italy in 1636 by Giambattista Basile – it included the tower and the hair ladder and the prince, but not the motif of healing tears nor the birth of twins to Rapunzel in the wilderness. Those details appeared in the tale told by Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de la Force in 1698, and then made their way to Germany and the Grimm Brothers, who then removed any hint of sexuality in the story.
The life story of Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de la Force intrigued me – she once rescued her young lover by dressing up as a dancing bear! I began to read up on her and soon her story entwined itself into my plans for the novel.
I am travelling to Europe in 2011 for research. We are spending two weeks in Paris and the French countryside and two weeks in Venice & the Italian lakes. I can’t wait!
Kate Forsyth’s Website can be found here!