My latest short story, “The Girl Without a Face” is now available on Amazon!
Did you know I have a penchant for the meaning behind names? Velia means “veil” because she wears a mask, Lonan means “raven”, and Lilura means “enchantment.” However, not everyone is cool enough to get a name with special significance. Cicero, the Royal Advisor, looked like Sir William Cecil as played by Richard Attenborough in the movie Elizabeth (1998). Calyndra got her name for no other reason other than the face I liked how it sounded phonetically.
When I wrote “The Girl Without a Face,” I wanted to explore the theme on beauty and love. I didn’t want a princess who was “the fairest of them all,” and I didn’t want a cruel stepmother. I decided to take these fairy tale tropes and play with them a little. I didn’t want to break completely away because I wanted to pay homage to the classics but at the same time, I wanted to try something new.
The idea that stepmothers were evil implied that mothers were kind for the simple fact of being one’s mother. (If you read my poem, “Dear Mother,” you know how I feel about my own.) Mothers, in my opinion, made for better villains in my opinion. With a stepmother, the child might yell in teenage rebellion, “You’re not my real mother!” and run off into the woods to meet her prince. But the princess couldn’t do that with her real mother. She’d always wonder why, what was it she did to earn such hatred and abuse, as with the case with Velia.
So I had this idea that maybe Lilura didn’t take to pregnancy all too well. Perhaps, like so many women, she felt bloated, ugly, and ruined that by the time Velia is born, she experiences postpartum depression to such a degree that she becomes downright psychotic. I hinted that Lilura isn’t human. We have one clue to this when she tells Velia, “…Our kind do not take and give Oaths lightly. It seems my blood runs strong through your veins, daughter of mine.” I drop another clue in that magic seems to be rare not just in Velia’s kingdom, but the surrounding kingdoms as well. That’ because Velia lives in the land of men, whereas Lilura and her kind happen to be creatures of magic: they are some type of fey, making Velia half.
Velia is Lilura’s opposite. While Lilura is all vanity, willing to do anything to retain her beauty at the cost of others, Velia yearns for love and acceptance. At first, it’s for a mother whose motives she wanted to understand but later, it becomes clear to her she simply wanted to be loved. Velia’s quest for beauty isn’t for beauty itself but out of fear for being isolated and alone, of being insignificant.
I want to talk more about the theme of beauty and also of Lonan–but perhaps that’s best reserved for another day. I wouldn’t want to give the ending away, after all. Not yet. Maybe at a later date when other people have had a chance to read it. That’s it for now. Stay tuned for more “Behind the Scenes” as I discuss my other short stories.