Ginger's Heart by Katy Regnery
Date of Publication: March 22, 2016
In this modern retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood," the wolf and the woodsman are cousins, and Ginger is the little girl who claims both of their hearts.
When three children grow up together in the rolling hills of Kentucky horse country,
One becomes a predator
One becomes a protector
And one becomes prey.
Ginger McHuid has been in love with the "Dub Twins" – Cain Wolfram and Josiah Woodman – for as long as she can remember. And for as long as the cousins can remember, they've each loved Ginger in their own all-consuming ways.
One will win her
One will be cast away
While one follows her heart.
This is a standalone novel inspired by Little Red Riding Hood. New Adult Contemporary Romance: Due to profanity and very strong sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.
(The next standalone a modern fairytale novel, Don't Speak, inspired by The Little Mermaid, will be released in June 2017.)
Ginger's Heart is part of the a modern fairytale collection, which will include four standalone, unrelated novels:
"The Vixen and the Vet" (Beauty & the Beast) - available now
"Never Let You Go" (Hansel & Gretel) - available now
"Ginger's Heart" (Little Red Riding Hood) - available March 22, 2016
"Don't Speak" (The Little Mermaid) - available June 16, 2017
Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Ginger's Heart, a modern fairytale, by Katy Regnery. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Just about everyone called Woodman "Woodman" except Gran and sometimes Cain. Gran insisted on calling him by his Christian name. Cain used "Josiah" and "Woodman" interchangeably with no real rhyme or reason that Ginger could follow.
"Rumor is you're gonna marry Josiah someday," said Gran, her sixty-something blue eyes merry. "But what do you say?"
Ginger giggled self-consciously, thinking about her grandmother's question, something clenching in her twelve-year-old heart as she thought about marrying sensible Woodman and abandoning her wild feelings for his cousin, Cain.
"I don't know," she said, feeling her forehead crease in confusion.
"Or maybe you're thinkin' you want to marry…Cain," said Gran softly.
Cain, with his jet black hair and ice blue eyes, appeared like a vision before her, and Ginger's heart thumped faster. The way he'd run off to see Mary-Louise Walker this afternoon made her brown eyes spitting green with jealousy. The way he swaggered made her breath catch. Woodman was so predictable, so safe in comparison.
Then again, Woodman hadn't exactly been predictable this afternoon, had he? He'd surprised her with the gift and even more with his words. His body had been hard and warm when he'd held her, the embrace awakening something new and foreign within her. Something she wasn't sure she wanted. Something that didn't feel safe and even scared her a little bit. She pulled her fingers away from the charm bracelet and faced her Gran.
"What do I do if I love them both?"
Her grandmother's eyes, which had been mostly teasing, flinched, and her mouth tilted down in a sympathetic frown, which made her face seem so serious and sober.
"Choose, dollbaby," said her Gran. "Someday you'll have to choose."
The same feeling that she'd had in the barn, when Cain had yelled, "Jump to the one you love the most, darlin'!" flared up within her—a fierce refusal to love one cousin more than the other, to give up one in lieu of the other.
Choose? Her memories skated back through a dozen years on McHuid's Farm that had always included Cain and Woodman. When they were little children, they played together, swimming buck naked in the creek and racing over the green hills and pastures in impromptu games of tag. As the boys grew up, they started working with Cain's daddy, Klaus, who was her father's right-hand man, mucking out the stables and grooming the horses. She'd run down to the barn every day after her lessons to see them, working right along beside them until they were all covered in hay, dust and barn grime.
Though the Wolframs weren't generally included in the McHuid's active social life, the Woodmans were, which meant that in addition to seeing Cain and Woodman on the farm, she also saw Woodman at every holiday and birthday party…and they always managed to slip out unseen with some smuggled sweets for Cain.
They were the Three Musketeers of McHuid's Farm and Ginger knew both boys as well as she knew herself—Cain's smirking, hot-headed, impulsive ways, and Woodman's level-headed patience, caution and kindness. Regardless of their differences, she also knew that as the only children of twin sisters, Cain and Woodman were much closer than most cousins. Genetically speaking, they were half-brothers, and while they surely liked to tease and torture each other, they wouldn't hesitate to jump into front of a train to save the other's skin either.
