Lucy Ellis on Fairy Tales, Presents Tropes and Her Debut Book

by Lucy Ellis, author of Innocent in the Ivory Tower (Harlequin Presents, April 2012)

Innocent In The Ivory Tower is my debut book for the Presents line and I was a happy camper when I learned the title because it encapsulates my favourite ingredient of romantic fiction, the fairytale.

Probably like most of you I discovered Harlequin Presents in my teens, I think one weekend I read half a dozen of the brilliant Carole Mortimer”s books in a row, gorging on flaxen haired, violet eyed heroines who trembled in the masterful, significantly older alpha hero”s arms.  So it”s hardly a surprise that when I came to write my first hero and heroine for Presents, Alexis and Maisy, I delved back into my romance reading roots and did what I could to pay homage to them.

The nanny and the oligarch.  Who said it couldn”t work?

Maisy is locked up in a house (to keep out the press) with her orphaned baby charge and the boy”s godfather, who just happens to be an extremely hot, Russian oligarch comes bursting through the door to rescue the child.  Alexis encounters Maisy in a bath towel, throws her up against the wall and effectively gives her the kiss Sleeping Beauty would have paid good money for.  After that, it”s on.  Maisy”s Beauty versus Alexis”s Beast.

Definitely a fairy tale.

Innocent In the Ivory Tower came about because I entered the 2010 New Voices contest which was probably one of the better decisions I made in life.  I won”t describe it as a fairytale, too much hard work was involved.  But it is an indescribable privilege to see my book alongside authors I”ve read and enjoyed for so many years.

I”m curious as to what other romance readers think about how much the older forms of fairytale inform the traditional Presents tropes (secret baby/forced marriage/blackmail–all of which I enjoy enormously).  For me, the locked room of the heart, a hero/heroine with a splinter in their souls, the heroine who gets to go to the ball under false pretences engage me–but that”s a personal taste.  What are some of your favourite fairytale scenarios instead of tropes in Presents stories?

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Comments ( 10 )
  1. Fiona Marsden
    April 11, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Considering the number of Beauty and the Beast stories published just in the last twelve months I think we can safely assume they still have influence. We all love the Ice Queens, the Black Knights, the stolen child, the wicked witch, the huntsman, the lost princess, the missing heir. They may come in more sophisticated garb but they are still there.

  2. Lily Peel
    April 12, 2012 at 5:54 am

    It all begins and ends with the fairytale for me. I can see it in most all romances I read, peppered up of course, but definitely there. I guess you look for what interests you as you say Lucy…..but yes, give me the beast and let me watch the beauty stalk him till he’s purring. Its delight is inexhaustible.

  3. Lucy Ellis
    April 12, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Hi Fiona, yes Beauty and the Beast is everywhere. Probably to do with the wounded alpha male. I love your list, and doesn’t the imagination leap when you see those archetypes.

  4. Lucy Ellis
    April 13, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Oh yes Lily, part of the pleasure of the romance genre is looking for those elements from older tales reworked. Beauty doing the stalking does it for me too!

  5. Melanie Milburne
    April 15, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    Hi Lucy!
    Congratulations on your first book. I am so excited about reading it. I love the classic fairy tales. Beauty and the Beast is a favourite.

  6. Caitlin Crews
    April 16, 2012 at 12:12 am

    Lucy, I can’t wait to read your debut! How exciting–and congratulations! I love fairy tales–and particularly love new twists on them. Must buy yours immediately!

  7. Lucy Ellis
    April 18, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Hi Melanie, thanks so much, I’m still wiping the fairy dust off. Those classic fairytales can always be relied upon.

  8. Lucy Ellis
    April 18, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Thank you Caitlin, I’m so thrilled to be writing these books & I’m still pinching myself!

  9. Sara
    April 20, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Hi Lucy

    I loved your debut Presents release.
    You can read my review on my blog.
    http://harlequinjunkie.blogspot.com/2012/04/innocent-in-ivory-tower.html

  10. Lucy Ellis
    April 22, 2012 at 7:09 am

    Hi Sara, thank you for your lovely review, it’s so cool to know you enjoyed it.