Welcome to my stop along the Beastia blog tour, hosted by Smith Publicity! We’ve all got Beauty and the Beast on the brain right now (I’m going to see it today in theaters!). Plus my A Week of Beauty and the Beast event ended yesterday, so things are all B&B in my neck of the wood it seems.
Beastia author, Zoe Cruz, is here to talk about her Beauty and the Beast retelling. This one is a little different than many other retellings, and I’ll let Zoe tell you why!
Flipping the Script on the Traditional Beauty and the Beast
by Zoe Cruz
Beauty and the Beast has always enchanted me as a reader. I grew up watching the Disney movie, because who hasn’t? Robin McKinely’s retellings really stick out in my mind. Her Rose Daughter and Beauty were some of my favorite books as a kid. She wrote them with such magic and intrigue, changing and adding details or the outcome entirely. I always remember in one of the books, Beauty doesn’t change the Beast. She loves him just as he is.
When I watched Beastly, the movie, several years ago I wasn’t quite satisfied with the modern retelling. I thought it needed something more. The book by Alex Flinn does a much better job providing that, but I wanted something deeper, different. Later, the Lunar Chronicles gave us Scarlet. I know it’s a Red Riding Hood retelling, but what’s cooler than a French girl falling for a genetically modified wolfman from the moon? In the end though, it was the same trope hashed out again.
As a girl from a small town, I’ve watched pretty women settle for guys who weren’t that great looking, so it wasn’t a stretch for me to imagine a girl falling into a relationship with a literal beast.
What was harder for me to imagine was a handsome guy falling for an “ugly” gal in our society and not the pretty-ugly sorts we find in movies. It was a challenge coming up with a contemporary take on a girl being ugly. It seemed easy to make it magical or a temporary curse, but life isn’t always that way.
Sometimes, when we are hurt it becomes internal baggage that we carry or a permanent badge that we wear. Some things don’t just go away. They are permanent. When I think of permanent, I think of scars or burns, but something about tattoos stuck with me, because tattoos are like art. Art can be ugly and beautiful at the same time. That dichotomy tests the boundaries of my perceptions and how biased the standards truly are. When a woman has scarring or a deformity or even a tattoo that we don’t appreciate at first, the more we look at that thing we perceive as ugliness, it can become tragically beautiful, and even just beautiful. Especially as we learn to love the qualities who make them who they are. Rather, those things we once considered bad or ugly only make them more special no matter what it is. Some of the most beautiful people I know have facial markings or unusual features that make them who they are.
That’s what I wanted for Bek, my character in Beastia: a girl with a tragic past that wouldn’t let the world define who she was going to be, because of the way she looked. I wanted her to be able to learn to love herself no matter how she looked on the outside, even if it was permanent. In life, we don’t always get to choose for bad things to disappear. We are the way we were born or something happened to us and we carry that with us. Not everyone is blessed with good looks and what are “good” looks anyway? It’s an unattainable standard and subjective. Every one of us deserves to be loved for who we are and not what we look like, but that journey must start from within.
The meanest of the mean girls, Rebekah Austin rules her Chicago school with sharp outfits and an even sharper tongue. She has a way of making even the most beautiful and brilliant girls in her class feel like dirt. But underneath the queen-bee façade is someone who feels ugly, repulsive…beastly.
When Rebekah falls prey to a madman, the bully becomes the bullied. Scarred and tormented, she abandons her previous life and adopts a new identity, but her ghastly appearance haunts her everywhere she goes. Only with the help of determined friends can she move past her horrifying experience—and maybe even let herself be loved.
And if the madman returns to finish what he started, will she be ready, or will she give up hope?
About Zoe Cruz
I love traveling, writing, reading, and binge watching my favorite shows on Netflix.
I’m a geek too. Anything from classic Tortallan and Hobbit lore to a DS9 Trekkie and a Browncoat. I love any good sci-fi and fantasy book, show or movie.
I’ve lived in Spain for almost four years, so adapting back to U.S. life for now.