by Stefanie London.
Growing up my favourite Disney movie wasn’t Beauty and the Beast. It was certainly top five, but I was a die-hard Little Mermaid gal. I wanted to have Ariel’s signature red hair, and I loved shiny things like she did. I was fascinating with anything “underwater” like reefs and sharks and colourful fish. Basically, I knew if Ariel was a real person, we would totally be BFFs.
But as I grew older, I found myself connecting more and more with Belle, rather than Ariel. Not only because I was a massive bookworm (and still am) but because I really appreciated Belle’s kickbutt personality. Girl had standards, she wasn’t going to settle by living someone else’s dream. She educated herself, she had big dreams and goals. She most certainly wasn’t going to change all that because the people in her town thought she was an odd duck. As an odd duck with big dreams myself, I appreciated that.
I loved how Belle was the one to save the men in her life, rather than expected to be saved. She was pro-active, she fought for what she thought was right, and she made a positive impact on others. I related to her. I wanted to be like her.
I also loved that Beauty and the Beast is a tale that explores the capacity for change, and it supports one of my greatest held beliefs: that we become better versions of ourselves when we’re supported by love. Love helps to shape us, it changes us for the better.
Sure, the beast wasn’t the greatest guy in the beginning. In human form, he was a party boy who was horrible to others and lacked compassion…hence the whole getting turned into a beast thing. In beast form, he was gruff and remote. He lacked manners, yelled when he didn’t get his way. He was stubborn and selfish and cold. Not exactly a hero.
But with the influence of the right person, he showed that change was possible. The beast became the best version of himself as he started to love Belle. I think this message is more important than we give it credit for. You don’t need to be perfect to be worthy of love. Every one of us have done things in the past that we might not be proud of, but we all have the capacity to change and grow and become better.
I once heard someone call romance the genre of hope because the happy ending reinforces the idea that no matter the trials and tribulations we face, everything will be okay in the end. To me, it goes even deeper. Romance tells us that even if we’re not who we want to be today, that we can become that person. That in learning to love someone else, we can learn to love ourselves.
So, that is why I wanted to write a beauty and the beast story. I wanted to write a dark and broody hero who really needs to change his ways, and a heroine who is a bit of an odd duck and goes after what she wants with gusto. I love these two, even though their path to happily ever after isn’t easy. Perhaps that’s exactly why I loved writing this book, because I believe everyone has the power change. Even the most damaged of us.