What Happens When a Princess Falls in Love with a Witch? Read the opening chapters of “The Evil Princess” right now!
“In Medias Res”
Each one of them had their own “Happily Ever After.” Fairy tales always ended the same way: the dashing young prince vanquished the Evil Queen, got the girl and inherited the crown. The people of the land, now freed from oppression, partied for days. They sang songs, toasted to the new king and laughed in merriment as their lovable sidekicks cracked jokes. Fathers embraced sons in tears of joy and musical scores played, their chords of paradise reverberating in climax. It was a triumph of faith and living proof that Good can overpower the menacing force of Evil each and every time.
The sky is black. There is no storm approaching, it is not yet nightfall and there is not a cloud in sight. But with every passing moment, a cloak of darkness covers more of the celestial sphere. Slowly but sweeping, the heavens are blanketed in sorrow, in doom, dripping over the world like ebony blood.
For now, they are drunk with rye and rhyme. Their candles, torches and lanterns burn, providing temporary luminaries that carry on the celebration. They don‟t even notice that natural light is gradually dimming into nothing and in place of it rises a shadowy and collapsing mass of a faint moon. The stars have even stopped twinkling, but wishes continue to be made on the shining reflections of gold and double-edged swords. Their royal shimmers distract them from the realization that nothing is left but black tidings. The wine of denial hides the bitter taste. The odor of party sweat whiffs away the stench of fear. They feel comforted, protected and safe under the promise of Happily Ever After, the incorruptible law that says a pure heart is always rewarded.
But today, as they are forced to look above and then to their left, they will pray. They will pray for magic. Now, even as they celebrate yet another wedding, unspeakable terror comes from beyond the sky.
There—one thin princess stumbles forward, her frame perfectly starved, her feet wedged and bloodied into those tight heels. She walks clumsily, ready to walk the entire night if need be, eager to find a certain man that she might embrace him and put her mouth upon his mighty shoulder. The princess wears red; a satin bodice with pleated organza overlay, its trim and stretch fabric back shimmering with light, her top skirt of pleated peplum glowing like stardust. Her dazzling tiara and white cameo sparkle above her long flowing grey hair.
And her lovely face, her lovely rotted face, shivers with anticipation as flesh rips apart from her skull. Decaying muscle tissue drips out of every cavity. Her neatly curled hair diverts from the unfashionable maggots that dine on her disease. Age-old black tar spatters onto the ground leaking from Madame’s gaping neck. Her rib cage bursts apart along with the waist-training corset until her intestines begin to cross stitch with her lacy frills. Even while spilling soil and gore, she stands with grace, with elegance, as if all eyes are still on her at the ball.
She holds her arms with poise, like a lady of confidence and her wedding veil—soaked in black crimson—still clings to her fractured jaw. The fabric has wilted and the colors faded, but her face still holds every twinge of dejection and dolor that she died wearing.
Her stubborn attempts to stand on what‟s left of her legs create a dastardly sound, a sort of scraping rattle that becomes louder by the moment. Her bone hands trembling, her eyes boiling with red savagery, she focuses on the object of her affection. Her mouth unnaturally widens and her perfectly even teeth bite down repeatedly in anticipation of a century-long awaited meal. Her lurching head doesn’t turn but seems to hang to one direction, then another and then drops forward with no resistance.
But her demonic red eyes never stop staring straight ahead. She dances dolefully towards her suitors—the beloved, the happily married and the pure of heart. Amid her sepulchral rasps of rapid gurgling, only a lone chant could be heard throughout the commotion.
I cast this spell
Come out of your tomb
Better late than never
Not so happily ever
Take back what was taken from you
Black cats, bats, rats, snakes, vultures and every other omen of bad luck scurries around in the madness, looking for a place to hide as the thickness of the overcast grows. As the final layer of caliginous blanket falls in place, gently pushing away the last trace of an afternoon sunny sky, it seems as if two distinct worlds are placed beside each other. One quickly fading, with bright rays of hope and redemption, and the other blotted over with rebellion and violence.
