The Golden Apple is loosely based on the Norwegian fairy tale The Princess on the Glass Hill. The original tale is more about the hero than the heroine, and it is a very straightforward quest story, with the hero becoming more and more accomplished, until at last he succeeds against the odds. But there were a few things in this fairy tale that stood out for me and made me take notice. The first is the very unusual situation of the king holding a contest for his daughter’s hand by putting her on top of a glass hill with a golden apple in her lap. Knights from all over are invited to race a horse up the smooth glass sides of the mountain and the one who can pluck the golden apple from the princess’s lap wins her hand and is heir to the kingdom. As usual in fairy tales, there is no explanation as to how the king came by a glass mountain, but I wondered where he got it, and that sparked the starting point of the story. It is really the inciting incident that starts the story off, rather than the focus of the story, as it was in the fairy tale.
Secondly, the crux of the tale, for me, is that the hero cannot win the princess’s hand without help from the princess herself. That part of the original tale is one or two lines long, but for me, it’s fascinating. The feminine power determining and choosing which masculine power will prevail. This really made me interested, because the princess doesn’t just sit there and take whoever it is manages to accomplish the (impossible) task set by her father, but actively chooses who it is she wants to win and helps them. I wanted to write a story about the consequences of her taking that power and using it and The Golden Apple was the result — far, far more heroine-centric than the original, and I really had fun with it.
– Michelle Diener
Michelle Diener writes historical fiction. Her Susanna Horenbout & John Parker series, set in the court of Henry VIII, includes In a Treacherous Court, Keeper of the King’s Secrets and In Defense of the Queen.
Michelle’s other historical novels include Daughter of the Sky, The Emperor’s Conspiracy and Banquet of Lies (loosely connected to The Emperor’s Conspiracy).
Michelle’s first fantasy novel, Mistress of the Wind, is set for a December 23, 2013, release.
Michelle was born in London, grew up in South Africa and currently lives in Australia with her husband and two children.
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