—Guest Post by Rob E. Boley, author of That Risen Snow: A Scary Tale of Snow White & Zombies
It seemed like an appropriately authorly technique to start this post by reminiscing about my first memory of the iconic character Snow White. The thing is, my memory sucks.
I do vaguely recall sitting in my childhood bedroom and playing with seven dwarf figures that my parents bought for me on one of our first trips to Disney World. The dwarfs weren’t very exciting—just frozen hunks of painted plastic with no articulation.
My first clear recollection of the lady herself was actually a parody from the 1980 comedy 9 to 5, in which three fed-up co-workers, played by Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Jane Fonda, enact revenge on their sexist boss, Franklin Hart, played by Dabney Coleman. In one memorable dream sequence, the three ladies get high and share their wild fantasies for killing Hart. In Tomlin’s story, she assumes the role of a chipper Snow White, complete with animated birds and fairy tale music. Tomlin plays the scene with the perfect amount of wicked glee and tongue-in-cheek innocence as she poisons Hart’s coffee. The scene not only played with the notion of a male-dominated workplace, but also the role of the stereotypical passive fairy tale princess.
When I was growing up, my mom, my sister, and I watched the hell out of 9 to 5. It’s a smart film with strong female characters, witty dialogue, and some bizarre twists and turns. It’s about three very different women who all have something in common: they’re sick of playing fair in a world where men make (and break) all the rules.
Fast-forward a few decades later but a few years shy of present day. I was the father of a young daughter who’d just started watching movies. One of her favorites—and certainly the first film she really obsessed over—was Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The scene in which Snow runs through the dark forest rattled the hell out of my little girl, but she kept asking to watch the movie again and again.
And yet again.
After more than a dozen viewings, a question kept nagging at me . . . Why the hell would the Queen craft a curse that was so easy to break? Wouldn’t it be more despicably evil if the Prince’s kiss was just a catalyst for something far worse? Wouldn’t it be absolutely fucking awesome if Snow woke up as a deranged zombie?
And so began The Scary Tales, my current series of dark fantasy novels.
Except as I began to write this zombie sequel to Snow White, a second question plagued me as I developed Snow’s pre-zombie character. Why in the hell would any sensible young woman—especially one who already knows that she’s in danger—take an apple from a complete stranger?
As my daughter now says, “Snow wasn’t very smart taking that apple.”
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that for Snow to make that mistake, she had to be one of two things: undeniably stupid or deeply troubled. I had no intention of making her an imbecile—a plastic shell with no articulation.
No, I wanted my Snow to be deeper than that. So I worked backward from the premise that Snow was not in her right mind when she took the apple. In fact, she was wretchedly hungover. Why? Well, duh, because she drank too much. But why would she imbibe so heavily? Because she wasn’t just running away from a huntsman or an evil queen, because—like a lot of young people—she was running away from herself. She was trying to escape an unfair world—not unlike the office depicted in 9 to 5— in which royals make all the rules and a peasant like Snow didn’t have a chance in hell of getting ahead.
My Snow is a young woman who’s had a short, hard life. She’s worked and toiled with little to show for it. She’s made mistakes, but she’s brave enough to own them. She’s got a foul mouth but a good heart. She may not be a role model, but she damn sure isn’t waiting around for some prince to rescue her. And if her boss ever crosses the line, well, he better make his own damn coffee unless he wants a one-way trip to the hospital.
Happily ever after, be damned.
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About the Author:
Rob E. Boley is the author of The Scary Tales series of novels, featuring mash-ups of your favorite fairy tale characters and classic horror monsters. He grew up in Enon, Ohio, a little town with a big Indian mound. He later earned a B.A. and M.A. in English from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Aside from The Scary Tales series, his fiction has appeared in several markets, including A cappella Zoo, Pseudopod, Clackamas Literary Review, and Best New Werewolf Tales. His stories have won Best in Show in the Sinclair Community College Creative Writing Contest and the Dayton Daily News/Antioch Writers’ Workshop Short Story Contest. He lives with his daughter in Dayton, where he works for his alma mater. Each morning and most nights, he enjoys making blank pages darker.
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