Rose B. Fischer
Today, please help me welcome fellow blogger and author, Rose B. Fisher. She is an avid fan of foxes, Stargate: SG-1 and Star Trek. She would rather be on the Enterprise right now. Since she can’t be a Starfleet Officer, she became a speculative fiction author whose stories feature women who defy cultural stereotypes.
In her fictional worlds, gender is often fluid, sexuality exists on a spectrum, and “disability” does not define an individual. Her current project is The Foxes of Synn, a low-tech science fantasy serial.
Rose is a survivor of domestic violence who lives with multiple disabilities. In the early 2000s, she became homeless afer leaving her abusive spouse. She later entered a transitional housing program while attending college. These experiences inspired her to begin writing non-fiction, and have had lasting impacts on her approach to fiction writing.
She publishes science fiction, science fantasy, horror, and biographical essays. She blogs about the intersection of storytelling, social responsibility, art, and pop culture. You can find her blog here.
Hello, everyone! I’m Rose B. Fischer, science fantasy author and lover of princesses. Corina’s invited me to talk to you about my serial, The Foxes of Synn, and I’m going to do that. I promise. But first I’m going to talk about PRINCESSES. And Witch-Queens.
The first movie I ever saw in theaters was Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I couldn’t have been more than four, so I really shouldn’t remember, but the experience had a permanent effect on me. I was familiar with the Grimm Brothers’ Snow White from storybooks, and I had a fairytale coloring book in which I only ever colored the pictures of ladies — preferably the ladies in fancy clothes. That movie was different. The characters were huge, both because they were on the big screen and because they had life that the storybook versions often don’t. The Wicked Queen fascinated and terrified me. I pitied her. I wanted to know the story behind her odd relationship with her Huntsman. I wanted to know why, on Earth, Snow White’s father couldn’t see that the Queen was nuts. I wanted to know what had made her like that! In the space of about an hour, I developed a whole head canon about the Queen’s life prior to her marriage and how she was in love with the huntsman. I wanted her to stop being so vain and learn that she and Snow White could both be beautiful, or if she couldn’t do that, I wanted her to at least find a way to make peace with Snow White’s existence. I’m not the only one. There are a crap-ton of re-imagined fairytales that want to make the Queen an antihero.
Snow White fascinated me too. I admire her for all the reasons she’s often dismissed as “weak” and “silly” today. She’s quiet, kind, and gentle (I am not.) She’s an optimist (I am not.) She works hard without complaining (I work hard. Complain A LOT.) She can get animals to do whatever she wants. (Are you seriously going to tell me that you never envied her for that?) She can manage a large household. (This is actually something I can do, and it’s one of the skill-sets I’m most proud of. Snow White was my mentor. >.>)
I had head canon for Snow White too. I imagined that the huntsman would come back to the woods and mentor her, teaching her his skills and trade while she lived safely with the dwarfs. Then, the Queen would find out, and all hell would break loose, but Snow White would be kickass by then, and…
Well, that part didn’t happen.
But I’m a writer. And anyone who writes will know what I mean when I say, the stories that grab us first are the stories that stay with us. Witch Queens and Princesses have stayed with me my whole life. They permeate the world of Synn, and the kick-ass Snow White that’s been in my head since I was four is at the heart of Northern Synn’s history.
I’ve always been drawn to stories with compelling female protagonists. For a lot of my life, that meant royalty. Queens, princesses, duchesses– because that’s where powerful women were to be found in literature and in history. There were also sometimes nuns, like Bernadette of Lourdes and cross-dressing warriors like Joan of Arc, but for the most part I was exposed to princesses.
Princess Leia is the one everyone recognizes. Princess Allura is the one I saw the most, and the one I wanted to love because she could rock this dress:
She could also be kind and sensitive, yet still stand up to her sexist guardians, and fly the Blue Lion. I could never fully get on board with Allura, though, because as hard as she tried, she was always the first person getting knocked out, captured, made naïve mistakes, or would otherwise be the weak link on the team. And I don’t like pink.
Fast forward a few years to the mid-80s, and there’s Princess Adora, who remains my go to example of a well-rounded, compelling female character whose writers handle the Princess Trope well.
Fast forward a few more years to the mid-90s and there was Belle and Nala, then Esmeralda and Mulan, who expanded Disney’s definition of Princess, but at the same time popular culture was turning on the Princess. Suddenly, girls could do whatever we wanted. We could be doctors, lawyers, police officers, truck drivers, wrestlers, but GOD FORBID that any girl want to be a princess. Nooo, we must make sure our girls are self-sufficient and empowered. Because, you know. Being able to manage a house and rule a kingdom wisely don’t have anything to do with self-sufficiency or empowerment. And saving your friends (or the kingdom) only counts if you do it with a sword, by yourself, with no help from a male, especially a love interest. Smart girls didn’t like princesses. Smart girls didn’t like pink or glitter or fancy dresses, oh no. Smart girls were going to resist being stereotyped by trading feminine stereotypes for masculine ones.
Yeah. But I bought into that, so I let my Magic Princesses and my Witch Queens go, and I don’t think I found them again until I was spending time with my niece in the mid-2000s. She was as smart as I was, and she was one of the “in crowd” in a way that I’d never been. She loved the trendy things, followed fashion, enjoyed popular boy bands. She was also interested in science, religion, sociology, and would read any book you put in front of her. She liked to read about princesses. Heck if I was going to tell her no, she could like anything else she wanted but NOT THOSE. So, I had to reevaluate my stance, and I’m glad I did.
Even with that settled, it was a long time before the Foxes of Synn came to be. It wanted to be a story that took the things I love best about science fiction and fantasy, blended them together with fairytales, and asked a lot of questions about gender roles, sexuality, romance, and whatever-else, for which I don’t have answers. I already had two major speculative fiction projects at the time, and I wasn’t looking for another one. I wanted something light and fun that I could sell in a traditional publishing market. I wanted a book that a publisher would take a chance on, that would be a stepping stone in a traditional publishing career, not another weird, unclassifiable spec fic project. What I got was a mishmash of animal fantasy, wormhole physics, traveling to other universes via magic mirror, and…well…fun. At least I got the fun.
Eventually, I decided that I needed to let the story be what it wanted to be. About a year ago, I took the plunge into creating serial fiction and self-publishing for Kindle. I have had a rockin’ time so far, and I couldn’t be happier with the direction that Synn has taken. If you’d like to learn more about the serial, it’s characters, and the world literacy live, you can check it out on my blog or my Amazon author page.