Interview: DeAnna Knippling on “Doctor Rudolfo Meets His Match”

“Doctor Rudolfo Meets His Match” is in Innocence and Deceit, the second volume in the Ever After Fairy Tales anthology series.

Enter the magical, unpredictable, wonderful world of fairy tales!

Meet DeAnna Knippling!

DeAnna’s favorite musician is Tom Waits, her favorite author is Lewis Carroll, and her favorite monsters are zombies. Her life goal is to remake her house in the image of the House on the Rock, or at least Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. You should buy her books. She promises that she’ll use the money wisely on bookshelves and secret doors.

“Doctor Rudolfo Meets His Match”

Connor and his brother are on their way to get ice cream in “Doctor Rudolfo Meets his Match.” They come across a strange antique shop…so strange they find themselves inside of it after turning to walk away.


The door was shut behind us but the bell jingled anyway.

Aiden’s hand was shaking in mine.  Mine was probably shaking in his.

We were inside the antique shop.  Something had picked us up and put us inside it, like a hand moving dolls inside a dollhouse.

The inside of the building…man.  I don’t know how to describe it. It had smelled like fancy old stuff all the way out to the sidewalk because the inside was full of fancy old stuff, top to bottom.  Like, there was no way to tell what colors the walls were.  Every surface was covered with something, even the ceilings.  There were so many things to see, all of them interesting, all at once, that you couldn’t actually see anything.  You kept interrupting yourself by jerking your eyes all over the place.

“Don’t touch anything,” I said.

Aiden was still whimpering.  Slowly, the two of us backed up.  With my spare hand, I reached for the doorknob.

And got a handful of slime.  I jerked my hand away.

A high-pitched voice giggled.  My eyes snapped in that direction, but my head seemed frozen.

“Welcome, welcome!” The voice belonged to someone that wasn’t human.  He looked like one of the goblins out of the Harry Potter movies, only not quite so sharp-looking?  More like he had been claymation at one point before being brought to life. I tried to remember the name of the creepy old guy who sold Harry his wand at the wand shop.  My mind was a blank.

—from “Doctor Rudolfo Meets His Match” by DeAnna Knippling

The Interview

“Doctor Rudolfo Meets His Match” is loosely based off of the Brothers Grimm’s version of “Cinderella.” Tells us about the connection between the two stories.

Small correction, the story is based on the Grimm version of “Aschenputtel,” which ends up being much the same thing–but “Aschenputtel,” the original Grimm version, has a tree in it that drops the good stuff.  There is no fairy godmother in “Aschenputtel,” only a tree which may or may not have the soul of the main character’s mother in it. I believe the fairy godmother comes from Charles Perrault’s French version, “Cendrillon.”  The tale of Cinderella spans the globe, from One Thousand And One Nights to a variety of Asian versions, so there is some variety.

I read “Aschenputtel” as a kid, and because I love trees, that’s the one that stuck with me.  Cute fairy godmothers and singing mice are charming but not my cuppa.

The connection:  once upon a time, there was a kid who needed some good advice and a wardrobe change or two, and someone beyond the here and now whose heart broke for the crap situation they were in, and wanted to help.

Is Afterlife Antiques, the store Connor and his brother find themselves in (literally, as they’d been walking away from the building), based on a real place? 

Actually, yes.

My husband Lee and I did a lot of antiquing in Denver this last year, you might say that this place is a combination of all the basements of antique stores that I’ve been in lately.  But that would be a lie. You could also say that it’s based on the Reinke Brothers costume store in Littleton, Colorado, but that would be an incomplete answer.  To finish the answer off, I’d have to mention the House on the Rock in Wisconsin, which I’ve been to several times and consider a place of my heart.

In the interview for your first Doctor Rudolfo story you mention that Connor (aka Doctor Rudolfo) has a special appeal for you. Do you still feel this way, and do you plan on writing more stories about Connor?

Yep.  I have an Italian fairy tale picked out for the next one along with some ideas.

What difference do you see between today’s fairy tales retellings, and the types of fairy tales that were told hundreds of years ago?

Some of the time–not always–when you see a retelling, it gets away from the original purpose of the story, and just tries to entertain.  Which is fine, but not my thing. I feel like a fairy tale retelling should feel locked in space and time for the current version it’s in, but universal in theme and emotion.  You can retell the rags-to-riches story as much as you want, but unless it’s also about someone going, “The people you thought were nice are actually sabotaging your happiness and success,” then it will never really feel right.

For me, because I’m such a big Alice in Wonderland fan (which isn’t really a fairy tale, except it is), it’s when you see an Alice retelling that focuses on romantic love or an uprising against a Queen that the retelling becomes a little off putting.  Alice is the story of a girl being taught how to survive and control polite society. I liked the big Disney Alice movies; I thought they did a good job of capturing that, even while adding other elements (like an uprising), but there have been other TV series and whatnot that I can skip after an episode or two.

