What was your inspiration for adapting the Cinderella story? What aspects of her story were you most drawn to?
I’ve always loved fairy tales and Cinderella is one of my favourites. What drew me to rewrite it is that Cinderella is basically bullied by those horrible stepsisters and stepmother. This kind of treatment affects a person’s self-esteem, and self-esteem is something I struggled with a lot in my teens. I can’t say I was bullied precisely, but I was teased often, leaving me feeling worthless and unloved.
When I grew up I realised that the very things other kids teased me for were actually my strengths. What a way to destroy a person’s potential. Thankfully I worked through those issues and now have more self-confidence. But, it did leave me wanting to encourage others about their self-worth, and so I decided to weave that theme into my Cinderella story – Unnoticed.
How do you think Price Moreland compares to Prince Charming?
Well, he’s handsome, charming (in a good way), and he is the heir to a large fortune/estate. His father is a ‘king’ in the booming railway and shipping industry in America. And, of course, he is able to look past Jane’s apparent servitude and poverty.
Jane is often self-conscious about her appearance and tries to go unnoticed (a very apt title). Do you think a lot of teenagers would relate to this?
Absolutely. When the target of teasing, it would be so much easier to disappear. You’d rather be unnoticed altogether, than noticed and made fun of for your perceived faults. I found that for myself.
I have also witnessed it in teenagers recently. Watching a sixteen-year-old girl walk across the room with her head down—looking uncomfortable to say the least—I asked her, ‘Why are you feeling so awkward walking over here?’
She told me: ‘I feel like everyone’s looking at me.’
I smiled at her. ‘You know they’re actually not. They’re all too busy in their own little world to be taking much notice of you.’
‘Well they should be!’ was her bold reply.
‘So walk like they should be. You are absolutely worth looking at and worth noticing. You are beautiful.’
There’s a kind of confused mixture of wanting to be noticed and accepted, and not wanting to be noticed in case we are rejected.
If you could be any fairy tale heroine, who would it be?
I can’t say I’ve ever aspired to be one of the fairy tale heroines, although I do love the way Rapunzel wielded that frying pan in Tangled. I’d more likely aspire to Lois Lane just because she got to fly with Superman. I love Superman. In fact, every time I see a kid in a Superman costume, I ask them if they will take me flying. Unfortunately, no-one has said yes yet.
What can we expect in the next instalment Unhinged?
Unhinged will be a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast – another of my favourite fairy tales. However, instead of the beast being a monster, or a physical deformity in a man, the beast will be mentally-ill.
It is very challenging to write. But again, mental health is such a big subject these days, even with teens. I just heard of a Year Twelve student being put on anti-depressants to deal with anxiety. It makes me sad that people so young have to struggle with such deep issues. Hopefully Unhinged, amidst an entertaining story, will give encouragement to people who deal with this kind of illness.