If I was reborn a Disney princess, I'd be Belle. No question about it.
Don't get me wrong: I relate to Ariel's love of the sea (can you say Waterfire Saga?), and I covet the perfect, life-changing outfit every bit as much as Cinderella.
But when Wikipedia adds an entry for "Nerdy Feminist Bookworm," it will have two names: Jennifer Donnelly and Belle.
So when Disney asked me to write an original story about what happens to Belle away from the arc of the classic fairytale, what goes on in her inner life, among her thoughts, hopes, fears, and fantasies, there was no way I could possibly say no.
I've written quite a few books in many genres and under various circumstances, but this one was different. It was an amazing experience to write an original story that weaves around and through a classic fairytale beloved by millions (and is about to be released as a major live-action movie starring Emma Watson -- it's out on March 17 -- watch the gorgeous trailer here). It's fascinating -- but challenging, as you can imagine. The original story is like gravity: always there and unchangeable.
It has also been exciting to really get to know these characters over the past few months as I wrote and edited the book -- Belle in particular. She and I have become extremely close, and there's a lot more to her than I ever realized or appreciated. She has taught me so much, as all my characters do, and she will join Alexandrine, and Mattie, and Fiona, and Serafina in a very special place in my heart.