Whatever After – FINALLY a series for my daughter where a princess saves herself

whatever after bad hair dayMy five-year-old daughter lives and breaths all things princesses.  She uses her blanket as a cape, she makes a construction crown with jewels almost every day and she is constantly asking me if I can be her servant. If she only knew I already was…

The hard part about all this is that I’m a feminist. It breaks my heart every time I read a fairy tale and the princess longs to be saved by the cocky, arrogant prince. I hate seeing her waiting around a castle or sleeping until she gets kissed.

So I was thrilled when I saw a book called Whatever After: Fairest Of All at the bookstore. My daughter loved the young, sassy girl on the cover and I loved the premise of the book. A brother and a sister find a magical mirror in their basement that takes them into a fairy tale. NOT a Disney fairy tale – the REAL stuff.  The stories where the mermaid is supposed to die at the end. The best part is that they mess up the story and the lead female character learns how to stand on her own. I LOVED IT! I seriously loved reading another chapter every night.

So I sent the author an email. I had to tell her how much I loved her books. I wanted her to know how psyched I was that finally someone dared to make a princess independent. That maybe she didn’t choose to be rescued. Maybe she actually rescued herself.

And then I thought – what the hell, maybe she’ll let me interview her for the blog. I’d love to learn more about her and since many of you guys are parents, maybe you too would like to learn more about the books.

And lucky me! She agreed! And she’s awesome. WHY? Because she not only gave me an interview but she also sent me a copy of her latest book to GIVEAWAY!  And I’m not embarrassed to say that I might actually be more excited for the next book in the series that comes out today (April 29) maybe even a bit more than my daughter…

I found the first book in your Whatever After series (Fairest of All) when I was looking for a book for my young daughter that was about fairy tales yet had a more feminist, positive nature than traditional tales. I was truly tired of reading books where a prince came to the rescue. What made you go in such a unique and different direction with the class fairy tales? Did you share my sentiment? What was your inspiration?

I had the idea for Whatever After since way back when I was a kid. I loved fractured fairy tales even as a six-year-old. I rewrote The Princess and the Pea as The Princess and the M&M. I was not a fan of vegetables. And I share your feminist sentiments exactly. I love fairy tales but dislike the save-the-damsel-in-distress endings. I decided Whatever After was my chance to inject them with humor and girl-power.

If you personally could pick a fairy tale to go into and “mess up”, which one would it be?

The Little Mermaid, definitely. Do you know what happens at the end of the original story? The Little Mermaid DIES! Seriously! Saddest ending ever. I would love to mess that one up and give poor Little Mermaid a happy, non-dead ending.

How many books would you like to write in the Whatever After series? Are we going to see the siblings as they get older?

I’d like to go on forever. Well, maybe not forever, but definitely for a lot longer. There are tons of fairy tales I’d still like to tangle. AladdinThe Princess & the PeaThe Snow Queen (every kid I’ve met in the last three months begs me to do Frozen). Hansel and GretelWhatever After #5: Bad Hair Day (Rapunzel) comes out on April 29th, and I’m currently writing Beauty Queen (Beauty & the Beast). I’m not sure about whether I’ll age them… maybe a little, but I can’t imagine I’ll have Abby in high school. They’d have to move the books to the YA section.

Tell us about the first book you ever published. Was it adult/ya/middle? What was that process like? How did you get your start?

My first published novel was adult chick lit. At the time, I was single and working at Harlequin Romances, marketing novels such as The Virgin Bride Said Wow. Yes—that is a real title. Anyway, I found the juxtaposition between the books I marketed and my single-in-the-big-city life ironic and the perfect experience to explore in fiction. I wrote Milkrun, a novel about a romance copy editor who gets dumped via e-mail.

If you could have dinner with three other authors, living or dead, who would they be?

Judy Blume, Margaret Atwood and Jane Austen.

If you could write a book under a different pen name that was totally different from anything you have written before, what would the story be about?

It would be a teen horror novel. Like a Christopher Pike or Lois Duncan book. Chain LetterDown a Dark Hall! Last Act! I loved those books so much. I was obsessed with both writers as a teen.