In Ginger's mind, she envisioned them like two halves of the same coin that she held carefully in the palm of her hand.
She loved them both desperately.
No, her heart protested. Impossible.
"What if I can't?" she whispered, leaning back and resting her head on her grandmother's comforting shoulder.
"Then you'll lose them both," said her grandmother softly.
Ginger's shoulders fell, relaxing in surrender as she closed her eyes against the burn of tears.
"But don't let's think about that now, dollbaby," said Gran, leaning her head upon her granddaughter's, the constant tremble of her unpredictable body almost soothing to Ginger as they rocked side by side in the twilight. "You're just twelve today. You've got your whole life ahead of you."
About Katy Regnery
Katy Regnery, award-winning and Amazon bestselling author, started her writing career by enrolling in a short story class in January 2012. One year later, she signed her first contract for a winter romance entitled By Proxy.
Now a hybrid author who publishes both independently and traditionally, Katy claims authorship of the six-book Heart of Montana series, the six-book English Brothers series, and a Kindle Worlds novella entitled "Four Weddings and a Fiasco: The Wedding Date," in addition to the standalone novels, Playing for Love at Deep Haven and Amazon bestseller, The Vixen and the Vet.
The Vixen and the Vet is included in the charity anthology Hometown Heroes: Hotter Ever After, and Katy's novella "Frosted" will appear in the upcoming (Jan '15) anthology, Snowy Days Steamy Nights. Additionally, Katy's short story, "The Long Way Home" appeard in the first RWA anthology (Feb '15), Premiere.
Katy lives in the relative wilds of northern Fairfield County, Connecticut, where her writing room looks out at the woods, and her husband, two young children, and two dogs create just enough cheerful chaos to remind her that the very best love stories begin at home.
Find Katy Regnery Online
GINGER’S HEART / Katy Regnery
- What draws you to write modern fairytales?
Honestly, I stumbled into it. I was invited to include a story in an anthology called “Hometown Heroes” and the hero of the story had to be a fireman, policeman or military. I only had a few weeks to write the book, and since I didn’t have a character that fit the bill, I had to write a brand new story. It occurred to me that if I could use the structure of another story, it would go faster for me than coming up with a plot from scratch. And I figured, since it was in an anthology, it was okay to take a shortcut, right?
Twenty-three days later The Vixen and the Vet (inspired by “Beauty and the Beast”) was finished. What I never really expected was how much readers would love it. They loved the story of a injured veteran finding love, of course, but they were delighted by the concept of a familiar story being reimagined, and clamored for another fairytale. It took me a little while to settle on “Hansel and Gretel” but once I had the story fixed in my mind, Never Let You Go was born. And, in short order, Ginger’s Heart, a reimagined “Little Red Riding Hood.”
I love the structure when I base modern romance on fairytales, but I think my readers love the universality of it. These are familiar stories, so they have a base line expectation going into the book, but there’s also that wonderful suspension of belief in fairytales that works really well for love stories too!
- You call this not a typical "love triangle"- can you talk about this?
When I first said I was writing a “love triangle” my readers fell into two major categories – one half was worried it would be a “threesome” and the other half was turned off by the idea of a woman waffling back and forth without a clear hero.
First things first – GINGER’S HEART IS NOT A THREESOME BOOK!!! I wouldn’t even know HOW to write a threesome. I’m serious. There are no threesomes, no bedhopping, no simultaneous screwing. I promise. Nothing like that.
What makes Ginger’s Heart an atypical triangle is that it’s not a physical triangle, it’s an emotional triangle. There’s a short paragraph from the book that I love:
And someone loses.
That about sums it up. And emotionally, it might wreck you a little. But there’s nothing tawdry about Ginger’s Heart. It’s a true American love story.
- This story spans a large timeframe with the characters ages- from young adult, NA to Contemporary. How did you tackle the changes in them as they grew older?
