A Goodreads user
A Goodreads user asked Michael Cunningham:

Your new book, The Snow Queen, is named after a Hans Christian Anderson story. What about the fairy tale inspired you?

Michael Cunningham Titles for novels are funny business – it’s less like naming a baby than it is like naming a country.

Generally (not always, but usually) I know the title of a book right away. It’s not exactly rational – I just seem to know what the book I have yet to write is going to be called.

The Snow Queen comes, of course, from the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, but my Snow Queen is only tangentially related to the Hans Christian Anderson story. It seems (this is a sort of semi-conscious process, at best) that I was drawn to the same primal elements that inspired Anderson – I mean both literally (the words “snow” and “queen”), and… what’s the word I want here?... not metaphorically, exactly… I mean, a shattered mirror, the shards of which lodge in people’s eyes, and distort their vision; I mean a woman who not only lives in a realm of ice but considers it the best of all possible worlds – clean and clear and free of illusion.

And of course there’s “snow” as an outdated term for cocaine…

But really, more than anything, it seemed, from the beginning, like a book that was going to be called The Snow Queen, which is somewhat inexplicable.
Michael Cunningham
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