"The bare trees stood against the whiteness like rigid ink strokes reaching upward to the dimmed, gray paper sky."
I liked this image. I remember some time after publishing this book I was reading another book where the author had used an almost identical image. I definitely don't think that author copied me, I just think it's amazing writers aren't all repeating the same things more than we already are.
Given her name, first by Falada, then by the wind
Magic is difficult to do well. If it's too easy, a reader won't believe it. When I write something magical, something fantastic, I have to believe it's possible. This scene took a lot of work, and I'm very happy with it. What name would the wind use to identify her? She was Ani, she is becoming Isi. Princess was her only name in the original tale, and I felt like it was her core identity, anciently given.
Her hair and the wind
This is one of those parts from the original tale. I needed to make it make sense--why she unbound her hair, why it mattered, why Conrad/Curdkin wanted to pull one of her hairs, why the wind. A lot of what came before is building to this chapter. Some assume that rewriting a fairy tale is easier than coming up with an original story because some of the work is already done, but sometimes it can be more demanding. It's like writing a poem with strict meter and rhyme scheme.
I've always loved these illustrations by Arthur Rackham, and they influenced the mood of this book.
Incidentally, Ani's hair was originally red. It meant so much to me when I was young to read The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley about a redheaded heroine. They were so rare. (I was an adult before I was able to find a redheaded Barbie doll.) But then I got self-conscious. It was my first book and I was worried if I had a redheaded heroine people would think I was writing myself, so I changed her to blonde. (Also incidentally, Ani and I are not very much alike in personality, though I wouldn't mind being more like her.)
Anna asks, "What killed Isi's aunt?" I've never revealed that, thinking I might write that story some day.