In my first draft of Ginger’s Heart, my editor came back to me and said, ‘The voices are very wobbly in the beginning. You have a 12-year-old and 15-year-old speaking like their 20-something selves. You can’t do that. Tap into their teenage voices if you want their reflections to be genuine.” She was SO RIGHT! But I had such a good time going back and imagining how a 12-year-old would think and say something. I cut out certain “grown up” words and replaced them with “tween” varietals so that the voices were more authentic. The amazing thing about that exercise was that it made me closer to my characters, because now I truly KNEW them as kids and adults. It added a richer layer to my understanding of them, and will give my readers better insight into their motivations and choices.
- How do you decide on your titles?
Sore subject! LOL! No, I’m just kidding. Well, kind of.
When I released The Vixen and the Vet, I got SO MUCH mean feedback about the title. Reviews would start by saying “Ignore the stupid title, this is a great book…” or “I almost couldn’t get past the title, but I’m glad I did…” The reality is that I chose the words “vixen” and “vet” to be the same sort of alliteration as “beauty” and “beast.” In fact, I almost named that book Savannah and the Soldier, but decided against it for Vixen.
Because the feedback was so negative about Vixen’s title, I went sort of harmless-ambiguous with Never Let You Go. It’s a line from the book, but it’s also a crowd-pleasing title because it’s so innocuous.
Ginger’s Heart was originally titled Virginia and the Wolf, but I worried that it might be taken as an homage to Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? to which it bears no resemblance. So I shortened “Virginia” to “Ginger” and we were off to the races!
- How did you settle on your cover?
I work with the AMAZING Marianne Nowicki, who has done ALL of my covers, and at this point we are so symbiotic, it’s really easy for me to tell her what I’m looking for and for her to produce it. Basically, I always start with the art…since I don’t use models or do photo shoots, I go to Shutterstock (and occasionally Getty or Corbis) for my images. I know how my characters look in my mind and I try to find art that will not only represent the characters, but lay a foundation for the tone. The Ginger’s Heart cover was almost finalized when I asked Marianne for something to lighten it up a touch. She added the tiny heart on the Ginger loop and I knew it was perfect.
- Can you give readers a sneak peek to your next modern fairytale choice?
Sure! In fact, I’m happy to chat about the next two!
The next modern fairytale, coming in 2017, is called Don’t Speak and it’s inspired by “The Little Mermaid.” I don’t want to give too much away, but the story takes place in North Carolina (all of my modern fairytales take place in the American South) and features a fisherman’s daughter from the Core Sound, who speaks with a very strong Carolina brogue (a regional dialect that sounds very much like a Scots-Irish accent.) The hero, a very wealthy society son from Raleigh, spent his summers in a town on the Outer Banks near the Core Sound, and now – many years later – is running for governor of North Carolina. Because I wanted the names to pay homage to “The Little Mermaid,” the heroine’s name is Laire, which is an anagram of Ariel, and the hero’s name is Kieran, which includes an anagram of Erik.
In 2018, I will be releasing Swan Song, inspired by “The Ugly Duckling.” I haven’t started plotting this book yet, but there is a species of swan called the Whistling Swan that breeds along the Arctic Ocean coast but spends the winter at the Atlantic coast of the USA, mainly from Maryland to South Carolina, but some move as far south as Florida. So, I’ve been thinking about using St. Augustine, FL. I love the name, it sits right on a harbor, plus it’s sort of singular in its architecture and has a super-rich history.
- How does your writing differ from your Blueberry Lane books to your modern Fairytales (*again feel free to tinker to talk about how you approach these, longer books more editing, however you'd like to talk about)
OMG. SO SO SO DIFFERENT.
My Blueberry Lane books follow a very specific structure: 55-80K words, hero and heroine, dual-POV, first-world problems. The BLS is meant to be enjoyed poolside or on an airplane. That’s not to say that there’s no depth in the stories – there is. But I don’t tackle “issues” as much in those books. They take me about 4-6 weeks to write and the world of Blueberry Lane is well-established.
My modern fairytales? Well, first of all, every book is written as a fundraiser. I give away 25-50% of my first two-month profits. For The Vixen and the Vet, I donated to UCLA Operation Mend. For Never Let You Go, I donated to Operation Underground Railroad. The money collected from Ginger’s Heart will go to the Ridgefield Fire Department in my home town of Ridgefield, CT.
