Coda Languez is a talented author that I “met” through a Kindle Vella group on Facebook. You may know by now that I enjoy fairytale twists, so I urge you to keep reading!
The fairytale called me
How did you know you had this series in you?
So this story came from one of Wattpad’s Open Novella Contest 2021 prompts list. The prompt was “A princess who is beautiful by night but a man’s worst nightmare by day” and immediately, this screamed ‘fairytale’.
I am a big fan of fairytales; Something about simple lessons being told in a whimsical and fantastical way brings a strong sense of nostalgia. I also love horror; I love gothic horror and how the setting reflects the moods of the characters and an ominous sense of foreboding.
In fairytales, there is always a happy ending, a witch, a prince/knight and a princess. Yet there is also a lot of tragedy and tribulations each archetype goes through, and often those trials are horrific; the deaths are violent, the punishment for the heroes straying off the path is cruel, and the settings have a sense of melancholy.
It’s funny how we think of fairytales as sweet, but there truly is just as much horror.
So with ‘The Curse of Dawn’, we have the three archetypes going through their own fairytale and while those three archetypes are obvious, they are all subverted (a princess who is not virginal and is bitter, a terrifying witch who is remorseful, and a soldier/knight who we learn is not as brave as he feels he has to be). The story is inspired by ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ gothic and visceral horror and the very underrated modern fairytale ‘Running Scared’ and when it comes to fairytales, the plot is simplistic, the lesson learned, the ending happy.
I can’t tell you how much I love this concept!
It’s the characters that lead the story, that break the curse.
Why did you choose to use a series format?
This is going to sound self-serving, but I like the series format because I can post each chapter at a time and then read the reactions to how the story unfolds. It’s like building up my core audience, getting reviewers and beta readers all at once.
Immediate beta readers/reactions is awesome. I wonder how much serial writing may change the traditional writing form.
It also lets me plan out my week a bit easier; if readers are expecting a chapter a week, that means I have to produce an edited chapter a week. It keeps me on a progressive schedule.
For sure, this is the reason I chose the serialized format.
What is your greatest challenge in writing?
Starting to write. Continuing to write.
…writing in general…
What surprised you in the writing process?
Seeing how the setting forms when I am writing. I do outline and plot so I know what comes next, but when I am actually writing, I am watching the scene unfold in my head as if I am watching a movie. From that key frame in the scene playing out in my head, I find the right words to translate location, the expressions, the dialogue, etc onto paper. I try really hard to avoid just spelling things out like a script; I do prefer the longform novel format of having paragraphs devoted to world building and character reactions. Yet this helps me make sure that each line has a purpose. Each scene has a start, and end, a preaction and then reaction.
Is there something in particular, that you found particularly helpful?
I use Todoist and that really helped in scheduling out each chapter by having them separated as tasks. Each task then has a planned due date, and each task also has a description that provides the outline/summary of the chapter. It’s something I can set up ahead of time, put into Scrivener as my Ebook/manuscript formatting tool, and keep my life organized.
That sounds cool. I’m much more of a pantser, although as mentioned above I like the regular deadlines.
I know we tend to write what we know, but did you need to do research for this book?
Yes; I wanted the witch and princess to come from a very old time and place that lies somewhere between the east and west in terms of architecture and food. This made me think of places like Turkey, Morocco, and even Russia with its very Byzantine era, Orthodox architecture. I didn’t want to default to the German or English style gothic castles and I also did not want to reference too much of Renaissance style as well.
What was the coolest or most surprising thing you learned?
Byzantine and Russian Orthodox architecture is STUNNING. The colored wood and stone that curve into spires is gothic whimsy to me.
I agree, it’s gorgeous. So much more whimsy, like we relate to fairytales, than cold, dark stone.
What else can you describe in your writing process?
I don’t do many rewrites. I reread, I edit, but I have to rewrite an entire novel. I really hope I never have to but hey, I am a mere padawan.
Time to share
How do you know your piece is ready to be shared/complete?
After I have it edited and read it over 10 times. And that’s per chapter.
Who is your expected audience?
Anyone who is a fan of gothic horror and romance. Which is…hard to define I guess. Anyone who enjoys the stories I tell are the audience I expect. I get that this is a non-answer, but really anyone who likes whimsical horror is my expected audience.
That’s a fair answer. Do you think there is an age bracket that tends to resonate more with these. Like, I did not grow up with Disney princesses, but many younger women did. I wonder if this affects our preconception of fairytales and whether we look for particular patterns.
Who has been your strongest supporter?
A lot of my friends on the various discord servers have been my supporters and my husband, who keeps me grounded, has also encouraged my writing and my artwork. With the help of my readers, I feel like I have been improving more and more, as well as being inspired.
If you could have any author (alive, dead, or fictional) read your book, who would you like to read it?
If Francesca Lia Block or Stephen King read these story, I would be over the moon. Even if they hated it, I still would be over the moon. Though I hope they don’t hate it.
If Stephen King agreed to read it, I’m sure he would also be willing to discuss it with you. WHich would be cool. I don’t know anything about Francesca Lia Block.
What author, or book, or series most influenced you?
I am more influenced by movies, anime, and comics. Junji Ito is inspiring for his horror and I am particular fond of Hiromu Arakawa’s ‘Full Metal Alchemist’ epic war fantasy and Hajime Isayama’s ‘Attack on Titan’ alternate history exploration of xenophobia and reverse ‘Hero’s Journey’ (more like Villain’s journey).
Some of this sounds familiar, I think my eldest appreciates these, too.
When it comes to authors, my writing style is similar to Agatha Christie, but I point to Francesca’s Lia Block modern take on fairytales “The Rose and the Beast” as direct inspiration with Guillermo Del Toro’s gothic horror sensibilities and dark whimsy setting the mood and atmosphere.
What else is important to share about your book?
I talked a lot about it. My hope is that people enjoy it and take something from it. I explore mental health through the story, idealization of relationships, the emptiness of revenge, a lot in the fairytale. These are dark topics, but much like life, there is light at the end of the tunnel, For the characters and the readers.
We need more!
When can we expect more from you?
I have a short story anthology out on Amazon called “The Letters Between Sex and Violence”. Honestly it’s the first ebook I put out there and is really more of an experiment in getting ARCs and so on.
I also am working on another series (very long-running series) called ‘Birth of a Sin’ on the serialization site ‘Tapas.io’. This series is almost to the end and once it’s complete, I plan on splitting it up into separate volumes and putting them up on Amazon as well.
I have outlined a horror comedy that is “Stranger Than Fiction” meets “At the Mouths of Madness”. This one I hope to start during the fall this year.
There is also another piece I am writing that will go under another penname because…NSFW reasons :P.
It sounds like you have a very clear plan. Good luck with it all!
Where can we find your book?
On Kindle Vella of course!
Where can we find you?
You can find me on most social media under ‘codemonkeyarts’. My website is also codemonkeyarts.com where I blog, showcase my artwork, as well as my novels and serials (including Reader Magnets if anyone wants to read a bit more of my work). Under codemonkeyarts.com/linktree, you will find my redbubble, goodreads, and other sites as well!
Thank you so much for your time!
You may also be interested in these posts: