I think the initial inspiration for Godmother was just that I wanted to do something more simple than I had done in my first book, which was a struggle and took many years to complete. I just wanted to work with something wonderful—a fairytale—and play. To me, Cinderella is about the most glittery gorgeous fairytale I can imagine, with its glass slippers and fairy godmother and moment of transformation, its pumpkins turning to carriages and its mice to coachmen, the wonderful dress, and, of course, the ball. As a child I was as enchanted by the story and the movie as any other girl. And at base it’s a tale about being saved. This is a big theme for me: how people can save each other, and how they can’t. So it made sense to me to tell the story from the perspective of the one who is supposed to be doing the saving. Not the prince, but the fairy godmother who swoops in to give Cinderella a new life.
At first I intended to tell the story pretty straightforwardly, using the most lush, vivid language and detail I could. But once I started really getting into it, and into the psychology of the godmother and Cinderella, I knew that it was impossible to ignore the story’s dark heart. I mean, what really happens to Cinderella in that house with her stepmother and stepsisters? Is she really able to just leave it and step into the world? Can she be saved? And who is this godmother exactly? How does Cinderella’s pain affect her? What does she want?