Faenwick's story -- and series -- has been a slow evolution since the last words were typed for The Fairy Godmother's Apprentice. As fans who know a little about the series are aware, Faenwick was never intended to have a second appearance -- much less six of them. But when we decided to retell the story of Cinderella ... well, you know the rest.
There were a few things about the original FGA book that were problematic for us as storytellers, which explains in part how Faenwick earned such a place in THE DARK WOODS SERIES. The voice at the beginning and the end of the book was Faenwick's, yet nothing about the girl we meet in the book explains how she becomes the powerful, well-spoken narrator of both prologue and epilogue. Not even Cinderella's retelling reveals it: in fact, the Faenwick we meet in that story is hardly changed, Eloise perceiving the elegant side of Faenwick as 'cold' and 'inhuman,' with Faenwick's serious, stiff speech hardly seeming natural to her in that scene.
The book Thorns, with its fairies and prophetic magic, seemed the perfect opportunity to introduce the Faenwick we meet in the first person narrative of FGA, but it opened up new questions at the same time. Namely, what world and experiences had made her into that elegant figure -- and what exactly did Faenwick do to set in motion the destruction of the world of the fairies?
We begin to answers to those questions in The Last Fairy Godmother. The novel is a complicated bridge tale between worlds, that of Faenwick the seamstress faerie and Faenwick the central figure in the fairies' doom. It was an opportunity to give Faenwick a place that was completely her own in the Dark Woods canon, something we feel she deserves. Now, in the second tale of her series, we'll focus entirely on what makes her someone strong enough to take on the world of the 'winged imps,' to put it in Darri's terms, and the reasons why someone as loyal to the fairy godfolk's destiny as Faenwick would ever be forced to do it.
After all, the faerie girl who was Marimetsei's loyal apprentice in the end, choosing that life over love itself hardly seems like the future leader of the fairies' enemies. Even the incident at the pond hadn't changed Faenwick's loyalty to the purpose of the godfolk, the end result of which supposedly atones for the fairies' cruelties. But now everything about Faenwick's beliefs -- everything about her choices and her past -- will be called into question. Old friends return, and new ones divide her loyalties. Alliances are formed, secrets are revealed, and the very existence of the godfolk will be threatened by the discovery of the one thing the fairies have kept hidden for ages.
And when it is over, nothing will be the same.
The Last Fairy Godmother is Book Two in A FAERIE'S TALE, and is now available to purchase from major eBook retailers. Follow @DarkWoodsSeries or subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest updates on this and other Dark Woods related books.
Fans who follow our tweets know that Faenwick's sequel story makes its debut this week on Thursday, September 8th. Unlike Charming, Cindermaid, and Thorns, this will be a tale outside the fairytale canon -- a story centered on Faenwick's character in the spirit of The Fairy Godmother's Apprentice.
The new novel will pick up Faenwick's own tale shortly after the last chapter of her first novel, and will recount Faenwick's perspective through the events of Cinderella's tale. What happens next is the heart of the story: one of betrayal, prophecies, conspiracy, and rebellion, with the fate of the faeries themselves hinged on Faenwick's true destiny.
We promise the return of familiar faces, and the introduction of a few new characters important to Faenwick's future, and more about the complicated world of the fairies themselves.Check out the cover art below, and keep up with the latest news for The Dark Woods and its spin-off series via the official book series Twitter account @DarkWoodsSeries.
The authors' commentary edition of FIRST BITE includes deleted material from the original novel -- scenes that didn't make the cut, including this preface:
In the basement of the British Museum lies a curiosity in a crate, long ago purchased at auction and forgotten by its curator. Inside a wooden box the object sits, covered in a tattered sheet which protected it from the moldering, dank stone walls which once housed it.
To open the crate reveals nothing striking. A woman's dressing table, its dark wood carved with flowering vines and mythic figures. Drawers missing knobs, legs gnawed by mice, wood stained with age and water. Where the mirror should be is but an empty frame, carved intricately from wood much older than even the dresser. Pieces of glass cling to the edges, rich with cobwebs and flecks of patina.
It is said that once a powerful woman gazed into the glass every morning. A woman whose name history has forgotten in connection to any particular king or village, for even the town from which the dresser was retrieved does not remember her name. Only that long ago the villagers carried away the contents of its house to burn them, but the bonfire was never lit. Why anyone would burn such delicate objects was beyond the memory of even the aged wisdom of the village.
