Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cinderella—20 Years After The Glass Slipper

“Cinderella married Prince Charming and they lived happily ever after." - The End -

There never was an Epilogue for this fairy tale, so as children and even adults, are we to assume that happily ever after meant that even after twenty years of marriage, Cinderella still wears a diamond tiara, crystal embedded Louboutin shoes, a Vera Wang ball gown, dines off of Wedgewood china and dances around the castle with her handsome prince every night after dinner?

Personally, I don’t buy that interpretation of happily ever after. Let’s not forget, Cindy's crusty step-mother and her cranky step-sisters. Even though she probably would have loved to write the whole lot of that bitchiness off, she didn’t seem the type to abandon her family, even if they weren’t blood related. Which meant, Charming had to put up with these annoying in-laws for holiday dinners. I’m sure there were loud discussions as to why the hell the Crank Sisters and Crusty Step-Mom-in-Law were invited to break bread with him at Thanksgiving; when all he wanted to do was crack open a beer can, put his feet up and catch a football game on TV. After 20 years, that castle needed a ton of repairs and with the recession, he probably lost some of his investments, plus the expensive colleges his little prince and princesses attended, he had to work overtime. Cindy's hubby is tired and wants to relax during holiday dinners, not deal with butt-ugly-nasty-step-in-laws. However, he does it and he does it with a smile.

Now, let’s get to those expensive glass slippers that landed Cindy a husband. I’m thinking that twenty years later, those slippers are stashed away in a closet, or maybe they sold them on E-bay to help with the heating costs of that money pit they call a castle. Besides, her ankles swell up when she'd wear them. It’s hell walking through that huge castle in those heels. Cindy now favors her Nikes and being a busy mom with a lot of running around to do she'd rather kick back and relax in a pair of comfy yoga pants and a T-shirt that says, “Bite Me Step-Monster,” than wear that corset and ball gown her godmother conjured up for her.

Through it all though, Cindy and Charming celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary, supporting each other, and even managed a few holidays without bickering about the in-laws, who still sponge off of them.

As romance writers, it is up to us to create a hero and heroine that the reader will not only love and root for while we put them through angst, conflicts and unbearable challenges, but we create characters that instill the belief that this couple is going to survive and celebrate a golden anniversary when the reader finishes their story.

Happily ever after isn't a fairy tale, or a fantasy vision of a couple always looking their best, and being happy 24/7 with each other. That is never my intent when writing a love story. Sure, there is the fantasy aspect of the romance, the escapism with hero's that we can drool over. However, when it comes to the long term relationship and their happily ever after ending (for me) in a romance novel and in real life it doesn't have a fantasy ending.

It means that after the initial euphoria of falling in lust followed by an all consuming love and it turns into a more realistic approach to being able to ride the big wave together, battle demons, handle the baggage and still remain friends, in love and committed.

My goal is for the reader to believe with all her heart that this couple will work through in-law problems, unexpected illnesses, PMS, difficult pregnancy, colic, sleepless nights, death in the family, financial problems, a leaking roof, a leaking diaper and disagreements.

Through all this, the couple will support each other, laugh and cry together, and work as a unit to get through the many stresses that life throws at people when they least expect it. A happy ever after ending, means that the writer has created two characters who not only have fallen deeply in love, but they give the reader the assurance that when the book has ended, the reader knows these two characters will not only remain loving, but they will have a strong friendship that will last through the years, that they truly like each other and enjoy each other’s company (even if they at times they get on each others nerves).

It's reassuring the reader that after all the angst and conflicts this couple deals with throughout the story, that these two will always remember to celebrate what brought them together in the first place.

Happy ever after means that when you’re in severe physical pain, and it’s the middle of winter, and you had stupidity refused to refill the pain medication, your husband trudges out into the freezing cold in search of a 24 hour Pharmacy, fills out the prescription and returns home with not only the pain medication, but with a bottle of your favorite bubble bath. (Hey, I thought I was Wonder Woman and could deal with the pain after my elbow operation I had to endure. Thankfully, my husband has never uttered… “I told you so,” to this day. He’s a smart man :) )

Happy ever after means that even through a couple has a hectic schedule, after twenty years of marriage, they still take a moment to send a text message to say, “I’m thinking about you,” or perhaps send a naughty message (only make sure you have the correct phone number when doing that. I’m not admitting to anything, I’m just saying. :) )

So what is your definition of happy ever after?

This post will also appear on my own blog at: Selena Robins Musings and I will draw names from both here and at my blog. To enter, simply comment here or/and on my blog for a chance to win one of two autographed books (Sabrina's Destiny my first novel).

Selena Robins

Author of Genre-defying, Witty, Sexy Romances

CAPA Nominee WHAT A GIRL WANTS from Samhain Publishing


Tina Donahue said...

Wonderful blog, Selena!! HEA for me, in fiction, is imagining the couple after the story is over. Seeing their love grow in their everyday lives. Watching them fall for each other again and again and again. *sigh*

Sarah J. McNeal said...

This is one of the most entertaining blogs I've ever read, Selena. I imagine Cindy and Charming living like upper crust versions of Rosanne--getting through the grit and grime of every day obstacles with a sense of humor and undying love for one another. A wonderful, provacative look at the aftermath of Cinderella and her prince.

Selena Robins said...

Thank you, Tina and Sarah, I'm so glad you both enjoyed my entry.

Tina, when I finish a romance novel that I loved, that is exactly who I imagine their Epilogue would be like. A life that may still have conflicts, but lots of make-up sex and them falling in love over and over again.

Sarah, LOL! Upper crust Roseanne. Yes! I think good marriages have to have a great sense of humor, because there are times when things happen and you just both have to laugh about it, or you'll go nuts. LOL

Rawiya said...

Wonderful blog! That is exactly what I go for in my m/m and m/f stories. A couple that goes through trials and tribulations, no matter how big or small and still comes out on love.


Cheryl Pierson said...

Hey Selena,
Great post--I wonder, too, what Cindy and Charming did after that wedding? LOL Of course, Cindy was too sweet to toss the wicked stepmother and those horrid stepsisters out to fend for themselves, I'm sure. More's the pity. I have been "called on the carpet" more than once because of the realism in my writing. I always make sure my characters get their HEA, but they have to work for it. I love wounded heroes, so this usually calls for some kind of dire circumstance that includes a ton of danger. That situation would, to me, propel the romance along a little faster than it might normally take place if the H/h were able to take things at a normal pace. But they go through their trials and always come out in love and ready to face whatever they must together. In my novel SWEET DANGER, the H is an undercover cop who, it is hinted at, many years ago had some issues with the heroine's father--the retired police commissioner. Of course, the H doesn't realize who the heroine is until far into the book. Great post--I enjoyed it!

Fiona McGier said...

Personally I always rooted for Cinderella to tell her family members that they could work for her, if they chose. Otherwise, she'd see them at Christmas. No money, no help. Bye, and don't let the door hit you in the ass as you leave! After all, the stepmother and her step-sisters stole her birthright, and her dad was too much of a spineless wimp to do anything about it. When she hit the big time, too bad for them!

Great post, interesting topic.