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Danielle Paige: New Looks at Familiar Worlds

Danielle Paige: New Looks at Familiar Worlds

By Mandy Curtis Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

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Although Mera: Tidebreaker is Danielle Paige’s first foray into comics, the author is no stranger to the idea of taking known characters and worlds and giving them new life. And, as she shows with her version of Mera, she’s also well-versed in writing about strong women and princesses who have a not-so-secret badass side.


Mera: Tidebreaker

Paige’s DC Ink debut, Mera: Tidebreaker, is a new origin story for Mera, Princess of Xebel. To many, Mera is Aquaman’s wife (or girlfriend, or subject of a tidal wave of romantic tension, depending on which Aquaman comics you’re reading), but Mera: Tidebreaker gives her a backstory that shows she was a strong, motivated young woman long before she and Arthur Curry met.

You can read more about the story in our Tidebreaker Book Breakdown or in our interview with Paige, but to give you a brief synopsis: Mera’s tired of living under the thumb of her overprotective father, who’d rather her marry a man who will eventually become the next king of Xebel than grow to become a fierce warrior like her mother. So, when Mera gets the chance to prove to her father (and her entire nation) that she’s more than just a figurehead, she sets out to track down the long-lost prince of Atlantis. But the Arthur Curry that Mera meets isn’t at all what she expected, and her plans suddenly become a lot more complicated.


Dorothy Must Die

In the Young Adult literature world, Paige is most well-known for her Dorothy Must Die series, which includes four novels—Dorothy Must Die, The Wicked Will Rise, Yellow Brick War and The End of Oz—and nine companion short stories. The series is a retelling of Frank L. Baum’s classic Oz tales, but with a much different Dorothy than we all (think we) know and love.

The series’ main character, Amy Gumm, is a small-town Kansas girl who’s trying to make it through high school without too many issues being marked on her permanent file. When she one day finds herself in a strange world of magic and a familiar yellow brick road—thanks to a tornado—she’s lost, and not just physically. Through adventuring with some friends she meets while easing on down the road, she learns that she’s not the only small-town Kansas girl to ever visit the world…but the Dorothy Amy meets is a far cry from the young woman who once went off to see the Wizard.

The series features plenty that will be familiar to fans of Frank L. Baum’s books or the classic movie, but everything’s been twisted to match Dorothy’s new personality. If you ever found yourself dreaming of a goth, tattooed Munchkin who cursed, the Dorothy Must Die series is for you.


Stealing Snow

Paige’s other series is another familiar story retold for a more modern perspective. The Stealing Snow series is one novel—Stealing Snow—and two companion short stories, with another book coming in 2020. Instead of traveling to Oz in this series, Paige turns to a well-known fairy tale: Snow White.

Only Stealing Snow finds Snow not living in a fairy tale. Instead, she’s a resident at a mental hospital. Snow strongly believes that she’s not crazy, however, and an escape attempt leads her through the woods and into an alternate, much more magical world—a world in which she’s a member of royalty with a ruthless and dangerous father and secrets upon secrets (upon secrets) to unravel.

Stealing Snow is a bit more of a departure from the familiar than the Dorothy Must Die series, but it’s yet another example of a young woman figuring out how to be true to herself before she can become the leader she’s meant to be, a definite theme in Paige’s books.


Other Work

Paige also has a short story in Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, a collection of horror tales edited by April Genevieve Tucholke, and (according to Goodreads) will soon reinvent yet another well-known female figure (one whose title rhymes with “merry oddmother”) in a new, upcoming series. Paige is obviously far from finished turning worlds—and well-known characters—on their heads!
 

When Mandy Curtis isn’t reading books by Leigh Bardugo or Sarah J. Maas, she’s dreaming of busting bad guys with Wonder Woman—if Steve Trevor’s there, too, she won’t complain—and writing about YA fiction and pop culture at Forever Young Adult. Follow her on Twitter at @mandyannecurtis.