However, for the next few moments and as their flame-lit lights lead the way, everything seems safe and peaceable. With heavy frolicking and a few winks, they are distracted from the impending force. A biting wintry breeze passes through, with only a sniff of excavated soil, as the festivities continue. Faith has never been stronger. Beauty has never been lovelier. Love has never felt more fervent. They pay no attention to the whispers in the wind since their own jubilant voices mute the warnings. For now, they all feast, marry, laugh and sing. They enjoy their fleeting “happily ever after.”
“Back When the World Made Sense”
From the ghostly shades of sapphire blue that filled the room, to the ominous hum that seemed stuck inside the walls, to the creaks of unbalanced ivory furniture on spirit-stained floors, to the distinct phantom whiff of white chrysanthemums, an air of magic permeated the easternmost tower wing of Fen Mien I Palace. The abysmal and almost crushing shades of blue inspired three young playmates to seek out a lamp, lending the room at least a flash of gorgeous white. Mary, the youngest at seven years of age, lit the lamp and set it down in the middle of the room, allowing a clear view of each other‟s faces.
Marys face was the most docile: a big and klutzy smile with tiny eyebrows and wavy blond hair, with an expression that begged for approval. She looked over to her left to take in the faces of her two friends, their angles, cheeks and noses, she figured, so much more precious than her own.
Perhaps “friend” was an insincere word. They were united only by the palace, only by royal blood and by their age group—young enough to be locked away in a tower while adults talked, or shrieked, about politics.
Blossoms face danced in coquettish amusement, her thick lashes overpowering her unassuming nose and lips. At the respectable age of ten, she was the doyenne of the gathering. Her red and ferocious hair seemed perfectly controlled thanks to a chin-length bob with soft combed waves and a pink ribbon tied to a bow. Blossom looked to her right, staring down nine-year-old Wendy, whose chiaroscuro face had an uncomfortable amount of edges, shades and depth that provoked other pretty girls. The fact that she was a plump princess didn‟t help matters, nor did her black hair, ponytail or that conspicuously circular face.
Each wore distinctive colored pajamas—Mary cloaked in red, Blossom dolled in pink and Wendy in a sparkling diamond and silver combination—the three of them had only one trait in common. Their eyes, their ginormous, soul-wrenching and hauntingly disproportionate eyes. Mary‟s hazy blue eyes seemed to match the color of the room, but glowed faintly. Blossom‟s brown eyes spun like stirring melted chocolate, her welcoming expression never ceasing to light up a room. Wendy‟s eyes were grey and had an unusual crescent shape that made her look smirky. That, together with her multitextured overly rendered and multi-dimensional pupils, further alienated her from normal princess profiles.
Blossom couldn’t keep from staring at Wendy‟s strange face, while Mary couldn’t help but admire Blossom‟s perfectly curving lashes.
“I brought characters,” reminded Wendy, grabbing her collection of dolls, dresses and dinosaurs. It was understood that the princesses always married the dinosaurs, since male prince dolls seemed so uninteresting by comparison. Besides, who wouldn‟t want to attend a wedding of a princess and a T-Rex?
“Oh, how funny!” Blossom said, not too subtly indicating that she had already outgrew playtime. “I remember playing with these when I was a little kid.”
“You don‟t anymore?” Mary asked sheepishly.
“No. A princess has responsibilities. I play with people now. Sometimes we pretend we‟re fairy tale characters. Sometimes we write poetry or sing. Sometimes we just enjoy games together. It‟s much more fun than playing with dead objects.” She looked over, making sure Wendy could see her gaze.
Wendy, however, was oblivious to the point. She had already determined what dress the bride agreed to wear and what qualities she found most appealing about this particular dinosaur—monstrously powerful, constantly hungry and not very talkative at all. Blossom grabbed a dinosaur, looking thoughtfully at it, while engaging Mary, the only one who seemed to understand her finer points.
“Everything changes, Mary. Did you know that?”
“What do you mean?”
“It means that we‟ve been doing this for so many years…but that it‟s not going to last forever. Everything changes. Everything evolves.”
“What is ‘evolve’?”
“It‟s what happens when something changes in form. Like, over millions of years, we changed from one species to another species.”
“Oh,” Mary answered unsurely.
“And one day, we‟re going to grow up and be queens. Our people will change. Cadabra will change. There may even come a time when we don‟t get to see each other anymore.”
“Oh,” Mary replied sourly. “But I‟ll miss you. Both of you.”
