Rhiza Press Blog

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Unhinged Shortlisted for Caleb Prize 2018

Rihza Connect is proud to announce that Unhinged, by Amanda Deed, has been shortlisted for the Caleb Prize 2018.DeedAmanda

Amanda talks about the inspiration for her intertextualised fairy tales ...

Once upon a time … I was a child who loved fairy tales. Now I am an adult and I still love fairy tales, and happy ever afters, and romantic stories. Actually, I can’t remember exactly when this attachment began, but perhaps it is related to the amazing sacrificial love story of God and his people, which means more to me than any other story and by which I compare all other love stories.

When I started writing books in earnest I thought it would be fun to re-write some of my favourite fairy tales in my genre of choice—Australian Historical Romance—and sticking with the themes that speak to me in these stories.

I tackled Cinderella first, setting it in Hay, NSW in the 1880s with a theme of self-esteem. Unnoticed was thus born and subsequently published.

Next, I wanted to do Beauty and the Beast, but rather than make the Beast animal-like, or beastly in attitude, or with a physical deformity, I wondered if I could make him a sufferer of mental illness.

One day, while I was reading my Bible, I came across the story of Nebuchadnezzar, a Babylonian king whose pride lead to a humbling downfall. It was prophesied to him that unless he acknowledged God as creator and king over all, he would go mad and live with the animals for a time until he did bow to the Almighty. He didn’t listen to the prophecy and so what was said came true. He was humbled, and on his return to sanity, he acknowledged God as the King of Kings.

Could I use that account in my Beauty and the Beast story and bring more awareness to the mental health issues which are so prevalent in our society, I wondered? It promised to work well in a historical setting: mental health patients were treated like criminals in those days and the treatments were inhumane.

With those ideas in place and after much research of the 1840s time and setting, I began to write Unhinged. Although I had a good story in mind, it was nevertheless challenging to write because, in reality, loving a person with severe mental health issues is sometimes very difficult. Hopefully I have been successful in showing those struggles within the novel as well as offering hope and a future. And, of course, the happy-ever-after that appeals to all lovers of fairy tales.

I am currently working on a third fairy tale – Rapunzel – which I am calling Unravelled, so stay tuned.

Take a look at all Amanda's books HERE



Buy all six of Amanda's novels for the special price of $80 Inc Free Postage


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Amanda Deed Talks Fairy Tales and Superman

DeedAmandaWhat was your inspiration for adapting the Cinderella story? What aspects of her story were you most drawn to?

I’ve always loved fairy tales and Cinderella is one of my favourites. What drew me to rewrite it is that Cinderella is basically bullied by those horrible stepsisters and stepmother. This kind of treatment affects a person’s self-esteem, and self-esteem is something I struggled with a lot in my teens. I can’t say I was bullied precisely, but I was teased often, leaving me feeling worthless and unloved.

When I grew up I realised that the very things other kids teased me for were actually my strengths. What a way to destroy a person’s potential. Thankfully I worked through those issues and now have more self-confidence. But, it did leave me wanting to encourage others about their self-worth, and so I decided to weave that theme into my Cinderella story – Unnoticed.


How do you think Price Moreland compares to Prince Charming?

Well, he’s handsome, charming (in a good way), and he is the heir to a large fortune/estate. His father is a ‘king’ in the booming railway and shipping industry in America. And, of course, he is able to look past Jane’s apparent servitude and poverty.

Jane is often self-conscious about her appearance and tries to go unnoticed (a very apt title). Do you think a lot of teenagers would relate to this?

Absolutely. When the target of teasing, it would be so much easier to disappear. You’d rather be unnoticed altogether, than noticed and made fun of for your perceived faults. I found that for myself.

I have also witnessed it in teenagers recently. Watching a sixteen-year-old girl walk across the room with her head down—looking uncomfortable to say the least—I asked her, ‘Why are you feeling so awkward walking over here?’

She told me: ‘I feel like everyone’s looking at me.’

I smiled at her. ‘You know they’re actually not. They’re all too busy in their own little world to be taking much notice of you.’

‘Well they should be!’ was her bold reply.

‘So walk like they should be. You are absolutely worth looking at and worth noticing. You are beautiful.’

There’s a kind of confused mixture of wanting to be noticed and accepted, and not wanting to be noticed in case we are rejected.


If you could be any fairy tale heroine, who would it be?

I can’t say I’ve ever aspired to be one of the fairy tale heroines, although I do love the way Rapunzel wielded that frying pan in Tangled. I’d more likely aspire to Lois Lane just because she got to fly with Superman. I love Superman. In fact, every time I see a kid in a Superman costume, I ask them if they will take me flying. Unfortunately, no-one has said yes yet.


What can we expect in the next instalment Unhinged?

Unhinged will be a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast – another of my favourite fairy tales. However, instead of the beast being a monster, or a physical deformity in a man, the beast will be mentally-ill.

It is very challenging to write. But again, mental health is such a big subject these days, even with teens. I just heard of a Year Twelve student being put on anti-depressants to deal with anxiety. It makes me sad that people so young have to struggle with such deep issues. Hopefully Unhinged, amidst an entertaining story, will give encouragement to people who deal with this kind of illness.

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