Jennifer Johnson Interview
1) What fairytale(s) have you chosen to retell and why?
I had my pick of fairy tales, but I knew I wanted to do “Alice in Wonderland” from the start. Growing up, Lewis Carroll's “Alice” books were something I read often and found great comfort in. I enjoyed escaping into a world of nonsense and imagination and that feeling that it's okay to be lost sometimes and not know where to go.
I have seen many movie versions of “Alice in Wonderland,” and I have read a great many tributes and fan fiction starring Alice. Now it is my turn to tell Alice's story. I began by doing a great deal of research on the real Alice and the real man who wrote the stories I loved so well as a child. As it turns out, there is a darker story lurking in the shadows and between the lines.
In this retelling, I focus on the relationship between Alice and her caretaker, Charles, who writes her stories about a place called Wonderland. I truly tried to make this story about what would happen to Alice as she comes of age. Every young woman hopes for romance and Alice is no different. This story is about her struggle as she becomes a woman and navigates the new sexual landscape that is unfolding before her. I hope to take you on a journey filled with the whimsical touches of Wonderland and the contrast of Alice's dark reality.
2) What makes your story unique?
My retelling of "Alice in Wonderland" focuses on Alice in a mental hospital, hospitalized for schizophrenia. She is now eighteen-years-old and trying to lose her virginity while hospitalized. The juxtaposition of whimsical Wonderland and the dark, drab hospital make for an interesting story. Alice has two love interests. One is the Ace of Spades, one of the queen's playing cards from Wonderland. The other is her caretaker, Charles, who has been secretly writing her all of the Wonderland stories since she was a child. It's hard to tell which man she will choose and where she will end up. Will she choose to stay in Wonderland forever or will she join the real world and get well enough to leave the hospital?
3) What was your favorite fairytale growing up and why?
"Alice in Wonderland" was definitely my favorite fairy tale growing up. I first encountered Alice in the animated Disney version of Alice in Wonderland. I instantly identified with her inability to focus on reality and her preference for nonsense over substance. I enjoyed the way she embraced her imagination and her lack of direction gave me hope for my own future. The thought of being able to take a bite of a mushroom and grow infinitely tall, or tiny was fascinating to me and I often incorporated aspects of Wonderland into my own play.
I was given a set of Lewis Carroll's books when I was seven-years-old and they became a favorite of mine. I found comfort in reading Alice's adventures over and over again. I identified with many of the situations and creatures that Alice encountered on her journey and I enjoyed that many of the chapters had absolutely no point! That was the point!
There was something freeing about reading about Alice's adventures because there was absolutely no pressure for any of it to make sense, because Alice's favorite thing was nonsense and she wanted everything to be nonsense in her world. I think a lot of children enjoy nonsense.
So, my retelling definitely has some silly nonsense incorporated into the story because the spirit of the original books is definitely in my book, even though there is actually a point to my story.
4) Who was your favorite villain?
My favorite villainess is the Queen of Hearts. She's a strong, confident woman who has a problem putting others ahead of herself. The reason I think she is a fantastic villainess is her unpredictability and inability to empathize with others. You never know what her next move is because she doesn't even know what her next move is. She's not the cold, calculating villain we often see in fiction. She is loud, obnoxious, and self-serving and her plans are often not thought though well enough to truly be sinister. She is actually a tiny bit endearing as a villainess, which makes it hard to totally hate her. That gives her just enough of an edge to catch people off guard and her power-hungry decisions literally cause heads to roll. Her selfishness and plotting make any story involving her interesting, since she is likely to order your head cut off at any minute!
5) Is this a standalone or do you have more books planned?
This is actually part of a series that was put together by LaSasha Flame called Torrid Tales, Fairy Tales Retold. This collection contains retellings of the following fairy tales: Beauty and the Beast, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Alice in Wonderland, Little Red Riding Hood, and Cinderella.
Book One: Behind the Veil: Beauty and the Daemon by LaSasha Flame
Book Two: Goldilocks and the Three Bear Brothers by Pebbles Lacasse
Book Three: Naughty Alice by Jennifer Johnson
Book Four: Little Red by Dawn Sumner
Book Five: Midnight Masquerade: Charming Desires by Cate Mckoy
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About the Author:
S. K. Gregory is an author, editor and blogger. She currently resides in Northern Ireland.
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”