Thinking about the power of fairytales goes a ways in explaining my impetus for writing this story. Of the basic archetypes in the classic fairytale, only about one- third are female, and of that minority share, about half are “evil” (witches, stepmothers, unfaithful wives, temptresses) and the other half are nice, but rather ineffective. Good witches, whose spells are always a bit less powerful than those of the “bad” witches, damsels in distress, etc. Good girls are young, pretty, patient, and kind. Women who are old, unattractive, or unwilling to suffer fools gladly get cast in the “evil” roles.
But the evil queen or wicked stepmother is a bit of both. She is older than the distressed damsels, but still attractive, which meant she must have been young and pretty once, but wouldn’t that have made her... good? And what is good anyway?
Certainly, I’m not the first author to address this issue, but I must confess I’ve taken a bit more of an unrepentant approach than, say, the scriptwriters for my favorite musical, who managed to show us that Elphaba (the “Wicked Witch of the West”) was actually good all along. My fictional Queen doesn’t blink an eye at torture, assassination, or all manner of homicides, but then, neither did almost any king or emperor from biblical times through the Reformation. Such behavior is, however, somehow considered more socially appropriate when there’s a man at the helm, or so we might gather from reading fairytales.