A historical costumer who cuts, sews and embroiders, Elizabeth C. Bunce also has a strong interest in mythology, traditional stories such as myths, fairy tales and legends, and Egyptology, as well as the folklore of ghosts and folk magic. She received her B.A in English and Anthropology from the University of Iowa, with an emphasis in traditional storytelling. "My background in anthropology is a perfect complement to my work as a novelist," says Elizabeth.
"I've always been interested in fairy tales for their adaptability, and retellings such as Robin McKinley's classic Beauty really sparked my imagination as a young reader," says Elizabeth. "The ironic thing is that, of all the fairy tales out there, Rumpelstiltskin was probably my least favorite-I was troubled by the anti-Semitic overtones in the Grimm version, and disturbed by the fact that the miller's daughter betrays the only character in the story who tries to help her."
"I was always fascinated by the fact that in a story about the power of names," continues Elizabeth, "the heroine is anonymous. Unlike most fairy tales, the story is named for its ostensible villain, and the heroine doesn't have any name at all! I wanted to know more about that girl-what she was thinking and how she found herself in such desperate straights. I also wanted to find out about Rumpelstiltskin's back-story. Why was he so desperate to have the miller's daughter's child?"
"The heart of the story-spinning straw into gold-took on a unique resonance for me," says Elizabeth. "As a needlewoman, I am very familiar with gold thread, and so it was natural for me to envision the mill, then, as a textile mill-not the traditional grist (flour) mill of the fairy tale. My early research lead me to local period woolen mill museum, where the inner workings of Stirwaters came to life for me. One of my favorite moments in writing A Curse as Dark as Gold came during my first tour of Watkins Woolen Mill. The tour guide lead us past these huge spinning machines, and casually said, "These machines are spinning jacks. The men who operated them were called jackspinners.' Jack Spinner! Suddenly, my Rumpelstiltskin character-the man who spins straw into gold-had an absolutely perfect name."
Elizabeth C. Bunce currently lives with her husband and their dogs near Kansas City, Missouri.