Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ellen Sarnoff: Author of Dewitched Talks About Her Voices

Today, I have Ellen Sarnoff here at The Book Bag talking about the voices in her head.

My thoughts about this entertaining book were posted yesterday and can be found here.

Ellen ~~ I have heard other authors say that they 'hear voices in their head' and that is how they write their books: the characters are telling their stories. Not being a writer myself, that concept has always intrigued me. 

When some people hear voices, we get them medical attention, others end up becoming writers. Does this happen to you? How do you come up with your stories?


I got my inspiration to write DEWITCHED: The Untold Story of the Evil Queen when, over lunch, a dear friend told me about a mutual acquaintance who had secured a publishing deal for a series of young adult fairy tale retelling books. Unemployed and eager to make money again, I thought to myself, I can do that, having been a successful creator, writer, and producer of numerous children's television series. At the time, I was also going through a very difficult time with my then 18-year old stepson, who was living in our household. Let's put it this way: he thought I was evil; I thought I was nice. Having recently seen and loved the musical WICKED, I immediately thought about the Evil Queen from Snow White. Perhaps, like the Wicked Witch of the West she, too, was misunderstood. Never having believed that she died after falling off that cliff, I asked myself the question: What if the Evil Queen went to rehab for her addiction to beauty and was given a second chance at happily ever after? This was going to be my story and, in the process, I would uncover what demons from her past drove her to evil and her destructive love-hate relationship with her magic mirror. A quote by Richard Bach inspired me: "Look in a mirror and one thing's sure; what we see is not who we are." I wanted to debunk the evil stepmother myth that prevails in fairy tales.

The voice of my protagonist Jane, aka the Evil Queen, took off the minute I wrote the first line of the book. It was a snarky, first-person voice similar to my own everyday voice. While I had a general idea about Jane's backstory and dark secrets and how the book was going to begin and end, I'm a "pantster," so the story and her character unfolded as I typed away. I got deep into the roots of evil as I explored what made her and the other fairy tale villains evil, like Cinderella's stepsisters, the witch from Hansel and Gretel, and Captain Hook. While writing, I re-read virtually every Grimm fairy tale and researched numerous psychological disorders, including narcissism, alcoholism, and anorexia. There were frequent surprises--and narrative challenges--along the way. I soon discovered I was the inspiration for my main character, drawing from my own journey through life, dealing with fading beauty as one gets older and the challenges of motherhood, friendship, and love.

Writing DEWITCHED was a very cathartic experience. It released a lot deep emotions within me and helped me mend my relationship with my stepson. And as Jane rewrote her life, I rewrote my own. I became a novelist.

Author Bio

Ellen Levy-Sarnoff, writing under the name E. L. Sarnoff, has enjoyed a prolific career in the entertainment industry, creating, writing, and producing television series, including the original Power Rangers. She lives in Los Angeles with her Prince Charming-ish husband, twin princesses, and a bevy of pets. She’s also a not-too-evil stepmother. When she’s not writing in her PJ’s, she likes to dress up and pretend she’s Hollywood royalty.

DEWITCHED: The Untold Story of the Evil Queen is Ellen's first novel. The sequel, UNHITCHED, will be available on October 29, 2012.

Connect with EL Sarnoff!

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1 comment:

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