Before the earwormy Disney hit “Frozen” made sentimental children of us all, Hans Christian Andersen wrote a story about a young girl who saves her sibling from the icy grip of a wrathful queen. “The Snow Queen,” one of the longest early fairy tales, follows Kay, a boy who’s pierced by a wicked troll-mirror, and his sister, Gerda, who saves him from the sinister young man he becomes.
It’s a story that puts good and evil in stark opposition, while recognizing that one individual can undergo a transformation, waffling between the two depending on his experiences.
It’s an oft-adapted tale, one that’s given new life in a forthcoming book by Young Adult author Danielle Paige, whose writing interests lie in fairy tales, fantasy, and soap operas, which she writes for her day job. I spoke with Paige about her dynamic writing career, and why disrupting the idea of good versus evil is always a fun task.
On her forthcoming book, Stealing Snow, and the beauty of fairy tales:
I absolutely love fairy tales. This one is based on “The Snow Queen,” and it’s how the Snow Queen became evil. I think as a kid […] I just fell in love with them. I never thought this would be my journey, but it’s just been so much fun.
I think everyone is more familiar with [“The Snow Queen”] from “Frozen” now. But “Frozen” is a really sweet take on the story, and I’ve always kind of liked that it’s this dark little creepy thing, about a girl who steals a boy to solve a puzzle. Something about it struck me when I was a kid. I liked that it wasn’t so simple.
On the problem of breaking characters down into good versus evil:
I think I learned this from my soap opera days, honestly, but I don’t think anyone who’s a villain thinks they’re villain. I think everyone has their [...] reasons for how they ended up the way they ended up. I was always fascinated by how a person became dark. I think there’s good and bad in everyone.
On working as a writer for soap operas:
I spent the day with cute actors, and researching stories in the writer’s office. My job was to do character research, and it was really fun. I was [on “Guiding Light”] way back in the day when Matt Bomer was on the show, and Hayden Panettiere. It was a good training ground, I think, to learn how to write fantasy. Soap writing is really about making unbelievable things feel believable.
On writing teen love stories, versus adult love stories:
I can say that the love scenes don’t go quite as far. When you’re writing soaps, it’s like, take this as far as the camera people will possibly allow. But [teen love stories are] more about the firsts, it’s more romantic, you’re figuring out stuff. You’re approaching first love, and first kisses, and first everything.
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