Extended Author’s Note for How Beauty Loved the Beast (Caution! Spoilers Ahead!)

Posted & filed under Writing Life, Books, How Beauty Loved the Beast.

I wrote an authors note at the end of How Beauty Loved the Beast regarding my own confused debate on how to end Hauk and Jolie’s story. Several people have commented on it, so I thought readers might like to see an expanded version of my thought process. Before I start, though, I want to stress that I’m not here to tell people how they should feel about the ending. That’s each reader’s prerogative, and I’m not writing a defense. What I’m hoping to do is give anyone interested some “behind the scenes” intel on one of the hardest things I’ve ever written and the struggle I had to get it on paper.

But first, here is your LAST CHANCE to back out before we get into hugely major spoilers. Like HUGE. END OF STORY SURPRISES HUGE.

If you haven’t read the third book, BACK OUT NOW (go read it, of course! And then come back).

No, seriously. Don’t read this if you haven’t read the book.

You have been warned! (Multiple times.)

One of the personal issues I’ve always had with Beauty and the Beast is that I’m so enamored with the “beast” at the end of the tale that I don’t like the prince he turns into. But then I get an image in my head of Beauty naked in bed with the fuzzy-fanged-animal-thing and suddenly I’m totally okay with him being a person because…ew. (Am I the only one who does that? You also gotta wonder if his body looks like a lion, if his man-parts…uh…I’ll stop there.) This is one of the initial reasons why I wrote a Beauty and the Beast story with a scarred instead of fuzzy hero. I can hop in bed with scars. A mane? Not so much.

When I first started writing this series, I had it in my head that I would buck the fairy tale on the final plot point and Hauk would keep his scars, as would happen in real life. I struggled with this a little because I actually tried to stick with the major story points as I saw them:

  1. Nice girl comes from a wealth obsessed family
  2. Due to the actions of her father, she meets the beast and is drawn into his world
  3. Though at first fearful of the beast, she integrates herself into his magical reality and gains respect and affection for him
  4. She tries to rejoin her old life, but when the beast is threatened and nearly dies, she realizes she loves him
  5. When she agrees to be his bride, he is returned to his original form for the grand HEA

The fact that Beast goes back to his old self as a reward for finding and giving love has always struck me as sort of invalidating the moral of “looks don’t matter.” But the more I mulled over the story through writing, the more I realized I don’t think that’s actually the point. Looks will always matter–to everyone else. Unjust as it is, in beast form the hero will always be punished by the world at large for the way he looks. Children will fear him. Taverns will refuse to serve him. Many people will assume the worst without meeting him. Beauty and the Beast teaches the moral that will will be rewarded for looking beyond another’s facade to the heart within. The story in no way claims, though, that the world at large will ever learn this lesson. That is why in the fairy tale Beast is given his old form back. Not because he or Beauty need it by the end of the tale, but because everybody else still does.

Another thing I realized as I wrote is that making peace with something and ceasing to care about it are not the same thing. Recently I’ve had this reaffirmed in a major way. As I write these words, my husband and I are preparing to pack our children to return to their biological mother as soon as the school year ends. The situation is completely different, but I have found myself in a similar emotional space. I will eventually make peace with this and one day be happy again. But for the rest of my life if asked the question, “Would you take the girls back?” I would say yes without hesitation. I will always want them back. I can make peace with the situation and simultaneously wish that I could have my family. I cannot imagine anyone in Hauk’s place not feeling the same sense of resigned peace. You are never happy with traumatic injury or loss. You are happy in spite of it. Strange as it may sound, part of me felt like I was cheating Hauk if I changed the ending on him.

As I said in the author’s note, this isn’t an option for real soldiers coming home from war, and I have so much respect for these survivors. And so, despite the things I said above I still debated. And then…a very writerly thing happened: I came up with the ring. As I was writing these stories, I knew I wanted to expand on the Underlight with more tales and more leading ladies and gentlemen. I have more Underlight in my brain. And a magical ring that…doesn’t do exactly what Hauk and Jolie think it does…is a very useful thing.

And so in the end what made the decision for me is that ring, which has not made its final appearance. And for those who miss Hauk with his scars and effusive tats, don’t worry too much about it. While I don’t plan to “take back” the ending, there’s a good chance we’ll see him again anyway…

9 Responses to “Extended Author’s Note for How Beauty Loved the Beast (Caution! Spoilers Ahead!)”

  1. Traci

    Your spin on beauty and the beast was great! When I read the last installment I thought Hauk was going to “keep” his scars and I was ok with that, I liked that ending, it was realistic. Then the ring changed that, and I liked that that ending too. The beauty was all around in your story and whatever way you choose to end it would have fit because of the love your characters had in the end for each other. I thoroughly enjoyed your books and have been spreading the word. I look forward to reading what you put out in the future 🙂

    • Jax

      Thank you! This has started my day with a huge smile. And thank you SO MUCH for spreading the word. That is the absolute best thing you can do for an author, and we really appreciate it! 🙂

  2. Mortcia

    I am so glad I purchased the first book on a whim.I had a credit to use up in Audible and read the premise and thought I’d give it a go.After the first few pages I was hooked and subsequently purchased all 3 books on both kindle and audio and read/listened to them every spare moment I had back to back. The underlight has me hooked.I loved the ending although there were many times over the last 6 or so chapters when I didn’t think I would (so glad was listening to it and not reading this one otherwise I’m sure I would have been tempted to skip ahead I was so worried) I raced through the full gammet of emotions until I was sure I was having a heart attack. I loved every one of the books in this series thank you for giving life to this poignant story, I very much look forward to more.

    • Jax

      Thank you so much Morticia! I appreciate you reading and taking the time to tell me about it. Sorry about the near heart attack…no, no I take it back. I’m not sorry. I have fun causing near heart attacks. 😉 (But then, as an avid reader myself, I have more fun when an author gives me a near heart attack!) I’m glad the ending worked for you; I think Hauk is happier this way, too. I’m currently working on Brayden’s book, so hopefully that’ll be available in 2014!

      Thanks again for taking the time to let me know you enjoyed the books. It means so much to authors to hear from readers! You inspire us to keep writing. 🙂

  3. Mortcia

    BTW I totally understand your conflict with the ending I would have been happy either way but I think Hauk is happier with this one.

  4. Jessica

    I fell in love with the books and listened to them all over a weekend! I got hooked and couldnt put them down! My one and only question is will there be any more books for Hawk and Jolie??? I really hope there is cause from everything so far and how shady her fathers orginazation is I can see them trying almost anything!!!! Plus I would really like to hear how they do a wedding!

    • Jax

      Hi Jessica!

      Thank you so much for reading and for telling me about it! I love to hear from readers. 🙂 At the moment I don’t have a future schedule for more Underlight books. I do have a choose your own adventure, sci-fi romance coming out this summer, currently titled Toxic Love (the title isn’t set in stone yet). I’m also working on an untitled ghost story set in Arctic Norway for (hopeful) future publication.

      I do hope to one day get back to the Underlight; I definitely have more stories to tell there (including a wedding story!). The leads would probably switch to give other people’s stories a chance to shine, but Hauk and Jolie would still be a major part of the series. As soon as that happens, I’ll be sure to let everyone know here, on Facebook and probably on Twitter, too! Writing Hauk and Jolie’s story was a labor of love and a whole lot of fun. It thrills me that other people connected with them, too, and want to hear more.

      Thanks for reading, and I hope to see more of you online!


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