Monday, December 3, 2012

Gypsy Rose Lee and Witchwood: Inspiration Behind a Series

Gypsy Rose Lee was a vaudeville performer, burlesque dancer, and her mother's second favorite child (of two). She put the tease in striptease with an act so unique, so elegant and refined that American journalist H.L. Mencken made up a word to describe it. He called her an ecdysiast, which essentially means "one who molts," because of her slow, one-feather-at-a-time style.

By now you're probably wondering what any of this has to do with a series of books about an Elvish princess. That's a valid question. Here's what: Gypsy Rose Lee once owned a house in a small town in the lower Hudson Valley region of New York State, which also happens to be my home town. The house is on a main road but its set back so far, that you can't see it when you drive by. All you can see is the sign that spells out the name of Gypsy's house: Witchwood Manor.

I remember being a little kid, driving by on the way to the grocery store with my mom, and wondering what it meant. Were there witches in the woods there? Magic? Was there a girl, maybe one like me, who lived there? Was she good or bad or maybe both?

Witchwood Manor has been sitting in my imagination, just waiting for me to figure out the story I wanted to tell about it for a long time. When I started writing the Princess of Twilight & Dawn series, I took the name for Tab's house without a second thought. Then I filled the house with magic and elves instead of witches and added the girl (only she's a woman now) who would have to figure out if she was good or bad or both before the story could end.

Last summer I drove over there to take a picture of the sign. As I was standing there, terrified that the homeowner would come home and yell at me for hanging about in his driveway, it occurred to me that inspiration is a funny thing. This plain, sort of crookedly hand-painted sign captured my imagination and inspired me to make up a whole world full of people and adventures for them to go on. If you think about it, it's kind of amazing that a piece of plywood and some paint can do that.

There are thousands of stories just hanging around in unlikely places waiting to be told. I wonder what’s going to inspire you?

Princess of Twilight and Dawn Book Two
By Jes Young

Six months ago, when her long-hidden heritage came to light, Tab Bennett reluctantly let go of her past and embraced her future as an Elvish princess on the cusp of her gifts and the edge of her destiny. She never wanted a fairy tale life, but as the daughter of the Dark King and the Light Queen, that’s exactly what she got.

Raised in exile away from the kingdom of the Inbetween, Tab has never even met the parents who ruined her life. Her mother is dead, but Tab’s father, Daniel, is alive and well, the mad ruler of the kingdom of the Underneath. He’s made it clear he wants to meet her and now that she knows all the sadness and heartache in her life can be traced directly to the Dark king’s door, Tab wants to meet him too. After all, it's because of him that the first twenty-five years of her life were a lie. It’s his fault she gave her heart to Robbin when she should have been saving it for Alex, the prince who is destined to be her Homecoming. But, most importantly, King Daniel is the one responsible for her mother’s suicide and her sisters’ murders.

Now Tab wants justice – but she’ll settle for revenge and Finnegan Blackthorn, an Elvish warrior with secrets of his own, is going to help her get it. Together, they’ll embark on the dangerous journey to her father’s stronghold in the kingdom Underneath. Once she's there, far away from the Light in which she was raised, Tab will be forced to confront the seductive nature of Darkness and her own potential to truly become her father’s daughter.

About the Author:

After graduating from Emerson College with a BFA in creative writing, Jes Young was a copywriter at Random House (Ballantine Books and Crown Publishing Group) for nearly ten years. Currently she is the development manager of a small non-profit and the mother of two children under the age of ten. Her writing is done primarily between the hours of 11 p.m and 3 a.m.

Twitter: @JesYoungWrites



jes young said...

Good Morning! I'm incredibly excited to kick off my blog tour for Underneath here at Fangtastic Books. Many thanks to Roxanne for setting everything up. I'll be checking in throughout the day, so please feel free to ask questions.

Unknown said...

This looks fun! I'm throwing confetti! Have fun on your tour. I'll tag along, if you don't mind. :)

CM Albert said...

Happy tour kick off! Confetti in air! I love the inspiration behind WWM. I won't give away any plot points, but maybe you can give readers a little insight into Finn's character? I love the tension he creates and he's right up my alley! He's a wonderful addition to this second book and I can't wait to see what lies ahead (hopefully, literally!) with him (please take his clothes off in book three!). Congrats & have fun on book tour.