Saturday, June 2, 2018

Danielle Teller's "All the Ever Afters"

Danielle Teller (formerly Morse, nee Dyck) grew up in Canada, where she and her two brothers were raised by the best parents in the world. As a child, she was a bookworm who dreamed of being a writer, but she chickened out and went to medical school instead. In 1994, she moved temporarily to America, and she has been living temporarily in America ever since. Teller attended Queen's University during her undergraduate years, and she received her medical training at McGill University, Brown University and Yale University. She has held faculty positions at the University of Pittsburgh and Harvard University, where she investigated the origins of chronic lung disease and taught in the medical intensive care unit. In 2013, Teller quit her job to pursue her childhood dream of being a writer. She lives with her husband, Astro Teller, and their four children in Palo Alto, California.

Here Teller dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother:
All the Ever Afters is a reimagining of Cinderella from the stepmother’s perspective. The characters inhabit a realistic medieval setting; elements of the fairy tale are rendered as real life events. In the movie version of my book, I imagine Kate Winslet as the “evil” stepmother, who is strong in both body and spirit and possesses the sort of innate intelligence that shines through in Ms. Winslet’s performances. While not a classic unreliable narrator, the stepmother filters events through her own perceptions, emotional needs and preconceived notions (as do we all!). It would be important for the actor who plays her character to convey what is unspoken, and Kate Winslet has an incredible gift for communicating complex emotions through facial expressions and body language.

The character I had the most trouble visualizing was Elfilda, or Cinderella. What does it mean to be ineffably beautiful? Then I saw Emilia Clarke playing Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones and thought, “That’s it!” Not only is she breathtakingly gorgeous, but Emilia Clarke is small and fine boned (as the owner of the tiniest shoes in the kingdom must be), and her face can light up with pure, childlike delight, just as I imagined Elfilda.

If I could pick a director for my-book-the-movie, it would be Sarah Polley, and not just because she’s a fellow Canadian and a woman. Ms. Polley’s subtle and poignant movies are hymns to ordinary human relationships, and my novel centers on a mother’s feelings for her daughters and stepdaughter. The novel also uses light and dark as a leitmotif, and Ms. Polly understands how to use lighting not only to convey mood but meaning, as in her movie Away From Her, where strong winter sunlight both set the tone and provided a metaphor for the harsh realities that the characters needed to face.
Visit Danielle Teller's website.

Writers Read: Danielle Teller.

The Page 69 Test: All the Ever Afters.

--Marshal Zeringue