by Katie Ward
Genre: YA Fantasy/Retelling
Release Date: September 2018
In rural France, two babies are born just two hours apart but to two very different lives. Isabella is born as a Princess into a life of opulence and love while Sophia is born into a life of poverty and abuse at the hands of her father.
‘The Pretender’ follows the journey of Isabella and Sophia as their paths cross and after discovering how alike they look, they decide to switch places with each other. Sophia is seeking sanctuary from her abusive home while Isabella is seeking freedom from the tightening burden of her Royal title.
‘The Pretender’ is a story of friendship, love and the strange power of destiny.
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The art of a retelling – how to have originality in a retelling.
To retell such a well-known story is quite a daunting prospect because it is a story that has already been told to great effect. So, before you can do anything you have to think about what you can bring to the story that it doesn’t already have. In my situation, although the story of ‘The Prince and the Pauper’ had been told many times over the years, in fact very few times had the full story been adapted as most chose to focus solely on the switching places element. The premise of the original book is one of social justice, of understanding the world outside your sphere and using that understanding to make the world a better place. The most popular element, the part that had been used countless times was really only a small part of the plot and as such the best part of the story was left virtually untouched.
As this was one of my favourite childhood stories, I hated the idea of it being forgotten and unloved so I chose to retell it so that people could enjoy the story but also relate it to our modern-day lives. Crucially, I created a completely new story, I didn’t try to reinvent or modernize the story Mark Twain had written. I plotted out all the situations the character in the original found themselves in and then I thought about how that would manifest in today’s world, so the pauper is schooled by a kind Priest but today that wouldn’t happen. However, I need to ensure that they both have the same level of education as in the original so how do I make that happen?
After identifying all these themes, I then needed to weave them into a new story, one that was sufficiently different that people wouldn’t feel they had read it before but that was also recognizable to those who are familiar with the book.
For me, the hardest part of creating ‘The Pretender’ was striking that balance and at times it felt like a jigsaw puzzle. Many times, I was stumped and did not know how to proceed as with an adaptation you are limited by the fact the story is already written. You have to write within the constraints of another author and the readers familiar with the story will expect to see those familiar traits but to also see how you’ve changed it.
To write a successful re-telling you need to focus on having a great storyline, characters that fit alongside those in the original and that lead to a story your intended audience want to read. It may seem easier to reinvent a story that’s already written but don’t forget that, especially for a well-known book, they also come with a lot of expectation from those who know the story and this has to be something you take into consideration when you write it.
About the Author
Katie Ward always knew that she wanted to write for a living. After completing a degree in Journalism at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, she moved to Dublin. While there, she had a short story published in an anthology titled Do the Write Thing which was part of a competition being run by Irish TV show Seoige and O’Shea. This story was originally written when Katie was 14 after she was inspired by an article in her favourite teen magazine. The anthology reached the Irish Bestsellers List. Katie was also shortlisted for a competition judged by Man Booker Prize-winning author Roddy Doyle a few months later. The Pretender is her first Young Adult novel.
Twitter – @KatieWWriter
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