A few months ago, some questions came in about my books. Maybeawriter started it off with this: You know, I’ve been wondering about the Disney thing for ages, but for some reason never brought it up. I was wondering, how much did Disney give you as a jumping-off point, and how much was your own ideas? Was it your idea to make the sequels, or did Disney want you to? What about Vidia? How much of her was your idea? Do you feel annoyed that they changed her personality so much in the Tinker Bell movies? And the Tinker Bell movies as a rule. It grates on me every time somebody calls her “Miss Bell,” although it’s mostly this one fairy that you could argue is incomplete.
I adore Rani! She’s my favorite fairy, although Beck runs a close second. Water talent powers are just so awesome! In fact, if I got my wish to be able to switch between a human and a fairy whenever I wanted, I’d want to be a water talent. I also love Rani because was her selfless, noble sacrifice of her wings. – Sniff – It’s so beautiful!
Also… I think you said at some point that even though the fairy you named your sister after was your personal favorite, she wasn’t completely happy about it. I wonder, what could she possibly dislike about such a noble fairy?
And then Charlotte asked, also on the subject of the Disney Fairies books, Who chose David Christiana as the Fairies illustrator? Did you work with him in some capacity, or did your finished manuscript get shipped off to him for illustrations? Do you like what he did with it–are his illustrations true to what you imagined?
Three editors from Disney took me to lunch and proposed the idea of a series based on the fairies J. M. Barrie created in Peter Pan. I was interested because I adored the book as a child. The editors brought with them some drawings that had been done by Disney artists for one of their movies, Bambi, I think. Included in the drawings was one of a dove, which I loved. That dove became the inspiration for Mother Dove, although David Christiana’s interpretation of her is quite different, and I love his, too. Disney had been kicking around the idea for the series with their video department, and the editors also gave me proposed names of some fairy characters, one of which was a wicked fairy named Invidia. I didn’t like the In, so I shortened the name to Vidia, and that’s how she came about.
The only absolutes that Disney gave me were that Tinker Bell had to be in the story and Captain Hook couldn’t be. But I put him in anyway, only in the first draft I didn’t let him speak. I thought I might be able to get away with that. My editor asked for more Hook in the revisions!
My only absolute was editorial control. I had an editor, naturally. I need criticism! But not a word could be changed without my approval. The books I wrote are entirely mine. If you don’t like them, blame me. If you do, I take the bow.
I didn’t expect to write sequels, which was freeing. I knew there would be more books, but I thought other writers would write them. I enjoyed tossing in features that might give these future writers trouble, ha ha!, like the fact that fairies can’t fly with wet wings. Then, to my surprise, I was asked to write a second book and had to deal with the booby traps I’d built in!
Before I started writing, I reread Peter Pan and found that I still adore it. Barrie was a marvelously supple writer, who could make sentences do figure eights and turn cartwheels. I wanted to suggest a flavor of his writing but I found that I couldn’t imitate his style. The best I could do was to follow his habit of sprinkling the phrase of course willy-nilly throughout. If you’ve never read the original Peter Pan, I can’t recommend it highly enough no matter how old you are. If you have read it, I suggest you take another look and pay attention to Barrie’s sentences for their originality, fluidity, flexibility – they are triple-jointed!
More controlling than the few constraints imposed by Disney was my wish to do honor to Barrie. I hope that my Peter and my Hook are close cousins to his. The baby’s first laugh turning into a fairy comes directly from Barrie, likewise human disbelief killing fairies, and, of course, the clapping cure.
But the hundred years that divide my books from his also made some variation necessary. Barrie calls Tiger Lily and her tribe redskins, which would be objectionable today, so I eliminated this strand. And Tink’s only words in Peter Pan are “You silly ass!” She needed to say more and not that!
I watched the first movie, but I haven’t seen any after that. I’m not annoyed. Disney has the right to do as it pleases, and they know their market. I have Prilla call Tink Miss Bell in the first book, but Tink doesn’t like it.
Yes, Rani is my favorite, because of her deep feelings, her sympathy, enthusiasm, and generosity. My sister gave me permission to use her name, and I don’t think she’s entirely unhappy about the result.
I didn’t choose David Christiana. I’ve never picked any of my illustrators or cover artists. That’s generally the publisher’s purview, but I’ve rarely been disappointed (I like some covers more than others). I think David is a marvelous artist and illustrator and draftsman. Disney didn’t consult me on sketches either; I saw David’s work when it was finished or close to finished. We’ve since become friends, and when I wrote the second and third books, I emailed him secret hints of what I was doing. His illustrations weren’t what I imagined, which is fine, better maybe, for the surprise and for the insight into what my story brought out in one reader.
More about others of my books next week.
These prompts are based on Peter Pan. Questions have come up about using the prompts on the blog, and in general, go ahead. Write stories, novels, seven-book series. Publish them, and please let me know. It’s all good. In this case, however, a little caution: When I wrote the Disney Fairies books, the term of copyright for Peter Pan was at the edge of ending. The book may be in the public domain by now. If that’s the case, you can do whatever you like with Barrie’s characters, but not with the ones I wrote and the others in the Disney series, for which Disney owns the copyright. You can write anything for pleasure and for sharing with friends, family, teachers, but not for publication. So here goes:
∙ A submarine surfaces off the coast of Never Land. What follows is a meeting of modernity and the island. Write what happens.
∙ A UFO touches down on Never Land. Write the scene.
∙ Wendy, at eighteen, too old to fly over, starts sailing for the island. Write the story.
∙ Tootles and Curly, two Lost Boys, come down with a high fever. They’re close to death. Peter wants to save them. Write what happens.
Have fun, and save what you write!