Thursday, April 02, 2009

YA Spring Break Week: Guest Blogger Diana Peterfreund

UPDATE: The winner of an ARC of TAP & GOWN is nightdweller20. Please email your physical address to contests @ (remove the spaces in the email addy). Congrats!
I never liked Prince Charming.
You remember him. That generic, stock character, two-timing Prince that snagged both Snow White and Cinderella in the Disney movies? He didn’t have a name, he didn’t have his own lines, he didn’t even have complex animated eyes (how you can tell you’re a real character in a Disney movie: irises.)

Though in the traditional fairy tales, PC goes onto to land Sleeping Beauty, too, the brilliant team behind the Disney version saw fit to grace him with both a name (Phillip) and an identifiable personality (his first appearance on screen features him, as a freckled child, wrinkling up his nose at the wrinkly infant princess he’s betrothed to). They also gave the Princess a name (Aurora), and they both, thank God, skipped over Coraline-style black button eyes.
Is it any wonder that Briar Rose/Aurora and Phillip’s love story was the first one that I, even as a youth, actually bought? They were in love before the curse hits, and you could see why they were actually a good match – so outdoorsy, and musical. When Phillip fights the dragon and frees Aurora, you feel like the two of them actually deserve their happily ever after. They are a real couple, one whose romance rings true.
“Prince Charming,” on the other hand is not a character to fall in love with; he’s a prize to be won. Get your foot in that glass slipper, look pretty enough in that glass coffin, and Prince Charming’s all yours. Consciousness? Him knowing your name? Eh, not important.
Talk about shallow!
You can’t fall in love with perfect and bland, and that’s all Prince Charming has to offer. No wonder he only hits on chicks in comas, or girls for whom the alternative is working as slaves for evil stepmoms. Any other girl would tell him to take a hike. It’s all in the name.
Prince = I’m rich, baby. Wealth and power, that’s right. You know you want it.
Charming = Handsome? Why yes, I suppose I am. I certainly have all the palace wenches after me.
Yeah. What a prize. I’d lay good odds on the idea that Prince Charming is the kind of guy who turns into scary abusive husband when his Princess Charming doesn’t stay as submissive and obedient as she was when she was unconscious. No. Thank. You.
Prince Charming was the template for the hero in the old fashioned romance novels. You know the ones, where the guy totally ignored the girl for the entire book and then three pages from the end comes back and explains why he was in love with her all the time? Yeah, I wasn’t a fan of those, either. He didn’t get a personality of his own. Again, he was just a prize to be won. It’s a common flaw in many chick lit novels, as well. A chick lit novel is about the heroine’s journey – I get that – but far too often, we see gorgeous guy just fall out of the woodwork at the end and be madly in love with the heroine. For no reason. With no real personality of his own. And, most of all, with no insight into why these two should be together.
Hey, I’m cool with writing stories where the romance is not the main focus. I do that myself. I’m even cool with the ending of “now that you, heroine, have your personal issues sorted out, I will award you with a new job, a fab apartment, a closet filled with the shoes of your choice, and oh, look, a gorgeous guy.” Romance-as-reward works for me, but it has to also make sense. A shoe can be beautiful and simple and perfect. Real people seldom are.
If there is a romance in the book, it should have a reason for existing. I need to know that there is something these two people see in one another for me to root for them to end up together. I need to believe there’s a reason these two are in love before I can believe that they actually are. It doesn’t need to be grand. It doesn’t need to be epic. Sometimes people are in love for very quiet, prosaic reasons. Common experiences. Mutual concern for a child. Shared passion for bird-watching, foreign films, or finding the perfect crème brulee. Whatever it is.
Do you know who doesn’t have these things? Prince Charming. He has no personality of his own. You can’t love that. Not really. I prefer Prince Charming-But-Damaged, or Prince Not-Really-All-That-Charming-But-Has-a-Good-Heart. Or a Good Right Hook. Or Your Back In A Fight. Those are the kind of princes who really make for Happily Ever Afters.
Be one of the first fans to read TAP & GOWN (Delta, May 2009)! Enter to win a signed ARC (advanded reading copy) by leaving your name in the comment section. The winner will be announced tomorrow morning.
Also coming soon from Diana: RAMPANT (Harper Teen, August 2009): Astrid Llewelyn has always scoffed at her eccentric mother’s stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend in the woods – thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to prom – Astrid learns that unicorns are real and dangerous, and she has a family legacy to uphold. Her mother packs her off to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries. However, at the cloisters, all is not what is seems. Outside, the unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from crumbling, bone-covered walls that vibrate with a terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to – perhaps most dangerously of all – her growing attraction to a handsome art student… and a relationship that could jeopardize everything.

