Reading · Writing

Fairy-Tales: Writing them, Reading them, & Why I Love Them

It’s been a little while since I’ve blogged… so, an update: Last blog post I shared a teaser from TEOS which I’ve then since finished (!!!). This draft finished up at 80k, and I plan to give myself a couple of months’ distance before looking at it again & editing. That way I can look at it with a clear mind, fresh eyes. Since finishing TEOS, I’ve been polishing THIS STORM RISING (which I’ve now done) and I know I’ve said it before—but I love this novel. I mean, I love all my novels, so it’s totally redundant saying that. I like to think of it as Star Wars meets White Collar, and although I don’t know if it’ll go anywhere (fingers crosssedddd) I seriously had a blast writing/editing it! (Even though my last round of edits was…painful. But going back to the characters and the world was seriously a joy.)

But today… fairy-tales. If you slap ‘retelling’ or ‘fairy-tale inspired’ on the back of a book, there’s a 100% chance I’ll read it. Hands down, retellings of myths and fairy-tales, are my favorite. No two stories are the same—ever. Every person is unique…and so are their stories. This rings true with fairy-tales and retellings, too, because while we all might read the same story, we all take away different things from it. Maybe you see Cinderella as weak—unable to stand up for herself. Or maybe you see her a kind, beautiful soul, even when she was treated like…cinders. Maybe you see Belle as foolhardy for loving the Beast…or maybe you see her as being brave for daring to love someone so seemingly monstrous.

(Also, as I’m writing this, I’m watching a livestream of the US total solar eclipse… and WOW. Total fairy-tale, mythic vibes.)

I confess: most of my books are inspired by fairy-tales. MIDNIGHT QUEEN, my YA fantasy, is a mash-up of “Beauty and the Beast”, “The Firebird”, and “Hades and Persephone” (as well as some Celtic and Norse myths.) THE EMPIRE OF STARS was inspired by “The Maiden with the Rose on her Forehead” (although since then has become more original than a retelling) with a few nods to “Cinderella” along the way. Even THIS STORM RISING, my epic sci-fi, has nods to myths and fairy-tales here and there.

I can’t pinpoint what it is I love so much about fairy-tales. I grew up on them. I sought them out in every book and movie I could. They’re are an endless, glorious source of inspiration for writers, and I love them for so many reasons. And they’re challenging to write, too: you might have an original source of inspiration…but it’s also your duty to find a way to make it unique. Write the same tale as the original, and people are going to notice (and complain.) Make it too different and it might not even be considered a retelling anymore. So it’s a fine line between creating something original and exciting—and telling the same tale again.

Research is crucial when writing retellings. Think of the unanswered questions, the What Ifs of the story, the fairy-tale’s origins. Blend it with other tales, fragments of mythology. Put it in a futuristic setting—a la Cinder by Marissa Meyer—make it different. Make the reader question what they thought of the tale, turn a beautiful world into a terrifying one, a terrifying one into a beautiful one.

DSC_0007One of my favorite retellings must be Splintered by A.G. Howard: it turned what I thought of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland on its head. It was no longer the carefree, pretty world Carroll made it out to be but a dark and terrifyingly seductive world that I LOVED and never wanted to leave. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi takes “Hades and Persephone” and blends it with Indian mythology into a sumptuous, beautiful romance. Cruel Beauty uses “Beauty and the Beast” and twists it into a Greek-styled world with a curse. Even Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass began as a re-imagined Cinderella that turned into an epic fantasy.

There’s an infinite amount of possibilities out there—so many ways to tell the one tale. Make the villain the hero. Make the hero the villain. Fairy-tales represent humanity in the most beautiful and terrible and raw ways; they give us hope and show us the way authors see the world around them through fantastical, richly-imagined tales. So now I’m off to look through my MSS to decide which project I’ll work on next (…And yes, I can guarantee it WILL be fairy-tale/mythology inspired in some way.)

So how about YOU? Do you enjoy fairy-tale retellings?


Currently reading: FEVERSONG by Karen Marie Moning

Currently listening to: Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov

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4 thoughts on “Fairy-Tales: Writing them, Reading them, & Why I Love Them

  1. Eeeep I love this post so so much and totally agree with how awesome fairy tales are! And actually it takes away a bit of the “OMG WHAT DO I WRITE” pressure too, because you like have a framework to start with?! I love that.😂 And then changing and twisting and remaking it so it’s completely new is such a beautiful feeling. I recently finished the first drafts of a contemporary trilogy I have and like I’m using Goldilocks, Pinocchio and Peter Pan themes twisted in them and it was so so much fun.😍(ALSO SO MUCH CONGRATS ON FINISHING YOUR DRAFT!!)

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    1. Thanks so much!! Sooo pleased to have it done. Goldilocks, Pinocchio, and Peter Pan!? Dude, that sounds AMAZING. And you’re so right—having a framework to go off deeeefinitely helps, especially if you’re in the early stages of drafting & not quite sure where the story is going yet.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have the same affection for fairy tales. They’re the perfect examples of stories, like the boiled down essence of magic and mystery and romance and adventure. AH! It’s *insane* how many retellings there are in the world without much repetition. I have a nice long binge session on retellings at least once a year. Too much fun, ha.

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    1. “Like the boiled down essence of magic and mystery and romance and adventure.” Oh my gosh, YES. That is literally the perfect way to describe them. And yes — it’s so wonderful to see so many different renditions of the same tale! I don’t think I’d EVER get sick of Beauty & the Beast or Cinderella. ❤

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