Within its drawer lies an empty wooden box, its compartment stained black as with blood. That is the only object remaining in this table. No cosmetics or jeweled combs, no ornaments or ribbons which would surely belong to any woman who sat before such an elegant frame.
Those who have seen this piece of furniture with their own eyes claim there is something powerful in its presence. They are but few, still fewer the number who sat before its empty frame when it was dragged forth from the cellars of a stone castle in rural France. Their stories are hardly to be trusted — for who believes in ghost stories surrounding a battered old chest from the provincial landscape hundreds of miles from any celebrated seat of power?
Only those who believe in the other stories from the village. Pieces of folklore fragmented from a larger tale, like a tapestry unraveled into threads and crumbling fibers. A far greater story than the mild one told to children before the hearth's fire, the obscure superstitions no longer observed by even the sagest of the countryside. Fragments of a forgotten darkness which only a clever weaver could piece together with the existence of a broken curio box and the mists reflected in stubs of fragmented glass.
FIRST BITE, the original Book One in The Dark Woods Series is turning five this spring ... which amazes us, because it doesn't seem like five years have passed since we introduced those characters or wove that dark novel out of myth and fairytale. In honor of its special place in the Dark Woods universe, we wanted to relive the experience of creating and writing that tale -- only this time with all of you along for the ride. And what better way to do it than taking fans step by step through the creative process with a special annotated copy of the novel?
This isn't your ordinary annotated edition -- not exactly, anyway. So we call it the 'Special Annotated Edition with Authors' Commentary.' Yes, just like in the movies, it's the project creators sharing the reasons behind creative decisions, the stories behind some of the key and critical elements, and, at times, just being silly about the process.
FIRST BITE: SPECIAL ANNOTATED EDITION will be released this May, and to welcome it into the Dark Woods, we'll be tweeting lots of fun facts about the novel and the fairytale of Snow White, along with sneak peeks into the new annotated edition, and a cover reveal! Join us on Twitter @DarkWoodsSeries and help us count down the days until its release -- and there will be more news released on this webpage as well in the coming weeks.
So, An Authors' Commentary Edition Means....?
Lots of fans are curious how the 'commentary' side of the annotated copy of FIRST BITE will work. That's a fair question, and it has a simple answer. Sprinkled throughout the original story are comments from us, the authors, telling you about the creative process behind the part you just read, sharing our feelings about a certain character or plot twist at this point, or taking you aside for a little history behind how we came up with a certain character or idea in the first place.
What kind of questions will it answer?
How about the origins of the evil Queen Lillian, for starters? There's the inspiration behind the 'blood drinkers' cult, and for the evil queen's identities across time and distance. There are nods to Snow White the fairytale, the classic Disney film, and to ancient cultural myth, and we'll explain what, where, and why for all of them.
Want to know what our favorite scenes are? We'll tell you. Want to know which parts we feel are corny? We'll tell you that, too. What songs were on our playlist while writing it? Yup, got that question covered.
What about the 'missing ending' for Blanche's story? The first hints of other Dark Woods books yet to come? We cover those, and lots of other details in FIRST BITE's history as the first official Dark Woods novel, and the inspiration for others yet to come.
We'll share stories about deleted scenes, making the book's video trailer, and shooting the cover (including the story behind the 'skull apple' that became our unofficial logo -- check out our iBooks button to the side to see an example of it popping up once again).
We included the original outline for the novel, the unmastered cover shot for the book, and the alternate cover design we didn't use. In between the novel's original pages, we've got the mythology behind the story, deleted material from the first manuscript, and even our own retelling of the traditional Snow White story, Brothers Grimm-style.
It's not an edition for newcomers to the series. It's an edition for fans, for readers who want to know more about what went on behind the story. It's full of lots of little random bits of information, from what movies we watched for 'atmospheric inspiration' for certain scenes to insights about what we would change if we were writing FIRST BITE today.
The official annotated edition is more like a companion for the original novel. Yes, it has all the same stuff, but don't read it if you want to curl up and be lost in the story again -- just like you wouldn't watch the commentary portion of your favorite movie's DVD if you wanted to get lost in that story, either. For first-time readers, it would probably offer way too much information (and some spoilers way too early in the story) for them to enjoy the story in this format.
So this book is just for you, the fans who wanted answers to certain questions (and we've kept track of some of those question over the years, believe it or not), and are curious to know more about the books on an insider's level. Hopefully, we've covered it all ... but if we haven't, that's what ten year anniversary editions are for, right?
The special annotated FIRST BITE goes on sale this May on most eBook retail sites. Follow @DarkWoodsSeries for more details on its release.