EXTRA NOTE: Sorry I haven't gotten to yesterday's questions yet. I'm going to try to catch up on all the questions for tomorrow's post!
And now that's done, and we can pick up where we left off . . .
The man she called father: Did anyone else, when reading the narrative, notice that Mousehand is never overtly referred to as Rose Red’s “father?” He is referred to in the text as the man she called father. When speaking of him, she calls him her “old Dad.” But does that mean he is her actual biological parent? Foreshadowing . . .
I believe somewhere in this novel the name of Rose Red’s real father is mentioned. Keep your eyes open for it.
Imaginary Friend: I like how we are told that Rose Red’s Imaginary Friend is a prince, and that the explanation for this is because Rose Red is a romantic child. But that this prince—who is imaginary—appears in the form of a wood thrush. It really couldn’t get much more convoluted! But it makes perfect sense in her mind, and she never bothers to question it. Of course her imaginary friend is a prince, and of course the prince is also a wood thrush! Why would this not be?
But she does question the reality of the wood thrush. While she doesn’t quibble about interact with it—even, in her loneliness, engaging in heartfelt conversation with it—she still carefully refers to it as “imaginary.” As though she is afraid of losing her own, reasoning mind. She doesn’t have much else going for her, and she certainly is surrounded by her share of strange entities: a talking goat, this imaginary friend, and the mysterious Dream.
No wonder she is so desperate for friendship with a “real” boy like Leo!
The town bells ringing: While it is small, this section speak of Rose Red listening to the town bells ringing out “fetes and feast days, weddings and funerals,” is a tiny nod to Quasimodo from Notre Dame de Paris, by Victor Hugo. Or rather, more specifically, to the French-language musical. In the novel (which is fantastic, by the way, and which I did prefer to Les Miserable . . . am I allowed to say that?) Quasimodo is the bell-ringer of the cathedral, and it is his duty to ring out all the various ceremonial bells. In the stage play, there is a sad, strangely exciting, and moving song called “Les Cloches,” in which Quasimodo sings out the all the various ceremonies for which he rings the bells. And he names the bells as his only friends. It’s a song that brilliantly illustrates his own lonely isolation.
Rose Red is a similar type of character to Quasimodo—isolated for some fault in face or form, always hiding from the eyes of others. Longing for connection with the world at large. So I included this tiny little nod to Quasimodo in general and that song in particular here, in the first scene we see from Rose Red’s perspective. Thus I used bells emphasize Rose Red’s seclusion and her craving for human contact.
I want a real friend: I do think it’s a bit telling about Rose Red as a character that, when the wood thrush tells her something she doesn’t like to hear, she responds immediately with, “I want a real friend.” I don’t remember if, when I originally wrote it, I meant for her to sound sad and pathetic. But when I read it this time, I heard her voice in my head as quite petulant!
The nanny: At last we meet the mysterious nanny whom Rose Red has mentioned several times. And it turns out, it is possible for a girl like her to have a nanny after all—a nanny goat.
Beana: Beana is quite possibly my favorite character in this book. She’s one of my favorite characters in the series, though her own personal story has yet to be told. She is a character about whom I’ve been writing since I was seventeen. I wrote a novella which I called Lord Aiven’s Daughter, in which she was the star. That story was the longest work I’d set in Goldstone Wood up to that point, and I was so pleased to discover what I could do with pen and paper! Until then, most of my longer works hadn’t been very successful. (For those of you who know the series, other characters featuring in that story included: Eanrin, Oeric, a fellow named Capaneus, his brother, Melesio, and the Lady Life-in-Death. Lumé and Hymlumé were prominently featured as well, though they did not possess those names at the time, and were simply the Lordly Sun and the Lady Moon.)
Beana’s inclusion in Veiled Rose was something of a whim. I started drafting the first version of this story, starting from Rose Red’s point of view. That version started with the first line, “Rose Red did not want the old man she called father to die. Unfortunately he did not consult her opinion on the subject. He just died.” It was very sad. I had her go about making some small preparations for his body and then figuring out what to do next. And she had to milk her goat.
The goat struck me as a possible source of comfort to my grieving little heroine. So I had her start talking to her. At first, the goat replied with nothing but goaty noises—“Bah!” specifically. But suddenly, when Rose Red asked her, “Where else could we go?” Beana turned to her and responded, “Practically anywhere.”
I was startled. I stared at what had just happened on the page, completely taken aback. I had not intended Beana to be a particularly extraordinary goat. She was just a goat! Someone for Rose Red to talk to. But now she has an opinion? And a contrary one, at that!
Intrigued, I decided to let the scene play out, and continued writing it in a way that felt natural. And Beana completely stole the scene, and my heart! And I decided to let her be (SPOILER) a Faerie knight, just like Eanrin. And I even decided to let her be the heroine from Lord Aiven’s Daughter, cast in a very new role.
Of course, that original scene between Rose Red and Beana has long since been scrapped, and only a few lines made it into this version. But the heart of it is still there . . . Beana herself.
Tethered in the yard: In light of the above revelation, it is pretty funny to me to see Beana introduced into the series as a goat tethered in the yard! LOL.