Blossom half-smiled, rubbing the dinosaur against a princess doll.
“So maybe we should start making each day count.”
“I’ll miss you too, Wendy!” Mary said.
Wendy nodded, keeping her eyes fixed to her characters.
“Oh, I have an idea,” Blossom quickly followed. “How about instead of playing with these toys, we write a play? Or a book? We can come up with characters and a storyline?”
“But isn’t that really hard to do?” Mary asked.
“No, it isn’t,” Blossom assured her. “I‟ll explain the rules and we just go from there. Okay, first. We all create a character. But we can’t force each other‟s characters to do anything. We can only control our own characters.”
“Wendy?” Blossom asked firmly. “Put your toys down and let’s think about this.”
Wendy glowered. “They’re not toys.”
“Oh? Then what are they?” Blossom answered with a double blink.
Wendy bit her lip in spite. “They‟re people.”
“They’re what? You‟re confusing me,” Blossom answered. “People are alive.”
“It’s no different if you have a toy or if you‟re writing a play,” Wendy answered bitterly. “They don’t have bodies like we do. But they’re still imaginary people and they’re real.”
“Okay, fine. So your dinosaur is one of the play‟s characters. But I don‟t want a dinosaur. I am just creating a character out of my mind.”
Blossom closed her eyes and chanted.
“Okay, after careful meditation, I have decided to name my character Misses Sweet. What is your character‟s name, Mary?”
“Ummm…” Mary struggled with the thought. “M…M…Meryl?”
“Okay, sort of based on yourself, I guess?”
“I guess, yeah…”
“How about you, Wendy?”
“It doesn‟t need a name,” Wendy said. “It‟s a dinosaur.”
Blossom stared in contempt. “If you‟re too immature to think like an adult, then Mary and I can play alone.”
“Or maybe Mary and I can play dinosaurs and princesses and you can shut up about it,” Wendy replied.
Mary‟s stomach fluttered and reached into her throat. Any sign of conflict seemed to make the poor girl physically ill. Perhaps with two strong opposite personalities like Blossom and Wendy the only recourse was distraction.
“Hey! My mom told me that there‟s this new thing princesses are supposed to do. Want to know what it is?”
Blossom stopped glaring at Wendy and inquired half-heartedly, always interested in princess etiquette. “What?”
“Well, like you said, because our lives are going to change soon, we should try to make every day special. So we take a box and we each put something special that we have inside the box. Then we bury it for like, ten years.”
“Yes,” Mary said, “and then we open it when we‟re queens. And we remember this day. And no matter what‟s happening in ten years we can think back to this day and remember that we were all friends. We can call it Cadabra‟s Box.”
“So…what do we put in the box?” Blossom asked, raising her ink-thin eyebrow.
“Whatever you want.”
“What are you going to put in it?”
“Umm…I guess I‟ll put in a lock of my hair. And also…I think I’ll write a letter to myself.”
“A letter to myself. But it’s like ten years in the future. So ten years from now I’ll open the letter and talk to my future self. So it’s like time travel.”
“Hmmm,” Blossom replied, gradually smiling.
“Okay, I want to write a letter to myself too. And I’ll put some candy in the box too.”
“Won‟t it go bad in ten years?”
“Not this candy. This was special candy given to me by my mother.
She said it tastes better when it’s aged.”
“Your mother was lying,” Wendy said, followed by a laugh.
“No, she wasn’t,” Blossom answered sternly. “You must also put something in the box, Wendy. If we‟re doing it then you have to do it too.”
Wendy sighed. “Fine. I‟ll put one of my dinosaurs and a tiny wizard’s wand in there.”
“Oh, you’re putting your toys in there?” Blossom asked coyly.
“They‟re not toys,” Wendy said.
“Well, we both are going to write letters to ourselves. That means you have to do the same.”
“Because we are doing it,” Blossom counseled.
Wendy grumbled as Blossom put a pen and paper to Wendy’s face, waiting for her cooperation. “Fine.”
“Now to be fair, let‟s keep what we‟re writing a secret. That way we can be surprised.”