As a writer, what’s your Achilles heel? What’s the one thing you are terrible at? (As you can see, I’m terrible at grammar and ending words with a preposition)

Hah, I am, too. I am also a terrible speler. Okay, I did that one on purpose. But all I can say is: Spell check, I love you.

If you could pick a celebrity to play Jonah and Abby – who would they be?

For Jonah, maybe Jakob Davies? He’s playing the little brother in If I Stay–the movie based on the amazing novel written by Gayle Forman. And he’s Canadian! I’m Canadian and I like to support my people. For Abby, I love Ariel Winter from Modern Family. She’s also the voice of Sofia the First. My two girls are OBSESSED with Sofia the First. Ariel might be too old to be play Abby, but I don’t mind if they age up the part. My girls would freak out. Although my five-year-old would probably lobby to play Abby herself…or at the very least Cinderella or Rapunzel. I wonder if a studio would let me put that in the contract?

Thanks so much for chatting with us Sarah! You rock!

I hope you’ll all give her some love. She writes tons of stuff – not just this series – that are definitely worth checking out. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below and I’ll use Random.org to pick a winner. Winner will be announced on Monday, May 5.



  1. Susan Ellis says:

    I love the concept of this book and will be stopping off to pick up as much of the series as I can! The characteristics you describe between you and your daughter mirror mine and my 9 yr old daughter!

  2. I see her books often in the library. I’m going to have to check one out! The Whatever After series seems like a great series. My favorite non-traditional princess is in the book The Paperbag Princess and my favorite collection of stories featuring strong females is Tatterhood. I still remember my mom reading those to us.

  3. Jen Wilbanks says:

    So excited to check out these books! I always wondered why we need to wait for a prince. Self help skills are so important for all kids.

  4. Looooooove these books. Currently waiting on the new one to ship from amazon. Thanks for a great read!!!

  5. This story sounds awesome.

  6. Brandy Bertonazzi says:

    My daughter says she wants to be a princess when she grows up… I have often thought about how to give her the princess side without the damsel in distress syndrome, lol I can’t wait to read these to her

    • Martinis and Minivans says:

      Brandy – YOU WON! WOO HOO! Send me an email at martinisandminivans at hotmail.com and I’ll get your shipping info and such. CONGRATS! And thanks for reading and entering!

  7. I love this premise!! Girls can do whatever they put their minds to–princess or not. I love that a series of books is telling girls just that. Thank you!!!!

  8. This is exactly what I’m looking for for my 3 year old. My daughter is already saying things like “Ariel (the little mermaid) should beat up Ursula” (not that I encourage violence at all – but I like that she thinks Ariel should take things into her own hands.) But I will definitely be getting these books and reading them to my 8 year old son as well. He loves Frozen – and every time we watch it together I point out that love between siblings is amazing.

    And she’s Canadian to boot! Canada represent!

  9. pam jacobs says:

    this sounds like a great series! I just knew there would eventually be a non-disney princess series that came closer to reality. I used to root for Snow White to stay single, once she was free of the witch. All ‘thanks for the kiss, but I’ll be fine now.’

  10. I love this idea! My two girls are obsessed with princesses and I’d love for them to read this. Have you read The Paper Bag Princess? Same idea but for a little younger set.

  11. Rachel Davis says:

    The series would good for my 9 y/o daughter. We will look at the library. She loves reading. :-)

  12. Although there are many fractured fairy tales in picture book format, I wasnthrilled to see one as a chapter book with a self-reliant heroine. This would make a great addition to a teacher’s library!

  13. This sounds like an awesome series! I love fractured fairy tales myself and I love reading them to my kids. Have you read Robert Munsch’s The Paper Bag Princess? His princess saves herself in the end as well. I’ve dressed up as her for Halloween a few times!

  14. How exciting! I can’t wait to find these books for my independent princess!! Thanks so much for sharing!

  15. This is a concept I can truly embrace. I taught my daughter there are no princes to rescue you. Now we both encourage my grand daughter, who is nearly four, to be smart, strong and capable. I look forward to buying and reading these books for our little princess!

  16. I think this series is super cute, and I really like the twists on the original fairy tales. I can’t wait until my daughters are old enough to read these!

  17. I too have a Princess

  18. Mary B Hager says:

    I’m going to have to investigate this series for my granddaughter.

