Welcome to our All About Sub-Genre Series in which we discuss the ins and outs of various corners of the broader fantasy market.
Today author/editor Heather Hayden stops by to explain the Once Upon a Times and Happily Ever Afters of Fairy Tale Retellings.
Fairy Tale Retellings
Once upon a time...an author decided to write a blog post about one of her favorite fantasy sub-genres.
The author pondered the topic for some time, wondering how best to frame the information. After all, the genre is at once quite specific and very broad, as variable as the fairy tales it embraces and transforms.
For that topic is fairy tale retellings. They exist in almost every form: film, art, the written word. The author loves them all, but her favorite are those scribed upon paper. Her bookshelves and Kindle are filled with such magical tales, and she reads and rereads them, discovering something new each time.
That is part of the magic of fairy tale retellings—though the core remains the same, the tale itself can be twisted and turned in all manner of ways. To the author, it is like visiting a place you have never been, yet recognize deep down.
Having come to this conclusion, the author developed a spell for a perfect fairy tale retelling, though she cautions that all wielders of the magical wands known as “pens” be sure of their intent before casting such a spell.
A Spell for the Perfect Fairy Tale Retelling
Step 1. Pick a tale. Or two. Or three. Cultures all across the world have fairy tales, folk tales, legends... Writers should never feel restricted to a single tale. Some readers prefer a retelling pure as gold, others like the startling spice of a mixture.
Step 2. Pick a setting. The time period of the original fairy tale? Modern day? Steampunk? A fantasy world where magic is slowly being taken over by machines? There are so many options to play with.
Step 3. Write the story as it should be told. The story will know if you are going the wrong way, and you might find yourself pulled in a direction you don’t expect.
“But wait!” the author’s muse cried, his current form that of a crow (after all, crows are quite popular in fairy tales.) “What if those reading this blog post aren’t writers, but readers?”
The author set the spell aside and folded her hands. She smiled at her muse. Many readers are also writers, and a writer must be a reader; it is an inherent part of writing, to bury one’s self in others’ worlds time and time again.
For readers in general, though, the author had one recommendation, which she whispered in quiet reverence. “If you enjoy fairy tales, I know of some retellings you might like.”
The muse nodded sagely. “Her own short story, Beneath His Skin, is about a selkie. You can find it in the anthology From the Stories of Old.”
About the author:
Fueled by chocolate and moonlight, Heather Hayden pours her heart and soul into stories filled with hope (and often magic). She is currently working on Within the Ironwood (working title), the first in a series of gaslamp fairy tale retellings.
You can connect with her through her website, Facebook, and Twitter.
Check out these awesome Fairy Tale Retellings from Fellowship of Fantasy authors:
A blog about all things fantasy from the elements we all love to how to write it. Posts are from our very own Fellowship of Fantasy authors.