“Hen’s teeth!” Here we see Rose Red’s euphemism for the stronger “Dragon’s teeth.” I think later on somewhere Beana scolds Rose Red for saying, “Dragon’s teeth.” Doesn’t want her charge using naughty phrases! I like Beana. She may be a goat, but she did her best to bring this girl up right.
That Other: I did slip in a small reference to (SPOILER!) the unicorn, though it doesn’t come into the story until Moonblood. While I didn’t have room in this story to deal overtly with the unicorn, I figured it was far too important to not at least mention once or twice. So when Beana considers the dangers of leaving the mountain, she thinks of “that Other unlike all others.”
Into the Dream: In Heartless, I introduced a mode of writing dreams that included a present-tense narrative. This was done to create a sense of “outside time.” When Rose Red enters her dream, we once more return to the present-tense narrative from book 1, and we watch her pass over landscapes that look just like those in which she lives. But inside her dream, other things live, other things move. Inside her dream lurks the person she refers to as her Dream. But who may not prove to be a dream at all . . . indeed, he may prove to be a nightmare.
I find working with the Dream World—and, subsequently, both the Death of Dreams and Lady of Dreams Realized—challenging. And rewarding. But challenging. Because it is a realm outside of nor mortal life, and constantly changing depending on the mind of the one dreaming. Rose Red’s dreams are straightforward. She pictures landscapes like those she encounters every day. But even these humble dreams can be invaded by the Death of Dreams himself.
I can’t say too much about it at the moment, but Golden Daughter deals in large part with the Dream World. So it’s interesting for me to go back and look at these early glimpses of that world as seen through Rosie’s eyes and, later on, through the eyes of the Death of Dreams, who lives and moves in that realm. Helps remind me of what I’ve already done and established.
Princess: The Dream always calls Rose Red “princess.” I debated about this for a little while, just as I debated mention “that Other.” After all, Rose Red’s identity and status are not ultimately revealed in this book. Would it be more frustrating to readers for me to include it here but not compete it, or more frustrating for the second book to come out of the blue? My books are not normally so dependent upon one another as Veiled Rose and Moonblood are, and there were definitely some unique challenges. Again, I decided in the end that it would be better to introduce the them so that everything was properly established for Moonblood. Some reviewers have taken issue with that, rating the book down because of all the “unresolved plot threads.” *shrugs* Can’t win them all . . . .
The shining white bridges: I had to smile at that reference. Those famous bridges of Southlands, connecting the baronies which are separated by deep, forest-filled gorges . . . some say they were built by Faerie hands. Do you want to know who built them? Do you want to know where they came from and why?
Because I’m going to tell you quite soon now . . .
“She will take your own two hands
To save your ancient, sorrowing lands.”
Let me kiss you: The Dream urges her to let him kiss her and end their differences. But readers of Heartless have heard that suggestion before . . .
It was interesting for me to try and introduce the Dragon in a new way for this book. Because several of the major events in this story parallel events in Heartless, I knew I ran a serious risk of the two stories sounding repetitive. I wanted to make certain that they felt completely different to the reader. And one of the most important things was making certain the Dragon, while remaining consistent with the established character from Book 1, also felt like a new character full of new possibilities.
In the original version of Veiled Rose—the one my publishing house rejected—I actually didn’t bring the Dragon in so soon. He didn’t appear until midway through the book, when he set upon the Eldest’s House seemingly out of nowhere. We learned over the course of several following chapters that it was Rose Red he sought.
In this version, however, I decided that I needed to take the Dragon in a different direction. So what was the opposite of the surprise visit Una experienced in Heartless? A long, slow manipulation. A twisted form of “courtship,” if you will, with the Dragon trying to befriend and influence Rose Red over the course of her life. All in her mind, of course—he doesn’t appear in any physical sense until much later. This is a battle for her soul, and it goes on in the privacy of her head and heart.
It was fun for me to experiment with this new approach for the Dragon, which also opened up other possibilities for him in later books. For the most part, the Dragon is much more explosive and action-oriented than his sister (more on her later), but he can play the subtle manipulator when need be. He’s just not as good at it as his sister is . . .
Question on the Text:
1. For you bookish types out there . . . there are tons of little “literary nods” to various great works of literature throughout Veiled Rose. The mentioning of the bells is an example. Can you find any others? Remember, these links can be overt or subtle. They can even be consciously and unconsciously done! That’s the fun of literary analysis. Perhaps you can see a theme or connection which I might have missed?
2. Rose Red tells the wood thrush that she wants a friend that “everyone knows and everyone sees is my friend.” What does this say about her as a character? And, for those of you who have read the book before, how do you think this wish motivates her as the story progresses?
3. So how many of you, when you first read Veiled Rose, were surprised when Beana started talking? Or did you figure, “Eh, it’s a fairy tale! Of course the goat talks”?
4. When Beana warns Rose Red not to take Leo back to the mountains, she also reminds her what might happen should Leo see the monster. And poor Rose Red hopes that perhaps he “won’t see it.” What monster is she talking about, do you think?
5. Any favorite lines?