Sunday, September 27, 2009

On Writing Fairy Tale Based Fantasy

Hans Christian Andersen's "The Flying Trunk"* by Dan Froejlund

Occasionally, the question comes up as to whether or not it's a good idea to write fairy tale-based fantasy works.

One writer recently shared an agents rejection of the idea with a writing website called "Writer Unboxed". (This website discusses the craft of genre writing and has a lot of well respected authors weighing in on their discussions.)

To answer this, they called on authors Sophie Masson and Juliet Marillier; two writers who've built their career on writing fairy tale based fiction. Apparently both are quite passionate about the subject so the post has a second part coming with Ms. Marillier's response.

In the meantime, go see what Sophie Masson, author of several retellings such as Carabas (published as Serafin in the US) and Cold Iron (published as Malkin in the US), as well as many other fairy tale based works, has to say on the subject. Here's an excerpt to whet your appetite:
What makes fairy tales particularly suitable in fact as a basis for modern fantasy is that in themselves they mix both enchantment and pragmatism, the world of the everyday and a realm of pure magic. And it’s all done in such a matter of fact yet also profound way. You can never get to the end of the meanings of fairytale; and the fairytales of a people reveal their essence, their soul, if you like, in a moving yet also funny and beautiful way. They reveal our similarities and our differences...
You can read the rest of the post, Ms. Masson's response and readers comments HERE."The Flying Trunk" by Erik Bagge
About his modern interpretation Erik says:

The idea behind this wonderful fairy-tale is fabulous, as H.C. Andersen anticipates the "flying age" that we live in today. When he wrote the fairy-tale in 1839 nobody would have imagined, that the "flying age" would become a reality some centuries later... I did not change the motif that much when I modernized it. I turned the trunk into a car turned upsite down. I didn't want to turn the trunk into an airplane, as I wanted to express the preposterous idea that things can have other functions than they were meant to have.

* I thought illustrations from The Flying Trunk to be appropriate as the main character in the tale, after losing his enchanted means of seeing a Sultan's Daughter (by way of the flying trunk of the title) ends up wandering the world telling stories. See more about the HCA tale (which draws from many older tales around the world) HERE.
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