HOW I CAME TO WRITE THIS STORY, Kaye George
My Hansel and Gretel take-off appears in GRIMM TALES, edited by John Kenyon, which is a super thrill for me. I call the tale "Henry, Gina, and the Gingerbread House" since I like serial commas and since I wanted to update and Americanize the children's names.
The names gave me a starting point. Henry was kind of a hanger-back, a bit timid. Gina was the brash, brazen one, and the leader. Now I needed a wicked stepmother and a witch. For some reason, I decided to leave the father out.
Let me back up a bit. Figuring out where my ideas come from is a complex process, as it must be for every writer. Things just swirl around in my primordial ooze of a brain and things come flinging out--characters, settings, plots, whole dialogues. It takes a bit of effort to reach back and tell where everything had its genesis. Here's a stab at it.
A few Thanksgivings ago, all of our (grown) kids informed us that they had plans for the holiday. The ones in Tennessee and Virginia weren't even going to be there if we decided to drop in. The ones in Austin did invite us, but as part of a big family affair for our son's in-laws. We like them, but didn't consider attendance mandatory, since we're not related to most of them. So Hubby and I put together a wine tour, something we'd been thinking about for awhile. We booked an B&B in Fredericksburg and headed west out of Austin, stopping at vineyards along the way. Central Texas has a LOT of vineyards. Some were ho-hum and a couple got our notice. After two days of wineries, though, we were wined out, so we shopped Fredericksburg. Or I did. Hubby gamely tagged along. I got a lot of Christmas shopping done and had a ball. There's a chocolate shop there that charges over a dollar for a turtle (chocolate, pecans, and gooey caramel) and it's worth every penny.
Fast forward a couple years to me deciding I want to put together a proposal for a cozy. I found an agent who regularly sells to Berkley Prime Crime who liked my writing. I wrote up three chapters for her and was her candidate for a Berkley write-for-hire project. The agent loved it. The editor said it wasn't quite what she had in mind. So I decided to write up a proposal for an original cozy series.
Fredericksburg popped up as a perfect place for a cozy. I think of cozies as sweet, so, of course, remembered the candy shop. I did a lot of research for the project, visiting candy shops, asking to see their kitchens, buy and eating chocolate. Hard work! Meanwhile, that agent left the agency and the other agent there seemed less that thrilled with my writing. Turned me down flat on the proposal. End of desire for a cozy series, at least for the present time.
But a Gingerbread House! That could be a candy shop. My research would get used! I hadn't eaten all that chocolate for nothing. The witch was the near-sighted owner of the Gingerbread House, a candy shop. There was an oven in the corner of the kitchen where she planned to cook the children, and a storage closet where she kept Hansel for fattening. The evil step-mother was, well, an evil person--fun to write. As a result of her parenting, the kids are no angels. It worked out well.
As near as I can tell, that's how I came to write this story.