C H Clepitt has just brought out the first in a new series of queer fairy tale retellings. Eye of the Beholder is the first story in the Magic Mirror series of books which will retell these stories in a different time period, with queer protagonists.
When pressure from his materialistic children turns Claude into a thief, it is down to his youngest daughter to set things right. Angelique agrees to take her father’s place as prisoner to what she is told is a hideous beast. Angelique soon discovers that the so-called beast is nothing more than Rosalie, a princess cursed to remain trapped in a castle, unless the curse can be broken, something she assures her is impossible.
Angelique does not believe in the impossible, and sets about trying to find a way to save her new friend, who she is rapidly growing to love.
You may assume that this will be a tale of magic and mystery, of love and of the inadequacies of those self-indulgent creatures known as humans. All of those things are true, and whilst the events I am going to relay to you happened a long time ago, in a land you may not have heard of (for indeed, human memory is short), their truth is universal and the lessons we take away from them are never quite learned in their entirety.
It was a time of great sadness. The people mourned the death of the King, for he was a wise and kind King who loved his family and his people equally. There are some amongst the race of humans who see sadness as weakness, and one of those such humans was the ruler of the adjacent kingdom. A selfish and heartless man who craved power above all else, he kept his people in poverty, for it was the best way to break their will and keep them subservient. Despite owning all the riches of his kingdom, and sitting upon a golden throne, he was still not satisfied. He mistakenly thought that he deserved more riches, and the acquisition of these would lead to his happiness. It was with this thought that he decided to invade the bereaved Queen’s kingdom.
The wicked King underestimated the Queen’s sense of duty, and her love for the people for whom her husband cared so dearly. So, charging the protection of her daughter and only living family to a wizard, she led her army to meet the invaders and fend off their advances.
The wizard had been one of her husband’s most trusted advisors. He had arranged the marriage between them and was godparent to their daughter. But the Queen was betrayed by the wizard, who, as the Princess had gone from child to woman had grown to covet her for himself. Being a proud and conceited mage, he did not once doubt that the Princess would return his affection. When the Princess rejected his advances, he slashed her face with his dagger and was only prevented from doing further harm by a brave footman who fought him off and drove him from the castle.
Incensed by the rejection, the wizard lay a curse on the castle. The curse made it so that none who seek the castle should find it, so those who left the castle could never return. So upon her return from the war victorious, the Queen was unable to find her home, or her daughter, the Princess
Distraught, the Queen continued to rule her kingdom from a new castle, but she never never stopped searching. However, the curse was so powerful that she never did find her castle nor her daughter.
A Bite of… CH Clepitt
Q1: What is worse, ignorance or stupidity?
Ignorance. People can’t help stupidity but they can fix their ignorance
Q2: Are you ticklish? If so where?
Nope, and don’t touch me.
Q3: How much of your writing is autobiographical?
All characters are fictitious, any resemblance to persons, living or deceased is purely coincidental. I write own voices queer fiction so to that extent it is autobiographical, and a lot of emotions/experiences could be transposed. But I have never been trapped in a magic castle or anything
Q4: Have you ever written somebody you love into a book?
C H Clepitt has a Master’s Degree in English Literature from the University of the West of England. As her Bachelor’s Degree was in Drama, and her Master’s Dissertation focused on little known 18th Century playwright Susannah Centlivre, Clepitt’s novels are extremely dialogue driven, and it has often been observed that they would translate well to the screen.
Since graduating in 2007, she gained experience in community and music journalism, before establishing satirical news website, Newsnibbles in 2010. In 2011 she published her book, A Reason to Stay, which follows the adventures of disillusioned retail manager, Stephen, as he is thrust into village life and the world of AmDram. Clepitt’s feminist fantasy, The Book of Abisan not only crosses worlds, but confuses genres, and has been described as a crime drama with magic. She has often said that she doesn’t like the way that choosing a genre forces you to put your book into a specific little box, and instead she prefers to distort the readers’ expectations and keep them guessing. Her 2016 work, I Wore Heels to the Apocalypse does just that, as just like the characters, the readers won’t know what’s going on in this laugh out loud satirical scifi.
About her latest book she says…
“Representation matters. It matters so much, and you only realise how much when you eventually have it. Queer theory and queer readings of stories and films developed because queer people wanted to see themselves in stories. They wanted their own happy endings, so they read them into the narrative. This series is going one step further. It’s rewriting the narrative and inserting overt queer rep. We deserve better than hints and readings. We deserve to see ourselves, to have our own stories. That is what I’m hoping to do with this project.
“I am also reworking all the aspects that would be problematic to a modern audience. In this retelling of Beauty and the Beast I have taken out the kidnap element and changed lots of other aspects too. If you want to find out more, you’ll just have to read it!”