A lot of the stories that I write are inspired by fairy tales and folklore. Why is that?
I believe that old stories, folklore, mythology, superstitions, etc. have something profound to say about the human condition — about what we believe, what we fear, and the stories that were so important that they were told over and over. I think some of my favorite poems and short stories that I have read riff from fairy tales and other folklore, and I would be thrilled to ever write something as moving and beautiful as “Glass, Blood, and Ash” or “A Delicate Architecture” by Catherynne M. Valente, and all the stories in the wonderful fairy tale anthologies edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling like Snow White, Blood Red and Black Thorn, White Rose. These were my treasures when I occasionally wrote poetry, but had never tried to write short fiction.
The first short fiction story that I wrote and published was The Frog Princess (published in Crossed Genres), which began as a poem and evolved into a short story. It’s on-line so you can read it here.
Of my stories that are going to be published in the next year, 3 more have fairy tale inspirations, including The Faithful Tin-Glazed Terracotta Soldier” in Full Armor magazine (March 2011); “The Aesthetic Engine” in the Growing Dread: Biopunk Visions anthology from Timid Pirate Publishing (May 2011); and “Mr. Worthy’s Waltz” in the Steam Works anthology from Hydra Publications (May 2011).
So those four pieces above include inspirations from the frog princess, the steadfast tin soldier, snow white, and cinderella.
I also currently have pieces out for review that are inspired by rumpelstiltskin, rapunzel, sleeping beauty, a baba yaga tale (Vasilissa the Beautiful), alice in wonderland, hansel and gretel, and the princess and the pea.
And, today, I’m realizing that I write from fairy tales because they are honest. They’re dark. Brutal at times. Life is like that. Not like the Disney versions (which I enjoy too, but for different reasons).
They teach us to be good and cautious, which are useful lessons.
They teach us to respect dark places, to acknowledge their temptations and choose wisely, pack breadcrumbs to find our way back, or choose to lose ourselves entirely in dark woods, but knowingly and not through innocent ignorance of what waits in shadows.
I’m generally a pretty optimistic person but I’m trying to make sense of some things that are not happy news, and the truth is, you get what you get.
Remember to make friends along the way; they will always help you face the worst things and suprise you with their gifts if you are kind first with no expectation but the joy of being kind to others, and welcome companions to walk beside you on the twisted path.
Be beautiful, remembering that fairy tale beauty is not always visible on the outer surface, but becomes visible in the presence of love.
Write with a pen fashioned from glass and thorns, and inked with blood. Or type with gloves made from the same brutal beautiful things.