  19. My 3yo is also a princess nut. It’s a little disheartening for a mom who is a sports nut. But if it makes her happy, I’m happy. What makes me sad is a page in The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss in which a trapeze artist guy has huge muscles and the female has none. My daughter noticed that the girl didn’t have any muscles, so I’m thinking of telling her the author forgot and drawing them on the girl in the book. I would love for her to be exposed to the Whatever After series. If I don’t win, I’ll surely buy it!

  20. I’d love to win this for my daughter! I’ve had enough of hapless princesses already.

  21. Carlie Trafton says:

    My daughters love these books! I am so thankful for authors like Sarah who write positive, empowering stories to inspire little girls!

  22. As a fan of Sara Mlynowski myself, I was so excited to find out that she also wrote awesome books for young girls. My girls LOVE the Whatever After series. Both of my girls are not big readers so it takes a very special book to capture their attention. We enjoy them so much.

  23. My daughters would love this! Rapunzel is DD’s favorite, but I just can’t stand Tangled. This sounds like everything Tangled isn’t. :)

  24. So excited to have found these! They are right up my alley!

  25. Can’t wait to check out this series. My daughter wants nothing to do with princesses and plays flag football but we enjoy Disney movies and reading together so we will give it a try! Thanks!! :)

  26. Why didn’t anyone tell me about these books? My daughters love all things princess and I hate it. My daughter was invited to a princess tea party that I’m sure was supposed to be cute but I wanted to vomit. Between the fake hair, nails, and makeup it was way too much for me….and my 4 year old.
    I would love to read these books to my daughters. They need some strong female characters in their life.

  27. What a fantastic idea – would love to read these with my princess OBSESSED daughter. :)

  28. I LOVE THIS!!! I will be taking the girls to the bookstore today for a copy of the first in the series! Thank you Sarah for writing them, and thank you Danielle for bringing this book to my attention!!

  29. My daughter just turned 4, and loves anything princess (and Spiderman!) When she says she wants to be a princess, I always tell her to be a queen instead, as they have more power! :-) I LOVE this idea, and I’m looking forward to reading her a story that is entertaining and has a self-reliant message. Thanks!

  30. Shawni Suter says:

    I can’t wait to dive into these books with both of my daughters!!!!

  31. I love the whole idea of these books! Thanks so much for a great interview!! I too have a princess, and I find myself sometimes changing the endings of the stories! Lol! What a treat to read her a story where the princess saves herself. I’m heading to Amazon right now! And crossing my fingers as well, I do have a niece! Thanks again.

  32. Just what I have been looking for!

  33. My girls love these books, and have read all of the books published so far.

  34. I love the concept of these books and can’t wait to read them with my daughter!

  35. Love the idea! My daughter discovered the Rescue Princesses while we were living in the UK (they do the rescuing) and she’s nearly read the entire series (Scholastic picked them up here, luckily for us). Good to find another series that’s right for her!

  36. I would love to win these!

  37. Linda deremer says:

    My sweet strong grand- daughter would love this series!! I am saving for next present!!

  38. I have 5 daughters and love this. Going to check them out.

  39. Great article. I would love a book like this.

  40. Jacquie Breedlove says:

    Just saw this book in the kids’ book fair flyer…..ver interesting

  41. My daughter loves these books! She will be so excited to read your post.

  42. Dawn Parker says:

    Going to get these for my 13 year old that that still loves princesses.

  43. anne church says:

    What a great idea! I hate to admit that my daughter was disappointed by the ending of Frozen because Anna was not saved by her “prince”. I would love to change her perspective.

  44. Lisa Strobridge says:

    Love this! We actually started reading original HCA fairy tales to our girls ages 6,4 and talk about the differences in endings and why….

  45. I hate to say I have never heard if your series but love the idea!! My daughter just turned four and is into all things princesses. She knows them all even though she is too scared to watch most of the movies:) I am looking your books up now and going to order some. Can’t wait to start reading them to my daughter.

  46. Love the interview. It was great. I’m a school librarian and whatever after was a hot item at the book fair!

  47. Brandy says:

    So excited about winning! Thank you so very much! My daughter will be excited to read it! Thanks for all your posts! I love your blog!

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