Each of the princesses took a pen and a sheet of paper and eyed it in curiosity. Where would they be in ten years? Would they be queens? Would they still be friends or would they be separated by years of politicking and civic duties? Each one started to write, cautiously at first, then freely, as if inspiration struck all three at the same time. Things were rapidly changing and even the magical air of Fen Mien I Palace seemed thin to the girls, the longer they stayed in the tower and let go of the superstitions of haunted furniture. These were old Gothic walls that surrounded them in blue nightshade, the large windows and flying buttresses feeling like relics of the old world, with their outdated Gods, their archaic laws and their stories of mythic leaders.
One of these days, things would no longer be the same and they would each go their separate paths, destined to inherit a kingdom, each of them practically crafted to uphold the ideas and philosophies of their royal families.
The Magical Kingdom, as everybody once called it, was dead history and a reminder of the primitiveness of their ancestors. Only the very young and artless could ever embrace the idea that magic was no longer necessary to make the world better and that the Queen, the legendary Queen Fen Mien I, wasn’t the all important paragon of virtue worth fighting for, dying for and certainly not worth killing for. The elders, royal advisers and paranoid parents still believed in something divine, if not the myths, then the spirit of magic—magic as a uniting force, as a natural miracle, as a rallying voice of patriotism.
Their children, however, believed in nothing. Whatever tomorrow brought, would be the result of great effort, of progressive community thinking and the will of one good-hearted princess. In a post-magic world, there would be no need for miracles, faith or sorcery. The lamp burned away light for hours until the sun shined brightly, freeing three dreamers of that ghastly shadowed blue moonlight, the color of magic.
Six Ways to Describe “The Evil Princess”?
1. A Young, Angry Book for Millennials
The distinctive style that characterizes millennial-friendly novels, is “plots, language and structure that is iconoclastic by nature, but with a coherent and emotional narrative that holds the audience captive.” Warren says when writing the book he had three goals in mind. 1. To write anti-heroes; characters and behavior you’ve never really seen in books before. 2. To use a modern and simple language that jumped off the page, resembling TV and movie dialog. 3. To embody the anti-establishment personality of the millennial generation. These books for millennials not only feature Warren’s own brand of “Tragic Parody” (comedy, horror and literary drama in one) but also introduce a few gonzo writing techniques that you rarely see in modern teen novels today, such as the “parody homage”, ”the poetic distraction”, and what he calls a “WTF troll scene”, a scene meant for shock value that pushes the limits of reading and writing. Warren’s adult themes, graphic language and over-the-top violence are also author trademarks that may alienate some readers. However, the author is confident that to his fellow millennials, it will be simply dramatic literary fiction.
“This is the way a lot of us write fanfiction. It’s very politically incorrect, blasphemous of copyright law, and surreal in that it combines bizarre comedy with the most inappropriate of erotic entanglement…and yet it produces intense drama in the end. To me, the worst thing a book can be is boring. So if I make you laugh, piss you off, or scare the shit out of you, then mission accomplished. Nobody wants to hear about political chicanery and war today…unless of course you find a way to make it funny.”
2. A Parody Novel
The Fairy Tale Parody Genre allows the author to teach with comedy. Writing a fairy tale parody is certainly an ambitious experiment, at least from the social critic’s point of view. Parody has historically been associated with writers who wrote scathing criticism of their society. The humor or satire of such a book is often biting, slanderous and obscene, just enough to provoke a world of readers into rebellion or protest. Miguel de Cervantes, Marquis de Sade and William Shakespeare all made use of the parody genre. It was written similarly to comedy, but wasn’t so “light”. Parody usually allows for more exaggerated violence or plot twists, that border on disturbing and upsetting—a definite turn off in light-hearted or juvenile comedy. These lampoons are supposed to be allegorical stories that criticize some aspect of society that the author believes to be unjust. The fairy tale parody is often written in a setting of politically incorrect times, or a world very opposite of contemporary society. The Brothers Grimm stories, which Disney films are loosely based off, could well be considered a fairy tale parody, since they written to be allegorical and as cautionary tales for youngsters and adults. Ironically, the Disney films themselves that re-imagine these old morbid tales into something happy and quirky, could be called a family-oriented parody of a parody. The Disney fairy tale format is a genre in and unto itself, given the popularity of fanfiction. With “The End of the Magical Kingdom” series, author L.M. Warren sought to create a familiar world with happy fairy tale settings, but then slowly change that world into a Brothers Grimm-inspired nightmare.
