When she was 4 years old, Lacey Louwagie said her older sister, Jessica, acted out the story of “Rumpelstiltskin” with their Fisher-Price Little People.
Louwagie, a Cottonwood native who now lives in Sioux Falls, S.D., recently had her novella, “Rumpled,” a take on the famous fairy tale, published.
She said the idea for the book stemmed from an ongoing thing she had with her friends.
“It came to me because my college friends and I had a running joke about bargaining our first-born children,” Louwagie said.
When she was dating the man who would become her husband, Louwagie said he would pose these sort of paradoxical questions, and the one that sparked the story was “what if someone demanded a woman’s firstborn child…and then that firstborn child ended up being his firstborn too?”
“And I wanted to write a story to explore that question,” Louwagie said.
Louwagie was going to start the book from scratch but noted that there were a lot of stories out there about bargaining first-born children. And she always liked fairy tales and stories that used fairy tales.
“I decided to try and explore the framework of that question,” she said.
The story “Rumpelstiltskin” has always fascinated her, Louwagie said. Fairy tales usually have a clear moral message, she said, but “Rumpelstiltskin” is really morally ambiguous.
Rumpelstiltskin is seen as the villain of the fairy tale, but he’s only coming to collect on his promise, the first-born child of the miller’s daughter, who becomes the queen.
“She’s (the queen) not perceived as a villain,” Louwagie said.
The more she thought about the story, how Rumpelstiltskin is described as a creepy, twisted dwarf and the miller’s daughter is beautiful, Louwagie said she had a realization.
“I started to think that we assign morality based on physical appearance,” Louwagie said.
Louwagie wrote the book from Rumpelstiltskin’s point of view, describing why he was able to turn straw into gold and why he wanted the child.
“I wrote a lot of ‘Rumpled’ while I was leading the teen writing group at the Marshall-Lyon County Library,” Louwagie said. Louwagie had worked as the teen librarian at the library.
Originally, Louwagie was going to write a short story for “Rumpled.”
“It ended up being five times longer than I expected it to be,” Louwagie said. “Rumpled” is a novella, she said.
When she finished the draft form, Louwagie sent it to her sister, Krystl, so she could do the cover art.
“She read it and created a handful of illustrations,” Louwagie said. The tagline “Power is more useful than beauty” appears on the cover, Louwagie said. There is a different cover design for both the ebook version and the paperback.
Louwagie self-published the book using Amazon’s CreateSpace, and she said she’s gotten good feedback on it.
“A lot of people feel it redeems the character of Rumpelstiltskin,” she said.
Louwagie said she’s working on a similar retelling of “Rapunzel” and is on the second draft.
“I’m hoping to write a sequel to ‘Rumpled,'” Louwagie said.