Lani Lenore’s The Nutcracker Bleeds and the history of the famous tale

The History of the Nutcracker

To celebrate the release of The Nutcracker Bleeds, I thought I’d give a bit of history about the original work (and some nice info about my own), along with some of the elements I considered when recreating this tale.

When we think of The Nutcracker, certainly we think of the famous ballet by Tchaikovsky, but what seems to have been forgotten is that the ballet was inspired by a book. The original story of the Nutcracker is actually called The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. (or Nussknacker und Mausekönig)  and was written by a man named E. T. A. Hoffmann, who Wikipedia describes as “a German Romantic author of fantasy and horror”. (Sounds like my kind of guy.)

Since The Nutcracker has not been done by Disney (to my knowledge), the story is perhaps only a distant thought in the mind, but most people likely know the premise: On Christmas, a young girl receives a nutcracker which she falls for over all the other toys. After being broken by rough handling from her brother, the nutcracker is cared for by the girl until she discovers very soon afterward that he is alive – and the other toys as well! A battle between toys and mice commences, with the girl watching on from her full-size as the nutcracker battles the seven-headed mouse king. In the end, of course, the Nutcracker is revealed to be human.

You can read the original story online, for free, right here.

The Nutcracker Bleeds

When I first began writing this book in early March 2003, the main character I started with was much like young Marie from the original story. The character still exists, in fact, and her name is Olivia. She is a girl enchanted by Christmas, with a particular believe in fantasy worlds, ready to accept a new reality. I wrote the first six chapters(which I later combined to be the first two chapters). That was where I had stopped.

I looked ahead into the story a bit to see what I could see – looking for some point I could write up to, like connecting the dots. There were no dots. Do you know what I saw?

Dead-end after dead-end.

For my version, this sort of character simply did not play into my images of horror. I needed a female character that was stronger of mind – someone not so willing to be thrust into an unnatural world of magic and horror. That was when I decided that everything I had written was boring and not worth continuing.

In October of 2006, I decided that I was boring. I’d been writing (I never really stop) but I had the urge to twist another fairytale. Instead of making a new one, I decided to go back through my files and see what was there – stories that I had laid out ages ago but never took very far. That led me back to reading what I had written of The Nutcracker Bleeds.

I read through a bit, and that was when I saw Anne.

I had forgotten about her – the nurse – a character overshadowed by Olivia, who is the complete focus, not only of the story at that point, but of some aspect of every other character’s life that had been mentioned. I thought to myself: “How much creepier would it be to not throw the girl into a world she already accepts, but instead to throw a completely sane woman into something she can’t accept and refuses to?” It was perfect. Anne was my character.

As mentioned in the book description, Anne is a nanny, looking after a disturbed teenage girl, Olivia, who is fixated on dolls. Anne is, perhaps, not a loveable character, but one thing is certain: she has her agenda, and she sticks to it. That is, until she finds herself immersed in a world of madness where toys and mice battle for power, a cold-hearted nutcracker seeks revenge for the past, and there is danger around every corner for a young woman made of flesh.

“A dream?” the nutcracker questioned, now seeming disgusted with her. “Would you like to hear a nightmare?”

He advanced toward her, footsteps steady and measured. This time, she backed away, but he did not stop.

“I know you can hardly imagine, but do try as I paint the picture for you,” he menaced, then continued with his tale.

“Having always been something, I understand it must be difficult to imagine what it’s like to be nothing, so instead, just imagine that you are in the most deep and peaceful kind of sleep. There are no dreams. Everything is darkness and you feel nothing but comfortable in it.”

Anne listened as she moved along the edge of the shaft, following the wall so she wouldn’t trip as she traveled backward. Still, he gained ground on her.

“Suddenly, you open your eyes, and around you is a world you’ve never seen before. You realize that you’re alive and all at once, everything that it means to be alive hits you with the weight of a thousand bricks. You’re hungry. You’re thirsty. You have desires of the flesh. It’s only then that you realize that you don’t have flesh with which to devour or to satisfy your lusts. Any food that you manage to stuff inside your body, rots. Drink soaks through to your outer skin if you’re cloth–if not, it doesn’t run through you at all. There is no release. Some are better off than others. Like that ballerina. Clothing can be removed and she has a desirable shape. She gets attention from the others. But still, the general rules are the same.

“There is only one certainty, and that is that there are other larger living things around you, and you can’t let them see you move or hear you speak, or they will be on to you. Your world is still a part of theirs and they can’t know. You have absolutely no morals or understanding thereof, and the only one there to teach you is a disturbed little girl who doesn’t even know the answers herself–one who thinks that this is all a wonderful game and doesn’t understand that it’s very real. What do you think would happen to you?”

Anne had stopped, for somehow he had managed to back her into the wall as she’d listened to him in horror. Her face was pale and her breathing was unsteady, but she forced herself to look at him. He was completely terrifying to her, but she believed everything he’d said.

“I’d be completely mad,” she couldn’t help but answer.

You can take a peek inside The Nutcracker Bleeds on Amazon: here

The nutcracker bleeds cover

The Nutcracker Bleeds is currently available in all formats (ebook, paperback, and hardcover) and you can order your edition today!

Amazon, Smashwords, CreateSpace (paperback), and Lulu (hardback). Coming to other online booksellers soon!

Put a little horror in your holiday and check it out! 😉

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