“I would credit the Brothers Grimm books as well as some of the warped fanfiction I’ve read at such sites like Archive of Our Own. I knew right away that no one wants to read a depressing story about social injustice from a less than mainstream author. So my first thought was to make it funny. Satirical, of course. But funny in that Disney style throw-caution-to-the-wind capriciousness that I’ve always enjoyed.”
3. A Fairy Tale Satire
A fairy tale satire is just another way to make a point! Creating a fairy tale satire is a great way to discuss social issues in a safe context. It’s also a genre that plays to younger audiences or adults who don’t want topical issues of the day taken so seriously in a real world context. Under the guise of fairy tales, allegorical stories featuring archetypes and familiar settings, writers and artists can use satirical humor to comment on today’s most important social issues. Ella Enchanted and Cinder are examples of old fairy tales that have been updated with 21st century wit. On the other hand, fairy tales can be satirized without political or social messages, and simply be lampooned for fun. One popular genre is the underground “Fanfiction” story, which typically features copyrighted characters interacting in a strange world or behaving in a way that’s not in line with continuity. Author L. M. Warren’s fairy tale satire “The End of the Magical Kingdom” series uses a fairy tale and allegorical format to comment on serious issues of the 21st century, including gay marriage, religious intolerance, misogyny and political injustice. “I think that many readers are tired of being bashed over the head with dogma about how we ought to feel about this or that. One of the goals of fiction is to tell a story objectively, leading the author to form his or her own opinions about the moral of the story.” In the first book, “The Evil Princess” we clearly see a mishmash of genres, from fairy tales to biblical style allegory, to fanfiction smut and even political Orwellian criticism. The story of a good princess falling in love with an evil witch is an iconic story for a society polarized by issues of gay rights as well as a fear of terrorism. Salem the Witch, in the book is labeled a “horrorist” because of her anarchic views and refusal to cooperate with any of the four kingdoms of “Cadabra”, the island in which the series is set.
“The intention was to make Salem dangerous and not have the book resemble the typical good guy, good girl that fall in love in the Disney fairy tale type movie.”
4. A Gay Disney Fairy Tale You Will Never See
While the first lesbian and gay Disney fairy tale might someday hit theaters, one animated romance you will probably never see on a Disney screen is the relationship between Salem the Witch and Mary Melancholy from “The Evil Princess” of L.M. Warren’s “The End of the Magical Kingdom” trilogy. Warren says the inspiration for his first book went beyond the peripheral fantasy and became something darker.
“Like so many people, I wanted to see a Disney movie with a lesbian princess. But soon I realized that even if Disney ever produced such a picture, it wouldn’t really deal with the issues that we as a society face today. They would probably make it a little bit like Frozen; something a bit patronizing. Then I started to think of my fantasy motion picture. An animated musical that went beyond the G-rated world of Disney. What I ended up with was a social satire that combined pathos, danger and tragedy happening in in a comedy and almost childlike world. The story began to explore the deeper questions of humanity, such as what causes bigotry and where hate and suspicion comes from. The fact that Salem is not persecuted because she’s gay, but because she’s a ‘horrorist’ witch is significant. We insist upon creating divisions and labeling those whom we don’t understand because we’re afraid to question our own values. As the story ended, I realize this is what The Brothers Grimm were going for – social criticism piece meets horror, all the while happening in a fairy tale world for young minds to better comprehend. So we’re modernizing the concept.”
5. A Socially Awkward Book
Socially awkward books are not commercial or mainstream by any means. Yet, this is the voice of the new generation. Historically speaking, great writers always created literature and eloquent characters who spoke just as wittily as the narrative itself. But we preferred to give voice to characters who are “social awkward” types. It’s an unwritten rule in publishing that lead characters should be super-intelligent, ultra-witty and always with the perfectly sarcastic comeback. That makes the character ‘likable’ to editors. So we decided to have fun breaking the rules and created a bunch of unlikable characters who exhibit different aspects of socially awkward conversation. Some characters even cross a line and exhibit major personality disorders. Princess Mary Melancholy is defined by her anxious conversations, self-loathing comments and nervous reactions to other people. Characters like Princess Blossom show narcissistic tendencies, even when trying to help others. Even Salem the Witch, the bad ass heroine / villain of the book, is just not that great at making people feel at ease in conversation. She is strong and opinionated…but rubs people the wrong way. Once she sees how people react to her…she trolls them even worse! Just because characters speak the same language doesn’t necessarily mean communication is always clear and friendly, between such differing cultures. There is a certain honesty in telling these socially awkward characters’ stories and not trying to popularize them into role models, just to fit into the “young adult” genre.