Second of all, push myself HARD to break new ground in the subject matter of my modern fairytales. In The Vixen and the Vet, I tackled the way that returning servicemen are treated when they have been profoundly disfigured in war. Never Let You Go dealt with tough topics like foster care, child abuse, kidnapping and domestic abuse. Ginger’s Heart includes a character slowly deteriorating from Parkinson’s.
Third of all, I allow myself to experiment with different structures. In The Vixen and the Vet, the entire book was outlined in the first chapter as Scarlett reads from a bridal magazine, and each chapter heading corresponded with the points made in the article. In Never Let You Go, I experimented with flashbacks. In Ginger’s Heart, I write the story at four major points in time with three-year gaps between sections, in addition to writing my first tri-POV – three points of view with overlapping scenes.
What’s funny is that the modern fairytales are sort of exhausting, so by the time I finish one, I’m ready to write a few formulaic Blueberry Lane books…but after a few of those I’m ready for the challenge of a fairytale once again. It’s the perfect set-up for me!
- How would you "cast" your book if made into a movie?
Early on, I shared an excerpt from Ginger’s Heart with my street team, Katy’s Ladies, and one of members, Tanya Baikie, actually chose Ian Somerhalder for Cain and Jensen Ackles as Woodman. And it clicked for me immediately. And I have always pictured Ginger as actress Natalie Hall. As for Gran? Someone like Jacklyn Smith or Cheryl Ladd. Since the younger three actors are best known for their TV roles, it would make sense for Gran too, right?
- How important was it to have all of your readers to experience Ginger's "choice" and the book fully without any spoilers?
Honestly? Maniacal levels of importance. Like, all out ridiculous levels of need for readers to have a fresh experience with this book! It keeps me up at night! I mean, it’s a solid story, but the suspense element for 75% of the book is who she will choose!
This is why I have isolated early readers to 1. Less than ten fellow-author beta readers (between 2/20-3/18) 2. Bloggers and early-readers (3/18-3/22) and then 3. Release (3/22). I usually give out books 10-14 days in advance to bloggers and early readers, but I just couldn’t risk it this time!
- What other authors/books on modern or fractured fairytales are you a fan of?
My friend, Lauren Stewart, did an AMAZING job with her book Darker Water, inspired by “The Frog Prince.” And Mia Sheridan’s Grayson’s Vow definitely had a fairytale-esque feel to it. And L.H. Cosway did a fun “Romeo and Juliet” thing with Hearts of Blue, which I loved. But I don’t know of a ton of authors rebooting fairytales. Or maybe I just haven’t happened across them yet!
- Were there any major struggles with writing GINGER?
Well, my writing schedule was a little nuts. I slated writing to start on Monday, November 30 and end on Friday, February 12 and I am very, very strict with deadlines. But, I didn’t totally take into consideration that I had scheduled the book over Christmas and New Year’s. So, I lost about 10 days of writing time smack in the middle, but luckily Ginger’s Heart is separated into four parts, so I made sure that parts 1-3 were finished by Christmas Eve and jumped back into part 4 after New Year’s. I was lucky! It worked out!
Also, I wanted to share excerpts with my readers, but it’s been hard keeping Ginger’s choice on the down-low. Like, I want to scream it from the rooftops, “Enough already! Ginger chooses—” but I know I can’t. I hope that readers who have already chosen loyalty to one cousin or the other aren’t too disappointed by the outcome!
- Was this book different in any way from your previous fairytales (writing approach, how long it took, etc)
Hmm. Well, The Vixen and the Vet took me 23 days. Never Let You Go took about five months. All told, Ginger’s Heart took me nine weeks. So there’s clearly no rhyme or reason to writing time! I would say that I felt more pressure writing Ginger’s Heart because readers really love this series and I don’t want to let anyone down, so there was that element in play as I was writing. And I’d never written a love triangle, so that was a little challenging for me, because I only write monogamous love stories and this one is no exception, regardless of the structure. I guess the best answer is: they’re all unique, they’re all different and I promise to keep them that way as long as my readers keep reading!