This February is both fairy tale month over at Fairy-tale Central and Fantasy Month. I would have to say that fairy-tales, or folk tales, are part of what I love best of fantasy stories. Heroic people having adventures or simply enduring life. Archetypal stories. Some of my stories are inspired by fairy tales. Others have a a few fairy tales tropes incorporated into them.
Fairy tale retellings make for great fantasy stories. It’s a wonderful mix of the familiar and the new. Knowing what’s going to happen, but not how. Or in the case of fairy-tales-thrown-in-a-blender, I don’t necessarily know what’s happening, but there’s still a familiarity.
So here’s my post of the Fairy Tale Tag, doubling up for the Fantasy Month linkup. Fairy Tale Central is a generally cool place and Jenelle Schmidt is hosting a massive giveaway as part of her fifth annual February is Fantasy Month, so check those out here and here.
What’s an obscure fairy tale you love?
More a fable than a fairytale, but I like Hans Christian Andersen’s What the Old Man Does is Always Right. Also from Hans Christian Andersen, The Wild Swans.
If you got to choose Disney’s next animated princess movie, what fairy tale would you choose to be adapted?
The Wild Swans actually. That story has a very admirable heroine. and there’s quite a lot that could make for wonderful visuals. Also, I haven’t figured out yet what could go wrong with the story.
What is the first fairy tale you remember hearing when you were a child?
My grandmother had a book with Goldilocks, Cinderella, and Snow White. Or possibly three books. I don’t remember clearly, but for a long time they were the only fairy tales I knew. I actually plotted some kind of mashup between the three back before I really had idea of writing. Mostly of Cinderella and Snow Write, but I had bears instead of dwarves. Goldilocks and Snow White both have a girl falling asleep in the house of strangers and being discovered, so I don’t think it was a bad idea.
If you were to embark on a fairy tale quest, what necessities would you pack in your bag?
First off I feel that a bucket is important. And a rope. Definitely that. A pack of food. Or a magical source of food. Maybe the Magic Pudding, though it talks too much. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s an Australian thing.) An axe and a pouch of treasure. Perhaps on of those magical pouches that holds unlimited stuff, but only the owner can get it out. Also sturdy boots.
What’s your favorite fairy tale trope?
There’s such a wide variety that I find it hard to pick. I do quite like the large families (Either of boys or of girls, almost never mixed) that show up in a number of fairy tales. There’s a lot of good sibling relationships in fairy tales. Some bad ones too of course, but they don’t make the good any less good.
I also like the simplicity of fairy tales. There’s some that are quite fantastical, but many of them aren’t, or even when they are it’s in an everyday manner. Lots of fishermen and cottages. Simple messages too, if sometimes a bit obvious. I like there story where a character has learnt their lesson by the end and is forgiven instead of being punished. There’s some beautiful reconciliation in some fairy tale.
And of course I like the fanciness that’s in other fairy tales. Dancing and castles and beautiful gowns. Or mostly not beautiful gowns as in the tale of Tattercoats. they’re a major part of fairy tales and I myself do like to dance.
If you could be any fairy tale character archetype, who would you want to be and why?
I want to be one of the peasant women the hero (or heroine) might get help from along their way. I’m too young to be a wise old woman, but maybe some day.
What animal/mythical creature would be your sidekick for fairy tale adventures?
Can I have a kangaroo? If it’s my friend, it could fight off enemies, but look cute and snuggly.
On second thought a horse would be more practical. A clever and loyal horse. Calm because I have very little riding experience.
What is your favourite historical era, and what fairy tale would you love to see in that setting?
Historical periods is another thing I don’t pick favourites of. However, I would love to see some fairy-tale retellings set in Colonial Australia. I doubt I’ll be the one to write them.
If you could change a fairy tale’s villain into a hero, who would you choose and why?
I don’t like deconstructing fairy tales by making villains into misunderstood victims. Your past might explain evil, but it never excuses it. That said, I don’t mind completely swapping a plot around when evil and good are still clear.
I can certainly think of some great examples of this, but for doing it myself, I don’t have many ideas. The Twelve Dancing princesses story I attempted to write did this a little bit. The princesses aren’t technical villains, but their actions have results that makes them unsympathetic. I was exploring the question of what could justify them sending men to their deaths.
Do you prefer fairy tales with happy endings or sad/tragic endings? Why or why not?
Mostly happy endings. There is hope in the world. i like stories that reflect that. However, humans have a tendency for evil and i don’t mind the occasional fairy tale that shows a moral lesson by ending thing badly. The Fisherman’s Wife is an example. But can you call it tragic for a person who has so much pride that they wish to be God to be brought down to the nothing the begun with.
I don’t mind melancholy, but evil must not win.
There are a few upside-down subverted fairy tales that I love. The Marrain Chronicles by Anne B. Walsh, especially Nobody’s Daughter, present a very different look at fairy tales. Different villains, different helpers, but the same protagonists.
The Goose Girl by K.M. Shea and Identity by Camille Peters both swap the heroine and villain of the story and it works well. K.M. Shea is generally great for fairy tales and has a new one coming out right now. Other favourite fairy tale fantasy blend authors are Melanie Cellier, Kenley Davidson, Lea Doue, W.R. Gingell and Brittany Fichter.
Also A. G. Marshall. I read her Princess and the Pea novel some time ago, really enjoyed it, but could not remember who it was written by. I searched, I couldn’t find it. Then W. R. Gingell mentioned it in her newsletter and I recognised some of the details. It’s called Princess of Secrets and is an awesome fantasy fairy-tale blend.
Happy Leap Day to you all.