I write YA and NA novels and also teach college lit part time. When I was assigned to teach Christopher Marlow's Doctor Faustus, I alternately balked and thrilled at the challenge. The story is about a brilliant college professor who, after earning what is now equivalent to a PhD, is bored and asks the medieval version of "Is this all there is?" He has noble ideas: he wants to enrich public education, find cures for dreadful diseases—even raise the dead. Hey, rewind ... you need superpowers for that, right?!
You sure do. Thus, he falls into temptation when he calls up Mephistopheles to grant him these superhuman powers. Dr. Faustus thinks he has nothing to worry about. He doesn't believe in the devil, or hell. He's a modern man of science. Damnation, piffle! He makes a vow with the devil's messenger and signs it in blood.
But Faustus soon learns that power corrupts, and there's no taking back his damnable vow. Hey, Mephistopheles warned him. What devil does that? A modern, enlightened devil, that's who! At any rate, the good, or I should say bad doctor gets his comeuppance.
I was worried about teaching this book because I don't believe in a literal heaven or horned devil in hell. I just couldn't find a way in. Then, I ran into a guy who teaches Doctor Faustus at Boston University—one of those freaky coincidences that seem ordained by higher spirits—haha. And this cool, witty man totally turned my head around. He chuckled heartily at my whining and said one doesn't have to be religious to get into Faust. That it's really about our shadow sides—how we handle temptation and dark urges when no one’s watching. It's also about the irony that what people are secretly attracted to can often be the same things they publicly condemn! It’s about our deep terrors as well, the ones involving the so-called sins of the day: promiscuous sex, arrogance, urges to follow our “bad angels” into nefarious activities. I’ve grown to love this novel so much I wrote a modern twist on it, for the Internet generation called Dorianna. Here are some of the many twists over time, inspired by the original Faust myths:
In the time of the medieval Faust myths it was a literal fear of the devil
In Goethe's version, one could actually be redeemed of dreadful sin through love
In Marlow's time the sin was intelligence and arrogance over God.
In Oscar Wilde's day the sin was pride of beauty and sexual promiscuity.
In Will Self's day (Dorian, 2002) it was the terror of contracting AIDS
In Dorianna's day (2014/15) it's our obsession with Likes and Internet followers
If you were to do a fresh twist on a classic tale, what might it be and why?
Genre: YA paranormal/horror
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Date of Publication: October 24, 2014
Word Count: 91K
Cover Artist: Sour Cherry Designs
Internet followers, beauty, power. It all sounded good.
Until it transformed into a terrifying reality Dorianna couldn’t stop
Dorianna is a dark twist for the Internet generation on A Picture of Dorian Gray.
When her father is jailed, her mother ships lonely, plain Dorianna to her aunt’s. There, Dorianna yearns to build a new identity, but the popular Lacey bullies her—mostly for getting attention from her ex, Ander.
Ander takes Dorianna to Coney Island where Wilson, a videographer, creates a stunning compilation of her. She dreams of being an online sensation, as she’s never even had a birthday party, and vows she’d give anything to go viral. Wilson claims he’s the Prince of Darkness and warns her the pledge has downsides.
Dorianna thinks he’s joking. She has no idea of how dire the consequences might be.
About the Author:
Catherine Stine’s novels span the range from science fiction to paranormal to contemporary. Her futuristic thriller, Fireseed One won finalist spots in YA and Sci-Fi in the 2013 USA News International Book Awards and an Indie Reader Approved notable seal. Its companion novel, Ruby’s Fire was a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Awards. Her paranormal YA, Dorianna launches with Evernight Teen in October. She also writes new adult fiction as Kitsy Clare. Her new adult Art of Love series includes Model Position and Private Internship. She loves all things spooky, exotic and edgy, including travel to unusual locations. She also loves hearing from readers.
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