When I decided to write Lost, the first book in my Cinderella’s Secret Witch Diaries series, I wanted to capture how it felt to be young, in love and then have your heart broken. I was tired of the Cinderella fairy tale that’s been beaten over our heads: Girl is put down, goes through a rough time and needs the prince to save her.
That wasn’t the story that wanted to share with readers.
Instead, I decided to write about a disillusioned Cinderella. She’s 19 years old and has been married to the prince for a little over a year. She’s unhappy and not quite sure who she is and what she wants out of life.
There’s a lot of raw emotion laid out on the page in Lost. Written in diary form, we’re able to see Cinderella’s most intimate thoughts as well as the mistakes she makes along the way.
But what captured me so deeply is that I wanted to write about heartbreak and sorrow. When you love someone with ever fiber of your being and would do anything to be with them, but that person betrays or abandons you.
Relationships fall apart every day. But our fairy tales put a nice bow on things and we’re supposed to magically believe that all turns out well in the end.
That’s not what I wanted to write.
Instead, I wanted to see what Cinderella would do after years of being ignored, put upon and unloved. My favorite scene in Lost is a point in which she curses someone she loves. She does not know what her powers truly can do or how she got them. All she knows is that the person she loved has betrayed her and a deep-seated hurt fills her with sorrow and then anger.
Betrayal, fear and hurt.
What would Cinderella do when she gave in to her anger? What was she thinking and feeling?
That’s what I capture in the scene below. Before I go into more detail, let’s read the scene together.
From Lost: Cinderella’s Secret Witch Diaries (Book 1):
A dark thought took seed within me. I unleashed my magic and could feel the heat in my left hand. Henri's memories opened to me and I saw the truth.
By a fountain, out in the gardens outside of the Château, he restrung his lute, and two of the French nobility asked him about me. "Are you falling in love with that English woman?"
"No, of course not!" The contempt in his voice, echoed in my head. "She is my summer diversion. A small appetizer, if you will." The nobles laughed, and the scene faded.
All the secret talks we had, the shared moments, connections between us, were an act, and his true feelings rolled off his tongue with ease. I heard him clearly. I saw the truth. He had used me to ease his boredom, and now I was no longer necessary.
I focused and stirred the dark seed within, and reservoirs of energy came to me. Black tendrils in the ether came to my beck and call and I threaded them through my hand. The light dimmed in the room, and I heard Clarissa gasp. My hand absorbed the light as I funneled my hatred and vengeance into Henri. He pulled back, but I remained calm and in his mind, I said, "Speak."
"What are you doing to me?"
"What are you doing to me?" I repeated.
He fell back against the wall, trying to flee. "Stop your dark magic on me!"
"Stop your dark magic on me!" I chanted back at him.
He pulled with all his might against me, but he could not remove my hand from his face.
"Help me get her off of me. Help me!"
I dug deeper into his thoughts and shouted, "Help me get her off of me. Help me!"
Clarissa pulled at me and screamed in fear, pleading at me to release Henri. Instead I opened myself up, and all my hatred, fear, anger, loneliness, and hurt poured out of me. His eyes unfocused and he wobbled on his feet. "I do not know what she is doing to me. But I cannot, I cannot. Stop!"
I allowed a slow smile to show and said, "I do not know what she is doing to me. But I cannot, I cannot. Stop!"
I released him, and the black tendrils in the room surged into him, blocking out the remaining light, and I left my voice in his mind. My mark, as I had cursed him.
He grabbed at the sides of his head and screamed in terror as my thoughts chased after his. Every thought he had, he would hear me repeat back to him. His betrayal of me was complete, and my revenge just and full.
Why Cinderella Lashes Out
I really enjoyed writing that scene. When I planned that part out, I dug deep into my own history and wanted to capture the hurt that comes on being rejected and ridiculed by the one you love. I gathered up my own stories and remembered how I felt after being left behind by a girlfriend or the feeling that went through me when I woke up and realized that the woman I loved had broken up with me.
That hurt, that ache and that feeling of being so lost can be consuming.
In my retelling of the fairy tale, Cinderella’s had a tough life: Her mother died when she was little, her father is often away at sea as he’s a merchant and she’s gone through a horrible time with her stepmother and stepsisters.
In the opening of Lost, she’s come to realize that the prince only married her because there was magic around her. Her fairy Godmother had bestowed upon her gifts and helped her get to the ball dressed in an amazing dress.
And now, the prince no longer loves her. She is lost and does not know what to do or how to get by.
So she falls in love with someone else and gets wrapped up in the excitement and joy of falling in love with love.
I wrote Lost because I wanted Cinderella to come to life. She’s immature, makes some really bad decisions and she can be a bit whiny. But she’s 19 years old and has yet to find her voice.
The scene I shared here shows her at her worst. She lashes out and takes her anger and hurt, wraps them around her newly found powers and curses Henri. She relishes in what she does, but in later parts of the book guilt settles in.
Cinderella’s journey through the series is a difficult one. She’s grown up in hard circumstances, never quite had the love and support she needed and has made many mistakes. But her heart and intentions are good.
Her struggle is one that I think many of us can identify with: She looks for happiness in all the wrong places. She wants her fairy Godmother, the prince, friends or her lover to save her—but none of those people can truly help her.
In the end, she needs to rescue herself. To find her own voice, make her own way and truly needs to love herself.
That’s the message that I wanted to share with readers.
But in the scene in which she curses Henri, I wanted to show her imperfection. She has great power but doesn’t know that yet. She does have so much going for her, but she’s been boxed in. By falling and lashing out, she’s ashamed and feels guilty.
When the dust settles, she learns a bit about herself. She chooses to get back up, admit her mistakes and to try harder. But most of all, she forgives herself.
Lost has a lot of twists and surprises in it and I don’t want to ruin any of that for you. And Cinderella’s journey in Stolen, Found, and Redemption (books 2, 3 and 4) take her way beyond the fairy tale we all grew up with. I like that.
I got to explore Cinderella in a way that is true and open. We get to experience how broken she feels and the steps she takes to finally love herself. The journey that she’s on is like the one each of us is on. In any single day, we might do great good and then do something stupid. We’re human. And so is Cinderella.
I hope that you enjoyed this breakdown of a scene from Lost. If you’ve never made time for the book before, I invite you to read or listen to it on Audible now. And if you have finished Lost, thank you.
Feel free to write any comments you have here or to contact me. I love hearing from readers. Thank you for reading this. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it.