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Blogger D.A. Riser said...

Have you read THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY? I couldn't help but think of it as I read your post. It's written before 1900, and Oscar Wilde refers to Dorian Gray as Prince Charming throughout it. The irony, of course, is that Dorian's demonic soul contrasts with his PC looks. Apparently, PC has been stale for a long time.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 8:19:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diana Peterfreund said...

I haven't read Dorian Gray since high school, so I don't remember that, but how interesting! It's especially ironic given Dorian's lifestyle!

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 9:12:00 AM EDT  
OpenID selestial-owg said...

I have to say, you are right on. Perhaps that is part of the allure of bad boys. They might not be all that great in the long run, but at least they have personality ;-)

Seriously though, most men in real life who appear 'perfect' are anything but. It just takes us a lot of years to finally get that through our thick skulls. Usually happens just about the same time we get over the urge to have a bad boy to call our own.


Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 9:14:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Taylor said...

I never thought about Prince Charming that way, I always just figured I didn't care much about him because of his lack of screen time. As a kid while most of my friends fawned over Cinderella and Snow White, I always felt a tug toward Beauty & the Beast.

The beast is definitely not the greatest person. You see his faults from the beginning and even at the end you can't deem him perfect, yet you want him to stay with Belle. While I like Prince Phillip, you at least see the budding friendship between Belle and the Beast. Whereas we never see that interaction with Philip. His intereaction with Aurora seems mostly one out of him finding her enchanting.

Thank you for your thought provoking insight, it's a great way to start the morning.

- Taylor Mc.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 9:29:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Natalie Hart said...

The last two posts are cracking me up: the two most stereotypically "hero" and "heroine" characters, and nobody likes them. Poor things. Loved this post about Prince Charming, though. Interesting, too, how Disney Princes don't have sidekicks -- otherwise we'd see how dull the charming is.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 9:41:00 AM EDT  
OpenID selestial-owg said...

Actually, I always thought of Philip's horse as his sidekick. Granted the horse couldn't talk, but they did wonders with the mane-shaking and eye-rolling :P And the beast kind of had a cast of sidekicks in his staff of enchanted servants. Cogsworth was the straight man, Lumiere was the jokester - they were like a pair of wingmen, no wonder he got the girl.


Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 9:44:00 AM EDT  
OpenID selestial-owg said...

OH! I forgot Aladdin, best Disney (non)Prince EVER. Completely flawed, enamored by not only Jasmine's beauty but her spirit as well. And he was at his worst when he was TRYING to be Prince Charming.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 9:47:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diana Peterfreund said...

Natalie, I think I agree with selestial-owg -- I think the horse is Phillip's sidekick. Plus you can see he has a close relationship with his dad.

I kinda bought into their romance, even though they certainly don't have as much "get to know you" time as Beauty and the Beast (which, OMG-love!) They are both these really outdoorsy people and you get the idea that they click instantly -- it's not as contentious a relationship as B&tB, but it doesn't need to be -- after that whole nuisance with the curse and the dragon, they're going to be a very happy couple and rule their land with peace and an eye toward environmental preservation.

At least, that's my image of them.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 9:48:00 AM EDT  
Blogger JoLee said...

Yes, Prince Charming is such a bore. Lovely post, and I would love to win the ARC!

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 9:49:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Taire said...

PC's luster is his lack of character, a prize to be won. Shrek, now, is a ogre to be lived with. And prized.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 9:56:00 AM EDT  
OpenID rhiannonjk said...

selestial-owg - I'm with you on the horse as a side-kick. The horse said PLENTY with his body language...

