Undergraduate Honors Theses


Gifted Grace

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type


First Advisor

Marcia Douglas


In this story Grace has the ability to control animals. In her world, certain people have supernatural powers called Gifts. Grace must contend with the war that stole her father, a treacherous stepmother whose Gift is to command others to her will, and the mysterious Keenan McDougary who can neither tell nor be told a lie. My inspiration for Gifted Grace first came from watching Disney’s Cinderella as an adult. For the first half of the movie, Cinderella’s interactions center mainly around animals. I thought that it would have been much more interesting if the animals were a more integral part of the plot – hence Grace’s Gift was born. The rest of the world fell into place around that idea. I wrote the first two chapters as a freshman, but then it took about a year for the entirety of the plot to come together in my mind. Normally I write in a piecewise fashion, first sculpting the scenes that come easily in no particular order and then filling the inbetweens. Because I had a good measure of the plot already thought out, Gifted Grace was the first piece that I have written linearly for a majority of the process. It is difficult for me to advance without a driving plot; the character possibilities seem endless and I tend to become indecisive. Therefore most of my ideas form around a compelling storyline, which aids in the process of learning about my characters given their motivating circumstances. I have an entire novel planned out for Gifted Grace and I was delighted for the opportunity to force a schedule on my progress through writing an honors thesis. I have since reached a suitable stopping point for the extent of the thesis, approximately halfway through the story. For my younger audience, I wished to create a strong heroine but without the complete role-reversal between damsel-in-distress and a heroic prince charming; I wanted to create a Cinderella story where the relationships between the characters are not always predictable. Central to the story is the growth of an enchanting partnership where both parties rely on each other. The novel in its entirety is a journey towards closure for the two main characters – one cognizant and one unwitting. Grace embarks on her journey in search of closure after the revelations concerning her father’s death and McDougary comes to help those who suffer from the same curse as he. Lastly, I wanted to incorporate the values of truth and intelligence into the story – which became the two main features of Keenan McDougary’s character. The handicap of his Gift simultaneously brings flaws and strength to his personality. The defining feature of Cinderella is the slipper, regardless of the actual shoe type. After reading many of the original variants of the Cinderella tale, I realized that while there is no actual slipper in my story, McDougary serves as a symbolic slipper. In the fairytale, the slipper serves to reveal the true identity of Cinderella; in my tale, McDougary is also an agent of truth for Grace. However, the revelations he brings to Grace regarding her identity appear in the second half of the novel. Grace is a dauntless young woman, partly due to her powerful Gift. Throughout her journey, she learns to look beyond the Gifts of others to see how their Gifts shaped who they are – which is the same fantastic journey that I undertook as the writer.