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Re-imaginings of classic fairy tales (and Mother Goose stories!) are becoming more and more popular it seems, especially with movies & TV shows like “Grimm,” “Once Upon a Time,” and Snow White & the Huntsman. And we’ve seen the trend in literature, too. Why do you think we — both readers and writers/artists — keep coming back to these classic stories? Why are we still obsessed with exploring them? And how can these stories still offer so much fodder for creative re-interpretations? What about them is still so inspiring & intriguing to us?
Cinderella. Snow White. Beauty and the Beast. These stories have been told and retold for hundreds of years and people never seem to tire of both hearing the original and putting a new twist on these stories and retelling them.
I think classic stories like tales from Anderson, Mother Goose, and the Brothers’ Grimm are, at the core, timeless. Yet they are also not hard and fast, but moldable. They are a bit like Legos – you can rebuild them over and over creating a seemingly infinate number of creations out of the same basic pieces by simply rearranging the pieces and perhaps introducing a few new ones. I think this is part of why re-telling these is so popular. At the center of the story is something we are all familiar with, yet by changing around a few things you can customize it and make it your own in a way that can be just as fulfilling, but perhaps not as daunting, as building your own world from scratch.
Also, another reason why I think they’re so popular is that no matter where and when you set these stories, the themes remain the same. No matter what form they take, they still appeal to people on many levels – those who love a happy ending (or a not so happy one), those who enjoy a good story, and, those who love tales of magic, mystery, and creatures from beyond.
Where certainly it’s the human element that keeps people connected to these tales, I think it’s the last one that has really propelled the re-imaginings of the classics into vogue. I think as a culture we’re a bit obsessed with the paranormal and the idea of strange creatures and magic lurking right under our unsuspecting noses. (Okay, who right now wishes they had magic powers or their neighbor was a werewolf or something of the like? I won’t tell. Honest.)
Retelling these tales give us a way to explore this obsession within a more familiar context in a way that both makes these ideas more relatable and enables normally skeptical people to suspend their disbelief for a moment. Where someone might scoff at the idea of werewolves going to high school, they might look at the idea of the Big Bad Wolf being a werewolf and go, oh, that makes sense.
Personally, I love faeries and fairytales. Part of what I set out to accomplish with INNOCENT DARKNESS was to not retell a fairytale, but create my own – taking classic elements from fairytales (hubtsman, eveil queens, wishes, bad bargains) and blending them with steampunk and faerie lore to make something new and different, yet, at the core familiar.
I do the same thing with my story Candlelight in the TWO AND TWENTY DARK TALES anthology. I take a classic poem (How Many Miles to Babylon) which has been retold in different ways many times, and blend it inspiration from other sources to create something new…and creepy.
What’s your favorite retelling of a fairytale?
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CONTEST: Win an e-book of Suzanne’s novel Innocent Darkness
Enter by filling out the Novel Novice “Two & Twenty Dark Tales” Contest Entry Form and tell us your favorite Mother Goose story.
Contest is open INTERNATIONALLY!!!!
One entry per person, please.
All entries due by midnight (PT) on Monday, November 5th.