“I can’t speak for everybody but I certainly never felt like I fit in with any crowd, any group or any club, in school or out of school. I always seemed to make people nervous. My comments were always so outside the box, I don’t think people knew what to make of me. I think a lot of us today can relate to that and so I didn’t want to dumb my story down and pretend as if every character was so perfect. I think one of the main points is just because you are not going to get along with a lot of people in life, you CAN actually find a really good friendship among your fellow outliers. There is a great spirit of tolerance among our culture, which transcends just age or social class. We are rebels, revolutionaries and oddballs and yet we take pride in what we are.”
6. An Anti-Disney Novel
Why the anti princess sentiment lately? Didn’t we grow up watching little princess movies and listening to fairy tales before bedtime? Maybe the problem is that “princess” means various things to different audiences. One could say that the “princess mythos” carried an altogether different connotation in the days of the Brothers Grimm than in the overproduced modern age of Walt Disney-whitewashed love stories. To some a princess is merely a debutante, a young woman entering into the world and struggling to fit in and be a good role model. To others, and perhaps to the more jaded among us, a princess represents entitlement. The delusional viewpoint that a monarchy will last forever because of the royal family’s good intentions. However, to jaded audiences of today, the very idea of capitalistic or oligarchic societies of the rich dominating and abusing the poor is not only trite, but insulting. The word “princess” understandably takes a more ominous implication.
In “The End of the Magical Kingdom” series, episode 1 of “The Evil Princess” we explore an anti princess story in the “tragic parody” genre, which simultaneously goes for laughs, strong emotion and horror. The character of Mary Melancholy, a Disney-archetypal princess is raised in royalty, but is oblivious to the political chicanery happening around her, including an uprising of protesters against the “Golden Elite”, the rich monarchy that obviously caricatures capitalist society in America. The story concludes with the touch of the macabre, as the singing and dancing stops cold and the story descends into a fairy tale straight out of Hell, as the Brothers Grimm might have imagined it, with death, darkness and dirges by Alan Menken. The story was always intended to be a comedy series in the style of Susan Harris’ Soap TV series and other shows that mixed absurdist comedy with tragic elements. Everyone is tired of bad news and depressing books. The End of the Magical Kingdom was a foray into horror and comedy, but set against the very tragic backdrop of contemporary politics that is unfortunately dominated by superstition, lies and greed.
“The Anti-Disney Novel will no doubt become an even more popular genre as the Walt Disney Empire (every bit as evil as the House Lannister of Casterly Rock) continues to monopolize the entertainment business. No one can seem to stop the almighty claw of Mickey Mouse and Disney’s ruthless corporate policies that continue to starve artists while making marketing the focal point of every new movie. Disney’s commercial stranglehold is hard to fight indeed. Whenever an independent production or talent starts to rise, Disney buys them off and hires them to promote their own projects. On the other hand, if you’re still striving to make a little noise as an independent voice, Disney, now the omniscient owner of Star Wars and Marvel Comics, will come after you with lawyers. It’s a small world after all, laughs Mickey Mouse while slapping your mom’s ass like the tyrant he is. This is why the intent was to create an Anti-Disney Novel, parodying Disney Princess culture, and the anti-feminist movies that they’ve continued to push. I think a lot of people are tired of Disney’s patronizing attitude towards the arts. With The Evil Princess, I wanted to imagine a lesbian fairy tale musical cartoon…of course, if Disney ever had the guts to release such a film, it would be toned down, whitewashed, and probably more condescending fare like Frozen II. So we just decided to make it a full out horror-comedy fable in the spirit of the Brothers Grimm. But just to stick it the mouse, we also added talking animals, princesses and magic, as well as a criticism of capitalist culture, the same that Disney celebrates.”
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