Monday, October 15, 2012



Like all of us, I wear several hats. At this juncture, in the schemata of my life’s proverbial headwear, three chapeau’s take precedence: my mommy hat, my writer’s hat, and my professorial hat. I teach Sociology at the College of Charleston, and next semester I’ll teach Women’s Studies. 

A few weeks ago, I sat down with the head of the Women’s Studies Department to talk syllabi. She showed me a few examples from recent semesters, and gave me a commonly used textbook. I flipped through the book, a compilation of classical and contemporary essays by women, on topics relevant to women.

Interesting to me, yes, but pretty academic. Sort of dry. 

“You can include supplemental reading material, of course,” said the department head. 

I immediately knew what I wanted to supplement. The Cracked Slipper, of course. 

The Cracked Slipper is the direct result of my experiences within the three aforementioned hats. I want to make women question the expectations we place on the institution of marriage. Think beyond happily-ever-after. Sociologists refer to “the sociological imagination” as a way of re-examining of the taken for granted aspects of life…seeing the underlying variables behind human social behavior. I hope that one day my little girls will read the book and have an “ah-ha” moment. 

In writing The Cracked Slipper, I had an overarching theme… or at least a grand idea. I kept this idea in the forefront of my mind throughout the writing process of the first novel, as well as the subsequent books in the series. Always it was with me… what am I saying to women about our views on happiness and life’s realities? (All the while encasing that “reality” within a highly “fantasized” setting…but that’s another post.”)

Today’s popular fiction is often highly plot-driven, and I think that many stories lose that overall sense of purpose. If authors focus only on what happens, we start to lose the more philosophical why. Literary fiction, which to make a vastly generalizing statement, is more character-driven, often portrays a message or some form of symbolism, but readers complain that such stories drag… or are too dense. 

So a challenge for writers, then, is to somehow straddle both quick pace and powerful themes. Oh, it’s that easy, huh? Right… well, we all know it’s not. I felt a bit weird even asking my department head if I could include my book in my required reading. Was I making the assumption that it had some powerful educational ramifications? Some message beyond my own imagination, and my musings on men and women and the intricacies of our most complicated relationships? We’re talking about a book that counts a gossipy parrot as a main character. 

My department head shrugged and said, “Sure. Professors use their own books all the time. Who knows better what you want to teach your students than you do?”

So, I will ask my students to read The Cracked Slipper, and hope that alongside the written words of women far more accomplished than I, my themes ideas about the necessity of a woman making her own happiness will ring true. 

A meeting in my office with one of my current Sociology students has me cautiously optimistic. She stopped by to tell me she’d read The Cracked Slipper on her own and loved it. 

“It totally made me think differently about Cinderella,” she said. She tugged at her bright pink tee shirt, which was emblazoned with the insignia of a well known and sometimes maligned Greek organization. “And how much her life would have like, totally sucked. She had no control over anything, you know? Happily ever after is like, a pipe dream.”

“Unless, you take care of your business yourself,” I said. “Then who knows what can great things can happen.”

My student nodded. “Right,” she said as she stood to leave. “Oh, and the parrot. He was SO awesome.”

I smiled and took mental note. Make them think…entertain while doing it. 

Stephanie Alexander grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC, the oldest of three children. Drawing, writing stories and harassing her parents for a pony consumed much of her childhood.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the College of Charleston, South Carolina, and then followed her long-time fascination with sociopolitical structures and women’s issues to land a Master of Arts in Sociology from American University. She spent several years as a Policy Associate at the International Center for Research on Women, a think-tank focused on women’s health and economic advancement.

Stephanie embraced full-time motherhood after the birth of the first of her three children in 2003. And after six wonderful years buried in diapers and picture books, she returned to her childhood passion and wrote her own fairytale. Her academic and professional background influenced multiple themes in her debut novel The Cracked Slipper (available in paperback and all eBook formats), including patriarchy and power dynamics, education and economic independence, and the ramifications of early childhood experiences.

The author is a member of the Women’s Fiction Chapter of Romance Writers of America and the Bethesda Writer’s Center, and an alumna of the Algonkian NYC Pitch and Shop Conference.

Stephanie’s family put down permanent southern roots in 2011 when she returned to the College of Charleston as an Adjunct Professor of Sociology and Friends of the Addlestone Library board member.

The Cracked Slipper 
Stephanie Alexander


When Eleanor Brice unexpectedly wins the heart of Gregory Desmarais, Crown Prince of Cartheigh, she’s sure she’s found her happily-ever-after. Unfortunately, Prince Charming has a loose grip on his temper, a looser grip on his marriage vows, and a tight grip on the bottle.

Eight years of mistreatment, isolation and clandestine book learning hardly prepare Eleanor for life at Eclatant Palace, where women are seen, not heard. According to Eleanor’s eavesdropping parrot, no one at court appreciates her unladylike tendency to voice her opinion. To make matters worse, her royal fiancĂ© spends his last night of bachelorhood on a drunken whoring spree. Before the ink dries on her marriage proclamation Eleanor realizes that she loves her husband’s best friend, former soldier Dorian Finley.

Eleanor can’t resist Dorian’s honesty, or his unusual admiration for her intelligence, and soon both are caught in a dangerous obsession. She drowns her confusion in charitable endeavors, but the people’s love can’t protect her from her feelings. When a magical crime endangers the bond between unicorns, dragons and the royal family, a falsely accused Eleanor must clear her own name to save her life. The road toward vindication will force a choice between hard-won security and an impossible love.

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