You and I (Jamie :)) are co-editing Amazing Monster Tales, an anthology series with a 1940s pulp monster theme. What surprised you about this project?

One, I started doing more focused on pulp fiction from that era, and found out that stories were a lot weirder than I remembered or expected.  Two, when I first read the stories, I thought, “Oh, these will never go together, what have we done?!?”  But upon a second reading my brain went, “Never mind, this is perfect.”  I was subconsciously expecting a more predictable book, I think. I think the reading I did helped:  actual pulp covers more territory than I expected, so why wouldn’t Amazing Monster Tales?

You do a lot to help other writers, from blogging, to running an online Facebook group, to coordinating get-togethers with other authors. Why do you do all of these things? And why did you name the online group after Nikola Tesla? 

The science fiction, fantasy, and horror communities are full of drama, with lots of writers full-on attacking each other on a semi-regular basis.  And, even worse, it seems hard to connect with those tribes at all unless you go to conferences. It was after yet another SF/F/H drama moment where writers were attacking each other that I said, “This isn’t what I want out of my interactions with other writers in my career.  We should be building each other up.” I started up the Colorado Tesla Writers Group so that SF/F/H people could meet new people and just be writers in a low-risk setting (cons can be intimidating and stressful for introverts, newcomers, and people with anxiety).

I had no idea that starting the group would lead to both madness and power! [Insert insane laugh here.]

I named the group after Tesla, because if you’re going to draw a line in the sand about what your values are, then valuing someone who innovated and created things over someone who ran a production line (ahem, Edison) is not a bad line to draw.

How did you come up with the idea of combining zombies with Alice in Wonderland in your Alice’s Adventures in Underland Series, and when can we expect the next book in this series?  

I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and got jealous.  I had some quibbles with PPZ, namely, that the zombie parts didn’t mesh seamlessly into the story, they were farcical rather than a part of the world in which the original Pride and Prejudice existed.

When I wrote the Underland books, I tried to make both parts of the story–the original material and my additions and rewrites–flow together.  Often the negative reviews on the first book can be summed up as, “I don’t know why anyone liked this book! Nothing was changed!” How flattering, right, if nobody can tell where Lewis Carroll left off and I took over?  I changed most of the book, but I tried to keep it low-key so that it would feel like the retelling was the original story, the one that was never told because people have been pretending that zombies never existed for generations.

Shh.  It’s a secret.

The first book, Alice’s Adventures in Underland: The Queen of Stilled Hearts, covers Alice’s Adventures in Underland and the story of Alice Liddell (the original Alice) at the time the book was being written.  The second book, The Knight of Shattered Dreams, covers Through the Looking-Glass and the events around Alice Liddell’s life when that book was written, some of which are heartbreaking, and bleed through a little into Looking-Glass.


You regularly analyze stories and study what works (or doesn’t), and why. What have you been studying lately, and what have you learned from it? 

Edgar Allen Poe short stories!  I’m working on analyzing his structure.

So I take about 15 minutes a day and type in about a thousand words.  When I’m done with that, and I know the story fairly well, I start looking for different structure things:  when the story is in the current moment, when it’s a first- or second-level flashback, when you think that he’ll say something and he doesn’t.  (For example, in “The Murders on the Rue Morgue,” Poe gives a paragraph to what the unnamed sidekick narrator saw at the rooms where the murders occurred–to show that the sidekick really didn’t see anything.)

It’s hard to sum it all up at this point, because I’m still in the middle of it, but it’s very cool.  I hadn’t been expecting to do more than a single story (“The Fall of the House of Usher”), because I remembered Poe being atmospheric but not especially a great writer.  But the deeper I dig, the more interesting his work becomes, and there are times where I’ll burst out laughing because he’s hidden a structural “joke” in the middle of something deadly serious.  It’s hard to explain in brief, so suffice it to say that I have a new appreciation of him as a writer.

What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing? 

I’m starting on the second story for Amazing Monster Tales, which will be a monster road trip story.  I had a plan for what to write, but I found myself kind of “meh” about it yesterday, so I’ll have to ditch that plan!

I just got back from a writing workshop where I had to write three stories–two of those were fun, the third was Not Fun, but probably the best of the three.  All three of the stories had unexpected twists, as in stuff that I, the writer, didn’t see coming. That is the best, to have your own subconscious surprise you.

About DeAnna

DeAnna Knippling is always tempted to lie on her bios. Her favorite musician is Tom Waits, and her favorite author is Lewis Carroll. Her favorite monster is zombies. Her life goal is to remake her house in the image of the House on the Rock, or at least Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. You should buy her books. She promises that she’ll use the money wisely on bookshelves and secret doors. She lives in Colorado and is the author of the A Fairy’s Tale horror series which starts with By Dawn’s Bloody Light, and other books like The Clockwork Alice, A Murder of Crows: Seventeen Tales of Monsters & the Macabre, and more.

Find DeAnna

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Find Innocence and Deceit!

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