I recently had the delight of discovering another fabulous fairytale retellings author! I binge read her novella trilogy and asked her to come visit me with a guest post. Because she is fabulous, she said yes! Allow me to introduce to you, author W.R. Gingell, here to tell us about how she goes about rewriting folklore in her stories.
I’ve always loved messing with tropes and fairytales. Actually, I’ve always loved messing with stuff in general: there’s a reason I’m known as the family pot-stirrer*.
It’s understandable, then, that when I came to write books, I would naturally begin with turning fairytales and faery tropes on their heads and mashing them together in a glorious panoply of weirdness. In pursuance of that, my first three books were takes on Beauty and the Beast, Red Riding Hood, and Sleeping Beauty/Rapunzel (Masque, Wolfskin, and Spindle), where I took the bones of the original fairytale and shuffled them around a bit. Heads began to explode. People started dying. Forest Warden began to disappear. Hair started growing and dogs turned into little boys. In the end, I had three entirely new story skeletons.
For my Shards of a Broken Sword trilogy, I did something a little different. The original story-seeds for both Twelve Days of Faery and Fire in the Blood didn’t come from any specific fairy tales. Instead, they occurred to me after reading Jack Heckel’s very amusing Charming Tales. His cheerful and irreverent take on princes, princesses, and fairytales in general reawoke my love of messing with all things faery, and a brief dragon P.O.V flash inOnce Upon a Rhyme made me want to explore the idea of a dragon as an M.C. Thus was Fire in the Blood born.
With Twelve Days of Faery it’s a bit harder to pinpoint when and how the idea grew: I remember thinking about the various curses that always seem to befall princesses and miller’s daughters, and it seemed to me that I couldn’t remember many princes being cursed. This didn’t seem fair to me, but I wasn’t particularly interested in writing from a cursed prince’s P.O.V. Then Markon walked into my imagination, worried, frazzled, and very slightly balding at the back where he hopes no one will notice. Mired in politics and worried about his cursed son, he was exactly the kind of character I wanted to toss into an adventure just to see how he would cope. And since Althea seemed to be of the same opinion, it was simply a matter of writing the thing…
This concept, I combined with my love for Faery stories. I’ve always loved Faery stories. I don’t mean fairytales, much as I do delight in them: I mean the old, dark tales and poems of Fae where you can’t be certain that everyone—or even the main characters—will come out alive. In them, you get a very real sense of the alienness of the Fae: they aren’t human, and they don’t think like humans. To most Fae, there is no such thing as falling in love with a human. It would be like falling in love with their dog.
I wanted to preserve that sense of peril and hunter/prey dynamic in my Shards of a Broken Sword series. So when I remade Faery, I gave it dark roots to help highlight a frothing surface where my favourite and not-so-favourite tropes could tumble, run, and play as much as they chose.
*an Australianism that basically means I tease, needle, and annoy the heck out of everyone who comes within range, not to mention messing with their minds whenever possible
About the Author
W.R. Gingell is a Tasmanian author who lives in a house with a green door. She loves to rewrite fairytales with a twist or two–and a murder or three–and original fantasy where dragons, enchantresses, and other magical creatures abound. Occasionally she will also dip her toes into the waters of SciFi.
W.R. spends her time reading, drinking an inordinate amount of tea, and slouching in front of the fire to write. Like Peter Pan, she never really grew up, and is still occasionally to be found climbing trees.