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 10:14:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Lizzy said...

I definitely agree with the Beauty and the Beast comment. I never really liked Prince Charming in any of the other disney movies. I used to complain that they should be the ones being saved by their designated princess. Technically, Belle saved the beast...hence the reason I love that movie.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 10:21:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Katherine E. Hazen said...

Beauty and the Beast was always my favorite Disney movie. Good to see I have company. :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 10:47:00 AM EDT  
OpenID elfmama said...

This is the reason the ending of Memoirs of a Geisha infuriated me, and I couldnt understand why so many women liked it. I kept thinking the beautiful Geisha would come to love the grumpy burned guy who'd watched over her and cared for her all those years. (and was burned because of a heroice act)I mean can we cut the guy some slack? No arm, a burned face; its ok to be a little grupmpy. But no, she goes for the handsome guy who just stayed in the background, with his WIFE and kids I might add. And was 30 years older than her!

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 11:16:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Lisa S. said...

I totally agree with Diana! I have always hated Prince Charmings. Who wants a guy with no personality? No imperfections (does that even exist)? No name??? I know I don't.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 11:23:00 AM EDT  
Blogger CrystalGB said...

Hi Diana. Great post. I love your books. :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 11:32:00 AM EDT  
OpenID nightdweller20 said...

I loved this blog. I never really thought about PC and why he would have appeal or not. And I realized that I never did have appeal for someone who's perfect like PC, because no one is. Very insightful and gives me something to think about for today :D

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 11:32:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Crystal said...

I have never thought about that, but I agree - I need my men to have a personality and relationships to have a reason. And I can't wait until Tap and Gown!

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 12:45:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Karole said...

I don’t want to name names or anything that would cause any “spoilers” regarding your series, but I think this post speaks very loudly and clearly to why the majority of your faithful followers are rooting (and hoping and praying) for a certain Prince Not-So-Charming to come out on top and have a happily ever after with our favorite heroine. Who’s not so flawless herself. While we can’t help but be somewhat smitten with a visually-challenged Prince Charm-the-Pants-Off-You, ours hearts weren’t into it as much beyond the surface level because, indeed, we hadn’t gotten to fully know him beyond the surface level at which he presents himself. When does love in the real world ever exist because a person is perfect? It exists in spite of the fact that a two people are not. This is what readers relate to in stories and viewers relate to in movies and television. And that is why the less-than-perfect love story between two less-than-perfect people tends to be the most charming of all.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 1:30:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Heather said...

I have to say that I never noticed that PC in Cinderella and Snow White didn't have irises. Now that I look back on those movies as an adult he really is a tool. This was a great article and very thought provoking

While I loved all the Disney movies, Beauty and the Beast is still a long lasting favorite. The relationship was so much more modern than some of the other movies Disney produced but it was still romantic. (That and I loved it for the Library, not going to lie)

Well, I can't wait for Tap and Gown since Poe is so much more human than any swarmy PC.
Can't wait to read it but I would love to win the ARC. :-) Thanks

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 1:33:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Lexie said...

Diana have you read (or heard about) the comic book 'Fables' from Vertigo? Aside from the fairy tale mashing together it has the character of Prince Charming (that is his name) having married and divorced 3 well known figures of Fairy Tales (Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty) plus slept with a score of others (Rose Red and Beauty--from Beauty and the Beast--amongst them).

In one side story they have a short segment where Prince Charming's ex's all gather together for the 'Anti-Prince Charming' Committee.

When I was younger I wasn't much for the Prince Charming guys in Fairy Tales since none of them seemed as smart as my dad, who when I was child was the smartest person I know (I knew this because he was READING all the time, but the Princes never seemed to be READING so they couldn't be smart right?).

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 1:34:00 PM EDT  
Blogger donnas said...

I never really thought about Prince Charming in that way before. But you made some really good points and now I will have to re-think it.


Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 1:42:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jessica said...

Great blog! Made me think of the movie Enchanted. The princess and the prince just knew they were "supposed" to be together and were "in love," but there was nothing there at all.

