For as long as I can remember, I have had a certain weakness for creative reimagining of classic stories. I think I can attribute this particular affinity to all the unique spins on Shakespeare I consumed growing up (films like Disney’s The Lion King, West Side Story, and 10 Things I Hate About You immediately come to mind). Regardless of where the love came from, I still find myself drawn to these kinds of stories. The more creative the take, the better!
Needless to say, when I first heard of Circuits & Slippers, a collection of fairy tales retold with a science fiction twist, I knew I had to check it out. I was given the chance to check out an ARC of the collection, which comes out in paperback and kindle ebook on September 29th, as well as the opportunity to interview one of the contributing author’s, L.G. Keltner!
Keep reading for my interview with Keltner, author of the story Treating the Beast, and to enter for your chance to win a copy of Circuits & Slippers!
Keltner’s contribution to Circuits & Slippers, Treating the Beast, is a unique futuristic retelling of The Beauty and the Beast. Aside from the fact that I’m already a big fan of the source material, what I really loved about this story was the way that it could easily stand on its own, regardless of the reader’s familiarity with the original story.
I had the chance to ask Keltner some questions about the story and her creative process. Check out what she had to say!
Maggie: Treating the Beast, your take on The Beauty and the Beast, was an especially creative retelling. Where did you draw your inspiration from?
L.G.: I drew my inspiration from my childhood. I loved TV shows and movies about space stations and other kinds of human outposts out in the cosmos. I also enjoyed tales about scientists doing vital research. There’s something amazing about the way people apply their knowledge and determination to solving a complicated problem. That’s how Belle became a doctor who worked on a space station as part of a research team.
I also see the political turmoil happening around the world and the actions that leaders take to keep things under control. Some of those actions are reprehensible, but I often find myself wondering why those leaders do the things that they do. That curiosity led me to write Treating the Beast the way that I did.
Maggie: Did you find your passion for science fiction helped you when blending those elements in with the timeless and fantastical story of The Beauty and the Beast?
L.G.: It definitely helped. First of all, when I saw the call to retell a fairy tale as science fiction, I was immediately intrigued. This seemed like the perfect project for me.
It also helped because there are a lot of elements in science fiction and fantasy that work well together. Both genres lend themselves to telling larger-than-life stories. Both involve events that seem extraordinary. In fantasy, those fantastical elements are magical. In science fiction, there’s a scientific explanation for the events of the story. My love for science fiction helped me to look at the fantastical elements of the original tale and figure out the best way to look at them through a scientific lens.
Maggie: Have you ever written reimagined versions of classic stories before Circuits & Slippers? How do you find the process differs from writing your own original stories?
L.G.: This is the first time I’ve ever written a reimagined version of a classic story. I’ve considered doing it in the past, but other projects tended to sprout up and jump to the front of the line.
I can say that doing a retelling proved to be both easier and harder than writing an original story. I know that sounds contradictory, but hear me out. Once I came up with the story I wanted to retell, I had an established cast of characters and plot to work with. This got my imagination going more quickly than I might writing an original piece, but it also restricted me a bit. I wanted to change the story and make it new, but it still needed to be recognizable to the readers. This was an interesting balance to strike, and I’m glad I accepted the challenge.
Maggie: Why did you choose to reimagine The Beauty and the Beast for this anthology?
L.G.: When I watched the Disney film as a child, I was drawn to the character of Belle. She loved to read and never quite fit in. That description applied to me as well. Years later when I saw the opportunity to reimagine a classic fairy tale, The Beauty and the Beast is the first one that came to mind because of Belle.
Maggie: Tell us about your favourite part of Treating the Beast.
L.G.: My favorite part has to be the scene where Dr. Bell and Chancellor Beaumont are in the chapel in front of the stained glass window. When I was writing it, I had a stunning visual stuck in my mind, and there’s a lot of emotion packed into that scene. This is where they really get a chance to talk, and Dr. Bell gets the chance to see this powerful politician in a way that no one else does.
Maggie: What does it mean to you to be part of an anthology like Circuits & Slippers?
L.G.: This is a great opportunity for me! Having my story featured alongside the stories of so many talented authors is amazing. It gives me the chance to get more of my work out there and to interact with authors I didn’t previously know. I’ve wanted to be a writer most of my life, and there were times when I didn’t know whether I’d get to see my work in print or not. I think all authors can relate to that uncertainty. Having gotten to this point, I know it’s been worth all the hard work it took to get me here.
Maggie: If you’ve read the entire anthology, what’s your favourite story and why? (Aside from your own, of course! 😉 )
L.G.: I’ve read about half of it so far. Between taking care of kids and working on various projects, I haven’t yet managed to read the entire thing. As such, I can’t yet pick a favorite, but I can say this. I’ve been stunned by the creativity and storytelling I’ve encountered so far in my reading. I think other people who read it will be too.
Maggie: What do you hope readers take away from reading the anthology?
L.G.: I hope readers come away having had an enjoyable reading experience. I also hope people are able to take a second look at the fairy tales they grew up with and find the inspiration to look at them in a new light. Favorite characters and scenarios can always be reimagined. That’s part of the fun. These tales have the power they do because they speak to us in some way. We shouldn’t be afraid to interact with them in return.
Maggie: For readers who really enjoyed your take on this classic fairytale and are looking for something else to read from you, what would you recommend?
L.G.: I’ve only been publishing my work for the last year and a half, so there isn’t a lot to choose from yet. If readers enjoy science fiction anthologies, they can check out my short story “Felix Was Here” in the recently-published anthology Parallels: Felix Was Here. I also self-published a science fiction novella A Silent Soliloquy and a short story collection of sci-fi tales called Cosmic Seasoning.
Maggie: What are you working on next?
L.G.: Right now I’m working on completing my Self-Help 101 series. This is a series of novellas that feature a teenage girl named Dani who writes humorous self-help books. Each one takes place on a different holiday, and they feature her advice on how to deal with odd family members and crazy scenarios that arise during the course of the holiday celebration in question. I’m currently working on the last novella in that series. It’s not science fiction, but it’s been fun playing around with a different genre.
I’m also working on a short fantasy story, but that project is currently in the initial stages. I can’t say a whole lot about that yet.
L.G. Keltner enjoys writing primarily science fiction, YA, and humor, though she’ll dabble in any genre when inspiration strikes. Her publications include the Self-Help 101 series and the short story “Felix Was Here” in the sci-fi anthology Parallels: Felix Was Here. L.G. lives in Iowa with her husband and children.
Want to win your own copy of Circuits & Slippers? Here’s your chance!
The fine print: The draw takes place on September 29th. 3 names from across all the guest posts. Winners will get a physical copy of Circuits & Slippers sent to them if they live in the US and Canada, or an ebook copy if they live anywhere else.
Good luck, everyone!