“Do princesses wear hiking boots?”
Carmela Coyle’s curious 4-year-old daughter presented the unlikely question years ago.
“I heard it very clearly, but before I could answer her, she asked me another question, and this went on for a little while,” Coyle said. “‘Do princesses do this or that? And I felt like I was handed this gift, a title, and it was so inspiring, that kind of oxymoron.”
The gift came at an opportune moment in the annals of publishing.
“Up until that point, we only had ‘Princess Smartypants’ and ‘The Paper Bag Princess’ for modern-day princess stories that challenged the way we look at princesses and how little girls interpret them,” Coyle said. “So this came at a time when the audience was so ripe for thinking of it in a different way — not necessarily being the jewels and the tiara and the gowns and the fufu part of it, but rather the part that every little girl has inside of her.”
Coyle’s first book was born, and she followed it up with more titles, expanding the concept from the traditional, glittery, made-for-Disney stereotypes to everyday princesses who kiss frogs and scrape their knees and have best friends forever.
“It’s a healthy mix to have this balance, to say, yeah, but there’s more to it,” she said. “And maybe it isn’t just something outside of ourselves, maybe it has more to do with who we are on the inside and what we do with our lives, not just the fairy tale magical princess aspect of it.”
Reconnecting at The Next Page
Coyle will speak about her books tonight at The Next Page in Frisco. The event is a chance for the author to reconnect with a Summit County resident who was influential in her writing career.
“I lost contact with this most marvelous professor,” Coyle said. “I had been Googling her for years, and finally in January, she shows up and she’s living in Summit now. And I finally eventually connected with her and she was the one who said go to The Next Page, our local book store.”
Coyle is excited for the reunion.
“It’s such a surreal thing because back then she knew that I was wanting to be a writer and she was so supportive of it,” she said. “And we lost contact and she had no idea I was on my eighth book, so I so badly wanted to say, ‘Look what I did, and you were such a big part of it.’”
Princess in hiking boots
The series of children’s books have done well in the mountains.
“The hiking boot spirit that we’ve got in our mountains and Summit — it’s such a summer place, and I think there’s people, whether they are visiting or locals, I think they relate to it,” she said.
Coyle said many little girls go through the phase where they are obsessed with princesses — even out on a hike with their parents, it’s likely still on their minds — and making the connection with the outdoors can help mountain girls find the princess-like qualities within themselves.
“Princess, for some girls, is pink and purple and all the things that my book kind of counters a little bit,” she said. “That’s probably the main reason it works so well because most of the families up there are really outdoorsy. … It’s a bit of a bridge over from that counter of princess and hiking, which are kind of opposites.”