I love flawed much hotter. ;-)

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 1:49:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Aubrey said...

What a great post! I agree, Philip was by far the BEST Disney Prince in the early years.

When I think of PC I think of the prince on Enchanted. Who would want to end up with "everything is perfect, especially me!" boy!

But, I see a place where a character can be prince-charming-esque and still have personality. The new realistic prince with charm?

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 1:52:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Erika Lynn said...

I love your take on Prince Charming and while I agree I try not to look too hard in to Disney characters. I just love to enjoy the movies.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 2:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Windsong said...

Awesome post! I don't like to read straight romance, but I do like to read things with romantic elements. I agree, the romance needs to have a point I think the characters need to have a point as well--and a personality.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 3:10:00 PM EDT  
OpenID purpleranger said...

And yet another take on Prince Charming can be found in John Moore's Slay And Rescue, which was described as "the true adventures of Prince Charming and how he survived them." The hero's name really was Prince Charming, and the book threw together elements of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella, mixing it all up with a substantially large dollop of anachronistic humor.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 3:12:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Hazel said...

I've always found heroes with rough edges to be more appealing than the bland perfect PC type.

An example from the movies: Sabrina. The interesting twist there is that she thinks she loves the handsome, man-about-town brother, but ends up with the more interesting one. The one with more depth and mystery and surprising emotion. So it's Humphrey Bogart over William Holden, and (in the re-make) Harrison Ford over Greg Kinnear. They got my votes, too!

Hope I win the draw.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 4:11:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Lisa N. said...

Great post! I also like a male character with a few flaws. It makes them more real. Yes, reading is often used as an escape from reality, but it's also nice to read about situations that are realistic and plausible, so you can dream about it being you in that situation!

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 4:11:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Kristina said...

So ready for the new book, an advanced copy would be incredible!

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 4:21:00 PM EDT  
Blogger JenWriter said...

Love this post. Some of my favorite love stories are when you can actually see the two characters click on the page. For whatever reason. Liking the same music, holding loyalty in the same regard, being the person who is there when something goes wrong, etc. It's moments like that when a romance is so believable.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 4:27:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Cursing Mama said...

Have never been a fan of "perfect" boys myself either - doesn't matter if they were fictional or real ;)

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 4:47:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous AK Willett said...

Ha! "a good right hook" or "your back in a fight" - love it! Totally agree.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 4:51:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Heather said...

I totally agree with this. What's worse is that many times the rich pretty boy keeps the MC from showing the strength that is inherent in most women. I hate that so much.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 4:59:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Vicki said...

Love this post. I never really thought about the no names or eyes before. Must be why I wasn't thrilled with them.

Beauty and the Beast is one of my fav's (with humans), but I love the Lion King, especially the monkey. :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 5:01:00 PM EDT  
Blogger tetewa said...

Enjoyed the post today!

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 5:02:00 PM EDT  
Blogger alaska said...

i really liked the prince in "mulan" - because he does get to know mulan in this weird way and you can see their friendship growing and stuff, and then mulan and him save the day. but it's mostly mulan. (i LOVE that movie.)

prince charming has always bothered the crap out of me. i think that's why i have such a hard time with the teenage "love at first sight would do anything including die" stories. which is why i love the SSG series so much . . .

i really want the ARC!! hee.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 5:37:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was always grateful to learn from the Prince Charmings. They made me realize the importance of looking beyond a man's looks, his charms.

Once in a while, you're lucky, and find the Prince has it all.

Great comments.


Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 6:02:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Nelly said...

Once again you hit it out of the ball park Diana! I had this conversation a couple of weeks ago. I can't stand Cinderella- not just because the Prince has no personality but because Cinderella didn't do much to rescue herself. First the mice make her dress then the godmother but did she ever take any steps to make her life better? Nope. And granted- my two guy friends SLAMMED me on this point- in the olden days there weren't many options for servants as they were born into families and whatnot, she didn't do much other than try and hook up with a rich guy, which in this day, by any other name....

