We all grew up fairy tales,
You are never too old for fairy tales – or, maybe, some day you will be old enough to read them properly.
So I’ve spent part of my quarantine building a gift of story, wrapping a whole sheaf of my own fairy tales together with silver ribbons of magic and joy and pain and laughter, and handing them to you, the grown-ups. Because you’re old enough to deserve them.
The book, Fractured Fairy Tales, will be published in April next year, as tribute to Hans Christian Andersen on the occasion of the anniversary of his birthday. Some of the stories have been published before – here, there and everywhere. Some are brand new.
We all grew up fairy tales, we grew older on them, some of us are growing OLD on them. They are so much a backbone of all of human storytelling, such a foundation for it, that it is almost impossible to imagine any sort of fiction that did not (in one way or another) begin “once upon a time…”.
The tropes and phrases and images of the fairy tale are prevalent, familiar, recognizable across cultures and borders and continents. Common threads weave the tales we all know.
Some of us were privileged to have cut our teeth on the original – often savage – versions. This was the world where the Evil Stepsisters cut off toes to fit into the glass slipper, and Sleeping Beauty wasn’t awakened by a kiss but by the birth of her twins (having been had a wicked way with by her prince, while she was still asleep, rather than him bothering to wake her up to participate in any fun to be had), where the wicked witch in the woods had an oven she wanted to roast a little boy in. The dragons of these fairy tales were real, and the terrors lived – and we, the children, lived with them. The stories weren’t lullabies. They were sharp lessons. Ones we would do well to learn, and learn well.
My little mermaid didn’t have a singing lobster for a best buddy. She made me cry. The heroines of the Russian fairy tales I devoured made me look at things like wooden combs or chicken bones in a very different way; I also learned that the youngest child of the traditional three is usually the one who gets everything right in the end while his or her older siblings were really rather stupid and limited. One grew up wishing one was the youngest princess.
I went through the usual suspects – the Grimms, Perrault, Andersen – and I went into the Russian and Scandinavian and Chinese versions of fairy tales because I loved the music of them and the stories they told – and I discovered, eventually, Oscar Wilde and HIS particular take on things (I cannot read “The Nightingale and the Rose” without crying).
In the fullness of time I – of course – began to write them. Wasn’t it inevitable?
My first book: Three Fairy Tales
I wrote three stories an almost fairy-tale span of years ago – a thousand years ago – back in the last millennium.
They landed me my first agent and she wrote me a letter telling me that I had sold a book. For the longest time after I got that letter I kept on thinking, I sold three stories, and they will appear in a book somewhere. But the agent kept insisting – no, YOU. YOUR book. ONLY you. It took a while for that message to penetrate. But the thing I remember quite clearly was the incandescent joy that lit up inside of me when I finally understood.
I had sold a book, my name would be on a book cover, and the book was a collection of fairy tales. These three tales were, to a greater or lesser degree, inspired by Oscar Wilde and his take on the fairy tale.
The book was published by an educational publisher and was used – during its nine printings – in schools; I’m pretty certain there’s a generation of English schoolchildren who hate me because they had to answer those terrible questions of “what did the author mean by….”.
That’s the first section in Fractured Fairy Tales. Other groupings include “Ever After: A Story of Four Princesses” (what happens if your familiar and beloved “Disney” princesses were… refugees…?),
“Tales Re-Told” (well-known and familiar fairy tales in vivid new garb…), “New Tales” (original, NEW, fairy tales…),
“Witches” (because, you know, where else is the native habitat of those…?), “Aris” (a cycle of tales about a character who seems to accrete fairy tales to himself like barnacles are attracted to a boat…), and
“Almost Fairy Tales” (the kind of tale that gives you a glimpse through a window or a half open door into a world that is rich and strange enough to be a fairy tale one – wraps you in a feeling, a mood, the proper attitude). There is something in here for every vision, every individual definition of what a fairy tale is, or should be.
Because putting out a book has become increasingly difficult under the pandemic and drastic changes in the publishing world, authors are seeking new ways to be able to continue to work and create the books that people want to read. For this project, I have set up a Kickstarter campaign to help raise the funds necessary. Please consider supporting it.
I thank you in advance should you choose to help this particular collection come into the light. I am planning on releasing it on the occasion of Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, next April. Come be a part of the celebrations!
You can contribute to my fairy tales Kickstarter HERE
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