I love Belle and Beast because they were both take charge kind of people. Belle's always trying to defend herself first and the Beast shows up to help. The beast tries to be better for both their sakes.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 6:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Ashley said...

I agree with Alaska on the Mulan love. Cross-dressing to save the family honor is a plot that will never grow old. Most of my Mulan love has to do with Mushu because he's a) a dragon, and b) voiced by Eddie Murphy.

As far as the Prince Charming goes, I remain ambivalent. Cinderella was one of my favorite movies growing up (it's one of the first birthday gifts I remember, actually), but I liked it for the animals and their crazy hijinks rather than the love story. My friend's pretty sure the prince in Cinderella is actually named Phillip. I, of course, will simply be forced to watch it tonight to confirm that.

Of course, with Prince Charming being so bland, there are some great follow-up books, especially to Cinderella. One of my favorites growing up was called "Just Ella," which takes place between Ella putting on the shoe and the wedding, and she discovers that Prince Charming is dull. Which proves the point of this whole post, come to think of it. Other great Fairy-Tales-On-The-Heads -Stories are Mercedes Lackey's Tradition novels. You'll never look at fairy tales the same way again.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 7:04:00 PM EDT  
Blogger whateverfor said...

I never gave much thought into why Prince Charming was a dud, but I definitely agree. I always wanted to retell Disney's version of Snow White and Cinderella to make him more real - well both of them, actually. Thanks for sharing!


Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 7:21:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Love, love, LOVE your books!

I agree with your dislike of PC, and agree with everyone who mentioned the Prince in Enchanted. I think that's why to this day I'm still obsessed with Mr. Darcy. He is a Prince Charming initially, in a sense, because he rich and handsome. And in Mrs. Bennet's eyes, that alone means he would be an excellent husband. But after being introduced, first impressions come into play, and he's no longer a PC. In the end, he's sort of a not-so-perfect prince. *sigh*

kcarskadon at mchsi dot com

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 7:29:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Isabel said...

Thanks, Diana, you gave lots to think about.

Kerry ~ Good point on Mr. Darcy... he's my fave Austen hero. :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 7:35:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Nora said...

haha, this is so spot on. Just more reasons why I love The Lion King and Fox and the Hound...somehow, when the characters aren't human the folks at disney feel compelled to make them 100% more likable.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 8:42:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Gina Black said...

I have to say I go for Price-Know-My-Way-Around-A-Kitchen. At least in real life. ;)

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 9:22:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Jessica said...

Haha...Thank you, for finally explaining to me why I was the only girl in my elementary school who didn't love Disney movies! I was so disenchanted by Snow white that I never even got around to Sleeping loss, apparently. And it's too bad that the best asset the Beast had going for him was the very charming library...which, let's face it, has had much more impact on my life since the age of four than Prince Charming ever did. =)

Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 9:29:00 PM EDT  
Blogger katie said...

I never actually watched Sleeping Beauty when I was younger. I guess I should watch that sometime. A different Cinderella story was Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine and Sleeping Beauty made me think of that because Prince Char and Ella were already in love. That was one of my favorite books growing up.

My favorite Disney movie would definitely have to be The Lion King. I never really got into all the romance movies but I am a big fan of romance novels.

Thanks for such a great post. I can't wait to read Tap and Gown.


Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 9:36:00 PM EDT  
OpenID redqueen1 said...

I always had the sneaking suspicion that PC was either a puppy kicker or a serial killer. No one is that, well, perfect on the outside without hiding some major flaws.


Friday, April 3, 2009 at 1:40:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Ardyth said...

At least the one in Sleeping Beauty had more personality than the one in Snow White. Great points all around! ;)

Friday, April 3, 2009 at 1:40:00 AM EDT  
OpenID dianecurran said...

I found out Prince Charming's secret and why he is the way he is when I wrote Beyond Happily Ever After (what happened to Cinders after the wedding). It started as a short story, published in Wet Ink magazine, and I had so much fun, I turned it into a book length piece. It's next on my editing list.

Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 5:12:00 AM EDT  
Blogger hock said...

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009 at 7:19:00 AM EDT  

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